Bikes are all-weather vehicles that have lots of moving parts. They need to be cleaned regularly and maintained properly. That requires good tools. If you have the right tools on hand, you'll be more likely to use them as part of a regular cleaning program. Here are some suggestions for your toolbox and bike cleaning kit:
- Lint free rags -- Soft cotton cloth works well, and finding good candidates in your rag bag shouldn't be difficult. Try old T-shirts and retired cotton towels. Wash a few and keep them in reserve.
- Brushes -- Bicycles have lots of crevices that can harbor dried mud and grease. Having a variety of small brushes around to reach into tight corners will make bike cleaning day less frustrating. You can find car detailing brush kits on sale periodically that will work just fine -- or just save your old toothbrushes.
- Cleaning solvent -- Invest in a quality bike cleaning solvent (degreaser) to remove grease from the bike chain and other moving parts that can accumulate gunk. Avoid some of the old standbys you may have in your garage like turpentine and kerosene. Newer formulations are just as effective at cleaning but much gentler on the environment. As long as you're going green with pedal power, do the job right.
- Bike lubricant -- Bicycles require regular lubrication. Your bike's manufacturer will have some recommendations about how to lubricate the moving parts of your bike and may also have suggestions about what type of waterproof grease and bike oil you should use on their equipment in different riding conditions and weather extremes. If you still have it, read the maintenance instructions. You can also try visiting the manufacturer's Web site.
- Bike multi-tool -- Bike multi-tools are available with all the basic tools you'll need to maintain and make minor adjustments to your bike. One nice thing about a multi-tool is that it's easy to take with you on rides for fast trailside repairs. And having everything in one handy location is neat and convenient, especially if you're prone to leaving your tools lying around. Tip: Make sure the tool you decide on is bike specific and includes a chain tool that will fit your bike's chain style.