Muddy rides. To wash or not to wash?

Bender

New Member
Sep 9, 2023
23
10
California
I've been biking for a long time and I usually prefer not to wash my bike, if at all possible. Corrosion is annoying to say the least.

Lately, it has been raining a lot in my normally very dry neck of the woods. I avoid riding in wet trails, but at some point it's that or nothing for months. The choice is clear.

It doesn't take a lot of mud to make a mess out of the bike. In one ride I had an inch of mud (clay soil...) stuck to the bottom tube and more all around. I gave the bike a good wash with the hose (no pressure) but it was still a lot of water. I was concerned about water ingress into the frame and definitely had some water get into the rims (leaked through the spoke nipples -- no bueno.)

On the folloeing rides I softened the mud with a spray bottle and once it was mostly off, wiped off the water with a piece of cloth. Lo and behold, there's now micro scratches everywhere on the bike (black paint). Not a huge deal but the bike is not even a year old. grrrrrr.

So I'm now inclined to only clean and lube the transmission on wet rides, but I am concerned that clay mud left for a long time on paint may have a negative effect.

What are y'all doing after muddy rides?
 

Tony4wd

Active member
Subscriber
Aug 3, 2022
215
177
Australia
I hose the wheels, forks, mudguards, chain and pedals and parts of the frame away from holes and bearings.
I avoid the headset, motor crankshaft, cable entries to the frame and electrics.
Lubricate the chain after cleaning to avoid rust.
In winter I bring the bike inside the house to dry properly, otherwise it dries in the garage.

My bike gets covered in red clay in winter and needs to be washed. I mostly don't wash it through summer.
 

Tim1023

Well-known member
Aug 25, 2020
643
562
Hamburg, Germany
A quick spray to loosen the worst of the muck, then a bucket of hot, soapy water and a cheap long-bristled, but very soft brush gets rid of all but the most stubborn muck without the scratching. Then a quick spray down to get rid of the soap.
Then the chain and drive. But there's a whole bunch of discussions about that here.
 

Mik3F

New Member
Sep 23, 2023
84
72
Middleton
For me, it depends on how muddy the bike is

I always try to clean the drivetrain though, even if that's just using an old rag to wipe away all the grime
 

p3eps

E*POWAH Elite World Champion
Subscriber
Dec 14, 2019
1,859
2,221
Scotland
I'm in Scotland, and I'd say about 70% of the year our trails are wet and sloppy. Even when the sun is out, it takes a lot off effort to clear up the water / dry the mud out. As a result, almost every ride (apart from a few months in summer) probably ends up with the bike covered in thick gloopy mud and pine needles in the drivetrain.

My bike lives in my garage. My garage is part of my house, and as a fairly new house - they kit it out like any other room. Plasterboard / drywall walls, insulated, underfloor heating. I don't like keeping a filthy bike in there... so I almost always clean it first.

I use a mains water pressure hose - with the nozzle set to a wide spray or its basically a drizzle rather than a direct shot! I'm very careful around the motor and the TCU, but generally everything else gets the mud washed off. If the mud had dried in, I then coat the bike in MucOff and leave it for 5 mins. Whist that's working it's magic, I clean my drivetrain with Peaty's drivetrain cleaner and a Peaty's drivetrain brush... and then rinse it off. Most times I just spray the MucOff off and the bike is clean, but sometimes it's a bit more stubborn and I use a MucOff bike brush (I bought a pack of different shapes / sizes) to get the dirt off.

Bounce the bike a few times to get the excess water off, and put it up on it's rear wheel and bounce it some more. I park it outside the garage whilst I put away the hose / brushes etc, and then get some old dishtowels and dry it.
The bike is now allowed into the garage, where it sits on a 2m x 1m sheet of tarpaulin material (in my Feedback workstand).

I run the pedals with a dry rag on the chain, and use some compressed air to blow any remaining water out of the cassette. I usually then go inside and have a shower and get changed. After that, I come back out and lubricate the chain with Peaty's link lube and cycle it through all the gears to spread the lube onto each sprocket.

I've been following this same routine (with different lubes / cleaners) for the 12 years I've lived in that house. My Stumpjumper needed new headset bearings after about 2 years... but since I've replaced them all with Chris King and Enduro sealed bearings, I just give them a clean / lube every year, and they're fine.

