A Dirty Bike Is A Happy Bike

“A dirty bike is a happy bike” … Right? Well, yes, this is true. In our wonderful world of mountain biking, getting dirty is just part of the game that we all enjoy. At the end of the day we always have that one chore we need to do to ensure longevity with your amazing man powered machines. The bike wash.

In this snippet I will show you what I did to keep my bike ready to rock on the trails.

Just prior to this blog I enjoyed an awesome ride with some buddies up at Forest Park in Jacksonville. The trails were great even though I couldn’t feel my index fingers on my brake levers and mother nature attempting to snow on us. Needless to say my bike and I were a mucky mess after a few runs down Hobo and Granite and a nice pedal on Ol’ Miners.

Here’s the aftermath, unfortunately the photo doesn’t do the mess any justice. The Heckler was downright filthy.

After a big deep breath and a bigger gulp of my favorite caffeinated drink I turned up my Pandora station and got to work, the products I used are relatively inexpensive and can be found at your local bike shop and the dollar store.

My go to cleaner and degreaser is found at your local Dollar Tree and it’s called “LA’s Totally Awesome” For $1 you can get 32oz of this stuff and dilute to what you think is necessary for your job at hand. For me, I went full strength knowing my bike was going to need some good scrubbing since I haven’t given her a good detail since I brought it home early in the summer. I was just too excited to ride and spent my energy on the trails and suffering through my first summer of climbing (I’ll blog my experience here soon).

Back to the cleaning. I first gave my bike a quick spritz with the hose with some low pressure, but it just wasn’t enough, some of the dirt had dried itself to the frame like it wanted to become one with the bike. This is where the Dollar Store cleaner comes in handy! I sprayed the whole bike down with Awesome…

After a few minutes of the Dollar Store cleaner soaking on the bike it was time to rinse it down and scrub the drivetrain. I had noticed the decomposed granite from Forest Park really likes to cement itself to the jockey wheels on my derailleur and front sprocket.

During the summer I didn’t use my water hose to clean it since it wasn’t necessary, I was able to wipe the bike down with a microfiber and lube what was required. But with this wet winter we’re having, some extra help is needed in the form of water from your typical garden hose. Make sure you keep the pressure low while hosing down your bike otherwise you can put push water where water isn’t meant to go.

At this point in time I really began to wonder why I decided to tackle this on such a cold afternoon… After a quick inspection of the drivetrain I realized the water and Awesome just wasn’t enough. Luckily the guys at Unreal Cycles gave me a product to try out:

Muc-Off drivetrain cleaner along with an old parts brush made all the difference. This stuff worked quite well to loosen up some hidden stuff in my cassette and chain, however my brush failed me miserably. I knew it was time to move into the garage, fire up the propane heater, blast some music and perform some serious detail work.

The first order of business after the feeling in my fingers came back was to remove the rear wheel and take a good look at everything. This kind of detail is the ideal time to take a good look at your bike to see if you find anything that could leave you down and out while on the trail. Once my rear wheel was removed and wiped down I went to work on the rear derailleur and chain.


An easy wipe down the of the chain stay with a clean microfiber had it looking pretty and like new again. It took a few minutes to clean the derailleur since so much stuff was caked onto the plastic wheels. Slowly but surely I won the battle and took a good look at my reflection in now shiny components.

 From there it was time to move forward on the bike and tackle the crankset and chain ring. For this I opted to remove the chain and soak it on its own; I filled an old plastic container about three-quarters full with the Dollar Store degreaser. I removed the chain from the bike and placed it in the container.

I let the chain soak in the degreaser for a few minutes, then gave it a really good shake like an unbalanced washing machine…


I knew once I rinsed the chain and got it dry I would have to quickly get it on the bike and get it lubricated before the corrosion process started. I would usually go for some Triflow, but Muck-Off has something better; courtesy of Unreal Cycles.

A little goes a long way with this stuff, the .17oz tube should last me awhile.

Nothing fancy here, just lube the chain as normal practice and you are good to go. I gave the entire bike a wipe down with a clean cloth and inspected all the welds on the frame, shock and fork pressure, visual inspection of the brake system and quickly pulled the fork to make sure no water creeped its way into the headset. I was in the clear.

After several hours, a headache and many dirty rags later, the Heckler is ready to ride again. I’m sure I will do this kind of detail a few more times this winter if it stays as wet as it has been here in the Rogue Valley.

How crazy do you go on your bike cleaning adventures?

Until next time, keep that sticky side down.

See you on the trail.

-Kyle Ammirata

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