Cleaning a bike

General cycling advice ( NOT technical ! )
robing
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Cleaning a bike

Postby robing » 12 Feb 2019, 2:38pm

My bike is filthy. My question is - is it ok to use a power wash or jet wash or is that a bad idea?

peetee
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Joined: 4 May 2010, 10:20pm

Re: Cleaning a bike

Postby peetee » 12 Feb 2019, 2:41pm

Bad idea. The pressure will force water into bearings and cavities which will cause poor running and premature wear and/or corrosion. Pressure washers do a good job of removing dirt but are equally good a blasting crud past small gaps and into areas it really shouldn't be.
Current status report:
Latter side of fifty and feeling less than nifty.
Too many bikes on pegs and too few miles in the legs.

Marcus Aurelius
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Re: Cleaning a bike

Postby Marcus Aurelius » 12 Feb 2019, 3:00pm

If you keep the jet away from anything with bearings in it, there shouldn’t be a problem using a jet washer. At this time of year I use a power washer because the bikes get properly caked in all sorts. Jet washers are brilliant at getting the caked on crud off, with minimum effort. Be especially careful if you have cup and cone type re packable bearings anywhere, as they don’t hold up to pressure washing as well as sealed cartridges. The jet washer is particularly good at getting stubborn muck out of the cable guides under the frame, and ( particularly) from the direct mount rear brake, which can be tricky to clean, on one of my bikes, owing to its position on the chain stays. Make sure you dry everything off properly, and re lube chain and cables with something like MO 94 or GT 85 spray, before you store the bike.

robing
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Re: Cleaning a bike

Postby robing » 13 Feb 2019, 1:29pm

I just used a hosepipe which did a pretty good job and then cleaned by hand.

Brucey
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Re: Cleaning a bike

Postby Brucey » 13 Feb 2019, 1:41pm

if you have good seals, good grease, and are careful where you point it, jetwashing is fine. I have routinely jetwashed my bikes (some of them hundreds of times) with no ill effect.

I have equally well seen bikes ruined. BTW if your seals and lube are not up to much then it doesn't matter if you jetwash or not; the bike is gonna die anyway if it gets dirty.

FWIW I use a water displacing/light lube spray on key parts after washing; this gets the remaining water out of the way and leaves the seals with a film of lubricant in them; if you run contact seals with no lube in the lips, the lips wear out double-quick and then the seals don't work any more.


Seals vary in both cartridge bearings and non-cartridge bearings. Good ones of either sort are good enough and the best sealing systems have multiple features that deter the crud, not just one.

cheers
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PDQ Mobile
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Re: Cleaning a bike

Postby PDQ Mobile » 13 Feb 2019, 2:43pm

Brucey wrote:if you have good seals, good grease, and are careful where you point it, jetwashing is fine. I have routinely jetwashed my bikes (some of them hundreds of times) with no ill effect.

I have equally well seen bikes ruined. BTW if your seals and lube are not up to much then it doesn't matter if you jetwash or not; the bike is gonna die anyway if it gets dirty.

Well I dunno about that.
The chain suffers from dirt but surface dirt doesn't penetrate wheel seals etc anything like as it would when forced in there by pressure wash.
I would never put one near any bearing seal.
(Or on the chain)
Here in the west moisture driven in will take for ever and a day to dry out.

Let the crud dry and brush it off with a softish hand brush.
Then wipe over with an oily rag is my preferred method.
Compressed air (with eye protection) is quite effective at getting compacted crud from between cassette cogs, chain rings and other hard to reach areas.

Brucey
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Re: Cleaning a bike

Postby Brucey » 13 Feb 2019, 4:40pm

seals only work if there is a film of lubricant in there. When that film is gone then rainwater, road dirt, road salt etc easily penetrate the bearings.

When that film is present you can -with due care- wash your bike.

If pressure washing automatically destroyed bikes, all my bikes would have died, some of them hundreds of times over.

cheers
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Re: Cleaning a bike

Postby PDQ Mobile » 13 Feb 2019, 6:52pm

Brucey wrote:seals only work if there is a film of lubricant in there. When that film is gone then rainwater, road dirt, road salt etc easily penetrate the bearings.

When that film is present you can -with due care- wash your bike.

If pressure washing automatically destroyed bikes, all my bikes would have died, some of them hundreds of times over.

cheers

By the nature of seals the lip is quite thin and flexible - it has to be to accomodate anybslight play in bearings or things not quite running true.
And water or water and grime mixed will easily get pushed past it by a directed stream pf pressure water even mains pressure though pressure washer is worse of course.

I agree that the lip needs to be lubricated but it won't stop a bit of a pressure jet of water getting past it.
I always just pop a drop of oil in that area frequently.
The only wheel bearings that (i can remember!) I have replaced in the last 20 years are two one piece type bearings in a 20" front wheel that were rough when I bought the bike but they lasted 5000 odd miles by applying oil.

I guess with great care a pressure washer is ok but a lot of places won't get cleaned, or water will get into bearings.
All IMHO

Brucey
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Re: Cleaning a bike

Postby Brucey » 13 Feb 2019, 7:43pm

apologies if this is b-obvious but you of course don't point the jet directly at the seals. You do clean everything though.