On the occasional times I get out and it's not muddy, it's probably dusty instead. The full bike doesn't get a wash, but the drivetrain does.
 

irie

E*POWAH Elite World Champion
Subscriber
May 2, 2022
1,999
1,950
Chichester, W.Sussex, UK
I hose the wheels, forks, mudguards, chain and pedals and parts of the frame away from holes and bearings.
I avoid the headset, motor crankshaft, cable entries to the frame and electrics.
Lubricate the chain after cleaning to avoid rust.
In wet winter weather this ^^^ with low pressure hose.

In dry summer weather brush off the dust and if necessary damp cloth and also lubricate chain etc.
 
  • Agree
Reactions: Dax

Bndit

Active member
Jul 14, 2022
154
197
Finland
I wash my mtb (e)bikes after every muddy ride with hose, brush and muc off cleaner. Bikes are always in mint conditon.
 

jackamo

Member
Subscriber
May 25, 2023
77
46
UK
I wash my bike every ride and that's 2 to 4 rides a week , but then my locals trails don't dry out that often.
As long as you dry it off and lube alls good and don't worry about using a pressure washer , just don't jet hubs/ bearings 👍
 

steve_sordy

Wedding Crasher
Nov 5, 2018
8,389
8,620
Lincolnshire, UK
I always clean & lube the chain before every ride. I also always clean & lube the stanchions (fork, shock, dropper). The rest of the bike, only when it gets bad. Otherwise, I might send up spending more time cleaning it than riding it!
 

Ark

Active member
Mar 8, 2023
394
331
Newcastle Upon Tyne
Clean stanchions, clean pivots etc
Wipe chain with an old now oily sock, add a few drops of wiper oil to the forks seals and give it a few pumps.
then leave it until I next ride, I can wheel the bike outside and brush all the dirt off.
I store my bike indoors though so it dries pretty quickly.

obviously still gets a proper good wash and a coat of silicon shine every other month or so.
 

Bender

New Member
Sep 9, 2023
23
10
California
I wash my bike every ride and that's 2 to 4 rides a week , but then my locals trails don't dry out that often.
As long as you dry it off and lube alls good and don't worry about using a pressure washer , just don't jet hubs/ bearings 👍
Yeah my concern with e-bikes is all the electronic parts. Last time it was so dirty I had to use a lot of water and it ended up everywhere (on top of the TCU, etc). So far, no problems. I also try to avoid the battery port and the motor area, but water being water, we never know...

One thing that impressed me (poorly) is how soft the paint is on these bikes. It only took me using a rag that probably had some leftover mud to create a ton of micro scratches. I have an old Trek EX8 and that bike has a visibly thick clearcoat. The bike is 10 years old, has been through everything and has basically no scratches! But oh well, it's a mountain bike... :)

Best
 

Bender

New Member
Sep 9, 2023
23
10
California
I clean the areas I care about like stanchions, pivots etc and let the rest dry then brush it off.
I store my bike indoors though so it dries pretty quickly
Yeah I always clean the stanchions too. Religiously. Even on dry days. The problem is that there's a TON of mud in the downtube. I have to resist the urge to wash it off completely :)
 

p3eps

E*POWAH Elite World Champion
Subscriber
Dec 14, 2019
1,859
2,221
Scotland
One thing that impressed me (poorly) is how soft the paint is on these bikes. I
I don't think that's just bikes... cars have piss poor paint quality now, and gloss for your skirting boards is awful.

They're removing all the chemicals to make things safer - which is good - but the quality of the paint suffers.
 

Bender

New Member
Sep 9, 2023
23
10
California
I'm in Scotland, and I'd say about 70% of the year our trails are wet and sloppy. Even when the sun is out, it takes a lot off effort to clear up the water / dry the mud out. As a result, almost every ride (apart from a few months in summer) probably ends up with the bike covered in thick gloopy mud and pine needles in the drivetrain.

My bike lives in my garage. My garage is part of my house, and as a fairly new house - they kit it out like any other room. Plasterboard / drywall walls, insulated, underfloor heating. I don't like keeping a filthy bike in there... so I almost always clean it first.

I use a mains water pressure hose - with the nozzle set to a wide spray or its basically a drizzle rather than a direct shot! I'm very careful around the motor and the TCU, but generally everything else gets the mud washed off. If the mud had dried in, I then coat the bike in MucOff and leave it for 5 mins. Whist that's working it's magic, I clean my drivetrain with Peaty's drivetrain cleaner and a Peaty's drivetrain brush... and then rinse it off. Most times I just spray the MucOff off and the bike is clean, but sometimes it's a bit more stubborn and I use a MucOff bike brush (I bought a pack of different shapes / sizes) to get the dirt off.

