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You should strive for a clean drivetrain

While you’re hanging around this summer, why not try your hand at making sure you have a clean drivetrain? With these simple steps, you’ll be the grease monkey you always dreamed of being! Not only that, but keeping your drivetrain clean and lubed extends the life of your bicycle and helps maintain proper shifting performance and pedaling efficiency.

Steps:

1. When riding primarily on roads, you should clean and re-lube your chain at least once every three or four rides, depending on the conditions (rain, excessive road grit, etc.).

2. Run the chain backward through a clean cotton rag until the chain is fairly clean and dry. Lube the chain with your favorite lube, making sure that some lube gets on each link. Run chain back through the rag once more to remove excess lube. Don’t have a favorite chain lube? Check out 2 of our favorites White Lightning Clean Ride or Bike Medicine Purple Extreme.

3. Clean the cassette or freewheel. You can “floss” the cassette or freewheel with a clean rag to remove built-up gunk. If it is really dirty, you may want to scrub the cassette or freewheel cogs with an old toothbrush and some de-greaser.

4.  Wipe off your front and rear derailleur. Afterward, spray the derailleur pivots with a light, penetrating lube.

5. Wipe off your chainrings from time to time with a clean rag. If they are really dirty, you may want to scrub them with an old toothbrush and some de-greaser.

6. Clean the rear derailleur jockey wheels from time to time with a clean rag to prevent the build-up of gunk.

Tips:

If your chain is really dirty, you may need to remove it to clean it properly. However, if you regularly follow the steps above, you will not need to do this. You can buy chain cleaning kits which run the chain through a solvent bath. You can also use a wide mouth soda bottle, Gatorade bottle, or old water bottle as a chain bath. Again, following the recommendations above should keep your drivetrain clean.

You should generally replace your chain every 2000 miles. If you wait longer than that, your old chain may begin to put undue wear on your cassette or freewheel. Don’t forget to wash your bike!

Happy cleaning!

James Balentine, owner of City Limit Cycles

Wash your bike and extend the life of its parts

This time of year it seems like you always need to wash your bike. Whether it is from rain or indoor trainer rides, it seems like your bike is always dirty, even a couple of days after you wash your bike.

Everybody knows that when you ride in the rain your bike will get dirty, but it can get just as dirty from sweat and sports drinks when riding on a trainer. Click To Tweet

Items needed to thoroughly degrease and wash your bike

1. Workstand or something to hold the bike off the ground (a rear car rack works well)
2. Brushes (I personally prefer the Finish Line Pro Brush Kit, but there are several different brush sets to choose from)
3. Bucket (Home Depot or Lowes both have cheap 5-gallon buckets)
4. Simple Green (standard green stuff is what we use at the shop)
5. Degreaser (every lube company makes one) Tip: don’t use anything real strong, it can damage the paint finish on your bike
6. Access to a garden hose (don’t use a pressure washer, the high pressure can push the grease out of the bearings)

Follow these steps

The first thing to do is put a little degreaser on the chain. Don’t use too much, a little goes a long way. Let it sit on the chain for a minute or two. Give the chain a light scrubbing and rinse it off with the hose. Next, make a Simple Green solution with about a 3 to 1 ratio of water to Simple Green. Take your big brush and use the solution to wash all the big parts of the bike (frame, fork, wheels, cranks, and derailleurs) Smaller brushes work better in the tight areas. I like to start at the front of the bike and go back so I don’t miss anything.

Use the garden hose to rinse off the entire bike. Don’t forget to wash the bar tape, saddle, and tires. These parts tend to get forgotten and they can get pretty gross if they stay dirty. Washing your tires also gives you a chance to inspect them for big cuts and pieces of glass that may be embedded in the rubber. You can let it dry outside or hand-dry it with a towel. After it has dried off you can then lube the chain and it will be ready to ride next time.

If you keep your bike clean it will prolong the life of every part on the bike and help to keep it working perfectly. Remember: a clean bike is a happy bike.

by: James Balentine, owner of City Limit Cycles, an Austin, Texas-based mobile bicycle repair company that comes to you. Balentine began working with bikes in 1990 when he was 12. He began racing mountain bikes in 1991 and BMX in 1992, winning 12 national championships before turning pro in 1999. He has worked with USA Triathlon as a mechanic for Team USA since 2004. Since 2013, Balentine has worked with the US Paratriathlon team and is their sole mechanic.