Science & Technology

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Step-by-step Tips for Cleaning Your Bicycle

Bicycles, particularly competition grade road bikes and mountain bikes, are a substantial investment. Prolong the useful life of that investment and keep it operating at its peak performance through regular cleaning and maintenance with the best products available. Additionally, proper lubrication helps ensure that your bicycle won’t let you down when you’re 30 miles from home, or deep in the woods. Tetra® Bike Professional Bicycle Care offers a full-line of high-quality, professionally proven products that  make cleaning and maintenance easier and keep bicycles operating at peak performance.  Based on innovative technology developed in-house by R&D scientists, and engineered to save cyclists time and money, Tetra® Bike care is the performance and value go-to line of bicycle maintenance products.

Cleaning Your Bicycle with Tetra® Bike Professional Bicycle Care Products

Cleaning should be done on a regular basis, based on your riding frequency.  Cleaning should be performed at least weekly for daily riders; monthly for ‘weekend warriors’; and at least once every  few months or at the start and end of riding season for recreational riders. Additionally,  more regular cleaning may be necessary if you have been riding in the rain, after a particularly muddy run, or in areas subject to salt spray or other environmental fouling,. The bottom line:  as long as cleaning, rinsing, and drying are performed properly with quality products and plenty of clean water, then cleaning is always a good choice.

Preparing for Proper Cleaning

The most effective way to clean your bike is by placing using a bicycle stand. A good alternative is to use your car bike rack, if possible. If neither is available, then you can still effectively clean your bicycle by securely leaning it against any sturdy surface. However, remember that the use of a kickstand will not allow you to backpedal to clean the chain; the rear wheel will need to be raised to allow normal pedaling. (This same issue will be encountered with most single-speed or non-freewheel bike as well.) Avoid inverting the bike and resting it on its saddle and handlebars; this allows too many opportunities to have water enter parts of the bike that are not protected by the bicycle design.

For reference, below is a diagram of the parts of a bicycle:

Following is a list of suggested items for proper bicycle cleaning:

  • A supply of clean water (preferably a hose, but buckets will suffice
  • Tetra® Bike Cleaner Degreaser
  • Tetra® Bike Performance Wash
  • Tetra® Bike Performance Polish
  • Tetra® Bike Grunge Sponge™
  • Tetra® Bike Dry-n-Shine™ Cloth
  •  Tetra® Bike Tough Brush

Cleaning Instructions

Note:  For geared bicycles, shift to the largest chainring (front) and smallest cog (rear) to allow the most access and straightest chain line.

1. Once the bike is in a secure position, rinse it from top to bottom. If using a hose, set the nozzle to allow for a light stream of water. Avoid high pressure settings as they can cause water and dirt to get past seals and ultimately lead to rust.

2. Spray the entire drivetrain (chain, derailleurs, chainring, cassette and brakes) with Tetra® Bike Cleaner Degreaser. Allow this to work for 5-10 minutes.

3. Respray the drivetrain with Tetra® Bike Cleaner Degreaser and, using your Tetra® Bike Tough Brush, scrub the chain as follows:

  • With the opening of the u-shaped end of the brush facing down, capture the lower run of the chain between the crank and rear wheel. Apply moderate downward pressure with the brush and backpedal until the chain has made several passes through the brush.
  • Repeat with the brush facing upward on the lower side of the chain.
  • Uusing the long-bristled end of the Tetra® Bike Tough Brush , scrub the cassette and chainrings well. The u-shaped end of the brush works well on the toothed portion of the chainrings. The Tetra® Bike Grunge Sponge™ can be used as well.
  • Scrub the derailleurs and brakes well with the detail brush, but do so carefully.

4. Next, fill a bucket about halfway with warm water and add Tetra® Bike Performance Wash. Using your Tetra® Bike Grunge Sponge™, wash the entire bike from top to bottom:

  • Gently clean the saddle and handlebar.
  • Clean the entire frame, being sure to reach the underside of all tubes, especially under the bottom bracket and chain stays.
  • Once you’ve thoroughly cleaned the entire bike, take the remaining water/cleaner in the bucket and give your drivetrain a cleaning rinse.

5. Rinse the entire bike with clean water, again from top to bottom. Remember, if using a hose, use a gentle flow of water, not a high pressure jet.

6. After allowing the bike to completely dry, use Tetra® Bike lubricants to thoroughly lubricate the drivetrain and all moving parts.

