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  1. #1
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    dirt on derailleur question

    I brought my bike to a bike mechanic Thursday afternoon. He showed me there was dirt on the small wheels that are the derailleur. He told me that the dirt does not belong there and also that the dirt got there due to the lubricant that I was using. He suggested cleaning the whole thing and also going to a teflon type lubricant. I have been riding in the rain lately and thought I should use the lubricant every time after riding in the rain. The lubricant I have been using is called Tri-Flow and applying to the chain after every ride in the rain. My question is how much damage is the dirt on the derailleur doing to my bike? If the lubricant is causing the dirt build up is there a better product out there for lubricant without the dirt build up? Thank you for your ideas and help.

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    Senior Member Papa Tom's Avatar
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    Oil-based lubricants attract dirt, which gunks up your whole gear system and makes shifting kind of sluggish. Every few days, I use a thin rag to clean all the goop out of the various parts of my gearing system. Then I coat the cogs (the "small wheels" you described), the chainrings (the larger wheels toward the front of the bike), and the chain itself (as well as my pedal cranks) with White Lightning, which is more of a waxy lubricant. Not all cyclists like this stuff, but I've still got a case of it around and don't want to throw it away!
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  3. #3
    Senior Member mechanicalron's Avatar
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    tri-flow is great and washes away in heavy rain (a good thing and crud wont stick to it) but your bike is prob a newer one and the tri-flow flushed the thick tuff out of your chain that the factory had on it. An out of the box new chain is thick with sticky oil so if you want, clean your jockie wheels (the cute little critter geers) and keep doing what you do, aka, should not be a problem
    "newbie at heart"

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    Quote Originally Posted by essiemyra View Post
    My question is how much damage is the dirt on the derailleur doing to my bike? If the lubricant is causing the dirt build up is there a better product out there for lubricant without the dirt build up? Thank you for your ideas and help.
    To your bike? Almost none. To your chain and gears? Lots. And I don't know of a lubricant that wont attract dirt and gunge eventually. Even White Lighting which I have used. I use Tri-Flow these days because it is pretty cheap. The LBS I get parts from (I do my own work) uses "Simple Green" to wash the crud off of drivetrains. Its way cheaper than heavy duty degreaser. You can use much more of it and more often. I used to just get a new chain and cassette every year but I have too many bikes now. I am going to have to start taking better care of componenets. Keeping my drivetrains clean is my new years resolution. I have one of those clamshell chaincleaners that you put degreaser in, clamp around your chain and pedal the crank backward a bunch of times. They get tons of crud off the chain but... ... they are a pain to use. That's all I've got.

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  5. #5
    Senior Member mechBgon's Avatar
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    Practical suggestions:

    1. after lubricating the chain, grab the chain with a rag and backpedal, to wipe off as much lube from the exterior as you can. This will take off most of the dirt in the process, and help reduce attraction of more dirt.

    2. also hold the rag against the derailleur pulleys with your fingertip while backpedalling, to wipe off excess lube and dirt build-up. If the build-up is caked on, use a flat-tip screwdriver to scrape it off as the pulley turns.


    The dirt on the outside of the derailleur isn't doing substantial harm to it, but you have to draw the line somewhere or it will eventually end up like this...


  6. #6
    Bike addict, dreamer AdamDZ's Avatar
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    The RD will gunk up regardless of what you do. It's just a fact of life. I use Tri-Flow too but still clean my chain, RD and cassette. Excessive gunk buildup (in particular of the gritty kind) can lead to potentially catastrophic situation where the pulleys stop spinning smoothly, then the chain shears the pulleys, gets itself stuck in the RD, yanks the RD, breaks it off and sends all that metal into your spokes, which is generally considered bad for your bike and you as well. But that is pretty bloody rare. But possible.

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    Yea if the pulleys get too gunked up your bike will start shifting sluggish and can make your chain run rough. When you clean and lube the chain I would also clean and lube the derailleurs too. It only takes a few more minutes and can help extend your drivetrains life. As for lube I used to use the white lightning stuff but now use homebrew lube.

