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  1. #1
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    Wanted to make sure. . . bike cleaning questions. . .

    I've got a new bike, and I want to take care of it really well.

    It is a stock build of a surly cross check.

    I got it on Thursday last week, and I've ridden about 120 miles already - down some gravel roads included.

    I've already got 'grit' on my chain and on my front sprockets and rear cassette.

    I'm a newb as far as bike mechanics go. I'd rather not remove my chain at this point.

    I've watched a ton of youtube videos on cleaning bikes, and they are often contradicting of each other.

    So here is my plan - tell me if any part will damage my bike.

    I was going to clean the tires, frame, seat post, non drive areas with 'simple green' cleaner. I saw it used a lot on various videos.

    For the chain, front sprocket/derailleur, rear cassette/rear derailleur this was my plan.

    I was going to use White Lightning Spray degreaser on the chain with a rag as I pedal backwards.

    ****Here is where I have a question - should I spray the degreaser into the derailleurs/rear cassette or front sprocket area - or exclusively on the chain? ****

    I'm wondering will the degreaser get into the bottom bracket or the hubs of the rear wheel and destroy the insides by removing grease? That part makes me nervous.

    I was going to do the turn the rag sideways trick to clean the cassette. Should I use a toothbrush with degreaser there?

    Ok once I get those questions answered I was going to relube with white lightning dry wax based and use a few drops of phil's tenacious oil on pivot points of the derailleurs.. . .

    Also is it a good idea to run water over the cassette area? I KNOW that pressure washing is horrible, I'm just talking like pouring water over from a gallon pitcher to rinse away grit particles? I'm confused about what water can and can't damage, etc.



    Thanks for talking to a newb about all this stuff. I know it may be laughable, but I saved for almost a year to buy a $1000 dollar bike and I want it to run for MULTIPLE years.

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  2. #2
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    After 120 miles you just need to wipe it down.
    I remove the new chain after 1000 miles or so and clean it in Simple Green. After that it gets cleaned every 650 to 750 miles.
    When I need to wash the bike I use Dawn.

  3. #3
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    When I touch my chain, I have a fine layer of rough grit on it, surely 900 more miles of pedaling will grind on the drive train?

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  4. #4
    still climbing Oostal's Avatar
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    Don't overthink it! Bikes are really rather simple and you can't ruin anything with washing. I wash the chain, cassette and derailleurs at first with either simple green or any bike cleaning product. After washing these parts with a lot of water I continue with the rest of the frame. Just be sure to oil all the necessary parts again after washing to prevent rust. A lot of guys take the chain and cassette off for washing, but its too much of a hassle for me so I just use a small brush on them on the bike.

  5. #5
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    So to be clear, the simple green can't get into bottom brackets and/or hubs and ruin internal bearings - this is what I was confused about.

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  6. #6
    2 Fat 2 Furious contango's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by episodic View Post
    When I touch my chain, I have a fine layer of rough grit on it, surely 900 more miles of pedaling will grind on the drive train?
    I'm not hugely experienced in these things other than to say my bike is still running fine after a few thousand miles.

    100 miles of road cycling and you shouldn't need to do much of anything. 100 miles of cycling through muddy puddles and gravel and you could have stuff over the chain that I'd want to clean off. I've taken my bike from so clean you could practically eat your dinner off it to looking like it had been dredged from a lake over the course of 20 miles of muddy puddles and gravel.

    What I've always done is use something like Muc-Off sprayed onto the chainrings and cassette, then leave it for a minute or so and wash it off. A low pressure hose should be fine - it has been for me. Obviously you don't want high pressure water getting into the seals or anything, but if you compare the pressure you're giving it with the kind of water pressure you'd get from cycling in a downpour or through a big puddle you get a fair gauge of what it should take with ease.

