Bicycle cleaning and care products for the spring check

This is needed for cleaning and care products: bicycle cleanser, warm water with Spüli, brushes, brush, sponge, silicone spray, chain oil. The F100 Bicycle Cleaner and Dynamic Chain Oil performed pretty well in the reviews of the trade magazines.

LWhen the first rays of sunshine come in, the bicycles are taken out of the cellars in spring. Often in the condition they were mothballed last fall. Hard-core cyclists may have ridden in winter too. Now is the right time to bring the wheel to fruition: optical as well as technical. The best way to do it yourself, because the workshops of bicycle dealers often have hardly any deadlines in the spring. In addition, a bike check is fun and takes only one to two hours. First, the bike is first thoroughly cleaned.

Clean the bike

The bike is sprayed from top to bottom with bicycle cleaner

The bike is completely sprayed with bicycle cleaner

In addition the whole wheel is sprayed with a good bicycle cleaner in the shade. The exposure time depends on the manufacturer's information. The agent must not dry! If necessary, it is also with dishwashing detergent (Spüli etc.) and warm water. After an exposure time of a few minutes to half an hour, the entire bike is scrubbed with a microfibre cloth or a car sponge and a brush for the smaller technical parts. In a second pass, the dirt is then washed off generously with water and a drop of dishwashing detergent or brushed off again.

Especially dirty areas are brushed off extra

Especially dirty areas are brushed off extra

The trick is similar to the car: Plenty of warm water applied generously protects the paint of the frame and the plastic parts. Too little water makes scratches. A high-pressure cleaner is only something for real care experts and actually has nothing to look for on the bike: laymen like to press water into the bearings, into the rims, into the frame. It never comes out again, but later provides massive corrosion in delicate places. Leave the fool's tricks and do a proper hand wash with sponge and brush without water pressure unless you are really an expert.

The bicycle is washed off with a brush and warm water with dishwashing detergent

Second round with rinse water: So the dirt goes away gently.

Does the wheel have a derailleur, The sprocket set, the front derailleur, the rear and the sprocket and of course the chain must also be carefully cleaned with a brush or a brush of fat crumbs. A special chain cleaner helps here, but it also flushes the required lubricant out of the chain. This work is less fun, but makes sense. A round or flat brush will do wonders for difficult, dirty spots. Finally, the wheel is wiped dry with a microfiber cloth. The rest is provided by the wind and some spring sunshine. We look at the end on a clean, but rather dull bike. Delicate matt paints such as on this Stevens bike may not be treated further, because the matte effect is otherwise piebald.

The Bowden cables are oiled

Bowden cable care with silicone spray

Bicycle corrosion protection and lubrication

Once the wheel is dry, waxes, corrosion inhibitors and oils can be applied. They ensure the shine on the parts and protect against corrosion (not in matt finishes). The chain should of course be freshly oiled after wet washing, otherwise it tends to rust. Attention: Also aluminum parts like to start to grind eg by road salt after the winter. Therefore, a corrosion protection such as a protective wax or something "car polish" on the bike after the basic cleaning is recommended. Plastic parts such as mud guards or the chain guard are pleased with a refreshing agent from the car accessories, but can basically be neglected. Attention should definitely be paid to the Bowden cables: A shot of silicone spray in brake and shift trains ensures a smooth-running, präsize mechanics. Silicone spray displaces water and has a very high creeping power, but does not lubricate as long as a drop of oil. Should be used more often.

chain care

Clean Shimano Nexus rear hub

A clean rear hub and a very dirty bike chain

The condition of the chain has a direct influence on the drive energy used. A dirty bicycle chain is simply pulled through a slightly oily cloth until it looks clean. When the dirt is off, it should be oiled with a good chain oil. Sparfüchse simply use inexpensive gear oil for motorcycles or scooter automatic transmission from the hardware store. That works quite well. Difficult, heavily corroded or rusty bike chains can be used for one night in diesel. As a result, all lubricants are washed out. After seeing chains like new, but are still often mechanically worn, because they have lengthened while driving. Therefore, check with a chain gauge or vernier caliper before carrying out an extensive cleaning process.

The chain wear is measured with a chain gauge. If this is on the chain, the chain is worn and must be replaced.