Bounce the bike a few times to get the excess water off, and put it up on it's rear wheel and bounce it some more. I park it outside the garage whilst I put away the hose / brushes etc, and then get some old dishtowels and dry it.
The bike is now allowed into the garage, where it sits on a 2m x 1m sheet of tarpaulin material (in my Feedback workstand).

I run the pedals with a dry rag on the chain, and use some compressed air to blow any remaining water out of the cassette. I usually then go inside and have a shower and get changed. After that, I come back out and lubricate the chain with Peaty's link lube and cycle it through all the gears to spread the lube onto each sprocket.

I've been following this same routine (with different lubes / cleaners) for the 12 years I've lived in that house. My Stumpjumper needed new headset bearings after about 2 years... but since I've replaced them all with Chris King and Enduro sealed bearings, I just give them a clean / lube every year, and they're fine.

On the occasional times I get out and it's not muddy, it's probably dusty instead. The full bike doesn't get a wash, but the drivetrain does.
That's a nice and complete report, thank you.

MucOff is not a very popular brand in the US (even though I use their sealant and love it). I'll see if I can get some.

One thing I'm trying to avoid is more scratches. I know, you shouldn't care about scratches on a mountain bike (and I normally don't) but scratches which are entirely caused by stupidity on my part keep reminding me that I shouldn't be stupid :) How do you deal with muddy areas? Just MucOff them and hose and that's it?
 

p3eps

E*POWAH Elite World Champion
Subscriber
Dec 14, 2019
1,859
2,221
Scotland
That's a nice and complete report, thank you.

MucOff is not a very popular brand in the US (even though I use their sealant and love it). I'll see if I can get some.

One thing I'm trying to avoid is more scratches. I know, you shouldn't care about scratches on a mountain bike (and I normally don't) but scratches which are entirely caused by stupidity on my part keep reminding me that I shouldn't be stupid :) How do you deal with muddy areas? Just MucOff them and hose and that's it?
I have no idea what's in MucOff - as it's meant to be environmentally friendly... but leave it on some dried in dirt, and rinse it off - and it's clean! Amazing stuff! Amazon usually do good Black Friday deals on it where you get 5L bottles for about £20. I usually get a couple, and refill my spray bottles from it.
 

Ark

Active member
Mar 8, 2023
394
331
Newcastle Upon Tyne
They're removing all the chemicals to make things safer - which is good - but the quality of the paint suffers.
aren't most of those chemicals basically by products of the oil/petroleum industry anyway? so using them is being kind and green :D

I remember when being green abd being kind to the planet meant, you don't litter and you don't create waste....

now its just an industry to make some billionaires club have more members
 

steve_sordy

Wedding Crasher
Nov 5, 2018
8,389
8,620
Lincolnshire, UK
I go to my local Halfords (it's a motor spares shop in the UK) and buy 5 litres of the cheapest carwash soap I can find. It says it will make 100 2-gallon bucket-fulls. It might do, never counted. It does the job, gets the muck off, brake-safe, doesn't dull the paint and it's cheap.
 

Bender

New Member
Sep 9, 2023
23
10
California
I have no idea what's in MucOff - as it's meant to be environmentally friendly... but leave it on some dried in dirt, and rinse it off - and it's clean! Amazing stuff! Amazon usually do good Black Friday deals on it where you get 5L bottles for about £20. I usually get a couple, and refill my spray bottles from it.
Nice! I got a "washing kit" for $40 and it comes with other stuff I need anyway. I'll buy the refills from this point on. I'll give it a try and see how it goes. I've heard all sorts of good things about it.
 

lovespicyfood

New Member
Nov 24, 2023
41
12
California
Lately my e-bike has been getting pretty muddy after rides here in southern California. I do a hose spray down and use a sponge as needed for stubborn areas. I do not avoid the motor/crank area, but it's not high pressure. Typically just the hose pressure gets 99% of the muck off. I liberally dry it with a towel and then use a cordless leaf blower to blow off water in the hard to reach areas. Then I clean the chain with bare paper towels through several cycles, add Rock n Roll Gold, and then dry off with another clean paper towel.
 

jackamo

Member
Subscriber
May 25, 2023
77
46
UK
I go to my local Halfords (it's a motor spares shop in the UK) and buy 5 litres of the cheapest carwash soap I can find. It says it will make 100 2-gallon bucket-fulls. It might do, never counted. It does the job, gets the muck off, brake-safe, doesn't dull the paint and it's cheap.
Halfords own car wash liquid 👌
I use it in my bottle washer fitted to my Worx cordless washer , brilliant.
 

p3eps

E*POWAH Elite World Champion
Subscriber
Dec 14, 2019
1,859
2,221
Scotland
I go to my local Halfords (it's a motor spares shop in the UK) and buy 5 litres of the cheapest carwash soap I can find. It says it will make 100 2-gallon bucket-fulls. It might do, never counted. It does the job, gets the muck off, brake-safe, doesn't dull the paint and it's cheap.
Might have to give some of this a try and see how it compares with MucOff. I'm probably about £5 per litre of MucOff.
I was tempted to put the MucOff into one of those pump and spray bottles as it'd be easier / quicker to apply than the current trigger spray bottle it's in!

