Wherever your bike takes you, whatever it is used for, daily or not - maintenance and cleaning is essential for getting the best out of your bike, ensuring it rides smoothly and works efficiently. Cleaning your bike will also help you get to know your bike. You will be more aware of which parts needs particular cleaning attention and where to look for wear and tear. Ensuring you know the condition of your bike and its components should help prevent mechanical difficulties whilst out riding.
Bikes often get neglected due to lack of time, not being cleaned properly and as a result of inappropriate products and tools that aren't bike specific. You may get away with a quick water wash for your steed but the aftercare products such as chain lube mustn't be ignored. Whilst cleaning after EVERY ride isn't a must, it is important to pay attention to the moving parts of the bike, cleaning any mud and road grit that is starting to collect. This will help prevent the deterioration of the parts. There are many cleaning products available and it can be difficult to understand which product is best for what purpose. There are general all-purpose cleaners, degreasers and chain cleaners. Each do different jobs that are specific to the purpose.
*General, all-purpose cleaners are designed to remove surface dirt from the frame, wheels, tyres, seating and handlebars. The cleaning agents in all purpose bike cleaners are milder than those found in degreasers as they are designed to surface clean the bike and replace the shine. They are not designed to remove heavy grease and grime from moving parts. Keeping your bike free of dirt and mud on a superficial level will help prevent rust and erosion of the frame and parts. Every day household cleaning products may contain harmful chemicals that should not be used on bikes, you could potentially damage the frame material, paint or parts.
*Degreasers and chain-cleaners are designed to remove old, worn and dirty lubricants and grease from moving parts. Once the parts are free of grease and grime you should be able to check the parts for wear before re-lubrication.