Shock horror it’s true; riding in the rain won’t kill you and whilst it might be unpleasant at times one of the most important things to remember during winter riding is bad weather can ruin your bike quickly. Does this mean you shouldn’t ride in the rain? Hell no! All it means is you should keep your bike as clean as possible. Whilst it might seem a waste of time cleaning your bike after a wet weather ride only to go out the next day and have the same happen again I can assure you it will add months of life to your components. So what should you clean, do you have to constantly clean the whole bloody thing? The simple answer is no! There are a few key components of a bike that you need to keep clean and this will enable your steed to run more efficiently for longer and in turn save you pennies.
The key parts to keep free of grit and dirt are the drivetrain and the wheels. After every ride give your rims and brake pads a good wipe down, this will prevent a build up of crap that will reduce your braking efficiency. This build up of water and dirt essentially acts as sand paper and will also greatly increase the wear of your rims, which will cost you money. The same applies to your drivetrain, by this I mean your chain rings, chain, rear mech and cassette. Any build up of dirt on these will speed up the wear of all these components and cause problems with gear shifting, so dig out some old clothes rip them up and start scrubbing! Make sure you clean all the gaps between the rear cassette and don’t forget the jockey wheels.
To be honest I don’t bother with fancy bike cleaning products – a bit of washing up liquid and warm water does the trick nicely; you don’t even need tools for this so there are no excuses. All you need is a bit of time, old rags and a bit of patience. Once you have scrubbed all the crap off the drivetrain give your chain a good oil, run through the gears to make sure everything is evenly coated in fresh oil then after a few minutes lightly wipe off excess oil from the chain. This won’t stop all that black stuff covering your chain but it will slow the process down.
It can be a bit of a frustrating process especially if you ride regularly but you don’t necessarily have to polish your frame and fork every time but you might want to give it a quick wipe down just for the hell of it. Essentially you should regularly oil and grease every moving part of your bike, though I would only worry about keeping the chain, chain rings and cassette nicely oiled. Then once a week or month…depending on how often you ride give the bike a full service. This is one of the drawbacks to riding in bad weather and one of the reasons people have a winter bike, but if you can drag yourself out to ride in the rain surely you can muster the strength to give your bike a clean.
There is an old cycle saying that there is no such thing as bad weather only bad equipment, which does not only apply to your clothing. So live by this mantra, take care of your bike by keeping it clean and in turn your bike will take care of you and your pennies.