I did that with the stuff I clean my car wheels with - and then thought, why didn't I think of this sooner!!

spray.jpg
 

Gavalar

Active member
Feb 4, 2019
301
184
UK
I've been biking for a long time and I usually prefer not to wash my bike, if at all possible. Corrosion is annoying to say the least.

Lately, it has been raining a lot in my normally very dry neck of the woods. I avoid riding in wet trails, but at some point it's that or nothing for months. The choice is clear.

It doesn't take a lot of mud to make a mess out of the bike. In one ride I had an inch of mud (clay soil...) stuck to the bottom tube and more all around. I gave the bike a good wash with the hose (no pressure) but it was still a lot of water. I was concerned about water ingress into the frame and definitely had some water get into the rims (leaked through the spoke nipples -- no bueno.)

On the folloeing rides I softened the mud with a spray bottle and once it was mostly off, wiped off the water with a piece of cloth. Lo and behold, there's now micro scratches everywhere on the bike (black paint). Not a huge deal but the bike is not even a year old. grrrrrr.

So I'm now inclined to only clean and lube the transmission on wet rides, but I am concerned that clay mud left for a long time on paint may have a negative effect.

What are y'all doing after muddy rides?
I wash everything, use an air compressor to blow all the water off, polish and lube, or, do none of the aforementioned and be happy with it, it's a personal choice of how you treat your investment.
 

Natch

New Member
Feb 10, 2024
30
17
Oregon
If my bike gets really caked with mud I pull through the car wash on the way home. I don't squeeze the trigger when I point the sprayer at the bike so it only gets that gentle pre-spray power. My thinking is that my bike is a Transition, designed by the folks in the Pacific NorthWET, so it should be able to handle getting wet.
 

Binhill1

🍊 Tango Man 🍊
Mar 7, 2019
2,646
3,867
Scotland
Wash front and back with hose on sprinkle just keep away from motor and electrics. I check my headset every couple of months and the top bearing is always filthy . So water and grit gets in with out hosing. Levo internal cable holes let a lot of muck in.
 

Bender

New Member
Sep 9, 2023
23
10
California
I was waiting for the MucOff kit to arrive, but couldn't wait, so I went ahead and washed the bike following all the recommendations here (no strong water jets, avoid electric areas, avoid cable entrances and headset). This is all nice in theory but in practice impossible to get 100% right 😄

One thing I did this time was to remove the battery and boy oh boy, the rock guard was FULL of mud inside. Jeez! I tried to remove it by removing the battery door but even though it looks like a hinge, it would still not come out. I cleaned as well as I could and put it back. I was impressed by the amount of water and mud inside the rockguard.

I also looked inside the frame and it's bone dry as it should be. Good!
 

Bender

New Member
Sep 9, 2023
23
10
California
Might have to give some of this a try and see how it compares with MucOff. I'm probably about £5 per litre of MucOff.
I was tempted to put the MucOff into one of those pump and spray bottles as it'd be easier / quicker to apply than the current trigger spray bottle it's in!

I did that with the stuff I clean my car wheels with - and then thought, why didn't I think of this sooner!!

View attachment 136613

Is this a foaming sprayer or a regular one? It looks like a regular sprayer. I've found some videos of people hacking these into foaming sprayers, which makes them more effective.
 

El Grifo

Active member
Apr 4, 2023
84
133
Islas Canarias
A light spray of water then a rub over with warm soapy water and soft brush. I finish off cleaning the tyres with selfsame brush.
I then spray off any soap and give it a rough dry over with a clean cloth.
It then sits in the sun, sans battery for an hour or so then goes into my storehouse.

Natural sunshine keeps the store no lower the 16c at night and no higher than 30c in the day.
The bike seems to like that :)
 

EMTB Forums

Since 2018

The World's largest electric mountain bike community.

521K
Messages
25,694
Members
Join Our Community

Latest articles


Top