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how clean is clean?(11 posts)

how clean is clean?cogsworth
Apr 28, 2002 6:56 PM
I just spent an hour cleaning my bike after a 3 hour ride in the rain, and an hour after I dried and lubed the drivetrain I pedaled and shifted front and back and the teeth of my drivetrain were covered with black fluid. I used a chain cleaning machine, Pedro's degreaser, and finish line teflon plus lube. I didn't remove the chain because I have a c-10 with permalink. This is a new drivetrain with only 200-300 miles on it. How do I get it clean and keep it clean without spending more time cleaning than riding?
re: how clean is clean?gtx
Apr 28, 2002 9:54 PM
I ride in the rain all the time (live in the Northwest). Here's what I do--after the ride I immediately put the bike in the stand and towel it dry. Run the chain through a rag to get most of the crud/grit off and some of the water, but the drivetrain is still gonna be a bit wet. Spin wheels and get brake crud off the rims. Go take a shower, etc. Come back a while later after the drivetrain is mostly dry, apply some lube (I like Prolink), run through the gears a few times, wipe off the excess and I'm done--bike goes back on the hook. Probably 5 minutes total. This is for my rain/winter bike. That's about all I do except replace brake pads and routine adjustments all winter. During summer it gets a total tear down.
Here's a good methodtarwheel
Apr 29, 2002 5:04 AM
I've seen guys whose chain and cassette always look like they just came out of a box. Mine isn't that clean but I learned some good cleaning tips at a demonstration put on by a "bike cleaner" on an organized tour. You'll need some degreaser, lots of paper towels (the blue shop ones are best), and a putty knife. The key to keeping your chain clean is to thoroughly clean all the other contact points as well -- derailleurs, rollers, cranks, cogs, etc. If you just clean the chain, it will soon get dirty again from contact with these other parts.

First, put your bike on a stand and thoroughly soak the chain and cassette with a good degreaser. Simple Green works well for me. Start out by cleaning the little rollers on the rear derailleur. Use the putty knife, if necessary to get the crud off the rollers -- just hold it nearly flat against the roller and spin the cranks. Spray the chain several times and wipe it down good. (A chain cleaning device, like Parks, works well for this but isn't ncessary.) Then spray degreaser on the crank teeth until you get all the crud off them. Next, spray the cassette well with degreaser. Then take the putty knife, fold it in a paper towel a couple times, and wrap it tightly around the knife. Put the chain in the smallest rear cog, place the putty knife with folded paper between the two largest cogs, and slowly turn the crank while drawing the putty knife down. This is a little hard to explain, but you want to draw the putty knife down between the cogs so all the crud is wiped off on the paper towel. If you do it right, you end up with an arc-shape grease spot on the towel, and your cogs will look like new. Repeat process for each cog, moving the chain as necessary. When you've got all the parts cleaned with degreaser, rinse with water from a spray nozzle on hose. (Some people don't like to use water, but it really gets the degreaser and other gunk out.)

After rinsing off the drive train, dry the chain, derailleurs and other parts thoroughly, and then let it sit and air-dry for a while. When dry, relube the chain. I use ProLink and have found that it attracts much less gunk than other lubes and does a good job keeping the drivetrain quiet. It also cleans up very easily. My Campy 10 chain has over 5,000 miles on it and has plenty of wear left -- so the ProLink must be doing the job.

Now, if you are really particular about keeping your chain and drive train clean, you might want to buy a chain with a removable link, like Superlink. That way you can remove the chain, soak it in mineral spirits and oil mixture, and clean the other parts easier with the chain off the bike. Since I've got a Campy 10 chain, this isn't practical without buying a new chain, but I may go this route when it comes time to replace the old one.
good shop methodBreakfast
Apr 29, 2002 8:07 AM
Put bike in bike stand, take off wheels. Buy a gallon of diesel gas and use as solvent. Spread newspaper or old cardboard boxes under bike and get a parts brush and a solvent container and go at it. Only use solvent on drivetrain, derailleurs, frame, brakes. Keep off off brake pads, handlebar tape. Chain will need a toothbrush but all links will come really clean by this method. Clean cassette still attached to wheel on bench with solvent , just use something to catch drippings. To get the oily residue off frame and parts once super clean, use a damp rag and Simple Green.
regarding the Superlink and Campy C-10...fretking
Apr 29, 2002 7:19 PM
You can install a Forstner Superlink to really make it easy to remove the chain. Just leave the Permalink in place and remove any other link. Install the Superlink and away you go. There is no real need to remove the Permalink.
Good questionNessism
Apr 30, 2002 6:46 AM
The chain cleaning machine uses a solvent that gets inside the rollers. The black fluid is residue solvent/oil that has not dried yet.

