UNLESS YOU'RE a commuter and don't have time, washing your bike after every use is the best way to keep that as-new look, especially in winter, when corrosive salt is on the roads. Cleaning your bike thoroughly on a regular basis also gives you the best chance to spot anything mechanically amiss.
Soap the bike down with plenty of hot water, laced with a decent quality bike shampoo. Do not use washing-up liquid as it can be corrosive.
With some bike cleaning solutions, the recommendation is to rinse the bike with water before spraying the cleaner on and leaving it for a few minutes.
Then take a clean sponge or dish cloth and warm water to the whole bike. Do bodywork and screen first, to avoid scratches from grit picked up by the cloth or sponge.
It sounds tiresome but with an effective cleaning agent like Muc-Off or SDoc100 the dirt drops off.
For the chain, use a dedicated chain cleaner. Again, a good one like Activ8 will make light work of it.
Rinse off with plenty of fresh water. Avoid bearings and electrics if using a pressure washer.
Apply a liberal dousing of anti-corrosion spray, like Scottoil FS365, to keep corrosion at bay in winter.
Article first published on November 22, 2010.