RBR reader Frank Daugherty sent us this quick tip for aluminum bike wheels:
My best all-time tip, so old I can’t remember if I came up with it or read or heard about it from someone else, is: To clean/buff the brake pad residue off the aluminum rim braking track, cut small pieces, about brake pad size, of either gray (best) or blue (more aggressive) Scotch-Brite cleaning pads.
They’re available at most decent hardware stores. The green color has serious grinding qualities to it; use at your own risk.
Slip your little brake pad-sized pieces between the pad and the rim. You might have to open the quick release lever to get them in. Gently squeeze the brake lever, get on the bike and ride it around WHILE SQUEEZING THE LEVER!
There is a bit of finesse to this. Depending on how gunky the tracks are, this will buff them perfectly in thirty seconds or so. You can save the little pieces and reuse them several times. Do I have to tell you NOT to do this on carbon rims? Do I?