    For me a thorough clean of the bike means putting it on the stand, taking off the chain and both wheels, scrubbing the tyres with a stiff brush and cleaning the rest of the wheel with a sponge, cleaning the frame with a sponge and hot soapy water (personally I find regular "gentle" washing up liquid works just fine), degreasing the chain, cleaning inside the fork and rear triangle (much easier with the wheels removed) then putting the wheels and chain back on. Finally lube the chain, and take it for a quick spin around the block to make sure everything is working as expected (sometimes I find putting a wheel on while the bike is on the stand is fiddly, and when it's off the stand I need to make sure the wheels are locked in place properly). That probably sounds quite daunting at first but it's really not that difficult to do. If your local bike shop is within easy striking distance they should be able to offer you a fallback option if you do find you can't figure out how to get the wheel back on again or struggle with the chain.

    If your chain has a powerlink then removing it and replacing it is easy, if a little fiddly at first. If it doesn't then it's probably best not to take the chain off unless you really need to, although I'd be inclined to go one step further, take the chain off, and fit a powerlink to it. If you've got a 10-speed chain some powerlinks don't re-open, in which case you'd be wasting your time. Just be careful not to lose the two halves of the powerlink - they will fall out of the chain!

  7. #7
    just pokin' along desertdork's Avatar
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    I've already got 'grit' on my chain and on my front sprockets and rear cassette.

    I'm a newb as far as bike mechanics go. I'd rather not remove my chain at this point.
    Most likely, your new chain has the factory lube in it. On the chains I've had, the factory lubricant resembles a waxy grease, and it will be present on the outside of the chain as well as inside. If not wiped off the chain's outer surfaces initially, it can collect grit. A clean rag dampened with mineral spirits and wiped along the chain will remove the excess lubricant.

    FWIW #1: Opinions vary on whether the factory lube is a quality chain lubricant or simply a packing grease applied to prevent corrosion. BF has plenty of threads on this.

    FWIW #2: If your chain has a masterlink, removal is a simple process.

    I was going to clean the tires, frame, seat post, non drive areas with 'simple green' cleaner. I saw it used a lot on various videos.
    Simple Green is popular, and I doubt you'll have issues if you dilute it and keep it away from the various bearings. For a light cleaning, I'll often wipe the mentioned areas with a dampened microfiber cloth and be done -- little hassle and no need for rinsing/drying. When the bike is particularly dirty, it gets the full bath with auto soap.

    For the chain, front sprocket/derailleur, rear cassette/rear derailleur this was my plan.

    I was going to use White Lightning Spray degreaser on the chain with a rag as I pedal backwards.
    This should work to remove the grit and any of that excess factory lubricant on the outside of the chain. I'd prefer to spray the rag and wipe the chain, rather than spraying directly on the chain.

    ****Here is where I have a question - should I spray the degreaser into the derailleurs/rear cassette or front sprocket area - or exclusively on the chain? ****

    I'm wondering will the degreaser get into the bottom bracket or the hubs of the rear wheel and destroy the insides by removing grease? That part makes me nervous.
    If the chainrings are a little gritty, wiping them with solvent on a rag should suffice. Spraying solvent around the bottom bracket and hubs isn't the best approach.

    I was going to do the turn the rag sideways trick to clean the cassette. Should I use a toothbrush with degreaser there?
    "Flossing" the cassette with rag strips is popular and effective. Dampening the rag slightly with some solvent will help remove lube buildup that tends to accumulate grit. When my cassettes get dirty, I will sometimes use a toothbrush with a bit of citrus cleaner; I don't use much, and I'm careful to keep it away from the bearings. At other times, I remove the cassette and thoroughly clean with mineral spirits.

    Ok once I get those questions answered I was going to relube with white lightning dry wax based and use a few drops of phil's tenacious oil on pivot points of the derailleurs.. . .
    Relubing with a wax lube really requires a thorough cleaning of the chain, either by using one of those on-the-bike chain cleaning gizmos or by removing the chain and soaking in solvent.

    Phil Tenacious oil is relatively sticky. If you're riding conditions are such that a dry/wax chain lube is preferable, then putting Phil's oil in pivot points makes little sense. A teflon-based dry lube (Finish Line, Dupont, etc) or even Tri-Flow would be my preference.

