Time for Your Spring Bike Cleaning

As the weather improves and the ground starts to defrost in many parts of the country, we need to have a conversation about a topic that some of us are dreading: Spring Cleaning.

We all know that a clean bike is a fast bike and I can assure you that those hours of Zwift or being a brave Flandrien in tough conditions did not do your bike any favors. Let’s run through the essentials checklist to get ready for those bright spring rides.

The Essentials

  1. Clean bike and drivetrain: The first part is critical: remove all dirt from your frame, drivetrain, wheels and anywhere else. Spring Cleaning is not the time to quickly hose the bike down until it’s ‘good enough for now’.

    Grab every brush you can find in the house and really clean the bike as well as you can. Pick dirt out of the cassette, sponge down the frame until you think you are done.

    Pro tip: when you think you are done: flip the bike upside down and realize you still missed a few spots.Regular dish soap, a bucket with brushes and a low pressure garden hose are your best friends here. Leave the pressure washers for the CX racers.

  2. Check tires and sealant: Winter rides are hard on tires. Check up close for any cuts and debris. Replace your tires if they are too damaged and while you’re at it: grab some anti flat liquids and top up your tires if they are not ready to be replaced.
  3. Bearing services throughout: Now it is time to check every single bearing on your bike: wheel bearings, bottom bracket, derailleur pulleys are the obvious ones. Don’t forget about the head set.

    All Kogel bearing products are serviceable. Here's a link to our bearing service manual and the video below show how to perform an on-the-bike bottom bracket service.

    If you’re looking to waterproof your head set and put a protective layer on your bearings, use our Aqua Proof Paste. It works wonders for protection and any installation issues. We call it Shut Up Grease in our office and it’s lived up to its name ever since we started our company.

  4. Check drivetrain wear and adjust gears: After a hard winter of riding in the dark on salty roads, your drivetrain took a beating. Check your chain, cassette and chainrings for wear and replace as needed. Your shifting will be crisp like on a new bike. You might even splurge on new cables if you use mechanical shifting to increase that New Bike Day feeling.

  5. Brakes: check pads, bleed if needed, adjust rotors: If you run disc brakes like most of us nowadays, it is smart to replace your pads after the winter. You have probably picked up a lot of dirt, salt and oil from the roads and all that junk is now firmly absorbed into your brake pads. Nobody likes loud squealing brakes. Treat yourself to a fresh new set that will probably last you until the fall if you stay out of the mud.

    Kogel makes a soft and hard compound, which are available here, the softer Bia compound might be nice to give yourself some more braking performance in the season where you don’t have to think about wearing your sets out in wet conditions.

    This is also a good time to check if your rotors are still straight and bleed your brakes if they feel spongy. While I know how to do most jobs on my bikes, this is probably the first one that I would outsource with a professional mechanic.

  6. Suspension service: If you run a full suspension mountain bike, bringing in your fork and shock for service is not cheap, but oh so valuable. Coming back from a fresh service and setup, your bike will feel like it’s glued to the ground again.

    Technically this is a job you can do yourself, but personally I don’t like to mess with upside down suspension parts leaking oil all over my living room floor. Bring it to a professional and free up your afternoon for fun stuff.

    Suspension service not only increases performance, it also lengthens the lifespan of the most expensive parts on your bike.

Extra Credit

  1. Service your suspension Pivot Points/Bearings: Wait, did you think we weren’t serious about checking every single bearing on your bike. Don’t forget about all those pivot points and bearings in your full suspension rigs. After a season of riding they can be full of grit, bone dry or worse.

    These get cleaned and packed just like our bottom bracket and derailleur pulley bearings. There’s usually quite a few of these that need service. You’ll want a decent set of allen and torx wrenches and a torque wrench to do this right.

  2. Show that frame some love: This may sound a bit over the top, but anyone who knows car detailing knows how nice a bike can look once you buff out all those scratches and wear marks from last season. It may not look like you rolled a new bike off the showroom floor when you’re done, but it won’t cost you as much either.

    The recommended tools for this job are some light polishing microfiber cloths, high-quality compound, polish and sealant. (Skip the compound and polish for matte finishes).

    Good news is anyone can do this; no equipment necessary. Take your time with this. Clear coats on bike frames are soft and usually don’t require much elbow grease to remove scratches. Finish it off with a nice polish and sealant/wax and you’re good to go.

That should just about do it for prepping for your springtime outings. Check all these off your list and your bikes should be no excuse for slowing you down. The rest is up to you!

Ard Kessels