For example if you point the jet at the back of a ST crankset there is a pretty good flow around the BB axle which removes road salt and mud quite effectively, but not so violent that it is going to push past the seals (if they are any good). Similarly you can point the jet at the back face of the #1 sprocket and directly between the sprockets (which will soon get a muddy cassette spotless) and again the jet isn't impinging directly on any seals.

At one time I cleaned my bike (following a mucky on/off road commute) like this every single day. It took less than five minutes and the bike was spotless, like new, afterwards, including the chain and sprockets. By contrast if left in situ, mud and road salt fairly quickly break down lubricant films in the seals and this allows the seals to wear and then let water in.

cheers
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Re: Cleaning a bike

Postby PDQ Mobile » 13 Feb 2019, 11:19pm

Well our opinions differ.
I think all that water flying around is difficult to control and my faith in bicycle seals is only moderate.
I don't think dirt gets past seals any more easily than rain water and that the oiled "track" of the seal will stay very clean.
Out of interest if you pressure wash the chain every day to "look like new" how do you get it dry enough (rollers) to relube before setting off the next morning? Heated storage?

Brucey
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Re: Cleaning a bike

Postby Brucey » 13 Feb 2019, 11:50pm

PDQ Mobile wrote:Well our opinions differ.
I think all that water flying around is difficult to control and my faith in bicycle seals is only moderate.
I don't think dirt gets past seals any more easily than rain water and that the oiled "track" of the seal will stay very clean.
Out of interest if you pressure wash the chain every day to "look like new" how do you get it dry enough (rollers) to relube before setting off the next morning? Heated storage?


as I mentioned upthread, water displacing spray. Note that this only works properly on a clean chain; if the chain is still dirty or already corroded water has a surface to wet onto; if it is properly clean the surfaces are hydrophobic, water is displaced by the spray, mostly balls up and is pushed out of the chain by a few turns of the cranks.

Unless they are removed, both many kinds of dirt and road salt (always) aggressively attack lubricants so that the film that exists in the lip seal (without which it a) cannot work and b) will soon wear) will soon be corrupted. Lack of faith in lip seals and not washing your bike properly as a consequence soon becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy; adding oil to the outside of a dirty seal just means you have an abrasive sludge in the seal lip, which also causes wear to the seal lip.

Not all parts have seals that are good enough to allow regular washing and there is absolutely no doubt that parts that can be greased with better grease ought to be. But the idea that you can't ever wash a bike down as I have described is just wrong.

cheers
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Re: Cleaning a bike

Postby PDQ Mobile » 14 Feb 2019, 12:27am

Well I have a few bikes that have NEVER seen a pressure washer, they have in the seal area of the axle (and bottom bracket) some accumulated oily grime to which I merely apply a spot of oil judiciously and regularly and from which water is displaced. The seal track is in my view cleaned by said oil.
I occasionally (twice/trice a year perhaps depending) manually clean said area with a cloth seesaw style and relube with oil. Just couple spots externally.
Virtually never dismantle and grease,

And those same bikes run smooth and sweet, year after year after year.

The bearings hardly ever need adjustment or replacement. I don't use overpriced chain lube either (just 3 in 1 oil or similar).
Chains are mostly only wiped. Once in a while removed and cleaned in paraffin then given a grease type spray (or sometimes just oiled).

Bikes are stored in an unheated damp shed but out of rain; though they get wet on the road pretty often.
My view is that standing long in rain is more detrimental because when underway water is thrown away from the seal area.

All IMHO

Brucey
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Re: Cleaning a bike

Postby Brucey » 14 Feb 2019, 1:45pm

if the pH of the local soil were different that approach might work a lot less well. If you ride where they 'enthusiastically' use road salt and/or much offroad and the bike gets dirty, not washing your bike is basically a non-starter, again IMHO.

cheers
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Re: Cleaning a bike

Postby PDQ Mobile » 14 Feb 2019, 2:25pm

It's the chain that suffers most from road salt and believe you me my local council have shares in a salt mine!
Some of the most acid soils too.

If the axle seals are intact and the lips well lubricated then little gets past them when "on the road" IMV.
The axle area of both wheel and bottom bracket carry a certain accumulation of grime and oil mixed by dint of regular application of a spot of oil. The seal track runs clean IMV.
Sight movement at the moistened seal lip pushes dirt slightly away.
That is part of the function of a seal.
No salt water ever contacts the axle and when wiped off always they look like new even after years because of being protected by an oily grimy film. Ditto hub/seal area.
Oxidization is prevented by the oil coating held by grime.

If one pressure washed and doesn't subsequently oil or grease the axle it will rust very fast, especially under high salt conditions.

The frame when brushed off periodically, is also finished with an oily rag and that forms a barrier against "crud".

Now maybe I don't have the top notch componentry with excellent seals but I think a pressure washer is just about the worst thing for a bike.
And I've seen a few so treated. Rough bearings, stiff brake pivots, stiff cables, etc.

I don't need my bike to look "like new" but just be reasonably clean and well maintained, cheap to run and reliable.
Not time consuming or expensive.
And a delight to ride of course!
All with just a regular "spot of oil" on any and every moving part.

Also all IMHO.