Anyone who has ridden their bike offroad during winter knows just how muddy things get. The key to keeping bikes clean, which is hugley important if you want to avoid going to the local bike shop to replace worn out kit every few weeks, is twofold.
First, prevention. You know you’re going to be running in all kinds of dirt offroad and winter conditions are only going to make that more likely and even more extreme. So, much as it pains me to say this, use mudguards to keep the mud at bay.
I use Cycraguard mudguards front and rear. The front is much like any other Crud Catcher style guard, fixing to the downtube and deflecting a whole load of crap from being thrown in my face when riding. Surprisingly effective but not revolutionary although the system is a bit more sophisticated than Crud’s version. It has spacers so if you have shifter cables running down the underside of the downtube you don’t foul them with the guard, a neat touch.
The Cycraguard rear mudguard is a bit more clever though as it has a quick release clamp which lets me switch relatively easily between bikes or, if conditions are dry and hard, take the thing off completely. They may be practical but I really don’t like rear mudguards on bikes, especially on full sus machines!
Another tip for keeping you and the bike clean is the RRP Neoguard barrier guards that fix between the top of the forks and the crown, blocking tons of stuff that gets thrown forward of your wheel at speed. Very effective seemingly and something I’ve been meaning to try out for a while.
Second on the list of keeping your bike clean is treatment. There’s no doubt, your pride and joy is going to get dirty—I mean your bike for those of you who thought your significant other was feeling frisky.
I’ve found the best method for getting your bike clean after a ride, which works every time, is to get the garden hose out before you leave for a ride. This works particularly well for night rides when a late return means the last thing you really feel like doing is cleaning the bike. This technique means you might as well clean the bike, since you need to put the hose away anyway and cleaning the bike when the mud is still wet makes things very easy.
All you have to do is turn on the tap and get the worst of the mud off. Even better, get one of those weird bike specific cleaning brushes and makes sure you get all the gunk out from the drivetrain, cassette, jockey wheels, front mech et al. What this means is that there’s none of that horrible mud to work as grinding paste next time you go out, shortening the lifespan of expensive components and generally sounding awful. Using a bike specific brush also lets you get into nooks and crannies you never knew were there and saves your knuckles at the same time.
While you’re at it, clean the mud off your tyres. Not only will this make them look better and give you a chance to see if you’ve picked up any cuts but if you have got yourself a slow puncture it’s a lot easier—and less messy—to change a tyre when it’s clean than when it’s crusted with horse poo and trail debris.
When all that’s done, which should take only a few minutes, the really enthusiastic will take off the chain and boil it/sling in the dishwasher to make sure it’s properly clean. Don’t bother. Your bike is ‘clean enough’ and a quick dry off, plus a dribble of light oil before the next ride will see it in fine shape through winter and beyond.
So there you go. Keep the mud off as much as possible and wash it off when you pick it up. Simple really, but it can save you a lot of money.