Tips & Tricks: Keep it Clean – Wax On, Wax Off


A wash is just the beginning of keeping your ride clean.  In order to make it shine and keep it clean longer, it needs a coat of wax.  This tip always raises an eyebrow. Most riders have never thought about applying wax to their bike. Waxing your car is one thing, but waxing your bike?  Not only does the wax make your ride shine, it also protects the finish from the elements and helps keep dirt, dust and mud off the frame.
If you have a dark colored, glossy frame and have never waxed your bike, you may notice streaking or a cloudiness to the finish. Waxing your bike helps eliminate the streaking and cloudy finish.
Bikes typically come in two types of finishes, glossy and matte.  The different types of finishes require the application of different protectant coatings.

GLOSSY COATINGS

Although most bikes are made from either aluminum or carbon fiber frames, the wax we use comes from the car detailing industry and our friends at Detailed Image. This same wax can be used on your steel or titanium frame as well.
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Your first step is to apply the Optima No Rinse to the frame. you can do this either through a spray bottle or by applying the No Rinse onto a rag and using the rag to wipe down the frame, using enough to make the frame look wet. With a clean rag, dry the frame completely.
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Next, apply the Meguiar’s M205 polish to the polishing pad. Dab a small amount of polish onto the various parts of the frame. Then use the pad to work the polish onto the entire frame. Use a circular motion to work the polish in. The polish is fully applied once you no longer see any obtuse coating or streaking from the application. The finish will feel a bit rough and waxy to the touch.
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Now wipe off the polish with another clean cotton rag. Use circular motions again to remove the wax. You have removed all of the wax when the finish is smooth to the touch.
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Although it seems repetitive, the next step is to use the Meguiar’s Final Inspection Spray to remove any missed wax. Again, you can either apply the spray directly to the frame or to a rag. Either way, use a clean rag to apply the Spray to the entire frame. Then wipe it down with another clean, dry rag.
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The last step is to apply the Blackfire Wet Diamond to get the final shine and protection. Apply the Blackfire to another clean rag and wipe down the entire frame. Then use a second rag as a final way to remove any residue from the frame. Finally, use a microfiber cloth to wipe down the entire frame.
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If you take a picture of your frame before and after the waxing, you’ll notice a huge difference in the shine of your bike. You’ll also notice your bike stays cleaner, longer as you continue to ride throughout the season.

MATTE FINISH

Having a bike with a matte finish requires different treatment than a gloss finish.  Matte finishes scratch more easily and tend to trap dirt more readily.  To keep your ride looking its best and get it ready to accept the matte wax, we recommend using Chemical Guys Meticulous Matte from our friends at Detailed Image.
Working with a matte finish requires the softest cloths to ensure you don’t scratch the finish as you clean, wax or dry your bike.  Always use a microfiber cloth to dry or detail your bike.
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After your bike is clean, or in-between washes, use Chemical Guy’s Meticulous Matte Detail Spray.
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Spray the detail sealant onto a microfiber cloth and wipe the entire bike down.  This gets any remaining dirt and grime off of your bike’s frame and gets it ready to accept the sealant.
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Once you’ve wiped down the entire frame, its time to seal the finish.  Sealing the finish keeps the mud and dust from collecting on the finish. To seal the finish, we recommend Chemical Guys Jetseal Matte.
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Again, place a dab on a second microfiber cloth and work it into the finish.  Let the wax sit for 20 minutes.  Then use another microfiber cloth to wipe the wax off to finish.
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That’s it, you’re done.  It’s now time to get out there and get it dirty again!

WINTER STORAGE

This wash and wax is also a great final wash of the season if you are putting your bike away for winter. When you pull it back out in the spring, all you will need to do is wipe it of with the microfiber cloth and apply a new round of lube to the chain. The T-9 applied above does a great job at protecting your chain from rusting or seizing while in storage.

FINAL WORDS

Whether you just got a new bike, or have been riding the same steed for years, a good wash and wax can make your ride look brand new and sparkle in the sun!

Tips & Tricks: Bike Rental on Vacation: Destination San Francisco


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Miko on Angel Island with her rental mountain bike.

Cycling runs deep in the San Francisco Bay Area culture.  It has  been in the blood of Bay Area residents since the 1960’s.  The first mountain bikes were even designed and rode in Marin County, on Mt. Tam by Gary Fisher and other mountain bike pioneers in the 1970’s.

