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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Toronto, Canada
    Posts
    18

    Cool Cleaning and lubing the chain for the first time: what can go wrong?

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    Hi everyone:

    I have a new road bike and I've been riding for two months, on weekends, in good weather. Question: All the books say to clean and lube your chain. OK, I ran out to get the chain cleaner and the lube from my LBS. I have J-cloths. And yet I'm so scared that I'll do something wrong and mess up my good ride that I don't dare touch my chain. What if I over-lube? Under-clean? Wreck my chain? Oh my, the tales of woe that run through my head are endless! The one thing I do know is that for both cleaning and lubing I run the wheels backwards. They showed me that much at the store.

    Any experienced riders out there with advice on chain management for a newbie? Thank you very much!
    2012 Specialized Dolce Elite
    Giant Cyclotron Mag II Trainer

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Posts
    6,449
    Maybe google some chain cleaning vidoes? Lots of stuff on Youtube. And there are many articles on how to clean your bike.
    So long as the wheels are still turning, life is good.

    Battswebb

    Pinarello Quattro~CAADX~ Zurich Lemond
    Specialized Romin Saddles

    Surly Krampus!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Location
    the dry side
    Posts
    4,403

    Cleaning and lubing the chain for the first time: what can go wrong?

    You tube is good. Really, not much to screw up unless you use the wrong stuff. You have stuff from the shop. Go for it!
    2015 Liv Intrigue 2
    Pro Mongoose Titanium Singlespeed
    2012 Trek Madone 4.6 Compact SRAM

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Posts
    6,449
    The main thing is not to spray water directly into the casset hub area and bottom bracket from the sides. Let it dribble from the top down, and don't use high pressure.

    I have an inexpensive plastic bristle cleaning brush I use only for cleaning the drivetrain. I just use dish detergent in hot water to clean, followed by chain lube to get the chain, cassette, and pivot points on the brakes and shift levers. Use less than you think you need.

    But I also read specific online cleaning directions. You shouldn't need to remove the wheels, especially both at once. (Sometimes, they tell you to do this. Don't! It's a pain to get it back together).
    So long as the wheels are still turning, life is good.

    Battswebb

    Pinarello Quattro~CAADX~ Zurich Lemond
    Specialized Romin Saddles

    Surly Krampus!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Location
    the dry side
    Posts
    4,403
    Hmm, your method sounds pretty good. Just be sure to rinse well and DRY THOROUGHLY before relubing the chain.
    2015 Liv Intrigue 2
    Pro Mongoose Titanium Singlespeed
    2012 Trek Madone 4.6 Compact SRAM

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Posts
    6,449
    Quote Originally Posted by Irulan View Post
    Hmm, your method sounds pretty good. Just be sure to rinse well and DRY THOROUGHLY before relubing the chain.
    Good point!

    In fact, after lubing, dry the entire bike again (minus the chain), to ensure you don't miss anything. Especially any metal nuts in things like the headset where water will pool. (Q-tip time).

    Avoid getting grease on the paint as you clean.

    Use two buckets. One will end up being drive train only. I usually dribble hot, soapy water from top to bottom without actually touching the bike so grit doesn't scratch any surfaces before I do anything else. Next, clean the drive-train using soapy water and bristle brush. Remember, top to bottom with the cog when you use soapy water. Not sideways. Same with the front wheel hub, though it should be sealed. And definitely same with bottom bracket. (Do not use this bucket again for anything that will touch the paint or anything else on the bike other than the drive train). Spin crank as you mentioned and just hold the brush in place against your cog to remove the largest gunk as it spins. (Unless you have one of those fancy cog cleaning machines. I don't). Don't forget the little sprocket wheel on the bottom. (What is it called? Can't remember).

    Next, soap the bike with a soft cloth from a second, clean bucket making sure any grime doesn't scratch the paint; detail drive train with rag, use clean rag to get any grime off underside of bottom bracket, rinse bike top to bottom. Dry the heck out of the bike. Especially anything silver. Don't forget to use a clean dry rag on the bottom side of the bottom bracket again, because dirt will gravitate to that spot even after you have done everything. Use a Q-tip to get the grime that accumulates between the crank-arm and frame on the bottom bracket. Lube drive train with a rag, shift through the entire range, wipe excess. Dod brakes and shifter points last with Q-tips. (Q-tip with lube. Squeeze the brake lever to find the opening. Lube the bolt at the pivot points on your brakes. Wipe away excess lube). Make sure all water is gone.

    You are correct, though. Don't overclean. You will not be able to get all the grease from the drivetrain.

