Top Tips for Bike Cleaning with Kids: Keeping Your Black Mountain Bikes Ready for Action!

We’ve all been there. Finished off a mammoth trail ride in the depths of winter, completely covered in mud from head to toe and grinning all the while as we pop our bikes back into the shed.
Now, that effort becomes twofold if you’ve got a sprog along for the ride on their own Black Mountain bike! Not only do you have one filthy, dirty bike to deal with once you’ve had your post-ride brew, but two.

So, what do you do?

If you’re anything like us, then you’ll want to crack on and get those bikes cleaned and fresh again for the next ride. But, we’re aware we’re in the minority; we know this all too well as mechanics. You could leave it for a day or two, after all… it’s just mud, right?
Well, how about another option? Get the kids involved and get them cleaning their bikes alongside yours, but make it fun!
Cleaning a bike after a ride is the number one best thing you can do. Not only will you spot any potential problems before they arise on your next trip out, but you’ll also prolong the life of your components and save having to make any expensive purchases (which in this day and age is a great thing to do!). So, here are our top tips for getting your kids involved with cleaning and keeping their Black Mountain bikes fresh and ready for action.
Kids LOVE bubbles, let's be honest about that, it’s a fact. Children have always had this fascination with any kind of bubbles. Be that bath time, blown bubbles in the garden, or that one that accidentally pops out of the washing-up bottle tube when you plonk it back on the counter bubble. Therefore, get some decent suds going and the kids are going to want to muck in and help clean their own bikes quicker than you can say “Put the kettle on”. Just remember though, their hands are going to be cold from riding (unless you’re in warmer climates) so make sure the water isn’t boiling hot and go for more lukewarm to save their hands. At Black Mountain, we always recommend using a dedicated bike cleaning product for a bucket of water. Most local bike shops have an absolute plethora of cleaning product options for you to choose from and always expert advice as to which will be most suitable for you. You can use standard washing-up liquid, but this can strip paint over time and dull the finish of our bikes so use it with care. Bubble baths can also be a brilliant substitute.
We’d always say to wet the bike down first. If you do this, then it's going to soften up the hard-packed mud and make things easier on your children's hands (and yours) when they get to the scrubbing part. Just a normal hose will do the job, but don’t set the pressure too high and steer clear of using a pressure washer! Alternatively, wet sponge and drip the water on in decent quantities. Kids will love doing that for sure! Use a sponge or two to get onto the frame and component areas once the bike is wet, and the mud will just fall off with a little persuasion.
Once you’ve got the majority of the mud and muck off the bikes. It's always a good plan to get some brushes (toothbrushes would be fine) to get into the nitty-gritty areas of the drivetrain. Get rid of the dirt that could wear out chains and belts, and you’ll have a smoother drivetrain that will last a lot longer over time. This is especially a good idea with our own PINTO and SKOG belt drives. Any sand, grit, or muck is the absolute enemy of those systems. And whilst they are designed with the harshest of climates in mind (designed in Wales, remember!) Keeping them clean will help to keep them running smoothly for longer and be less irritating for those creaks and grinding noises.
Getting rid of the suds is always a challenge after cleaning a bike (or two). Tempting as it might be, please put down the pressure washer and step away! Pressure washing a bike may be fine for the professionals of the Tour de France and any Mountain Bike World Cup, but they get to have new and shiny components whenever they need them. Save yourself the hassle (and cash) and just use a hose to rinse down your bikes. The pressure of a pressure washer will force any dirt and grit you’ve missed deep into bearings and the like, causing wear to happen much faster than it would normally. A quick blast with the hose and you’ll be fine.
Now, the bikes are clean and you’ve dried them down with an old rag or the tea towel that you just happened to grab when you put the kettle on a while back. What do you do after? Well, you get some lubrication back on! If you have one of our geared bikes (KAPEL and HUTTO), running some lube along the chain will keep it rust-free and rolling nicely for months and months. Don’t use too much, just lightly drip it on. Run the gears up and down a handful of times, and then wipe off the excess.
Consider getting some mudguards; save those clothes too! Our Dink & Donk mudguards are the perfect accompaniment for any winter riding. Or in fact, any riding as kids will always seek out that one perfect puddle even in the heat of summer. Using a mudguard will protect not only parts of the bike but also the young rider on top. Less mud in the eye and less mud on the clothes would be a welcome bonus for any bike ride. With our Dink & Donk mudguards coming in a wide range of colours, there’s bound to be one that matches up!
There you have it! Some clean bikes, even more, tired children than when you started the day… and the satisfaction that you’ve taught your children the value of looking after something so precious to them. Who knows, they may even grow up to love doing the cleaning… we can all dream, right?