There should be no real excuses for this, not even the fact that you might be riding a hybrid bike or even a foldable bike. At some point or another, every drivetrain needs a clean. In this article, you’ll learn some really quick and simple techniques to make your life easier when getting down and dirty cleaning your drivetrain.
All you need is just a few simple products and a few simple techniques and you’ll be driving clean in no time.
A few handy products you’ll be needing are a readily available chain cleaning tool, some water-soluble drivetrain cleaner, and degreaser, a product you should be aware of by now is called “muck off” and lastly, a stiff scrubbing brush for the sprockets.
Oh, and of course your old Faithful bucket of soapy water and a sponge.
This is all you will need, regardless of how mucky your chain is looking, or how caked and battered it’s become with hardened mud. Even if it looks as though you’ve been riding through Asia, take a deep breath, things are about to get better.
The first step, pop some degreaser in the chain bath, no specific amount is needed here, so just set the desired amount of degreaser in the chain cleaner and keep it simple. Make sure the chain is in the middle of the cassette for this bit, it’s easy. A good idea is to also put the gears in the small chainring.
The chain bath tool simply clips onto your chain in the middle of the undercarriage on the chain. Notice that nothing has been dipped into any liquid as of yet, you don’t want anything wet just yet. It’s better to use the chain cleaner with the chain exactly as it is, don’t get it wet with soapy water at this stage because it will affect how effectively the degreaser works.
Now simply start rotating the chain backward, holding onto the chain cleaner tool for a count of 30 or 40 peddle revolutions, no need to get carried away like gears of a medieval lamp. Then we’ll start having a look at how the chain looks. At this point you can already see that the degreaser is working its magic, the chain is already getting cleaner.
You want to increase the cleaning effect at this point and that’s where the handy bottle of muck off comes in. Get busy and stick a little bit of this spray around the drivetrain and give the whole chain a nice bath and carry on rotating the peddles. If you need to top the degreaser at up at any point, feel free to do so. Some chain bath tools have a really neat design with those little ports in the back so you can pour more chain cleaner into the device without taking it off.
Now while you’ve got the drivetrain in this state, it’s a really good idea to use up some of that leftover degreaser. Pour some onto your brush and the cassette. You can even simply hold the brush against the chain and the cassette while you rotate the pedals around. Simple techniques that help for a fast drivetrain degreasing. For more in-depth chain cleaning techniques check out the guide at First Checkpoint.
Another mechanism to remember to clean is the jockey wheels. Get in there with the stiff brush give those a good old scrub. Give it a nice little scrub around the chainring and sprockets as well.
At this point it looks like a complete mess and you might think to yourself, “oh my god I’ve made it worse” – just like the last time you tried to feel like a king and shave your head, well, in actual fact, while all the chemicals are doing their job, you can reach for your good old faithful hot soapy water comes in.
That’s the importance of using the right type of degreaser because with a water-soluble degreaser, your good friend will now flush all that grime away and you’ll see how quickly this drivetrain goes from really grubby to quite clean and slippery, offering you complete peace of mind.
In a matter of minutes you’ve gone from having a really dirty bike to something smooth and shiny, and as a bonus you’re not using the pressure of a hose pipe or a pressure washer, so in terms of bearing life it’s a really good way of cleaning and not blasting into the jet wash.
So literally just by using the power of the product to keep things nice and clean and you’re pretty much done at this point. If you did want to rinse off now you could rinse with a very low-pressure hose at this stage or another good idea is just to use a water bowl filled with some plain water.
At this point, you should be able to feel how much smoother and how much cleaner that whole drivetrain runs without all the grime. The last step is to dry the chain thoroughly and their pipes and apply some appropriate chain lube.
Easy and simple enough for most people to be able to find time in their lives to spend two or three minutes caring for the drivetrain like that which could save you a heap of money in the long run.