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Home » Cycling » Cleaning the Bike after the Big Ride…  Pay Attention to Detail.

Cleaning the Bike after the Big Ride…  Pay Attention to Detail.


August 2016

I test-rode a friend’s bike a while back to help the local shop techs find an elusive “creak”.  I found it, and the source (worn out pedal bearing) and in the process found that his rear derailleur was out of adjustment.  Worse, the barrel adjuster was frozen solid.  This is what the adjuster on my Trek looks like:

His was dirty, and corroded with road debris and sweat.  He never cleaned it and thus, it froze up on him.  The repair took the owner of the shop more than a half-hour and he has access to tools most of us don’t.  Cleaning and lubing the barrel adjuster once every couple of months takes three minutes, if that.  If you look closely you can even see the fresh lube between the cable housing end cap and the barrel adjuster.

The bike looked like this, a while before that photo was taken:


My Venge presents an interesting problem as well…  The brake cable exits the frame in a lousy spot that is prone to collect sweat and salt from the dried sweat.  I went for a year and a half without cleaning it once and completely froze the bolt into the bolt hole.  It took a mechanic more than an hour to fix that.

Properly cleaning it takes 2 minutes.

Loosen the brake cable nut so the brakes open all the way up.  Take out the bolt that holds the cable housing zert in place:

Clean the bolt hole and all around the zert.  Put the bolt back, tighten the brake cable and Bob’s your uncle.

No stuck bolt, no worries.

I have to pay attention to the little details when I clean my bike if I don’t want my bike sitting in the shop when I’d rather be riding it.  And I don’t. It’s a matter of a little time and energy now or a lot of money over the winter when I have to pay someone to get it running in tip-top shape.  I opt for the former over the later.

Just a thought.

Other items to keep an eye on and clean up once or twice a season:

  • Seat post – mark the saddle height on the post with a piece of electricians tape, pull the post, clean it up, lube it (if it’s an aluminum post and frame or use the carbon fiber equivalent for CF components and frame).
  • Bottle cage bolts – they collect a LOT of gnarly stuff over time.
  • Derailleurs at the pivot points – and give them a good drop of T-9 to keep them lubed and operating tip-top.
  • Bottom brackets and for external derailleur cables, the tray underneath the bottom bracket that properly routes the cables to their derailleurs…  That gets seriously nasty if you ride fast enough to sweat a lot.
  •  Barrel adjusters and cable housings that lead to the derailleurs on bikes that are ridden in the rain.
  • Brake barrel adjusters.
  • Headset – the headset should be completely taken apart, cleaned, lubed and put back together at least once a season (I’ve done mine twice already this year).

If you don’t know how to do any of these, YouTube.  It’s not as difficult as many think.



  1. Ian says:

    Great post chap.. I love cleaning bikes, is that weird?

  2. Great post, I have learn over the last few years that not properly cleaning has cost me more money on repairs then I would of spent if I actually took the time to clean the bike in the first place.

    I spent the better half of Feb using a Dremal grinding out the headset bearings little by little on my Felt. The problem is the bike has spent six months a year for 4 years on the trainer with me dripping sweat down on the headset, the other part of the problem is two different metals come together at the point on this bike with the added salt equals extra corrosion. From now on, on this bike and whatever bike I buy it will get the headset cleaned or replaced at the end of every season plus a bag or towel over the headset when I am on the trainer.

    • bgddyjim says:

      I use a CycleOps Sweat Guard… Easy on, easy off, and it’s washable. It protects almost everything. In fact, trainers are pretty bad on bottom brackets as well (I found this out the hard way too). Thanks Wayne – and you’re absolutely right.

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