Keep your two wheels happy: look after your bike

It is no secret that university students are often ambassadors for a particular form of transportation that involves two wheels: cycling. If you fall into this category of student, perhaps you have asked yourself how to clean and care for your machine. If so, fear not; Concrete has a few basic tips for you.

Joshua Smithers - bike - Concrete

For minimal care, always treat the bicycle’s chain – this makes the bike work and without it a bike is just an oddly shaped unsteady chair. To do so, ideally turn your bike upside down so its weight is resting on the handlebars and saddle, or otherwise prop it right side up against a wall with no obstructions to the pedals.

Now look at your chain, is it dry? Covered in black gloop? It might be beyond care, but before disaster strikes grab some bike friendly spray oil, such as WD-40, GT85 or TF2. Holding a pedal, work the chain back-wards (so your bike does not run off!) and spray a good amount of your chosen oil at one spot near the back, making sure all the chain gets covered. Do not be afraid to go overboard.

Grab an old tea towel or cloth and run the pedals backwards again, holding the chain where your hand will not get caught up in metal. This strips excess oil and helps work it between the chain links where it is needed. Ideally, keep going until your chain is beautiful and shines like new. You can stop here, but that oil will not last long – a maximum of a week in dry conditions and you will be doing the whole process again!

You now need a “drippy” oil. TF2 again make a good one, but otherwise anything labeled a cycle lube is good, with dry lube for summer and wet lube for winter. With this drippy stuff it is the same process – run the chain backwards, apply generously and wipe the excess away.

Now that the messy part is over (you probably noticed oil spattered just about everywhere), it is a good time to clean the rest of your bike. You can buy specific bike cleaning products, which are great at tackling grime and mud and who knows what else. However, for the casual commuting cyclist, some washing up liquid in a bucket of warm water works just fine. A cheap dish brush, old rags, or even an old toothbrush are also perfect for cleaning those hard to reach places.

Using your warm soapy water and brush, just work around the frame, forks and anywhere looking like in need of a scrub. Rinse off with fresh water and voila! During cold months, wipe your bicycle down with a dry cloth in order to prevent rust.

If you are still not satisfied, the last basic thing to clean is the rims of your wheels – if you have these brakes that is. For best results, use clean soapy water and a different rag. Dunk the rag in the water and work it around the rim, making sure to switch to a clean part when you’ve collected enough black gloop (it will happen). Remember to do both sides of both wheels.


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September 2021
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The University of East Anglia’s official student newspaper. Concrete is in print and online.

If you would like to get in touch, email the Editor on Concrete.Editor@uea.ac.uk. Follow us at @ConcreteUEA.