7.Lastly, to bring back the original luster of your frame and help protect it from the elements, spray Tetra® Bike Performance Polish onto a Tetra® Bike Dry-n-Shine™ Cloth, and thoroughly wipe the entire frame.

For more information on the high-quality Tetra® Bike products discussed here, check below, or go to the online Store to place an order.

Tetra® Bike Care FAQ
Q: What are Tetra® Bike Grease & Lubricant made of — lithium or Teflon®?

A: Tetra® Bike Grease and Tetra® Bike Lubricant are unique synthetic blend formulas developed over 30 years ago. They are not lithium-based. And even though the company’s advanced fluoropolymer technology is based on a Teflon®-like PTFE particle, the Tetra® particle is milled down to a much smaller, more spherical shape. Lubricant and Grease contain additional proprietary ingredients as well. Due to the unique, advanced technology of Tetra® Bike Grease and Lubricant, the products can be used in any environment, as they repel moisture, resist agglomeration of dust, road grime, and debris, and perform across the widest temperature range in the industry (-100°F to 750°F).

Q: What is the difference between Tetra® Bike Grease and Tetra® Bike Lubricant?
A: Tetra® Bike Grease is the paste version of our lubricant technology, offering the highest viscosity. Tetra® Bike Lubricant has an oil consistency, but is not technically oil. Both products are based on the same fluoropolymer technology. We offer these different physical forms for a good reason: Grease is best used on high-friction and heavy load areas where lubrication should remain in place (e.g., the bottom bracket); Lubricant, due to its oil consistency, is intended to migrate to difficult-to-reach places (e.g., drivetrain components).

Q: Where should Tetra® Bike Grease and Lubricant be used?
A: Typically, Tetra® Bike Grease is meant for high-wear moving parts such as bottom brackets, pedals, and headsets, as it stays in place. Tetra® Bike Lubricant has a lower viscosity, and is more of an all-purpose lubricant that can be used anywhere lubrication is needed, even in the tightest, hardest-to-reach parts, such as bicycle chains and derailleurs.

Q: How do I use Tetra® Bike Lubricant?
A: After thorough cleaning of the drivetrain, shift to the largest chain ring (front) and smallest sprocket (rear). While pedaling backwards, apply Tetra® Bike Lubricant to the upper surface of the lower run of chain. Once the entire chain has been treated, continue to pedal backwards for 5-10 revolutions to allow Lubricant to begin penetrating the pins and rollers. Allow to sit (overnight is ideal, but at least 2-3 hours) to ensure that Tetra® Bike Lubricant embeds fully into the interior surfaces of the chain. Before riding, wipe off excess Lubricant from the outside of the chain.

Use Tetra® Bike Lubricant on all other pivot points of the drivetrain by applying a drop or two, and allowing it to work in.

Q: How are Tetra® Bike lubricants different from other brands?
A: There are many brands of bicycle lubricants on the market, but none of them can penetrate metal surfaces as well, or provide the lasting lubrication needed for sustainable performance. Additionally, Tetra®; Bike lubricants act as repellants to grime, and provide unsurpassed friction and wear reduction.

Q: Will Tetra® Bike care products ‘gum up’ my bicycles?
A: No. Unlike many traditional bicycle care products, Tetra® Bike lubricants and cleaners do not contain petroleum products, which are the leading cause of ‘gumming up’, which can lead to decreased performance and promote grime buildup.

Q: How should I use Tetra® Bike Cleaner?
A: Tetra® Bike Cleaner is a ‘green’ formula cleaner and degreaser that cuts through stubborn grime and old lubricant on the drivetrain, while being gentle on the skin with no strong odor or fumes. Use Tetra® Bike Cleaner full-strength on the drivetrain to remove old lubricant and accumulated grime. Spray on full strength; allow to work for 10-15 minutes; scrub with Tetra® Bike Tough Brush™; and then rinse thoroughly.

NOTE: Whenever rinsing your bicycle, avoid a high pressure jet of water. Instead, use a gentle flow of water to ensure that seals are not compromised and that water does not reach parts of the bicycle that it could damage or cause to rust.

TIP: When washing is complete, use any remaining Tetra® Bike Cleaner solution to give a final cleaning rinse to the drivetrain. Then, rinse the entire bicycle, working top to bottom, with a gentle flow of water. See how Tetra® Bike Cleaner returns your bike to its original luster!