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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Posts
    240

    Is a clean bike REALLY a faster bike?

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    Or is it just a saying?

    I am guilty of neglecting maintenance on my bike. I wipe the gunk off the chain and relube every couple of hundred miles...no rhyme or reason to it, just when I think of it. I'll also knock off any obvious gunk around the rear derailluer/cassette, etc, but definitely not a thorough cleaning.

    Last week, I finally gave my poor bike a top to bottom cleaning. Degreaser on the chain/cassette, scrubbed with a brush in all the nooks and crannies and cogs, and a bubble bath for the frame and tires and hosing off afterwards. The chain/cassette/cogs were definitely gunky, but not terrible. I also replaced the battery in my computer.

    Today, I went for a short ride, and when I started, I noticed the computer was reading much faster MPH than usual. I figured I didn't reset everything correctly when i replaced the battery. But, I finished my ride a few minutes faster than usual, and my avg MPH was a bit higher. I didn't feel like I was really pushing myself any harder than normal.

    So, just a fluke, or did the shiny chain really help?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Katy, Texas
    Posts
    1,828
    undoubtedly regular maintenance will improve a bikes performance by allowing you to use it to its full potential. Along with the regular cleaning and maintenance comes the noticing of small problems which can be dealt with before they become bigger problems. The less quantitative measurement of the question are more in mental outlook. In the process of cleaning and maintaining you mentally (unconsciously) remember why you bought the bike, what you were planning to do with it, how much you enjoy riding, a sort of mental bond is re-enforced and besides it makes you bike feel much better.

    Incidentally I also believe that mechanical things like children and small animals respond better to care than neglect.


    I find my 10 minutes after ride bike check and my every x number of miles regular maintanence a very positive chunk of me time when I can just let the mind go and do mechanical things that give a positive result.
    marni
    Katy, Texas
    Trek Madone 6.5- "Red"
    Trek Pilot 5.2- " Bebe"


    "easily outrun by a chihuahua."

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Florida
    Posts
    462
    I ride near the ocean and sand, and I thoroughly clean my bike every weekend after the last ride, including breaking out the pipe cleaners to get sand out of the chain links. I find it meditative once I start cleaning, though usually after a long ride, I have to talk myself into starting. I don't think I'm any faster, but I like my bikes, and don't want any unnecessary wear and tear on any part of them.
    2013 Kirk Frameworks JK Special/Selle Anatomica
    2012 Gunnar Sport/Brooks B17
    2001 Calfee Tetra Pro/Selle Anatomica
    1984 Raleigh Sport/Brooks B66

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Posts
    240
    Quote Originally Posted by marni View Post
    The less quantitative measurement of the question are more in mental outlook. In the process of cleaning and maintaining you mentally (unconsciously) remember why you bought the bike, what you were planning to do with it, how much you enjoy riding, a sort of mental bond is re-enforced and besides it makes you bike feel much better.

    This perfectly sums up how I felt when I was cleaning it!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Oslo, Norway
    Posts
    4,083
    Quote Originally Posted by marni View Post
    In the process of cleaning and maintaining you mentally (unconsciously) remember why you bought the bike, what you were planning to do with it, how much you enjoy riding, a sort of mental bond is re-enforced and besides it makes you bike feel much better.
    (...)
    Incidentally I also believe that mechanical things like children and small animals respond better to care than neglect.
    Marni, you're a quote a minute. Love it
    Winter riding is much less about badassery and much more about bundle-uppery. - malkin

    1995 Kona Cinder Cone commuterFrankenbike/Selle Italia SLR Lady Gel Flow
    2008 white Nakamura Summit Custom mtb/Terry Falcon X
    2000 Schwinn Fastback Comp road bike/Specialized Jett

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Columbia, MO
    Posts
    2,051
    I remember an argument on Car Talk where a woman called in and asked that same question about cars because her husband claimed that dirt makes it less aerodynamic and slows it down.
    2009 Trek 7.2FX WSD, brooks Champion Flyer S, commuter bike

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Posts
    28
    Quote Originally Posted by marni View Post
    undoubtedly regular maintenance will improve a bikes performance by allowing you to use it to its full potential. Along with the regular cleaning and maintenance comes the noticing of small problems which can be dealt with before they become bigger problems. The less quantitative measurement of the question are more in mental outlook. In the process of cleaning and maintaining you mentally (unconsciously) remember why you bought the bike, what you were planning to do with it, how much you enjoy riding, a sort of mental bond is re-enforced and besides it makes you bike feel much better.

