Recently, I replaced Hyro’s Shimano CN-HG54 chain and Tiagra CS-4600 10-speed cassette with fresh ones. The cassette had already seen 14,750 km of action; having meshed against four chains, it was time to replace both.
Shimano coats its new chains with a sticky light grease, which helps inhibit rust and corrosion while the chain sits in storage. Conventional wisdom states that this grease is okay to ride with for about 100 km or so. After a 70-km Sunday morning ride, I decided to give Hyro my usual cleaning.
Keeping your bike clean is the best way to save on maintenance costs later, especially when it comes to the parts of your drivetrain. The dirt and dust your bike picks up from riding can turn into a gritty paste over time that can slowly chew through your chain, leading to accelerated wear on the teeth of your cassette and chainrings.
Job one is to remove all accessories from the bike: lights, mini pump, cyclocomputer, saddle bag, and cable lock.
Next it’s time to ready my cleaning supplies. I use PowerClean’s water-based Engine Wash Degreaser, which costs around PhP220 per gallon bottle. I keep some of it in an old spray bottle.
For general cleaning, I use Pedro’s Green Fizz, a biodegradable foaming bike wash; for protection, I use Pedro’s Bike Lust, which is a silicone protectant. Both are on the pricey side, but in practice, you don’t need to use a lot, and the bottles can last you a fairly long time.
Above are my cleaning tools. I differentiate them by what they clean; there are those used on the drivetrain, and those used to clean the rest of the bike.
For the drivetrain, I have an old Finish Line chain scrubber I bought from my trip to Japan in 2014, but has since become locally available – which is great, because mine is on its last legs. I also have a flat-profile stiff-bristle brush I use on the cassette.
For the rest of the bike, my main cleaning implements are sponges and rags. I also have a toilet brush (never before used in a toilet!) for cleaning hard-to-reach places such as hub shells and the bottom bracket shell area – an idea I cribbed from YouTuber Clint Gibbs. Mine could actually be a bit smaller and softer-bristled.
If you have a bike with disc brakes, you might want to remove your brake pads to avoid contamination.
CLEANING THE DRIVETRAIN
Open the chain scrubber and pour in some degreaser up to the fill mark, then clamp the chain scrubber over the chain.
While holding the chain scrubber straight, I turn the cranks backward at least 30 revolutions. This will run the chain through the brushes of the chain scrubber and its degreaser bath. Finish Line’s unit has a magnet at the bottom that will collect the debris and worn pieces of chain, keeping it away from the rest of the degreaser.
Rinse out the chain scrubber of dirty degreaser.
Repeat the procedure – only this time, fill up the chain scrubber with water. This will clean the chain of any degreaser that was left inside the pins and rollers.
If you don’t clean the degreaser off, any lube that you apply to the chain later will just get broken down.
Take the spray bottle of degreaser and spritz it on the derailleurs, cassette, and chainrings. You don’t need a lot. Be careful where you spray it; you don’t want it ending up on your hubs, bottom bracket, or brake rotors.
To clean the cassette, I spray the flat-profile brush with degreaser, and run it through the cogs as I pedal forward (in smaller cogs) or backward (in larger cogs).
Last but not least, take a rag, toothbrush, or flat-head screwdriver, and clean the muck off the face of the rear derailleur’s jockey wheels while pedaling backward.
The great thing about degreaser is you can leave it alone while it does its job. Get a cup of coffee and come back to the bike after 15 minutes.
CLEANING THE REST OF THE BIKE
At this point, I spray the bike down with Green Fizz. It’s a good idea to start from the top and work your way down so gravity helps you.
While spraying, take your sponge and run it over the Green Fizz, wiping and scrubbing away dirt as you go. Take care with spraying it on brake rotors; try to avoid it if possible. For tight spots like hub shells, I bring the spray bottle closer to the component to minimize overspray.
Speaking of hub shells, they’re perfect for cleaning with the toilet brush. For rims and spokes, just spray the Green Fizz into a rag and wipe it on.
Wipe down the rims, spokes, and tires. Spin the wheels slowly, and watch the tire tread area for any debris such as embedded rocks, glass particles, and pieces of nail or staple wire. If you find any, pry them out with your fingers or a pick before they worm their way into puncturing your inner tubes.
Once done, go over the bike with a hose to shift the Green Fizz and any dirt away. Keep the water at low pressure.
Wipe down the bike dry with a rag or towel. Get the chain dry as well. Sometimes I bounce the bike on the floor a few times to shake out more water.
BIKE LUST TIME
Once the bike is dry, break out the Pedro’s Bike Lust. This milky white liquid imparts a shine to your bike’s frame and parts, while easing future cleaning by making dirt and stains less likely to stick.
As it’s basically a wax, you have to be very careful with this stuff. I like to start using it on the frame. It’s best to spray it in small amounts, and then wipe. This is a great time to check over the frame for any paint chips, cracks, or other such damage.
When I get to the wheels, I spray it onto a rag first and wipe it onto the surface in question. Obviously, you should avoid spraying this on braking surfaces such as rim brake tracks and disc brake rotors, as it can cause contamination and compromised braking. It really does feel slick to the touch when applied to frame tubes.
The final step is to apply lube to the chain. Here I’m using Weldtite’s TF2, which is a decent all-around wet chain lube.
One nice thing about wet lubes is that they can be used on many more places than just the chain. I put a small amount on derailleur pivots, jockey wheels, and derailleur springs.
After lube, I like to turn the cranks and shift through the full range of gears, then wipe off the excess. Replace any brake pads removed previously, remount lights and accessories, and we’re done.