Written by Bobby Munro
Cyclocross and wet gravel grinders are not kind to someone who likes a clean bike. If you cannot stand to have anything other than a well-oiled machine here is a step by step process to do it quickly. It won’t be perfect, but it will be close enough.
Step 1: Hose down
Go outside and blast that grit away! Don’t forget to hit your pads (disc or rim). Also pay attention to your rims (especially with rim brakes). This is also the time to blast as much crud out of your chain as possible. While spinning the crank backwards, blast your hose downward over the chain. This is the best way to get a lot of grit off your chain. There are a few “Chain washing machines” (like the park tools CM-25) on the market that work OK but high pressure seems to do a good job as well. It is also a lot faster.
Step 2: Soap
Fill your bucket with water and dish soap. Use one of your rags to wipe the bike down. Get into all those nooks and crannies. I like to do a little intermediate rinsing to make sure I am getting everything. Save the chain for last as this will get grease on the rag that will wipe off on your frame.
Step 3: Rinse
Rinse the bike with the hose. If you only have a bucket, then this will take a bit longer. It usually helps to not use too much soap in step 2.
Step 4: Dry
Admittedly you could skip this step. But since you are already out there you might as well do it. Use your second (clean and dry) rag to dry off the bike. It is usually worth it to add a little elbow grease in a few spots. Save the chain for last for the same reason as earlier. Your goal is to get your chain as dry as possible.
Step 5: Lube
Now that you blasted all the lube out of your chain, it needs to be replaced. Go a little heavy then wipe off excess. You can use the “dry” rag if it is indeed still dry. Otherwise you will need a third. Paper towel works. But try to stick to washable rags when possible. It is also advisable to hit all the moving parts of your derailleurs and brakes. You should also try to get some lube inside the jockey wheel cups if you do not have sealed bearings.
Step 6: Ride! And know that a clean happy bike is only 30min away.