With all this cycling fever, it makes sense the first bicycle rentals for tourists have been available in San Francisco since the mid-80’s.  However, it wasn’t until the closing of the Presidio Army Base and takeover of the land by the National Park Service in 1998 that tourist cycling took off.

Once the Presidio bike trails opened in 1998, riding across the Golden Gate Bridge by bike not only became easier, but accessible to almost anyone.   Since then, biking has become an integral part of the San Francisco tourist experience.

Not everyone has a folding bike, or wants the hassle of bring their own when on vacation.  We sympathize. We’ve brought a bike on the plane to various triathlons, we’ve rented bikes while on vacation, and even done the whole “borrow a bike” from a hotel. Some of these were good experiences, others, not much.

The only question is, which rental company do you choose?

That question is answered by determining what type of bike you want to rent: Hybrid comfort bike? Mountain bike? Road bike? Electric bike? City bike?

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Miko’s rental hybrid bike on our first ride to Sausalito.

Hybrid Bike

The most popular option when renting is the hybrid comfort bike.  These bikes typically have flat pedals, larger tires, larger saddles, flat handlebars, disk brakes and can even come with front shocks.  The hybrid is your general purpose bike good for the road, paved trail or even a smooth dirt road.  The bikes typically feature 27 gears with a triple chainring up front and a 9-speed cassette in the rear for maximum flexibility while one a ride.  Shifting is done by rotating the handles forward or backwards.

One of the drawbacks of these bikes is their weight.  Hybrid comfort bikes tend to be very heavy, weighing from 27 to 35 pounds.  You will see people pushing hybrid comfort bikes up some of the hills on your way to Sausalito.  As they are the most popular bikes, they are also the most used, so maintenance is not always the best.  This can result in a bike where the gears do not change easily, the chain can come off the chainring while riding and squeaks in either the chain or frame can be heard.

An advantage of hybrid bikes is that they can be taken on any of the ferries back from Marin County, so no worries about having to pedal back to the city if you are tired by the time you reach Sausalito or Tiburon.

Hybrids are available from most of the bike rental companies in San Francisco.  Typically, there will be at least one rental company with hybrid bikes available with a location close to where you are staying or wandering around the city.  Just make sure you know what time you have to return the bike by and whether or not the company you rent from has a separate “after hours” return location.

Hybrid bikes range from $24 – $40 dollars per day to rent.

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Miko’s rental mountain bike.

Mountain Bike

Mountain bikes are similar to hybrids in that they have wide tires, shocks and flat handlebars.  Mountain bikes can either be “hard tails” or “dual suspension” bikes.  A hard tail mountain bike has a front fork shock and a solid frame.  Dual suspension mountain bikes have both a front fork shock and a rear shock which allows the seat tube and rear assembly to flex while riding.

Mountain bikes have either flat pedals or can be fitted with clips, disk brakes, thumb shifters and 16 to 20 gears.  Rental mountain bikes have a double chainring up front with a medium size (~34 tooth) chainring and a smaller (~22 tooth) chainring for climbing.  They also have an 8 to 10 speed cassette.  Mountain bikes have tire sizes which range from the smaller 26-inch tires, to 27.5-inch to the big 29ers.  These bikes are meant for use on unpaved trails, dirt roads and can even be used to climb Mt. Tam or go exploring on Angel Island.

While mountain bikes are not rented as often as hybrids, the nature of a mountain bike will lead to some of the same shifting and squeaking issues if the bikes are not constantly maintained.

Mountain bikes are available from many of the same companies that offer hybrid rentals, however, they are not available at every rental location.  Mountain bikes are also ferry-friendly.

Mountain bikes range from $25/day for a low-end aluminum hard tail to $175/day for a dual suspension, carbon-fiber frame bike.  There’s a lot of variety between these two extremes, so it’s best to check out all your options before renting.

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Miko loved this rental road bike so much, she bought the exact same bike!