Inexpensive chain gauge in use

A chain gauge for a few euros gives clear information about the condition of the chain. The purchase is worthwhile for all frequent cyclists to determine the state of wear in the form of elongation exactly. If the chain is worn, then inevitably use the sprocket sets or the ring gear. And then it gets expensive. Therefore, in case of doubt always replace the chain and then the gears. Normally, two to four chains come on a sprocket or on a sprocket set. In hub gears, the gears can be driven much farther to the wear limit because the chain precision does not directly interfere with the shifting process. Over the years, however, I have learned that this strategy too is more theoretical. Anyone who swaps a slightly worn chain at an early stage will simply be better off overall: lighter, more precise and, ultimately, cheaper. Only a few cyclists are aware that normally all 2.000 to 5.000 kilometers are due for a new chain. If you drive muddy MTB in the area or through the winter, the chain should sometimes even change all 500 - to 1.500 kilometers, without the gears wear excessively. Another important factor is the philosophy of chain lubrication: Less oil also attracts less dirt. Too little oil is also bad. At the smallest chirp noise should be relubricated. Then immediately go around the block and wipe off the excess oil with a cloth. Replacement chains are bought very cheaply in late summer / autumn and then placed on the shelf until just before the Kettenverschleisslehre rests on the chain. Regardless, after the winter is always a particularly good time to change the chain - especially if it was driven in wet-salty weather.

Check tire and air pressure

Check tire pressure

The tire pressure has to be checked after a longer service life - air is almost always missing

For Easter, I've been changing bikes from winter tires to summer tires for years. I check the tires for age-related cracks in the flank and retracted foreign bodies on the tread, which must be removed. Both hoses should give a reliable overall picture, otherwise the next flat tire is pre-programmed. Caution: Do not install hoses wet and damp on the cleaned, wet wheel; they will then become more porous in the tire under exclusion of air.

Semi-inflated tires create a tremendous amount of pedaling sensation on the bike. Tire pressure has an immense effect on the direct sense of whether a bike is running smoothly or not. Smart bikers inside therefore never drive under 4 Bar tire pressure, except on MTB off-road, where it sometimes makes sense to lower the air pressure of wide tires to increase comfort. Apart from that, the tires are usually pumped up on the touring bike at 3,5-4 Bar if you want to give away little walking energy. On the road bike on the 5-7 Bar or even more, on the MTB depending on the terrain on the 1-3 Bar. The correct air pressure of a bicycle tire results from tire width, system weight, road surface, rim width, air pressure, etc. The maximum pressure allowed is outside of the tire sidewall. The tread design, the tire and rim weight, the air pressure, etc. are still "the biggest tuning factor on the bike", because the wheels also have high centrifugal forces, for example. The moment of inertia during rotation also has a considerable influence on the acceleration of the wheels. Every gram counts x times! So pump up for the start of the season in the spring at least. If you want to cycle easier, you also invest in lightweight tires with little profile. After the winter, thin bicycle tubes have lost a lot of air, as opposed to cars, even if they just stood around.

Check brakes, readjust and replace brake pads

Worn and new brake shoe for Shimano V-Brake in comparison

Almost worn and new brake shoe for Shimano V-Brake in comparison

Worn, oily or old brake pads must be replaced on the bike promptly, otherwise it will be dangerous, whether V-brakes, cantilever, cable, hydraulic or disc brakes. Problems are usually recognized by the fact that the brake levers can be pulled dangerously close to the handlebar until they finally become completely ineffective. The brakes in the wear frame can be readjusted with the Bowden cable bolts in the brake lever. This step is very important to have a good brake in dangerous situations. She saves a proverbial ass! Of course, the Bowden cables must be smooth.

Oil Bowden cables with silicone spray

Spray silicone spray into the Bowden cables

My advice: Instead of oil, take a silicone spray for the Bowden cables and spray all the entry surfaces of the inner cable with the Bowden-Outer Rope. Keep a rag around it, otherwise everything will be misted with silicone spray - and it will become slippery. If a single small wire is torn in a Bowden cable, the Bowden cable must be completely changed. The rim flanks can also be cleaned with a brake cleaner from the car trade on a rag when installing new brake linings. Alloy wheels create a black, greasy abrasion when braking, which should be removed.

Brake pad replacement on V-brake

New brake pads on my V-Brake

Attention: Disc brake pads and brake discs must under no circumstances come into contact with oils or silicone spray, otherwise they will fail! Good bicycle brakes have a very good brake modulation: Say clearly noticeable braking force to the blocking of the rear wheel or to the rollover by a snappy front brake. With all the advantages and disadvantages of the different bicycle brakes, here you have your life directly in the hand! The ignorant go better to a bicycle workshop. Compromises on brakes are generally a very bad decision. Here a link to To adjust or for Brake pad change with disc brakes.

