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LAVERA STEWARTEditor-in-Chief of the Gym Expert
When you have a bicycle it’s very important to take care of it. Cleaning is probably the most obvious and important thing you could do. Because the dirt can affect the performance and the lifespan of your bicycle.
The dirtiest parts of your bike are the chain and drivetrain, and today we’ll gonna help you learn how you can clean them.
- 1 Harmful Effects of Having a Dirty Chain
- 2 What You Need
- 3 When Is the Best Time to Clean and Lube?
- 4 Issues You Will Encounter When Cleaning Your Bike
- 5 The Significance of Lubricating Your Bicycle Chain
Harmful Effects of Having a Dirty Chain
The dirty chain can have rather disastrous consequences on your bike, like:
- Increased wear rate;
- The chain links will become less flexible;
- It can further wear derailleur assemblies and drivetrain cogs;
- Impaired shifting performance.
What You Need
So to clean the dirty chain, you’re gonna need:
- Cleaner fluid
When Is the Best Time to Clean and Lube?
The best time depends on how often you clean your bike – regularly or occasionally. So let’s take a look at both of these instances.
Cleaning Your Bike Regularly
If you’re doing the cleaning regularly, then you have to:
- Examine the chain by standing by the side of your bike and lift the back part of the wheel off the ground;
- Inspect the links while rotating the pedal with your free hand;
- Check if it has dirt build-up or if there are rust or tight connections;
- Examine if it still has enough lubrication;
- Listen for squeaks while riding;
- If the two conditions are observed, your chain requires spot-cleaning.
Tips for Spot-Cleaning
- Brush the dirt out of the links using a firm brush. You can also use an old toothbrush.
- Re-lubricate the links regularly with the right lubricant.
- Remove excess lubricant by using a clean, dry rag. Don’t use too much oil, since it can attract even more dirt.
- To clean the chain-link thoroughly, use a cleaning tool.
- Connect it to your chain for deep cleaning.
Cleaning Your Bicycle Occasionally
If you are cleaning your bike occasionally, like every few months then you have to:
- Remove your chain entirely with the use of a chain-removal tool.
- Clean it thoroughly using a brush and immerse it in a solvent. This process will remove the grime that has build-up on the chain, which cannot be removed by simply brushing it.
- Soak the chain until all the dirt has been freed from the bushings and links.
- Dry the entire chain completely using a clean rag.
- Before re-lubricating and re-installing the chain, make sure that the solvent has completely evaporated.
Tip: Apply a minimum amount of lube, particularly on the inner link rollers only. There is no need to do it for other parts, and that will just waste the lube. Also, don’t use spray or straw when applying the lube. Because if you do this, you will only spread the lube in the frame, floor, and breaks.
When buying a lubricant, it’s best to buy one in a dropper bottle, as you can then apply the lube one drop at a time.
Once you are done with lubricating, ride the bicycle for a few minutes. Also, remember to remove the excess lube and the spread lube with a rag. And wipe the chainrings and sprockets dry as well. By doing this, you will have the necessary amount of lube to help the bicycle perform at its best.
The lubricant has two fundamental properties. One is that it reduces or eliminates the accumulated dirt because it speeds up the wear. The second is that it makes the chain durable. Without enough lubrication, your bike chain will wear out fast.
IIf you’re concerned about the durability of your bike’s chain, it’s best to lube it often. Lubricants marketed as bicycle-chain lubricants are superior to non-bicycle specific products. These oils usually contain Teflon and are made to repel water and dirt.
Also, remember to use only the designated lubricant and cleaner for bicycle drivetrains.
Issues You Will Encounter When Cleaning Your Bike
Before cleaning you need to examine your bike.
If you notice your links are not bending smoothly, then you have “tight links.” Such links are caused by corrosion or dirt between the link plates. And while cleaning them can be rather tiresome, you can still get rid of them by cleaning, lubricating and flexing it back and forth. Improper pin installation is yet another reason for this issue, and it may lead to severe chain damage.
To put the link back into its right position, you can shift them back and forth within their chainplates by using a tool or with your hands. Replace the chains if the damage is irreversible.
If you notice the chain has become longer, it means you have a chain stretch. It hasn’t stretched literally, just lengthened as it wears. And it appears between the link pins and the rollers. This results in free play or slop, which makes the gear skip in some instances. The bicycle’s rear cog teeth and chainrings will also get affected.Replacing a cog set is more expensive than replacing a chain. You can look for a wear-indicator tool to check on your chain wear. If the prong of the device fits into the chain, then it needs to be replaced.
The Significance of Lubricating Your Bicycle Chain
Aside from extending the life of your bike, keeping your bicycle chain lubricated has other benefits:
It Keeps Your Bike Protected From The Elements
Rain, road, climate salt, and snow can cause the chain to rust out. And it may become visible just after one week of riding in a wet environment. This is why it is essential to provide the right maintenance for your bicycle. Proper lubrication can keep your bike protected against corrosion and reduce the effect of environmental factors.
The Chain Won’t Make Much Noise
The first sign of having a dry chain is the sound it produces. Most of the time, the chain sound becomes louder. Check the bike’s chain with your hands to determine how dry, dirty, or wet it is. Proper lubrication can keep your bicycle in silent mode.
One of the indicators of bike performance is the way it shifts. Bad shifting will affect your speed and reduce your efficiency. Having a dry chain could be one of the reasons.
A dry chain consumes 20 watts at 22 mph. Its consumption will be reduced to 5-10 watts after lubrication. As it becomes dirty and dry, the average watts being added is around 5-10 watts. You will save more energy if the bike chain is in good condition.
And that’s about it! Hopefully, now you know how to clean and better take care of your bike. The more care is put into it, the more it will serve you well. So never neglect proper cleaning, and you will see the results of your hard work!