Road Bike

Road bikes are your skinny-tire, bent-handlebar, rim break, lever-shift Tour de France-style bikes.  They are light, fast and can cost as much as a new car.  A few of the bike rental companies are offering high-end aluminum and carbon fiber road and time trial bikes for rent.  These bikes are meant for a specific market segment.  These are renters which typically own, or are looking to own, their own road bike, but did not want to deal with bringing the bike with them on vacation.  As a result, these bikes are the best-maintained rental bikes available.  You can either get flat pedals or bring your own clips and shoes to use while riding.  These bikes require some experience with skinny-tire bikes just for your own safety and comfort.  The road bikes can be used on any road trail and are great for really exploring the Bay Area, from San Francisco to Paradise Loop, Marin Headlands, Muir WoodsMt. Tam or Stinson Beach and beyond!

These bikes are also ferry-friendly and the friendliest on you when carrying them up the stairs when exiting the ferry.

Road bikes are not available at all rental locations and range from $40/day for an aluminum frame to $175/day for a carbon fiber frame.  Again, there is a wide-range in the rental prices depending on the components and bikes available.  Because road bikes are very size-dependent, it’s best to make sure you know your size, or go to a company with a large range of sizes for rent.

Electric Bike

Electric bikes are similar in design to hybrid bikes.  The major difference is that the electric bikes have an electric motor which powers the rear hub.  While these are not as powerful as a motor scooter, they will assist you in getting up hills and going along a flat path.  The battery is an “assistance” to your pedaling.  Pedaling is still required to make these bikes move and they have governor to limit their top speed.

The major drawback to electric bikes are that they are NOT ferry-friendly.  The Golden Gate Ferry system does not allow these bikes on their boats.  If you ride your electric bike across the Golden Gate Bridge, you’ll be riding back as well!  However,  the Blue & Gold Fleet will allow electric bikes on its ferries back to Pier 41 from Sausalito or Tiburon.

Electric bikes are also not available at all rental locations and range from $25/day to $88/day.

City Bike

City bikes are the latest development in bike rentals.  Although these bikes were originally meant to be “shared” bikes for city residents, they are quickly becoming another popular rental options for tourists.  The city bikes have frames which are able to be stepped through and a seven-speed internal rear hub.  These bikes are heavy and best used for trips that are dead pan flat, although some people are able to make it across the Bridge.

These bikes are not electric, so they are allowed on the ferry.

City bike rentals require a membership, which starts at $9 for 24 hours and then a rental fee of $4 for the first hour and $7 per 1/2 hour thereafter.

Renting a Bike

If you are looking for a hybrid, city bike or electric bike, simply walking out of your hotel or a search of the internet will show you where to rent.

However, we’d like to concentrate on where you can rent high-end road and mountain bikes.

Bike Rental Companies

1. Blazing Saddles – San Francisco

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Blazing Saddles is one of the oldest bike rental companies in San Francisco.  It offers a wide variety of bikes and a number of locations throughout San Francisco including their high-end rental located at 1095 Columbus Avenue.

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We have rented both high-end road bikes and high-end mountain bikes from the Columbus Street location.  Don’t forget your pedals and shoes if you want something other than flat pedals.

2. Sports Basement – San Francisco

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Sports Basement is not only a great place to buy sports equipment, clothing and bikes, it’s also a great place to rent a road bike.  Bike rentals are only available at the Presidio location.

3. The Sausalito Bike Company – Sausalito

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The Sausalito Bike Company is the sister store of A Bicycle Odyssey, and is located in downtown Sausalito at 1417 Bridgeway.  It’s a ten minute walk or less from the Sausalito Ferry Terminal.

This company specializes in renting high-end road, mountain and time-trial/tri bikes.

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Although they are located in Sausalito, when you make a reservation you can ask them about brining your bike to your hotel in San Francisco and giving you a top-notch bike fitting.  Make sure to bring your own pedals shoes.

 

TRAIL: Half-Moon Bay – From the Surf to the Top of the Mountains


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When you hear Half Moon Bay, most people think about surfing and the monster 50 foot waves at Mavericks. Half Moon Bay has more natural beauty than just the surf, it also has the Costal Range and amazing biking. The Half Moon Bay Backroads features amazing views of the Pacific while cycling along CA-1 and winding backroads with very few cars as you wind your way back.

