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A Clean Bike is a Happy Bike

10 June 2011

Back in the day, I worked at Penn Cycle. I learned a lot of things there, some of them valuable business skills, some of them life lessons, some of them dirty jokes, but one lesson stands out to me. “A clean bike works better.”

There are three parts to this lesson. First is the very literal translation. A clean bike actually does work better. Multiple times I’ve had someone bring me a bike that does not shift well, and I’ve taken some degreaser and a rag to the drivetrain, followed it with some lube, and had a wonderfully shifting bike, without a single adjustment. Braking works better on clean rims. Clean cables glide smoother. A clean bike just works better.

The second is just a perception thing. Let’s say you brought me your bike filthy and working terribly. I could tune it to absolute perfection, but if I didn’t clean it up a bit before I handed it back to you, you wouldn’t think I’d done anything, and you’d convince yourself it didn’t work. Even if it was working perfectly, the power of perception is a strong one.

The final, and to me the most important, piece of the puzzle is the flashiness factor. If you walk into your garage, your basement, your living room, your kitchen, wherever you keep your bike, and see a shiny, perfectly tuned bike sitting there, you’re going to get excited about it and want to go ride it! It’s like the honeymoon period you experience when you first buy a new bike, and you are super excited about it, and you want to go ride it every chance you get. You can extend that honeymoon by keeping your bike clean.

I’ve met many cyclists over the years that treat mud like a badge of glory. It’s especially bad amongst mountain bikers and cross racers. They feel like a mud caked bike shows that they’ve been out in it, getting dirty, having fun. They treat the mud like a fashion accessory. It’s ridiculous. It’s just not good for your bike. Dust, dirt and mud can wear through a seal on a bearing or a shock or shred through a drivetrain in no time. Showing up to the trail with a bike covered in dust or mud isn’t cool. LEAVING a trailhead with a dirty bike is.

So wash your bike. Take it out back with a bucket of soapy water and a hose. Take it into the shower with you. Whatever you need to do to keep it clean, working well, and exciting to ride.

And with that, I have to go clean my bike.

From → Bikes

One Comment
  1. I am guilty of not cleaning my bike enough. I got it! Shower with my bike! Problem solved!

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