Servicing your bike and regular upkeep is necessary to keep it in top condition so that it will last longer and not fail you whilst out on a ride. There is a whole spectrum of views about how much you should do this but I tend to give my bikes a proper over haul after a few long rides. Servicing can range from a full strip down of the bike to a quick clean and de-grease. Whatever you require there is no reason why you cant do it yourself and with a wealth of videos on YouTube guiding you through the processes there is very little stopping you for keeping up good bike maintenance.
The first Item that comes out of my garage when I start cleaning my bikes is my bike stand. Yes you can spend almost £100 on these, getting top of the range Park Tool equipment, but is there any need when you’re on a budget? My brother bought me a stand for my birthday off eBay and it has lasted a couple of years so far. It folds down easily, it is strong and robust, holding the bike solidly in place so you can move around it easily cleaning it from all sides. Furthermore it did not cost an arm and a leg meaning it is great value-for-money. So if you are thinking of learning yourself rather than having your local bike shop clean your bike for you then a work stand is a worthwhile investment. It makes the cleaning process more thorough, easier, and a whole lot quicker. It also proved invaluable when I built up a couple of bikes and for repairs.
The next product I normally use is my Park Tools Cyclone chain cleaner. This is a top piece of kit! Its just under £20 and boy does it get that chain free of muck and back to looking brand new. Just fill it with degreaser up to the mark, place on your chain and move the pedals backwards, after a few refills with degreaser and then a few with water you chain will be as good as new and this simple little trick is a must for any service that I give my bikes. It prolongs the life of your bike and chain. The product itself is plastic yet robust and clips together around the chain using two metal fastenings. These are firm and can be a little stiff in colder conditions but work well which is why I recommend this piece of kit to anyone wanting to clean their chain. Again there are video tutorials on YouTube and also cheaper unbranded alternatives however it’s not that expensive and it will last for years so I didn’t mind the small outlay.
I also use a spray can of degreaser from decathlon. This is cheap and cheerful and does the job well! I find it particularly useful for use on the rear mech and the rear cassette. In order to properly clean the rear cassette I use this degreaser along with a brush which is probably for cleaning surfaces in houses or bathrooms but it was cheap and does what I need it to do. Another great item which is an everyday item in the house but incredibly useful for bike maintenance is a J-cloth. This or cheaper own-brand multipurpose cloths are perfect for cleaning your bike and getting the muck from hard to reach places, like behind the front chainring and front derailleur. All these items are cheap but effective and mean the main components of your bike will be in tiptop condition. To finish of the chain just apply some lube, I’m sure you will have your own favourite but I prefer to use Finish Line Dry Lube as it lasts a long time and my chain doesn’t get too dirty with it. I also give the moving parts of the gear mechanisms a quick spray with lubricant but any lubricant will do. If your on the road, on cycle tour, you can improvise and just use cooking oil as a last resort if you are miles away from anywhere and that’s all you have as lubricant. I like to re-lube my chain on cycle-tour every couple of days when covering big miles and I find this makes a noticeable difference to the feel of the bike and how it runs.
The final ‘must have’ product for a quick bike service is Muc-Off Nano Tech Bike Cleaner. This works on so many bike surfaces and is a perfect all-round bike cleaner. Muc-Off supply Team Sky pro cycling team so they certainly have products that are used by the best. Its not too expensive and the litre bottle can go quite a long way! Just went your bike, spray on the Muc-Off, let it do its thing then wash it off. Again when washing and rubbing off the muck some all-purpose cloths are great. Voila! Your bike will be gleaming as if it has just come out of the showroom.
If I am pressed for time these steps are quick and effective in cleaning my bikes and making them last longer. Occasionally I do more exhaustive services where I take my bike to pieces then re-lube everything and put it all back together however I think this only needs doing every year or so. Also if you are not comfortable at doing this most local bike shops will offer a full service where they strip down your bike, cleaning and replacing parts. Before I serviced my bike myself I had this done at a couple of places and found it really great value-for-money. However if you watch a few videos on YouTube and buy some basic tools and products you can save yourself money in the long run, keep your bike looking good, and prolong its life. It really is a win-win!