“What are you doing?”, a fellow rider asked me recently as I was washing my DR650 down after some off-road riding. He had rolled into the gas station on an old, bug-eyed, grime-covered Africa Twin. “You don’t need to do this, it’ll just get dirty again. And you’ll damage it!”, he said, shaking his head. Silly millennials and their clean bikes. No dirt, no glory, right? I smiled and nodded while continuing the bike wash, then rode happily away trying t remind myself to lube chain a little later on.

Thing is, while previously I wouldn’t wash my bike that often, rally races instilled a certain routine in me. Every single day, I’d wash the bike before coming back to the bivouac because it needed to be looked over, some things might need fixing, and if it was a rental, no way I’d drop a filthy bike at the paddock for the mechanics to work on – it’s just bein a despicable human. And so, having used to washing my bike every time it gets grimy, then cleaning the chain and lubing it, and checking the whole bike for things that may look loose or damaged became a routine even when I’m not racing. Two or three days on the trails, and it’s a bike wash for me. If the trails are extra gnarly and muddy, then it’s every day.

I know that most people recommend washing the bike once every two or three weeks, while others do it every three or four days… Or, once a year, according to that grumpy soul I met at a gas station. For me, washing the DR after every dirty or muddy ride seems just about right.

Too much? Too little? How often do you wash your bike, and why?

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