Distance: 25.94 miles round-trip

Elevation Gain: 1240 feet (378 meters)

Difficulty: The ride features a ride along the Pacific Coast Highway south of Half Moon Bay and then makes two tough climbs on your way back to Half Moon Bay. The reward for your climbing is a couple of great descents and amazing views of the Pacific.
Download your route sheet here: Directions – Half Moon Bay
Map - Halfmoon Bay Backroads
Elevation - Half Moon Bay Backroads
The route starts at the Mac Dutra Park in Half Moon Bay at the intersection of Main Street and Kelly Street. This is your next to last stop for a restroom, so go if you gotta.
Follow Main Street south (away from CA-92) through Half Moon Bay until you reach the end of the road across from the Fire Station and make a right toward CA-1.
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Cross CA-1 and make a left toward Santa Cruz.
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Continue to follow CA-1 south along the rolling hills.
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You will pass by Cameron’s Pub and Inn just south of Half Moon Bay. This is a place to grab some fish and chips and a beer.
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You will pass by Verde Road, which is one of the roads you will take on the way back to Half Moon Bay.
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Admire the view of the sea and the mountains as you continue following CA-1.
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You will see Verde Road again paralleling CA-1.
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Watch for the last hill along CA-1, your left turn is at the bottom of the fast descent.
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You can see your left turn onto Tunitas Creek Road at the bottom of the descent.
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And here’s your turn…
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Just watch for cars in front and behind you as you make your turn.
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Welcome to the Half Moon Bay Backroads.
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At the “T”, make a right and continue along Tunitas Creek Road.
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You will start to climb and enter the redwoods as your approach your next turn.
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Make a left on to Lobitos Creek Road and get ready for the first big climb.
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Continue climbing for another half mile or so and then you’ll reach a flat.
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Over the next ridge is a pond and a quick, steep incline just before the wicked descent.
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And then comes the very fast, narrow descent.
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Just keep your eyes open for any cars or other bicyclists climbing in the opposite direction.
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The road you take back towards Half Moon Bay is visible on the descent.
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The left turn at the bottom of the run is very sharp, so make sure to control your speed into the corner.
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The ride starts a slight climb again as the road makes its way toward Verde Road. You’ll see the descent you just conquered on your left.
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As you pick up speed, watch for cars as you merge with Verde Road.
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Just a short distance down Verde Road you’ll start to parallel CA-1 on your left just after the stop sign.
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Continue along Verde Road as it rises and falls until you get to Purisima Creek Road at the next stop sign.
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Make a right onto Purisima Creek Road and head east.
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Continue along Purisima Creek Road through the valley until the road ends at Purisima Creek Open Reserve.
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At the Open Reserve parking lot, make a left onto Higgins Canyon Road over the bridge and start climbing.
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Look to your left and you will see Purisima Creek Road in the valley below.
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Keep climbing and you will eventually see the ridge line in the distance.
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Once you reach the ridge line, get ready for a quick and windy descent!
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Quick corners, narrow roads and opposing traffic make this fun, but also keep to your side of the road.
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Once you reach the bottom of the descent, keep pedaling over the remaining rolling hills until you reach the flat farmlands.
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Just another couple of miles along the flats and you’ll be back to Half Moon Bay.
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Make a right Main Street, just past the fire station heading back into downtown.
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Once you’re back in Half Moon Bay, pedal back up Main Street to complete your ride. Once you’ve packed back up, it’s time for a bite to eat. Our suggestion is to grab a crab melt sandwich on your way up CA-1 at Nick’s Restaurant on Rockaway Beach in Pacifica.
This first ride in Half Moon Bay is a great way to get acquainted with all of the different places you can explore in San Mateo County riding from the Pacific Ocean through the redwoods and beyond.

