If you couldn’t resist riding through that muddy puddle, you’ll pay the price when you eventually have to clean your bike tires. Bike tires are one of the most ignored parts of the bike because why clean the tire when it’s still rolling just fine?
Dirty tires can affect your bike’s handling and performance. Your chain won’t work well, your tires can start to wear, and you’re more prone to accidents. Luckily, it’s easy to get your bicycle wheels and tires looking brand new in a few easy steps.
What We Will Cover
How To Clean Bike Tires
To start, you can either remove the tires from the dropouts if you have time or mount your bike on a stand and clean them. You’re going to be focusing on cleaning your bike cassette, hub, spokes, nipples, rims, and tires.
Cleaning Tools And Equipment You Will Need
- Bucket of water or a garden hose
- Clean towel
- Wire Brushes
- Old toothbrush
- Liquid soap
- Bike stand
How Do You Clean Bike Cassettes?
Set your bike on a stand, or let it lean against a wall or fence. Spray the degreaser onto the cassette on your rear tire as you’re spinning it around, and try to get all the grease out.
If you use disc brakes (as opposed to rim brakes), be careful not to get any degreaser on it; you can cover it with a disc brake cover or cardboard with a hole so the disc brake doesn’t get any contamination. A contaminated disc brake will make a loud, consistent noise when the brake is applied and can potentially reduce your ability to stop when you need to.
Pick up a large brush and brush the cassette, spreading the degreaser. Try to get all that road grime out. Using the toothbrush or any thin brush you have, try to get between the sprockets because lots of dirt and mud have probably gotten in.
Pick up your hose, or scoop water with a bowl from your bucket, and wet the cassette while backpedaling. Next, check for missed spots or bring the wheel out of the dropouts if you can so you can reach difficult places. Repeat the process of applying the degreaser, then wash all of it out.
You’ll want to clean the cassette first so you avoid getting any grease on your rim after you wash it.
How Do You Clean Bike Hubs?
First, remove the quick-release rod – then long thin rod that goes through the hub and connects all the parts together – then remove the locknut, bearing cone, and dust shield. Your bearings should come rolling out by now; be ready to catch and put them aside safely.
Next, remove the axle and undo the cassette or freewheel. The cassette is hard to remove, so you may need a chain whip if you can’t do it with a wrench. Unscrew the lock ring, remove the other dust shield and store the other bearings separately.
When you clean the hub using a rag, try to get all the grime out thoroughly. You can use a cotton swab to reach difficult places. Clean all the parts you took out too. Apply grease before putting your bearings and put all the parts back together.
If this is all a lot to read, you can watch this video and follow it step by step.
How Do You Clean Bike Rims and Tires?
Cleaning your rims is the perfect time to check if they’re worn out. First, spray a cleaner on the rag and wipe the braking surface and top of the rim. Be on the lookout for tiny cracks and wear; if you find any, then you either need to get your bike checked by a bike shop or get ready to replace those components yourself if you feel up to it.
Continue cleaning the rim until it looks clean. When you’ve got all the grime off your rim, you can wipe your rims one last time with rubbing alcohol to get the solvent residue off the rim because this can cause your brakes to squeal.
Now for the best part, the tires. Well, not the best, just the primary reason you’re reading this. Spray your rag with your cleaner and wipe the tires down on the sidewalls first. Scrub it well until you get all the dirt off.
Don’t forget the spokes and air valves. While cleaning the rim, run your rag through those thin metal rods that connect your hub to the rim and clean where they meet the rim (the nipples).
Next, spray your cleaner on a large brush and start scrubbing into the tire tread. Since there are gaps and crevices in the tread, you should move your brush in circles to reach all the dirt that might be stuck in there. Use the dry part of your rag to wipe the tire and leave it to dry.
When the tire’s dry, it’ll look and feel brand new if you scrubbed it well.
How Do You Clean White Rubber Bike Tires/Whitewalls?
It’s challenging to get the dirt off whitewalls because they’re, well, white. The brake dust, mud, and other road substances stain your whitewalls and can make them yellow over time.
First, make a concentrated soap solution and grab your foam brush. With some gloves on, dip the foam brush into the solution and start scrubbing your whitewalls. Be careful not to stain your rim, especially if you polished it.
After scrubbing just a small part of the whitewall, you can rinse off with soapy water to see the difference. Don’t worry about the white rubbing off; it’s just solid white rubber, and you won’t be damaging your tires. Try mixing baking soda with the solution if the dirt isn’t coming off.
Can You Put Tire Shine On Bicycle Tires?
The short answer is no. Tire shine makes bike wheels slippery, and your wheels can slip or skid when riding on hard surfaces.
Bicycle tires aren’t made to shine; they’re made to grip the road surface. Shining your tires lessens that grip, and you can fall when turning a corner.
If you absolutely must, you can apply the shine on the sidewalls but not on the center of the tire.
Can You Use Dish Soap To Wash a Bike?
It depends on the type of bike and the type of dish soap. But you shouldn’t clean your bike with dish soap because it wasn’t made to be used on bikes, and it may not be able to clean your bike the way you want it. You’d be better off using bike cleaning liquid.