My Blog by Stephen Venters

Monday, May 5, 2014

How to Clean your Bike in a NYC Apartment

Having moved from Missouri where houses have spigots and hoses with spray nozzles, I was accustomed with the ease of washing my bikes outside. You just roll your bike outside, turn on the hose and start sprayin'. All the mud, road grime, and chain goop just falls on the ground and gets washed away.

Cleaning your bike in a New York City apartment is a different matter. First, it's likely you don't have access to a hose unless you have an in with the Super who will let you use it while spraying down the sidewalk in the front your building at 6:00 AM in the morning. Second, it's even more likely you have a small apartment with an even smaller bathroom.

A friend of mine once told me he just takes a roll of paper towels and wipes his bike down with them in his living room. Well, I guess that's a solution, but it creates a good amount of trash and how clean can you really get wiping down your bike with damp paper towels? There's no way I could get caked-on mud splatter off my Full Suspension bike effectively using paper towels.

I need spraying water and a brush to do it right. Furthermore, I need a method that doesn't take up a lot of space or makes my shower unusable. So, here is a fairly easy and inexpensive way to wash your bike in a NYC shower.

Setup

  1. Hose You'll need a shower head on a hose. These can be very fancy and expensive, but just for washing your bike, you only need a basic one. Home Depot sells a very inexpensive one (about $20) that is very easy to install. All you need is a pair of pliers.

    1. With the pliers, you remove your existing shower head
    2. Screw the connector onto the pipe (be sure not to under tighten so it leaks, but not to over to tighten so you crack the coupler since it's plastic)
    3. Screw the shower head onto the other end of the connector
    4. Done! Now just attach the hose to the valve on the connector and turn the water on!
    Installed connector Installed connector with hose attached
  2. Hose You'll also need two metal rods that are long enough to span the width of your bathtub, but also thin enough to set into your fork (in the same location as the skewer). I got a couple of 36 inch long, 1/4 inch around metal rods from Home Depot which were about $3 each.

    1. Take some duct tape and wrap it around one end of the rod.
    2. Lay the rod across your tub with the taped end against the wall and wrap more duct tape where it lays on the lip of the tub. The tape will help it from sliding around as you clean.
    3. If you want to really fancy, add a small piece of wood to the rod to help it stay in place better, especially on the inner/outer edge of the lip of the tub.
      Installed connector
  3. Now you're ready to start cleaning!

Cleaning your bike

  1. Remove the wheels from the bike and clean them first in the tub. When you're done, lean them against the wall.
    Wheels
  2. Next, take the frame and carefully mount it on the 2 rods with the chain on the drain side. The fork should easily accept the rod in its jaws. For the rear, you'll need to feed the rod between the frame and the chain. If I'm going to be brushing aggressively, I'll bungy the frame to the rods, but in general, the weight of the bike allows it sit securely.
    Fork mount Rear wheels mount
  3. Now you can wash your bike with brushes, soap and warm water. When you're done, just leave the bike in the shower to drip dry. If you have company coming over, simply put the shower curtain back in place and, VOILA, your dirty work is hidden from sight.
    Drip dry

Notes

  1. The chain, depending on how grimy it is, will drip oily grime into your shower. This is why I mount it towards the drain. Regardless, you'll probably need to give the shower a quick once over when done.
  2. On a related note, I DO NOT recommend lubing your chain in the shower. Those drips will be hard to clean up.
  3. This works for mountain bikes, too!
Drip dry Drip dry

I hope this helps you with the pain-in-the-ass task of cleaning your bike in confined quarters. Good luck!


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