Tips & Tricks: Keep it Clean – Cleaning Your Bike


In some ways, a bike is just like a car. When you pull up for a date and your Corvette, Mazda or Prius (no, not Prius*) is dirty, your date considers “if that’s how he treats his toys, how’s he gonna take care of me?” Same thing goes when you arrive at a group ride, race or favorite bike douche hangout and your ride looks like you keep it in a coal mine, people judge from your ride that you would also get married, and then let yourself go. Don’t be that dirty bastard!
Follow these simple steps to properly wash, lube and even wax your ride and keep it cleaner, longer.
THE WASH AND WAX
Step 1: The Sponge Bath
Since pressure from a water hose or solvents like WD-40 can damage components and even remove the factory lubricant from the chain, it’s best to wash your bike by hand.
This is a bit more of a challenge in an urban environment. We use a corner of a parking structure with a sanitary drain nearby, that way you can dump the water when you are done because direct the solution to a water treatment plant where the grease, oil, and particulate matter can be removed from the water and the cleaned water can then be released. We use Simple Green as our soap, as it can be placed in the sanitary drain with no issues. If you are in a back yard, you can allow the dirty Simple Green solution to fall onto ground, grass or gravel, where it will biodegrade, but be sure to water-in if the rinse hits grass or plants.
You will need the following for the wash: One – two gallon bucket; Simple Green; spray bottle with clean water; a sponge; a rim/tire cleaning brush; a paper bag; some cotton rags and lube. See the items pictured below.
First, mix the Simple Green with hot water. Make the mix so that there are enough bubbles, but not overly sudsy.
Then go to your cleaning area and soak the sponge in the water. Start cleaning your bike by ringing the sponge out over your bike frame.
Next ring your sponge out over the components while running your pedals in reverse. Get the chain, cassette and chainring soapy.
Then sponge down the bike frame to remove all the heavy dirt.
Ring the sponge out over the bike frame one more time to re-wet the bike, then use your spray bottle with clean water to rinse all of the soap off the bike frame and components.
Once you have rinsed off all of the soap, dry off the frame with a clean cotton cloth. Once you have dried off the frame, use a separate cloth to lightly dry off your components by padding the water beads off the cassette, chain and chainring.
Now its time to clean your tires and rims. Start by soaking your rim brush in the bucket. Then clean your rims and tire with the rum brush to get off all of the dirt from the tires and brake dust from the rims. Clean both sides of the rims at the same time. Once your are done with the rims, use the clean water bottle to again spray off all of the soap. Then dry the rims with a cotton cloth. Repeat for the the process for your other wheel.
Step 2: The Lube Job
To properly lube your chain, you will need to find a second spot at your cleaning area where the ground is dry. Post your bike so you can rotate the pedals in reverse. Then place either the paper bag or a rag behind your chain in order to protect your frame and rims from the lube.
Use a second rag behind your rear derailleur and sprockets to again protect your wheel and rim from the lube, as pictured above.
After washing the bikes, we use Boeshield T-9 Spray Lube. This lube was developed by The Boeing Company for aircraft parts and is perfectly suited for use on bike chains as it dissolves minor corrosion from the parts and leaves a long-lasting waxy coating that is waterproof. This is perfect for lubricating your chain after washing your bike.
Spray the lube toward the ground directly on the lower rung of the chain, below the chainstay, while rotating the pedals. Rotate the pedals ten times around while continuing to lube the chain. This should provide a sufficient coating.
Then spray a bit of lube on both sides of each the upper and lower rear derailleur sprockets. Then rotate the pedals another ten times to really work the lube into the chain and moving parts.
Now it’s time to wipe the excess lube off the chain and rear derailleur. Press your thumb on one side of the sprocket and your forefinger on the other. Rotate the pedals ten times. Repeat for the other sprocket.
Then place the rag on the chain where it meets the lower sprocket at the rear derailleur and rotate the pedals ten times to remove excess lube. Repeat at the upper sprocket.
Lightly press the top and bottom of the lower section of the chain with the rag between your fingers. Rotate the pedals twenty times to remove the excess lube.
Now lightly press the outside and inside of the chain with the rag between your fingers. Rotate the pedals thirty times to remove the excess lube.
Repeat the process with the top and bottom of the chain and rotate the pedals another ten times. Now wipe off any lube from the chainstay.
With your bike cleaned and lubed, now its time to protect your bike from the elements. The best way to do this is to apply a coat of wax to your bike.
Step 3: Wax On, Wax Off
This tip always raises an eyebrow. Most riders have never thought about applying wax to their bike. Waxing your car is one thing, but waxing your bike?
If you have a dark colored frame and have never waxed your bike, you may notice streaking or a cloudiness to the finish. Waxing your bike helps eliminate the streaking and cloudy finish.
Not only does the wax make your ride shine, it also protects the finish from the elements and helps keep dirt, dust and mud off the frame. Although most bikes are made from either aluminum or carbon fiber frames, the wax we use comes from the car detailing industry and our friends at Detailed Image. This same wax can be used on your steel or titanium frame as well.