    Alternatively, since it is a new bike. Clean only the drive train with degreaser. Detail and lube with a rag. Check the bottom bracket for gunk and clean it off.
    Last edited by Muirenn; 05-21-2013 at 08:00 AM.
    So long as the wheels are still turning, life is good.

    Battswebb

    Pinarello Quattro~CAADX~ Zurich Lemond
    Specialized Romin Saddles

    Surly Krampus!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Posts
    2,617
    I try to minimize the amount of water. I just spray on bike-wash liberally and start gently to remove gritty dirt, and dry it well. I remove the chain and clean it and the rear cassette separately with degreaser and plenty of shop rags. I know many people are fine using water, but I try to avoid it whenever possible.
    For 3 days, I get to part of a thousand other journeys.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Location
    the dry side
    Posts
    4,403
    Am I a freak if I have a power link on my road bike chain for easy **thorough** cleaning?
    I have them on all my mountain bikes...
    2015 Liv Intrigue 2
    Pro Mongoose Titanium Singlespeed
    2012 Trek Madone 4.6 Compact SRAM

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Posts
    6,449
    Quote Originally Posted by Irulan View Post
    Am I a freak if I have a power link on my road bike chain for easy **thorough** cleaning?
    I have them on all my mountain bikes...

    Never tried it.

    Does sound like I soak the heck out of my bike from that description. But it's mostly from a rag/sponge and drizzling. Even for rinsing. I know people like hoses, and there is nothing wrong with using one carefully. But I prefer not to.

    I've never purchased specific bike wash, Pedal, always consider it, then I remember that perfectly good bottle of dish detergent at home, and decide to save my money.
    Last edited by Muirenn; 05-21-2013 at 09:31 AM.
    So long as the wheels are still turning, life is good.

    Battswebb

    Pinarello Quattro~CAADX~ Zurich Lemond
    Specialized Romin Saddles

    Surly Krampus!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Location
    the dry side
    Posts
    4,403
    power links are a mountain biking thing. You can easily undo the chain and soak it in a jar of your favorite cleaner to really get the gunk off.
    2015 Liv Intrigue 2
    Pro Mongoose Titanium Singlespeed
    2012 Trek Madone 4.6 Compact SRAM

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    Whitmore Lake, Michigan
    Posts
    930
    I use this kit and love how it works. There are videos online for it's use and also reviews. I was working on my bike in the late winter in my brother-in-laws garage because it's heated and has hot and cold running water and he was very skeptical of the contraption when I pulled it out, but was really impressed with the results. After drying, I lube with T-9 and shifting is smooth as silk and quiet.

    When using any degreaser on your bike, avoid getting it on the frame and wipe off and rinse if you do.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Bike Writer

    http://pedaltohealth.blogspot.com/

    Schwinn Gateway unknown year
    Specalized Expedition Sport Low-Entry 2011

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Toronto, Canada
    Posts
    18
    Wow, tons of great advice! Thanks everyone. This is super motivating.

    Bike Writer, I have seen that blue contraption on YouTube. Is it easy to use? I'm all thumbs, you see. If you recommend it, I know where I can get it for a reasonable price. Thanks for the tip about degreaser on the frame. For the frame I'm going to use a rag/sponge and soapy water plus Q-tips for those hard to get areas. I know a lot of people use hoses, but I don't have one in my apartment! It'll have to be an old-fashioned bucket for me and little by little so I don't soak my living room, which is where I keep my bike. I get the feeling I'll end up making a mess though despite my best efforts
    2012 Specialized Dolce Elite
    Giant Cyclotron Mag II Trainer

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Posts
    6,449
    I meant to avoid getting any grease or oil on the frame. Some people clean their bikes more than others. I tend to avoid doing too much. So long as I occasionally wipe down the drivetrain.

    Edit: I see Bike Writer's post now. She mentioned degreaser.
    So long as the wheels are still turning, life is good.

    Battswebb

    Pinarello Quattro~CAADX~ Zurich Lemond
    Specialized Romin Saddles

    Surly Krampus!

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    DE
    Posts
    1,221
    Do NOT attempt to clean your bike or chain inside your house or apt. I would not even do it in a tile tub/shower. The grease will invariably get on the one surface that cant' be cleaned, including all of your walls, floors, clothes and towels. I know this.

    This is an outside project to be performed with gloves, rags, and clothes you don't care about.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Posts
    2,617
    Quote Originally Posted by Irulan View Post
    Am I a freak if I have a power link on my road bike chain for easy **thorough** cleaning?
    I have them on all my mountain bikes...
    Have them on ALL my bikes!
    For 3 days, I get to part of a thousand other journeys.

 

 

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