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How to do a proper bicycle wheel cleaning in 4 easy steps

In this article I’m going to give you my 2 cents on the essential process of cleaning with the help of a bicycle wheel cleaning example.

Cleaning is something that’s going to be part of any bike restoration project. So you want to do this as effective and efficient as possible and/or enjoy the process itself when it doesn’t go that fast.

The wheel comes from a Koga Miyata Skyrunner which had been sitting in somebody’s garage for at least 7 years. I doubt that the bike had ever been cleaned during those years.


Fixing the flat

When I bought the bike the front tire sat on a flat. The tan sidewalls of the tires were completely rotted and have since been replaced by Rene Herse Humptulips Ridge tires, but the first step was to fix the flat. So I did.

flat tire

There was wear around the valve, which is a classic place for a flat when tubes simply get old instead of punctured.

Cleaning spokes

cleaning bicycle spokes

Next up is cleaning the spokes. In this case 36 per wheel. To get them really clean takes a lot time. Especially where they cross each other and where they enter the hub.

So I simply put on a webinar and do the work. What Tony Robbins calls NET time or no-extra-time.

I use a toothpick to get in between the hub and spokes.

Cleaning the cassette

cleaning cassette

A rear bicycle wheel cleaning includes removing, cleaning and reinstalling the cassette. This wheel has a freehub, so I can remove the cassette and safely clean it by submerging it in white spirit.

White spirit is an extremely strong degreaser, it’s very cheap, and can be reused ad infinitum when you filter it occasionally.

The difference between a dirty and clean cassette is light and day.

Overhauling bicycle hubs

cleaned bicycle hub

Normally I would also overhaul the hubs during a bicycle wheel cleaning. But these wheels are different from what I’m used to and required two 13 mm cone wrenches, which I didn’t have.

So I’ll need to buy those and leave the bicycle hub overhaul for another time.

And that concludes this little article bicycle wheel cleaning

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