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Clydesdales/Athenas (200+ lb / 91+ kg) Looking to lose that spare tire? Ideal weight 200+? Frustrated being a large cyclist in a sport geared for the ultra-light? Learn about the bikes and parts that can take the abuse of a heavier cyclist, how to keep your body going while losing the weight, and get support from others who've been successful.

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Old 08-28-13, 09:44 AM   #1
MikeRides
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How often do you degrease your rear cogs/derailer? And what do you use?

I've got 900 miles on the bike, I usually stay in the 5th cog in the back and middle ring in front on most rides, but down shift on hills. Recently I've noticed when shifting from 4th to 5th that the chain has a hard time grasping the cog. I've never deep cleaned the bike before, and assume the stone dust trails I ride are gunking up my drive train causing this issue.

The chain isn't loose by any means or has any indication of wear but I've noticed if I drop the middle ring to the lower ring and shift the rear into the 5th cog i don't have a problem shifting so its definitely the 2 x 5 combo. The mechanic recommended using a can of White Lightning degreaser to clean up the derailleur and cogs, re-lube the chain, and see if that corrects the issue. If it doesn't I'll be taking the bike to him to look at.
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Old 08-28-13, 09:54 AM   #2
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I don't do it nearly as much as I should. In fact, took my roadie out this weekend and was almost ashamed at how dirty it was.

Tonight my new eggbeaters for the Jake will have been delivered finally, and I have to wash my dog. So between washing the dog (and having the hose, et al already out) and having to install the pedals, I'm going to clean both the roadie and the CX bike
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Old 08-28-13, 10:03 AM   #3
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I do that every Friday so the bike is in tip top shape for the weekend's abuse. Last thing I want to be that guy in the club ride w/ a noisy bike that can't shift. Even worse to have a real mechanical due to neglect.

I use a park Tool chain cleaner machine w/ simple green water mixed. 2times w/ with the SG/H20, each time I'll shift half the gear range on the back so the mix is on the cassette too. then 2x straight water, same shifting. Then I'll use the edge of a yellow sponge while the cassette is moving to clean most the gunk off that way. I take the rear wheel off the bike and use semi high water pressure to spin the cassette for a final rinse. While the rear wheel is off, I'll brush off the grime/wax build up on the rear D cogs. Slap the wheel back on and then lube everything, use my 5NM Tq tool to check the handlebars, stem and seatpost.

After that is all done, I'll use about a 1/2 dozen baby wipes and clean the frame down. (Note water hose is needed if cleaning after a rain ride)
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Old 08-28-13, 10:30 AM   #4
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I do the same thing jsigone does except WAY less frequently. I wipe my bike down with wipes whenever I think it's dirty (damn white bikes!) which is pretty often. I haven't lubed my chain in close to 1,000 miles now so it's due - I use that chain-L lube, which is a real smelly PITA to get on but it runs quiet and stays clean so I like it. Did I mention the smell? The chain comes off and gets the full mineral spirits clean when I do clean it.

As for the cassette - that white lightning degreaser is great stuff. I feel like I'm cheating when I use it but hey, it works. I also tend to disassemble my RD and clean the pulley wheels every 1,000 miles or so, it's astounding how cruddy they get from riding on normal, dry streets.
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Old 08-28-13, 10:36 AM   #5
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I do the same thing jsigone does except WAY less frequently. I wipe my bike down with wipes whenever I think it's dirty (damn white bikes!) which is pretty often. I haven't lubed my chain in close to 1,000 miles now so it's due - I use that chain-L lube, which is a real smelly PITA to get on but it runs quiet and stays clean so I like it. Did I mention the smell? The chain comes off and gets the full mineral spirits clean when I do clean it.

As for the cassette - that white lightning degreaser is great stuff. I feel like I'm cheating when I use it but hey, it works. I also tend to disassemble my RD and clean the pulley wheels every 1,000 miles or so, it's astounding how cruddy they get from riding on normal, dry streets.

What kind of wipes? I've got one white bike too

And I've got to find a different chain lube. The one I use makes everything filthy.
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Old 08-28-13, 11:02 AM   #6
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This reminds me I need to clean my bike bad!

I am also ashamed to admit my front derailer has been sticking really bad because I haven't clean it (or the rear) in some time.