    Also is it a good idea to run water over the cassette area? I KNOW that pressure washing is horrible, I'm just talking like pouring water over from a gallon pitcher to rinse away grit particles? I'm confused about what water can and can't damage, etc
    Water alone won't typically wash away grit from the cogs, because that grit has adhered to grime/lube that has accumulated on the cogs. If you quickly hit the cogs with a toothbrush dipped in some citrus or "green" cleaner, it won't take a heavy dousing of water to rinse it off, regardless.

    Most of the grit/grime that you see on the cogs and chainrings has been pushed away from the load bearing (wear) surfaces by the chain itself. Some grime on the cogs and rings may make the bike appear dirty, but it's the grit that works itself into the chain innards, derailleur pivots and the various bearings that causes the most wear and concern.

    Keeping your bike clean and in good mechanical condition is rewarding. It's not hard to get a bit carried away with the bike cleaning ritual, especially with a new bike. At some point, you'll find your own cleaning/lubing/maintenance system that works best for you. Then you'll realize that there are many different approaches, and each seems to work well (or well enough) for their respective proponents.

  8. #8
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    Thanks for the long reply.

    This may be a really dumb question, but can you be specific as to where the parts are that I need to keep the degreaser away from? The part where you say keep it away from the various bearings is where I'd like some elaboration if possible.

    Also, if I'm not planning to remove the chain, would a toothbrush rag suffice, or do I really need one of those chain cleaning devices to switch to the wax based lube?


    Quote Originally Posted by desertdork View Post
    Simple Green is popular, and I doubt you'll have issues if you dilute it and keep it away from the various bearings.

    "Flossing" the cassette with rag strips is popular and effective. Dampening the rag slightly with some solvent will help remove lube buildup that tends to accumulate grit. When my cassettes get dirty, I will sometimes use a toothbrush with a bit of citrus cleaner; I don't use much, and I'm careful to keep it away from the bearings. At other times, I remove the cassette and thoroughly clean with mineral spirits.


    Relubing with a wax lube really requires a thorough cleaning of the chain, either by using one of those on-the-bike chain cleaning gizmos or by removing the chain and soaking in solvent.

    Thanks for this advice
    Phil Tenacious oil is relatively sticky. If you're riding conditions are such that a dry/wax chain lube is preferable, then putting Phil's oil in pivot points makes little sense. A teflon-based dry lube (Finish Line, Dupont, etc) or even Tri-Flow would be my preference.


    Water alone won't typically wash away grit from the cogs, because that grit has adhered to grime/lube that has accumulated on the cogs. If you quickly hit the cogs with a toothbrush dipped in some citrus or "green" cleaner, it won't take a heavy dousing of water to rinse it off, regardless.

    Most of the grit/grime that you see on the cogs and chainrings has been pushed away from the load bearing (wear) surfaces by the chain itself. Some grime on the cogs and rings may make the bike appear dirty, but it's the grit that works itself into the chain innards, derailleur pivots and the various bearings that causes the most wear and concern.

    Keeping your bike clean and in good mechanical condition is rewarding. It's not hard to get a bit carried away with the bike cleaning ritual, especially with a new bike. At some point, you'll find your own cleaning/lubing/maintenance system that works best for you. Then you'll realize that there are many different approaches, and each seems to work well (or well enough) for their respective proponents.

    http://tickers.TickerFactory.com/ezt...OyA/weight.png



    "When men speak ill of thee, live so as nobody may believe them."

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  9. #9
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    For keeping degreaser out of bearings, wouldn't wory about this too much, unless using a high pressure washer, as the bearing should have sufficent sealing to prevent ingress.

    For chain cleaning, in the UK we have a product called Fenwicks FS Foaming Degreaser http://www.fenwicks.info/bike.htm spray on, agitate and wash off, gives a clean chain to use what ever new lube you like on, in the US, this looks similar from Simply Green http://www.simplegreen.com/products_bike.php

    Since using the foaming degreaser, have not used a chain cleaning device
    Last edited by jimc101; 02-20-11 at 06:01 PM.

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