It’s that time of year again! The weather is warming up and it’s time to bring out your bike and dust it off after a long winter. There are, of course, a few tips to keeping your bike looking as good as the day you bought it, and keeping it in the best possible condition.
1. The Chain
The chain is obviously an important part of your bike and needs proper maintenance. Dirt that gets into the links can cause grinding and increase friction which can cause further damage to your bike. You may be aware that it is important to lube your chain regularly, about every 300-500 miles, but it is also important to clean your chain before doing so. This is sometimes difficult because certain cleaning products dry quickly, so you must be sure to rinse it properly before applying lubricant, as this can trap leftover dirt or products. Another tip to improve the lifetime of the chain is to only lubricate it when the chain is warm, soon after a ride. Some people also prefer to lubricate their chains after riding in the rain.
2. The Brakes
The most important thing to know about your brake discs is that they can cause flash rust, and not just on the brakes but on other metal parts of your bike. When you brake, the friction causes small metal particles of the not yet oxidised iron discs to fling off and stick to other metal areas of the bike. It is important to keep an eye out for this. Due to this, a thin layer of rust can build up overnight on the discs, however this is not something to be concerned about, as the rust is only a thin film which will be removed the next time you use the brakes. The important thing to keep an eye out for is flash rust elsewhere on the bike. A layer of grease on the brake rotors will also prevent rusting.
3. The Paintwork
Wax obviously protects the lacquer on your bike and stops water spreading into the gaps and those hard to reach places which are often prone to oxidising however polish contains an abrasive ingredient which wax is lacking. After you wash your bike you should always use polish, especially if you have a scratch or if the paintwork has a hazy look to it, polish should remedy this, and wax should then be used afterwards to seal it in and keep the shine for longer. Another important tip is never put your bike away while it is wet, especially after a ride; water on a warm bike is perfect conditions for rust to form so be sure to dry your bike thoroughly before putting it away. It is also very important to remove tar that might have been flicked up from road surfaces. As it is oil based, a conventional cleaning agent may not be effective, but chain cleaner should remove it if left on for a few minutes and then rinsed with water.
4. The Rubbers
Rubber pipes can crack after time which is unfortunately unavoidable, however you can increase their life by using a simple colour refresher after cleaning. When dirt is removed from the pipes it opens pores in the rubber which then diffuse the flexibilisers in the material, causing them to harden. Immediately after cleaning the rubber pipes on your bike, spray some colour refresher on to seal in the pores, preventing diffusion and keeping them flexible.
5. The Metal
As mentioned above, it is important to dry all areas of the bike properly after cleaning and after being out in the rain to reduce the risk of rust, but it is also important to remove dead insects and clean the areas properly. Dead insects can scar surfaces due to containing amino acids and enzymes and can corrode the lacquer and metal parts of the bike. Remember, again, to lubricate certain areas after washing your bike too.
6. The Products
In order to prevent damage and ensure a long lasting shine on your bike you must use the correct products. Some bikes are different, so be sure to ask a professional which product is most suited to your particular model, and rinse the product thoroughly afterwards. Leaving certain products on for too long can cause corrosion so be sure to read the instructions carefully. Anti-corrosion spray should also only be used on metal areas to prevent rusting, especially when storing your bike for long periods of time, however spraying it on anything that gets hot could cause it to burn. Do not spray on exhausts and headers, for example, as it could cause burnt oil which can stain the metal. Fasteners, screw heads etc should be paid the most attention. If you use any of these products before storing your bike ensure that you wash your bike and rinse and dry it again thoroughly before using it.