Commuter bike, clean or dirty?

Beating the system - the cycling commuting section

Do you keep your commuter bike sparkling clean or a filthy workhorse?

Sparkling clean garage queen
10
24%
Filthy utilitarian workhorse
31
76%
 
Total votes : 41

Commuter bike, clean or dirty?

Postby AndrewBurns » Wed Apr 25, 2012 1:37 pm

Hey all, I'm sure many of us here have multiple bikes like me. I for example have a nice carbon road bike for weekend rides and races and I also have a carbon/aluminium CX bike with disk brakes, mudguards and a rack for commuting.

When I only had the road bike I'd obsessively clean it after every ride (wipe all dust and dirt off the frame, clean brake tracks and brakes, clean drive train etc) and make it look like new. When I got my commuter bike however I started to wonder why I would spend so much time cleaning something that was really just to get me from A to B and back. So these days I still obsessively clean my road bike but my commuter gets a wipe-down of the drive-train after every ride but that's it, I don't really bother cleaning dust or dirt off the frame or wheels and I've heard the best things you can do with disk brake rotors is leave them alone so that's what I've been doing also. The way I see it my road bike is the fancy sports car I take out when I want some fun and the commuter bike is the dinged up but functional ute I use for work.

So what's your opinion? Do you take to your commuter with the bleach every time you ride it or are you letting it slowly fossilise inside a thick crust of dry mud?
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by BNA » Wed Apr 25, 2012 6:34 pm

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Re: Commuter bike, clean or dirty?

Postby clackers » Wed Apr 25, 2012 6:34 pm

I'll keep the roadie looking purdy with baby wipes, Andrew, but the commuter (quite a good Scott) rides a lot in Melbourne rain and really cops it. I'll wipe its chain afterwards and maybe relube with a heavy oil but that's about it.
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Commuter bike, clean or dirty?

Postby gabrielle260 » Wed Apr 25, 2012 7:08 pm

Depending on how dirty they get, I will retreat into my man cave and spend some time cleaning all 3. After a while it doesn't take long. In summer I put the work stand outside, clean them with soapy water and then polish them up after they dry in the sun. I go through a bit of lube but get great life out of chains and clusters.
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Re: Commuter bike, clean or dirty?

Postby trailgumby » Wed Apr 25, 2012 7:24 pm

Doesn't get as much TLC as the dually, but a clean bike is a reliable bike.

Was embarassed when familyguy dropped round to get photos for an upcoming review - my drive train was filthy :x :oops: :oops: Took ages to clean the cassette, and had to put a clean chain on. The one that was on the bike is still soaking in kero - one rinse and wipe cycle hardly touched it :oops:
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Re: Commuter bike, clean or dirty?

Postby Mulger bill » Wed Apr 25, 2012 8:15 pm

My roadie is clean and shiny, the commuter has a reasonable coat of road grime except for the moving parts which are always cleanish to gleaming. The MTB is usually covered in dust, mud and shredded grass but otherwise like the commuter. Why did fork makers do away with boots?
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Re: Commuter bike, clean or dirty?

Postby AndrewBurns » Wed Apr 25, 2012 8:21 pm

On that note I was kinda disappointed by the KMC chain that came with the commuter. The road bike has campy veloce and the stock campagnolo chain was clean as a whistle! I just had to wipe the external dirt off the outside every ride and it stayed shiny and silver and I didn't need to lube it at all for the first ~1000km. The KMC chain on the other hand is a huge dirt magnet, even after one ride it was more filthy than the campy chain after 1000km and try as I might I just couldn't wipe the dirt off it kept coming and coming. I wasn't keen on stripping the lube off the veloce chain because it was doing so well (and in the end I just added more lube) but with the KMC chain and quick-link I can see myself pulling the chain off and giving it the kero treatment fairly soon.
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Re: Commuter bike, clean or dirty?

Postby Blackrock » Wed Apr 25, 2012 9:52 pm

I pick up too much road grit to let it jsut sit on the running gear. Might as well lube the bike with sand if you're gonna leave it!! I clean the bike once a week, usually on a Sunday before the Monday ride. Bit of lube in the right places (!) and she's ready to go...
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Re: Commuter bike, clean or dirty?

Postby il padrone » Wed Apr 25, 2012 10:28 pm

Commuter bike is also my touring bike and favourite ride, so it has been the cleanest and most used of all my bikes. The others have all been gathering dust in the workshop. Having said that, mudguards go a long way to keep the cleaning to a minimum and it does often get diry rims & hubs.

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Re: Commuter bike, clean or dirty?

Postby il padrone » Wed Apr 25, 2012 10:34 pm

AndrewBurns wrote:The KMC chain on the other hand is a huge dirt magnet, even after one ride it was more filthy than the campy chain after 1000km and try as I might I just couldn't wipe the dirt off it kept coming and coming.

You've got to be kidding, huh? I've been rotating three KMC chains the past 15 months and they've been great. The factory lube has lasted really well and stayed very clean for the first 600-800kms.

