Their eyes popped and the smile spread wide…cool, it looks great! Whats happening? That moment they saw their new bike for the first time. For a while it’s clean and shiny. Everyone loves a clean and shiny bike. Fast forward – how’s it looking now? Have you been cleaning a bike with kids? What’s their attitude to their bike or bike cleaning? Do they ride it and dump it, expecting it to perform every time they jump on? When something breaks or squeaks do they look at you and expect magic to happen?
Cleaning a bike with kids is heaps of fun but it will also open up an opportunity to teach the kids & you so much more…
Responsibility Respect for equipment
Moving/lifting/handling their bike
Understanding how a bike works
Discovering what damages a bike Identifying problems & solving them
Environment to ask questions & learn Another opportunity to get wet!
To clean a bike with kids you will need – your bike, a cleaning kit, bucket of water/hose
Depending on the age of your child and how into it or inquisitive they are start to work your way through this list which includes what part of the bike to work on/how to work on it/questions you could answer together when bike cleaning. Although this is targeted at kids, if you are new to riding or getting back into it after a long break, this is a great way to get to know your bike. So feel free to do this without any kids. I recommend you read through this story and the answers to the questions before you begin cleaning. That way armed with fresh knowledge you can just get to the water and fun.
Most of these things are easiest to work with when your bike is upside down (exception – points of contact), so begin with this skill, get them to turn their bike upside down. Now grab your cleaning kit – What’s in a cleaning kit? – and start cleaning a bike with kids.
- Tyres – so easy for a child of any age to clean and satisfying if they are muddy. Give them a brush and set them to work. Lather and rinse while checking for tread wear, splits, cracking. What is a tyre made of? What can damage a tyre? What is tread? What is written on the sidewall of your tyre? What do these things mean? Do you need to pump up your tyres? (Cleaning A Bike Tyre, Changing your Bike Tyre)
- Spokes – it is good for anyone to spin their back bike wheel and have a look at how the pedal/chain/back wheel work to give you motion. Do this by cranking the pedals (I am assuming your bike is upside down). View the wheel, as it spins in the plane that it moves, look for wobbling. Stop the spinning wheel with your brakes not your hand – which brake controls which wheel? When the wheel is still inspect your spokes by giving them a tweak – do they move? Where’s the nipple? Should it be tight? How many spokes do you have in your front wheel?
- Cables – follow the cables from the handlebars – where do they go? What do the cables on your bike do? You are looking for cracks in the casing, loose cables, splitting, are they sitting in their tracks/taped down?
- Chain – your chain is oily so dirt, grit, sand, fine gravel gets stuck to it. A quick way to give it a clean is to run a soapy brush over it. A good trick for your cog set is to use a long bristled brush or the side of a cloth and run it between the sprockets – see photo. How are the teeth of the sprockets looking, where do they wear down? How many gears do you have on your bike?
- Points of contact – seat, hand grips, pedals. Again easy for all ages to find these things, clean them, rinse and search for wear & tear – rips, cracking. Spin the pedals…are the hand grips sticky? What kind of things can damage your seat/grips/pedals?
Be gentle with water, use a light spray. Dry in the shade. Why should you dry your bike in the shade? Why should we keep our bikes in a garage/shed/covered up?
Did you find any problems? Are they easily fixed? Do you have a bike tool kit? Do you need to pump up your tyres? If you discovered something that needs work have a go at fixing it yourself (look through our resources) or take the bike into a bike shop.
Do you have some things to keep an eye on for next time? Have some of the questions got you puzzled…
This is a link to the goRide Bike Cleaning Questions & Answers sheet where the above questions are discussed and answered. Now that your bike is clean YOU can relax knowing that your pre-ride safety check will be simple and you will be able to have a great day on the bike…
Thanks for reading. Used together our stories, resources & products support you to achieve and develop as a rider.
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