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Your first step is to apply the Optima No Rinse to the frame. you can do this either through a spray bottle or by applying the No Rinse onto a rag and using the rag to wipe down the frame, using enough to make the frame look wet. With a clean rag, dry the frame completely.
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Next, apply the Meguiar’s M205 polish to the polishing pad. Dab a small amount of polish onto the various parts of the frame. Then use the pad to work the polish onto the entire frame. Use a circular motion to work the polish in. The polish is fully applied once you no longer see any obtuse coating or streaking from the application. The finish will feel a bit rough and waxy to the touch.
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Now wipe off the polish with another clean cotton rag. Use circular motions again to remove the wax. You have removed all of the wax when the finish is smooth to the touch.
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Although it seems repetitive, the next step is to use the Meguiar’s Final Inspection Spray to remove any missed wax. Again, you can either apply the spray directly to the frame or to a rag. Either way, use a clean rag to apply the Spray to the entire frame. Then wipe it down with another clean, dry rag.
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The last step is to apply the Blackfire Wet Diamond to get the final shine and protection. Apply the Blackfire to another clean rag and wipe down the entire frame. Then use a second rag as a final way to remove any residue from the frame. Finally, use a microfiber cloth to wipe down the entire frame.
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If you take a picture of your frame before and after the waxing, you’ll notice a huge difference in the shine of your bike. You’ll also notice your bike stays cleaner, longer as you continue to ride throughout the season.
WINTER STORAGE
This wash and wax is also a great final wash of the season if you are putting your bike away for winter. When you pull it back out in the spring, all you will need to do is wipe it of with the microfiber cloth and apply a new round of lube to the chain. The T-9 applied above does a great job at protecting your chain from rusting or seizing while in storage.
PRE-RIDE RITUAL
Our pre-ride ritual requires lube, a couple of rags, a paper bag, steel wool and alcohol pads.
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Start by lubing the chain with Rock-n-Roll lube. On days with dry roads, we use the red, Absolute Dry lube. When the roads are wet, or it’s foggy out, we use the Gold lube for a bit more waxiness to keep the chain from getting wet.
Set up the rags behind the the chain and apply the lube to the lower part of the chain behind the chain ring. Rotate the pedals ten times while applying the lube. Next apply the lube to both upper and lower rear derailleur sprockets. Then rotate the pedals another ten times.
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With a clean rag, wipe the excess lube off the chain and derailleur sprockets. Start with the lower sprocket and then the upper sprocket. Then the chain where it meets the lower sprocket and repeat where the chain meets the upper sprocket.
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Then wipe the excess lube off the top and bottom of the chain by gripping the top and bottom of the lower part of the chain with your thumb and forefingers and rotating the pedals twenty times. Then do the same for the sides of the chain an rotate the pedals thirty times. Finally, repeat wiping the top and bottom of the chain another ten rotations. When you are done, your clean rag will have much of the dirt, grime and excess lube from your chain.
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After lubing the chain, we use an isopropyl alcohol pad to wipe off the aluminum breaking surfaces of the rims in order to remove any brake dust and ensure proper breaking.
If you have a nick or other surface imperfection in your braking surface, you can also use steel wool to smooth out the surface. We use copper, as it leaves less residue on the aluminum braking surfaces as your are smoothing it out.
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Finally, we pump the tires to the desired pressure. We use 95 – 100 psi for normal rides, or 100 – 110 psi for races. Once the tires are pumped, we are ready to roll with the clean, bright and shiny frames!
Whether you just got a new bike, or have been riding the same steed for years, a good wash and wax can make your ride look brand new and sparkle in the sun!
*Riding in the San Francisco Bay Area, we encounter A LOT of Pariah (Priuses or Pri-i, whatever), none of whom appear to either be cyclists, or even like cyclists as they are your most likely offender to passing too closely! Our theory is the Prius drivers are angry that cyclists have a smaller carbon footprint. Beyond our personal observations, the National Highway Safety Administration backs up our theory in that it has found bicyclists are 57% more likely to be in an accident with a hybrid, such as the Prius, than an internal combustion engine car (aka cars other than hybrids). Although it is our opinion no serious cyclist would ever drive a Prius and thus, a Prius driver need not read this article. However, just like every other rule, we have been informed there is an exception. So if you are one of the exceptions, please feel free to read and use all of the information in this article.