Looks like I'll be busy Friday night!
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Old 08-28-13, 11:08 AM   #7
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I bought some bike specific wipes on chain love once as a filler... but i reckon you could go to costco and get some of those kirkland baby wipes and they'd do just fine. They're nice because they're sturdier and gentler than paper towels. You could use a shop rag but then you're washing greasy rags in your washer and that's no bueno either.

that chain-l stuff is a bit messy at first but once it settles down it's pretty clean. You can wipe down the OUTSIDE of the chain all you want if you like a nice silver chain - the lube you need to keep is inside the links. Those lubes that you just drop on the links seem to spend more time flinging on to my wheel than staying on the chain.
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Old 08-28-13, 11:16 AM   #8
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that chain-l stuff is a bit messy at first but once it settles down it's pretty clean. You can wipe down the OUTSIDE of the chain all you want if you like a nice silver chain - the lube you need to keep is inside the links. Those lubes that you just drop on the links seem to spend more time flinging on to my wheel than staying on the chain.
That's EXACTLY what I don't like about what I've been using (and I think it's a White Lightning product, I can check tonight).

It's turned my silver spokes on my Jake to a mottled black
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Old 08-28-13, 11:16 AM   #9
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those Mr Clean Magic erasers are the BOMB for white bikes and even more so for those w/ Matte finished paint jobs.

BTW I'm well stocked in baby wipes so i use them for everything, 8mo baby does that to my garage stash
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Old 08-28-13, 11:24 AM   #10
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No worries about those Magic Erasers rubbing the paint or clear coat off?
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Old 08-28-13, 11:43 AM   #11
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Every couple hundred miles, I take off the rear wheel, and spray the cassette liberally with straight Simple Green, and let it sit while I do the chain. I have a gizmo that clamps on the right rear dropout so the chain can run without having a wheel in place, and I then spray down the chain, the rear derailleur, the front derailleur, and the chainrings with Simple Green. I use a fingernail brush on the chainrings, and a toothbrush on the rear derailleur jockey wheels, and then run the chain between the fingernail brush and the toothbrush. Then I rinse it all off with lots of water from a hose - a gentle spray, not a jet. Then I use the fingernail brush on the cassette, and hose it off.

At the same time, I clean the front and rear brakes, also with Simple Green, and the doohickey where the cables run under the bottom bracket, and wash the whole bike, including using a brush to scrub the brake tracks on front and rear rims.

Once it's all dry, I use Finish Line to oil the brake and derailleur pivots, the doohickey, and the chain. Once it's had time to penetrate, I run the chain through clean paper towels to remove the excess, and check the shifting, front and back all the way up and down the range, and adjust cable tension if necessary.

Every so often, I check the chain wear with a Park chain checker - a cheap little piece of metal that can save you lots of money on cassettes! At 900 miles I'd be surprised if you've worn your chain much, but then again you say you haven't cleaned it yet and ride in dust, which when mixed with chain lube is an EXCELLENT abrasive!
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Old 08-28-13, 11:51 AM   #12
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No worries about those Magic Erasers rubbing the paint or clear coat off?
I use those when cleaning whiteboards which are sensitive to just about everything and had no issue, so I would assume probably not. Although I totally forgot about those things and will have to pick some up to clean my ride before vacation.
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Old 08-28-13, 11:54 AM   #13
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Personally, I've found once I went to Finish Line's One Step, I don't have to use a dedicated degreaser. You have one product that will do everything you need and generally keep your drivetrain clean with relatively little effort. When I was using separate products, it was a real PITA to keep the Teflon-based lube from gumming up the chain.
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Old 08-28-13, 12:06 PM   #14
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I clean them once during the winter.

Milage may vary, however I use a dry lube - Boeshield T-9 about every 200 miles. I use two chains and swap them out at 400 - 600 miles. My cassette looks new with around 1200 miles on it this year and it has not been cleaned.

I also liked the Tri-Flow and White Lightning drys...but the chains started to get noiser, quicker. Boeshield last longer IMO.
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Old 08-28-13, 12:10 PM   #15
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Am I the only one using Lemon Pledge to clean my frame?
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Old 08-28-13, 12:24 PM   #16
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I try to clean my drive-train every week, but have found myself getting lazy. I do like to take it apart and do each piece separately. I have not done this in about 2 weeks (this Friday) and think I should do so maybe today. I also like to take the rear derailleur apart and really clean the wheels. I also use some rags to get into the front derailleur and clean it to a nice shine on the inside (like anyone can see it). I can get real anal when it come to cleaning the drive train on my bike. The chain itself I will soak in a degreaser for about an hour or so. Rinse it off in another solvent, then dry it off for 30 minutes. When I put it back on I use a rag and some drops of lube. I will let the drops (1 drop per link) set for about 30 seconds and then wipe the chain. Move to the next section and repeat till the whole chain is lubed.
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Old 08-28-13, 12:25 PM   #17
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Am I the only one using Lemon Pledge to clean my frame?
Nope and I also use it on my bar tape too.
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Old 08-28-13, 12:26 PM   #18
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No worries about those Magic Erasers rubbing the paint or clear coat off?
negative, all my buddies use it for their matte finished bikes. Focus Izalco, Pinns, Spesh Venge and stuff. I think it will be safe for my super6. I use it mostly for the drive train area where the baby wipes have a harder time w/ the grease and grime.


