Today it is really nice outside so why not bust the work stand outside on my day off and walk through a chain and drive train cleaning. Before I start I will be doing this cleaning the way I prefer to. There are many great ways to clean your drive train this is just the way that I like to do it because it works really well and doesn’t take much time (estimated 15-20 minutes).
For this cleaning you will need a few things. You will need some sort of chain cleaner, I used my personal favorite Morgan Blue Chain Cleaner. I like this cleaner because it is not a degreaser so it non corrosive and it evaporates nicely. This cleaner will be available at Bicycle Heaven come Spring 2013. Next you will need a chain lube, I used T-9 Boeshield because it’s what I have handy and I’m not picky. You can use a standard bottle of lube or an aerosol can. A master link pliers for removing the chain will be needed if you have a master link. You will also need a few rags you don’t mind ruining and a plastic bottle (any bottle, soda bottle, water bottle, wider the mouth the better but any will work). Optional but very helpful tools would be a work stand, cassette cleaning tool like the Park Tool GSC-1C, and a Cold Beverage.
This is my disgustingly dirty cross drive train.
First you will want to remove you chain (if doing a fast cleaning you don’t need to remove the chain but for this method you need to).
Shake the Bottle up and down side to side for a few minutes making sure the whole chain is being swished around in the magic liquid.
After you have washed the chain well pour out the liquid and get the chain out of the bottle (this is why a wide mouth is better). If you need to cut the bottle open to get it out then do so in a creative and fun way.
Next you will need to take a rag in your hand and run the chain through it many times to get all the grim off. You will notice that the chain gets very dry and creaky at this point when using the Morgan Blue Cleaner. This happens because this cleaner evaporates and leaves the chain dry.
Next you will want to lay out the dry chain on a workbench.
A mechanics bench should look this messy, if it does not make sure to make it this messy to increase your chain cleaning credibility.
Take your lube and run a thick bead of it up and down the links. Personally I like to be generous with the lube, lube is cheap and more soaks in better if you ask me. Makes sure you flip your chain over to get both sides lubed. Let the Lube soak in for at least 5-10minutes, for the best cleaning let the chain sit in lube over night.
After lube is soaked in and well applied you will want to remove all of the lube from the outside of the chain. A common misconception is that lube is suppose to keep the chain wet and lubricated. Chains need lube on the inside of the rollers NOT on the surface. Leaving a lot of lube on the surface of the chain will do more damage than good. Wet lube covered chains pick up debris and this will grind away at your drive train components like sandpaper.
After your chain is clean go through and clean off your crank set, and derailleurs. This can be done with aerosol cleaner/lubricants or even bike wash. I would not recommend use of degreasers due to their corrosive properties, these products need to be fully removed and this is hard to do in the tight spaces of a drive train.
After this we will clean out the cassette. This can be done by spraying down your cassette with a aerosol cleaner lubricant (I like Tri-flow, T-9, or Finish Line 2-1).
Once coated break the grime loose with your park brush.
Next take the side of a rag and run it between each of the cogs (like you are flossing).
Makes a big difference! Good as new!
After this you can put the wheel back on and reinstall the chain.
Doing this procedure is not a once a year ordeal. This is what we call regular maintenance and should be done at least once a month if you are riding regularly. One thing I can guarantee you is that maintaining your bike in ways like this WILL pay off. Your Bicycles components will last longer, they will run smoother, and they will produce more watts when clean (may only be a minor difference but it is true).
This walk through doesn’t go into a few things like putting a chain on and taking a wheel off. If you want to learn this in more depth Bicycle Heaven will be doing hands on clinics. In these clinics you can do it with your own bike and learn it firsthand. Also if your bike doesn’t have a quick link in the chain I highly recommend one. All Sram, Wippermen and KMC Chains come with quick links Shimano and Campagnolo do not use or recommend them. I personally have used KMC quick links (available at Bicycle Heaven) in Shimano chains for many years and have had no problems with them, but I will not make that recommendation officially due to Shimano’s stance on them.
Any questions about cleaning drive trains or anything else service related feel free to ask!
Thanks for reading!
Chris Enockson, Bicycle Heaven General Manager
Address: 124 West State Street Geneva Il. 60143
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