I recently completed a 100 mile sportive that included a lot of riding through big puddles, fords etc.. bike got very muddy/gross and was making a lot of noise by the end of it! I gave it a quick once over with muc-off and a rinse after the event but really my bike needs a proper clean. I regularly lube my chain and keep that and the rear cassete clean and I often give the bike a good general clean but seeing as I've owned it since 2010 and never cleaned the other more fiddly bits can anyone offer any advice on what to watch out for when de-greasing/re-greasing derailleurs and whether I should bother with the crank and hubs?

In a nutshell, I just bought some muc off de-greaser and some grease.. I'd like to give the bike a good proper service. I do NOT want to accidentally de-grease a wheel hub or whatever and screw it up!

I love my bike and I'd like to get into servicing it fully, but I don't have much time in my life to spend a whole day on one hub.. any advice? Also, I don't want to pay an LBS a fortune to do it for me!

Cheers, John.

  • From what you said, you cannot avoid at least taking a look "inside" the hubs to be sure there is still clean grease in there. Commented Oct 10, 2012 at 16:05
  • First thing to do is hose it off well, while avoiding directing the pressure of the hose directly at bearing openings. Second thing to do is to clean & lube the chain (and maybe give the cables a shot of spray lube). Third thing to do is ride the bike. (Though your hubs, crank and headset may be due for re-packing anyway, based on mileage.) Commented Oct 10, 2012 at 17:52

2 Answers 2


It looks like what you are asking for is a complete overhaul. Questions similar to this have been asked before so you can see answers like this for checklists and procedures.

The one thing that makes your question different is the time issue. I agree you don't want to spend all day on one hub, and with a little study and practice you should be able to do a home-mechanic level overhaul in a couple hours.

While you are working up to it, you can do one system at a time. For instance, one weekend you can deep clean the drive train. Then next weekend clean and lube the hubs (and possibly true the wheels). Then take a day and maintain brakes and cables. Take another day and overhaul the headset...

By doing one system at a time you will break the job into manageable pieces, and build confidence as you complete each one. And, you can continue to ride in between jobs.

A final advantage to breaking the job up is that some task require, or are much easier, with specialized tools (cone wrenches, crank puller, bottom bracket tool, etc). As you work down the set of tasks you can check whether you have the tools, and if not can either beg, borrow or buy, or can decide that particular task is one you will leave to your local bike shop.

  • Cheers Gary, that sounds like a really good way to do things. Next month I'm going to spend my spending money on a bike stand I think. Might hold off on the truing station for now :)
    – John Hunt
    Commented Oct 10, 2012 at 15:01
  • 2
    Money for a bike stand is money well spent. As for a truing stand, you can eyeball major and moderate wobbles by just watching the gap between the rim and the brake pad if the bike has rim brakes. If it has disc brakes, you can use a nylon cable tie around the seatstays and cut the "tail" off close to the rim.
    – Gary.Ray
    Commented Oct 10, 2012 at 15:07
  • well.. 8 years on or so I'm still riding more than ever and on newer bikes. The Trek kept rolling for 10 years - good going. Note to my past self: Don't even try truing wheels yourself unless you can put in serious time commitment, even then I'd recommend leaving that to skilled professionals. As for everything else, it's all do-able without too much skill required. I would also probably leave wheel hubs alone as they can get pretty complex too and you'd have to take all the spokes off and re-true anyway.
    – John Hunt
    Commented Jan 8, 2021 at 9:03

As Gary mentions, I think there might be two questions in here, one on servicing and one on cleaning.

To clean a bike, there isn't much you need to really worry about; get it up on a stand (if you have that option; otherwise you can just turn it upside down) get the wheels off and clean it as you would anything else. Soap and water will get the mud off, and your degreaser (I use WD-40 & a cheap citrus degreaser from the hardware store) will help on the drivetrain.

some more specific tips and tricks:

the hardest thing to clean will be your drivetrain: cassette, chain, chainrings and rear derailleur.

Chains: They make special tools for cleaning chains; a good DIY option is to take the chain off (you'll need a chainbreaker tool, and I'd look for quick instructions before removing a chain for the first time, there are a couple little tricks that will be worth the time) and drop it in a wide-mouth plastic bottle (gatorade eg) with some combo of soap/degreaser/wd-40 and shake it well for a while; this should really get all the grit out of the chain.

Cassette: also a thing they make special brushes for: and kind of annoying, generally. I end up using some combination of a brush and then a thin strip of rag, and then basically floss between the sprockets. This works alright.

Chainrings: just sort of annoying sometimes b/c it can be hard to reach in the gaps between chainrings. Some combination of a toothbrush and a rag.

rear derailleur: the important thing here is to clean the two pulleys, which can get caked in crud. I use a little pick to scrape it off, and then a tooth brush to clean up.

That is mostly it for cleaning. This is a separate job from "general service", i.e. servicing bearings and replacing cables & etcetera. Don't worry about your hubs/moving parts; they're well sealed, and you aren't going to get near them by accident. Everything that you can see is fair game and can handle a bit of soap and water.

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