PJ, I think the lemon scent would be nice for cleaning bar tape, but it does make it more slippery
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Old 08-28-13, 12:28 PM   #19
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Am I the only one using Lemon Pledge to clean my frame?
LOL...probably does just as well as anything else. I strip them down to the frame during the winter and apply a couple of coats of a UV protection wax...think the stuff I have now is maybe...Mother's? Other than that, I will at times use Windex to clean them up, don't like spraying with a hose.
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Old 08-28-13, 12:29 PM   #20
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I spray the cassette with a light coating of WD-40. Then I take a thin rag and 'floss' between the gears. Make sure not to get it on the braking surfaces of the rim.

For the rear derailleur, I wipe it down with a a clean rag and spray lube the pins with something Teflon based. Wipe off the excess. Same goes with the front derailleur.

Another important thing is to clean and lube the shifting cables. Start by shifting the back up to the biggest cog then, without moving the wheel, shift to the lower cog. The cable should loosen up enough where you can remove the cable housing near the RD and clean/lube the cable inside. Then you can clean and lube the guide under the bottom bracket. Put the cables and housings back then spin the crank a few revolutions so that the chain falls into place. Make double sure that the cable is properly in the guides especially under the BB.

Next do the front derailleur cable much the same way.
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Old 08-28-13, 12:34 PM   #21
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I clean the drive train with rags. If I need a solvent, I use kerosene or naphtha, but that's rare and I use a tiny amount. I lube the chain and derailleur pivots every 250 miles or so, but my bike stays extremely clean. The secret is to let the chain lube work it's way into the chain internals (about 30 minutes), then wipe off the excess with a rag; not paper towels, they can't conform to the the chain's outer surfaces nearly as well and they're not as absorbent. I wipe the outside of the chain after the next ride or two then every 3rd or 4th ride thereafter. I don't get any oil fling and very little buildup on the cassette. I've got 2100 miles on my current chain and it shows near zero wear, according to the chain wear tool I use.

If you lube properly and clean off the excess, you won't have oil flinging off or building up all over the place.

Neither kerosene or naphtha is corrosive and both evaporate much faster than water. The same can't be said for Simple Green. It's nearly impossible to get all the water/Simple Green out of the nooks and crannies of derailleur pivots and chain internals, so corrosion is likely, IMO.

I'm probably in the minority with regard to lubing and cleaning, but that's OK!

Last edited by 2 wheeler; 08-28-13 at 12:38 PM.
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Old 08-28-13, 01:03 PM   #22
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I've got 900 miles on the bike, ....
Your shifting problems sounds like it could be fixed with a couple of turns on the derailleur barrel adjustor. Try this first.

As far as chain problems, I am dealing with a second-hand bike I bought. The bike has a high-end Campagnolo drivetrain with lots of carbon giblets. The seller had ridden the chain to the point where it was absurdely stretched out, and so both rings are toast well before their time. The cassette is on the edge too. The rings alone will cost $200 to replace. So instead of replacing a $25 chain three times per year, now the entire drivetrain is pooched.

So here is my advice:
  • Replace chains often. I am on #4 for this year. YMMV.
  • Keep them clean and lubricated; silicates in dirt are especially effective at eating away at the bushings.
  • Cleaning the outside of the chain is a good start, but the insides is what you have to get at to make the task worthwhile.
  • Don't use water in cleaning a bike. It just gets inside the moving parts and rusts them.
  • Water-based degreasers are useless, including anything 'green'.
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Old 08-28-13, 01:09 PM   #23
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negative, all my buddies use it for their matte finished bikes. Focus Izalco, Pinns, Spesh Venge and stuff. I think it will be safe for my super6. I use it mostly for the drive train area where the baby wipes have a harder time w/ the grease and grime.


PJ, I think the lemon scent would be nice for cleaning bar tape, but it does make it more slippery
Never thought about the tape. I only use it on the Ti. Makes it purdy!
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Old 08-28-13, 01:48 PM   #24
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Can you take it to the car wash and hose it down, or is there more too it than that?

I've done no cleaning of my bike.
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Old 08-28-13, 01:56 PM   #25
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Not to a car wash. High pressure hoses push water past gaskets.
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