Bicycle Network: Bikes 'n' Bits
Cleaning and lubing your drivetrain is one of the simplest maintenance tasks you can do at home but it saves you money and makes riding easier.
The drivetrain of your bicycle refers to the crankset, the chain, and the rear cog or cassette. Derailleurs are technically not part of the drivetrain, but we will discuss them.
What you will need
- Degreaser (see Clean section for suggestions)
- Rags (cotton works best)
- Protective gloves
- Old toothbrush
- Lubricant (see Lubricate section for suggestions)
Evaluate and Prep
Like everything on your bike, you should look at your drivetrain once in a while. If it’s starting to look like a tar pit, it may be time to give it a scrub. Chains and cogs pick up contaminants from the road and build up. These nasties get down into the internals of your chain and when mixed with lubricants, create a grinding paste which rips through the rollers and pins.
Be wary of chemicals being used. Degreasers are fabulous for removing old lube from chains but they also strip moisture from your skin as well! Wear a pair of nitrile or latex gloves to combat this.
Grab your rag and your degreaser. Degreasers come in many forms. Citrus based degreasers are good at home and are environmentally friendly. Use them at full strength. Kerosene works well but please be careful with it in regard to your health and mother earth's. If you like, products such as WD40 or Inox work as effective degreasers and are easy to handle.
Pour or spray an appropriate amount of degreaser onto a rag. Wrap the rag around the chain just in front of the derailleur on the bottom section. Rotate the pedals backwards and watch the mess come off. If the rag loads up, find a clean spot, apply more degreaser and repeat.If you have a heavy build up, an old toothbrush soaked in degreaser will assist nicely.
Many different types of lubrication are available on the market. Choose something which is formulated for bicycles. Lubricants suitable for other applications are marginally suitable. ‘Wet’ lubricants such as Tri Flow and Pedros Syn Lube are a traditional lubes which holds up well in wet conditions and can tend to hold onto chains longer.
‘Dry’ lubricants such as Rock ‘n’ Roll and Pedros Ice Wax are a lube designed to ‘clean’ your chain as you ride and reduce build up. They can be tricky to apply and the procedure listed must be followed. They are great for dry conditions.
‘Surface treatments’ like Pro Link and Purple Extreme are lubes that are very viscous and run into the chain to better lubricate the inner rollers etc
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