I try to just wipe away the slug on the outside of the chain best I can with a rag. A little WD40 on the rag works well. If the whole bike is dirty, I wash with Simple Green and water first. For general washing of the bike, I like to use an old paint brush so I can get the crap out of the components.

I also like to spray the compontents with WD40 after washing to disperse the water and lube. Wipe clean.
maybe too clean?DougSloan
Apr 30, 2002 7:40 AM
My chains always work and sound like crap after I thoroughly clean/degrease them. It seems no matter how well I try to lubricate them after, they are never the same. They are noisy and don't shift as well. Is the factory lube particularly good?

Anyone else experience this?

Doug
maybe too clean?Nessism
Apr 30, 2002 7:57 AM
I've noticed this as well. The factory lub is quite viscous and does a good job of lubing where the lube is needed - inside the rollers. Washing the chain in solvent flushes this lub out which is hard to replace.

For this reason, I don't use solvent on my chains. Just clean the outside and relube.

Ed
maybe too clean?gtx
Apr 30, 2002 2:44 PM
yeah, I think Campy even states something to that effect somewhere or another. I don't use solvents on my chains. In fact, I don't really use solvents for anything except hub overhauls these days--which I do very rarely--and no more hs or bb overhauls!
You probably overdid it.jw25
Apr 30, 2002 9:32 AM
Seriously, I own a chain cleaner (Park CM-5), but I rarely use it, and only on my mountain bike. ROad chains just don't get the same exposure to grit and grime, at least not around here.
I use Prolink, and my cleaning regimen is this: after a wet ride, wipe the chain down with a clean rag until it's dry on the outside. Apply Prolink liberally, let sit for an hour or two, then wipe clean again.

That's it. Really, the chain only needs lube between the rollers and pins. Anything on the outside just attracts dirt and gunks up your rings and cogs. An oily chain might sound cleaner, but I've gotten used to a bit of clatter and clean, clean cogs.

For the poster who mentioned never having a clean-sounding chain after a run through the machine, I highly recommend the Park cleaner, since it has a magnet to trap metal particles and keep them from getting back into the chain. When I use mine, there's always stuff stuck to it. You could also superglue a small magnet to the bottom of yours.
When I use the machine, I like to do 2-3 hot water and Simple Green washes, followed by a hot water and Dawn detergent wash, then 2-3 plain water rinses. When the chain comes out clean and non-foamy, I'm done. Then I towel dry and apply Prolink, but it has solvents that displace water. If you're using oil-based lubes, it's vital that the chain be bone-dry before you apply them. I've used a hair dryer on high to good effect - I hesitate to let the chain just sit, for fear of rust.
Then oil well, let sit for some time, and wipe clean. The chain should spin freely, and if you move a few links laterally, there shouldn't be any gritty noises.

I do this after muddy rides on the mountain bike, and it brings the chain back to like-new, so it should work for a road drivetrain.
You probably overdid it.klbeans
May 7, 2002 5:40 AM
I agree. When you use a solvent on your chain, how can you fully remove the solvent so that when you apply the fresh lube, it doesn't break this down as well.

I've been riding for 17+ years and what I find works best is a little bit of elbow grease and a good lube (I use triflow). I wash my bike every couple of weeks and when doing so, remove the wheels and clean the cogs with a rag one by one. With a little bit of practice, this can be done in a couple of minutes. The more you do it, the easier it is to keep clean.

I also use a dry rag on my chain as I run it backwards. Once clean, I add the lube to the chain, derailleurs, pulleys. Allow it to soak for a minute, then wipe the excess.

Chain runs nice and quiet, and everything's nice and clean.