Now I would not say that I am Mr. Clean. (leave him alone YFF!) I understand how easy it is to let cleaning slide; you could be riding right? Or how about a siesta in the hammock... it doesn't seem as important as chain tensioning or other periodic maintenance, but that is a mistake.
Why? Because cleaning your bike, and I mean thoroughly
- get down on your hands and knees and try to get into all those places your fingers can't quite push the rag, or start disassembling until you can - like I was typing, a good cleaning will force you to thoroughly inspect your bike and you will see things that you would not ordinarily notice. Not only that, but a clean bike is much easier to check than a dirty one. Your detection rate will improve, once all that dirt is out of the way.
Here is my example, and start of a search for information on a potential issue. I was down on my knees, when I noticed what looked like oil spray directly behind my kick starter shaft. I got curious and layed down on my back and found this:
OK, how about a crop:
Yes, a drop of oil hanging from the bottom of my kick starter.
So now, that I know there is a potential issue - leaking kick starter seal? - I can do something about it. If I had not been down there cleaning my bike I might have ended up with a bigger problem, which usually happens in BFE.
Oh yeah, in case you didn't notice, I am soliciting information on potential sources of that leak. I would think that the kick starter shaft is a likely culprit, so I cleaned it up thoroughly in order to monitor it.