    Incidentally I also believe that mechanical things like children and small animals respond better to care than neglect.


    I find my 10 minutes after ride bike check and my every x number of miles regular maintanence a very positive chunk of me time when I can just let the mind go and do mechanical things that give a positive result.
    Glad that you added the part with kids .. what I feel is a National problem with too many parents expecting others, including the Gov to take care of their kids.

    I noticed a glitch in one gear on my bike and the LBS was close so I stopped in. The tech was busy working on another customer's bike and said that I would have to drop it off. I understood that and certainly didn't expect special treatment. But he glanced down at my bike, grabbed it, put it up on a rack and proceeded to check the gears while telling me that he enjoyed working on my bike because I keep it so clean. He even said that he never has to wash his hands after working on my bike. He even had me watch while he adjusted the tensions and explained how and why. And to top it off he didn't/would not even charge me for the service that he did.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Uncanny Valley
    Posts
    14,645
    Quote Originally Posted by Melalvai View Post
    I remember an argument on Car Talk where a woman called in and asked that same question about cars because her husband claimed that dirt makes it less aerodynamic and slows it down.
    OTOH, on a car, dirt refracts laser beams and makes it safer to go faster.
    Speed comes from what you put behind you. - Judi Ketteler

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Indianapolis, Indiana
    Posts
    10,952
    Quote Originally Posted by OakLeaf View Post
    OTOH, on a car, dirt refracts laser beams and makes it safer to go faster.
    I LIKE THIS - justification for the very rare occurrence of a bath for my car (that hitch rack = manual bath). It does get maintained and tires rotated properly though...

    My bike probably would like a nice bath though, and she will get one this weekend. My fitter/mechanic always tells me how clean she is but I know that is relative to many of the other bikes he sees.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Posts
    2,738
    Oh, the stories that I could tell about working on other peoples' bikes, both excessively dirty and excessively clean.... My own bikes are not spotless by any stretch, but I do regularly de-gunk the drivetrain, wipe the rims/rotors, and lube the moving parts. They all get periodically bathed as well, just to facilitate integrity inspections.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Uncanny Valley
    Posts
    14,645
    I'm not the best about cleaning my bike, but I try not to take it to the shop dirty. I once had a mechanic tell me mine was the cleanest bike he'd ever worked on. I think one reason cleaning is such a chore for me is that I hate doing anything half-@ssed.
    Speed comes from what you put behind you. - Judi Ketteler

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    10
    Mechanics love to work on clean anything. I think the gunk is distracting for them

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    St. Louis, MO
    Posts
    4
    I'll wipe down/clean my wife's and my own bike after every ride we take. You spent a lot of money on that machine and all it wants is a little bit more of your time to keep it running good. Yes, it will still go fast dirty just like a car but it sure is nice to look through a clear windshield and have the inside vacuumed out. I think I take better care of our bikes than with the car cleaning. As far as mechanics enjoying working on clean bikes, cars, etc., my wife is an OR nurse and she has some stories about people's personal hygiene. If you can, please take a bath or shower before coming in for surgery if possible so i don't have to hear how dirty your belly button is (amongst other things).
    2013 Trek Madone 4.5
    2010 Trek FX 7.6

    2013 Trek Domane 4.3 WSD - Wife's
    2012 Trek FX 7.6 - Wife's

  14. #14
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Posts
    28
    This Dolce Sport was put up on ebay a few weeks ago.. great pics until you do the zoom on the cassettes .. would you pay what the seller wants after seeing this?

    "2011 Specialized Dolce Sport Compact Womens Road Bike Gently Used Shimano Gear"

    scroll over the second posted pic and zoom in on it ..

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/2011-Special...vip=true&rt=nc

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    West MI
    Posts
    4,308
    They asked (note, not one bid) WAY too much for that bike, even if it were spotless.
    Kirsten
    run/bike log
    zoomylicious


    '11 Cannondale SuperSix 4 Rival
    '12 Salsa Mukluk 3
    '14 Seven Mudhoney S Ti/disc/Di2

 

 

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