KMC chain after 530kms of mixed road and gravel riding. No relube, no cleaning.
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Re: Commuter bike, clean or dirty?

Postby DavidS » Wed Apr 25, 2012 10:50 pm

Well my commuter bike is the only one I own. When I see how some people clean their bikes in the above posts it sounds like mine is comparatively dirty. I give it a good clean once a month and thoroughly clean the chain. It is a lot cleaner than the other bikes I see parked around the place. I figure I need to arrive at work clean and that is more likely on a clean bike.

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Re: Commuter bike, clean or dirty?

Postby toolonglegs » Thu Apr 26, 2012 12:12 am

My new bike of less than a month is already a filthy utilitarian workhorse. Even though it gets a good jet wash every couple of rides and a drive chain sparkle every ride (when needed).
My TT bike is pretty much the same.
But little farm roads are so quiet and pleasant especially in bad weather...
Down side is the amount of mud tractors drag onto the road...in a bunch you want to do the work on the front to stop swallowing crap.
Upside is the amount of tractors on the road... nothing is better than slipstreaming a 6 foot off the ground tractor that can sit on 50-60km per hour into a head wind.
My moral is "love it but use it...all the time".
BUT (there's always one right) ...in winter I ride a dedicated REALLY filthy utilitarian workhorse... salted roads really SUCK!.
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Re: Commuter bike, clean or dirty?

Postby gretaboy » Thu Apr 26, 2012 8:36 am

Comes down to the roads you ride I guess.

One sprinkle of rain and you can add 2 kilos of crap to my bike immediately due to the amount of crud on the roads I ride. I have now got mudguards on the bike and am hoping this will keep the dirt/crap down somewhat on all parts of the bike.

It is disheartening to spend hours cleaning your bike and then the next day see it filthy again due to some rain after just one ride.
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Re: Commuter bike, clean or dirty?

Postby familyguy » Thu Apr 26, 2012 11:49 am

Can we be 50/50?

Currently my roadie is grimy, having had a few wet weekends and weekday commutes. As long as you've got grease in the headset/BB/hubs and some chainlube, a dirty bike is ok. I dont fastidiously wipe mine down every ride. If you've got enough sand or grit on the chain for it to make noise, then definitely clean it. Nothing like grit to kill chain/rings/cassette. Or just be prepared to change your chain/rings/cassette a little earlier.

Oddly, the bike I bought specifically as a 'commuter' is clean, having not been used in anger yet.


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Re: Commuter bike, clean or dirty?

Postby westab » Thu Apr 26, 2012 12:55 pm

I have two bikes - both are setup as "light commuters" (ie they are low end road bikes with a rear rack and panniers) both are my pride and joy (one Cell blade 4 y.o. & one rebuilt Repco Superlite 20 y.o.) and while they are cleaned often it is only to the drive chain and other components to make them last as long as possible. I am not overly concerned how they look but instead how they work and ride.

The parts that are cleaned regularly are the brake surfaces, the brakes themselves, the chain, chainrings, freewheel/ cassettes, and jockey wheels / RD.

I do try to make sure that my bikes look shocking on Wednesday afternoon when I chain one of them up at swimming so as to add another safety feature (not worth stealing) to the two chains, watchful eye of the swim school staff, CCT above the rack. They may not be worth much to sell but they are worth heaps to me.
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Re: Commuter bike, clean or dirty?

Postby lethoso » Thu Apr 26, 2012 6:04 pm

Filthy. Gets cleaned once or twice a year (drivetrain a little more often).
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Re: Commuter bike, clean or dirty?

Postby queequeg » Thu Apr 26, 2012 11:54 pm

AndrewBurns wrote:So what's your opinion? Do you take to your commuter with the bleach every time you ride it or are you letting it slowly fossilise inside a thick crust of dry mud?


I bought a CX commuter bike with a Ti frame, specifically because it does not rust or corrode. The bike gets washed whenever it rains on the way to or from work :-)

Seriously, I'll give it a good service when it looks like it needs it. Most of the time I just give the chain a good wipe to get all the muck off, then lubricate it. Maybe once a month I'll give the whole bike a good wash. This usually ensures that the following day will bring torrential rain and mud!
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Re: Commuter bike, clean or dirty?

Postby brokenbus » Fri Apr 27, 2012 1:15 pm

I try to keep the drivetrain lubes but I am riding 20kms each commute on dirt and sand trails so given the current weather its pretty filthy.
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Re: Commuter bike, clean or dirty?

Postby Lizzy » Fri Apr 27, 2012 2:38 pm

Oh my, most of you will be disgusted with me - under present circumstances I work to (n=1) and it gets cleaned when it starts audibly grumbling at me or throws its chain on the ground in protest :oops: :oops: :oops: In fairness though it does get a spa day at least once a year.
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Re: Commuter bike, clean or dirty?

Postby Comedian » Tue May 01, 2012 8:59 pm

I try and keep the chain clean but everything else is all weather work horse for me. :)
Once you can climb hills on a bike it's all downhill. :mrgreen:

Hopefully I'll know what that's like..... one day. :shock: :lol:

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