A regularly cleaned bike is a well-maintained bike, and part of that maintenance includes cleaning the rims, brakes, and tires. Below are simple tips for cleaning and maintaining your wheels. Before you get started, you’ll need a sponge, a bucket filled with warm soapy water, and a towel. Turn your bike upside down to rest it on the handlebars and seat or mount it on a bike stand. Next, remove both wheels, so that it’s easier to access the various parts of the bike.
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Start with the Cassette
Pros recommend starting with cleaning the cassette, to prevent transferring additional grease and grime to the rims. With the wheels off, begin to scrub the cassette gently, removing grit and grime. Alternatively, you can use an inexpensive gear-cleaning brush to do the trick. Once you have removed dirt from the cassette, pat it dry with the towel.
Inspecting and Washing the Tires
Having taken the wheels off, inspect them one at a time. Hold the first wheel, turning it in your hands while feeling for foreign objects that might be lodged in the tread. Carefully remove any objects with your hands if it’s safe to do so. Otherwise, use a pair of pliers or tweezers to remove the object gently and without causing further damage to the tire.
Once you have inspected the tire and removed any objects, you can proceed to clean it. First, rinse the tire with water. Next, use the soapy sponge to wash all components of the tire gently, not neglecting any parts. That means tracing the spokes with the sponge and washing the nipples, axle, and hubs. After washing, rinse once again. Then dry the tire with the towel. Repeat the process with second tire. In addition to enhancing your bike’s performance, experts say the best reason to clean these parts so carefully is to monitor for wear and tear. If you find a large gash or bald spot in the tire tread, it could be time for a replacement.
In addition to the above advice for regular tires, if you use tubeless tires, cleaning out old sealant will be an important part of your maintenance routine. In part, this is because over time sealant will pool unevenly inside the tire, potentially causing a lopsided rotation. To remove old sealant, first deflate the tire, then remove it from the rim by breaking tire bead that the old sealant has formed. You can then use a flashlight to inspect how must sealant is present. If there isn’t much sealant, paper towels should be sufficient to wipe away the sealant from the inner wall of the tire. If there is a lot of sealant, you can insert a cycling injector syringe through the valve stem to suck up excess sealant before completely removing the tire. With the tire removed, you can use a household a cleaner to remove the seal film before remounting the tire, adding more sealant, and reinflating.
Rims and Brakes
While you’re inspecting your tires, be sure to take a close look at your rims if you have rim brakes, checking for signs of wear in the braking track. Likewise, if you have disc brakes, take the time to clean the rotors and check the pads for contamination.
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