Check the lighting system

Check bike lighting

With this tail light, the batteries were empty

The lighting system must of course also work reliably in the summer months. However, in the summer I have always dismantled half of my rechargeable batteries to save weight. For fixed dynamo mounting, the front and rear lights must be checked once. Corroded cables are replaced, gagged plug or cable connections are embalmed with copper paste for the and thus permanently protected against corrosion for years. The LED lights themselves need no care except for a clean glass. Hakelige switches can be maintained with a small shot of silicone spray.

Control, adjust and maintain the circuit

The completely dirty rear hub including unkempt chain

The dirty rear hub including unkempt chain before the check

In winter, the Bowden cables of the circuit components are shortened by the cold and then turn in the summer often imprecise, because they have stretched a bit. Normally, the length of the Bowden cables by the temperature fluctuations in the frame. However, it can happen after a few years that, for example, a nexus hub gear or a derailleur simply needs to be readjusted clean. The Bowden cables have to be treated again with silicone spray. In addition, a Nexus hub gearshift should be removed once a year during frequent rains or after the winter and immersed in an oil bath. This applies to Shimano Nexus and the Alfine 8 Gang Hub. With the Alfine 11 gearshift, the oil change is completed with the hub installed. The dealers rub their hands, you can do that with a little screwdriver knowledge yourself. An oil dip of the Shimano Nexus hub is almost as expensive at the bicycle retailer as the oil change of a small car in the workshop. Here is a guide for an oil immersion bath on your own.

The seat post

If a bicycle is frequently moved in winter, then passes through the capillary action Splashing water between the seat post and the frame, even if it is just a drop. In principle, it takes years to rust something down here as in the 70 years, but: today's wheels often have an aluminum frame, with an aluminum seat post. Both components are strained selectively and like to corrode by penetrating water. The frame then suddenly creaks when kicking. The creaking sound disappears again when the seat post is removed and slightly greased reinstalled. Carbon frames use a suitable assembly paste instead of grease.

Hubs / bottom bracket / pedal bearings / steering head bearings

A completely dirty front fork

A steering head bearing with the filth of last fall

Every few years, the bicycle main bearings have to be relubricated or readjusted or replaced. The highest stress on the bike goes to the bottom bracket, followed by the steering head bearing. While the steering head bearings are still relatively easy to adjust and grease over the Ahead screw, it becomes more difficult with the bottom bracket of the bottom bracket: Here you need special tools.

For the wheel bearings applies according to my experience: It would be better to grease later, if they turn worse. The cones of the wheel bearings have run exactly into each other, every disassembly destroys the exact fit of these precision parts. Run-in bearings may therefore not be assembled laterally after disassembly. The regreasing of steering head bearings, pedal and bottom brackets, however, can already have a positive effect after the winter or after a few years of use. For example, I have saved an almost faulty, heavily corroded steering head bearing with a slight locking effect after 13 years of continuous use from the scrap, by having it twisted installed and re-greased.

Maintain rubber parts & plastics

Now that all mechanical and electrical metal parts on the bike have been lubricated and protected against corrosion, it is now time to paint and plastic care. The bicycle frame is happy about some protective wax or car polish (do not use with matt coatings). All plastic parts react to a plastic care spray very pleased in the form of semi-gloss. Saddles, handles and pedals must not be sprayed with it because the surfaces are extremely smooth due to the nanoparticles. By the way, real rubber parts are always happy about some glycerin or Vaseline, but they have become rare on the bike. Both plasticizers can protect rubber and soft plastic parts from embrittlement for years and are cheap to buy in drugstores (in pharmacies, however, expensive). Keep in mind with all treatments of the saddle: If it becomes slippery with a plastic care spray, it will be really uncomfortable to cycle! The popular "Armor All-Plastic Spray" has lost nothing on saddles like on motorbike bench seats - even if it looks nicely refreshed.

Tip: Oldtimer fans swear for example on the creaming with normal sunscreen as a balm for softer plastic and rubber parts. A sense of proportion and some experience is of course appropriate here. Who wipes with a car polish over rough surfaces, for example, hardly ever gets it off again ...

Bicycle Spring Check: Before-After Photos

Finally, a test drive

A ride around the block with the freshly serviced bike assures you: Both wheels spin freely and do not drag on the brakes. The wheel rolls straight ahead and can be driven freehand (otherwise the steering head bearing is defective). The adjusted brakes can be operated smoothly and well-dosed to toxic. All Bowden cables are smooth and the circuit clicks cleanly from gear to gear up and down. The frame makes no creaking noises. The lighting works perfectly, the chain is lubricated halfway clean and the tires have the right air pressure. The driving experience is often similar to a brand new bike!

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