  8. #8
    Senior Member kdgrills's Avatar
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    Discussing drive train maintenance is like discussing religion or politics.

    IMO you haven't done any damage to anything. Lubricate it with something,
    keep it reasonably clean, & you'll be fine. Chains & sprockets are consumable
    components.

    I personally rotate 2 chains every 500 miles or so. When one gets nasty, noisy,
    or causes shifting issues, I swap in the clean & freshly lubed one. I can then
    clean & lube the nasty one at my leisure. For cleaning I use mineral spirits, for
    lubrication I've been using the same quart of 80w90 gear oil for many years now.
    Depending on my mood I may wipe down the rest of the drive train.

    Regardless of what I do a chain is gonna last ~3K miles, sprocket ~12K miles,
    chain rings forever.

  9. #9
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    Step one: Purchase inexpensive degreser to clean your cogs and chain. Use gear brush to clean the cogs.
    Zep Heavy duty citrus cleaner at Lowes. $12 a gallon
    http://www.lowes.com/pd_369895-531-Z...ner&facetInfo=

    Step two: Clean the chain. Use the citrus cleaner in the scrubber. Wipe dry.
    Park Tool Cyclone Chain Scrubber. Absolutely the best cleaning tool available for a chain and very easy to use.
    http://www.parktool.com/product/cycl...crubber-CM-5-2

    Step three: aply to all sections of your chain then wipe off excess.
    Boesheild T-9. Nothing sticks to it and leaves my chain looking like it was just made yesterday. Makes my chains run almost silent.
    http://boeshield.com/

    Step four: Lithium in cogs and pivots/fulcrum points. Wipe off excess.
    Liquid Wrench spray lithium with solvent carrier
    http://www.lowes.com/pd_235861-1409-...cetInfo=Liquid Wrench
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    Quote Originally Posted by kdgrills View Post
    Discussing drive train maintenance is like discussing religion or politics.

    IMO you haven't done any damage to anything. Lubricate it with something,
    keep it reasonably clean, & you'll be fine. Chains & sprockets are consumable
    components.
    agreed. i clean my chain approximately never, and lube with Phil Wood Tenacious Oil about once a month. maybe.
    even with the the most tedious maintenance practices my drivetrains never last much longer than those with a low-maintenance schedule.

  11. #11
    Bike addict, dreamer AdamDZ's Avatar
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    Yeah, I use cheap degreaser too, nothing special and a cheap brush. But most of the time I just scrub the stuff off without even using the degreaser and put few drops of TriFlow. It literally takes less than 5 minutes and can be done weekly and it's totally worth it.

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    Bikes work better when they are clean.. don't be Lazy..

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    Senior Member kdgrills's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kdgrills View Post
    Discussing drive train maintenance is like discussing religion or politics.
    Quote Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
    Bikes work better when they are clean.. don't be Lazy..
    You must be a republican.

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    Igo
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    Quote Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
    Bikes work better when they are clean.. don't be Lazy..
    That's a fact. Any machinery works better clean and lubricated. That's a fact.
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    Seņior Member ItsJustMe's Avatar
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    My derailleur wheels are so dirty you can't see them. There's a mass of dirt/oil in the shape of where the chain hits them.

    I don't really bother cleaning anymore. I've tried meticulous cleaning, and also hardly any cleaning at all and barely lubricating, I found it makes little difference to either performance or longevity of parts, so now I just blow the dirt off with a power washer a few times a year, lube it when it looks dry or squeaks, and leave the chain on until the thing starts having trouble, at which point I replace the entire drivetrain, which is < $50 (cassette, chain, derailleur wheels, possibly chainrings). I did this for the first time this spring at 9000 miles on this drivetrain (I had been replacing chains every 1800 miles, and still blew through cassettes in 9000 miles so the life of the cassette is unaffected by not changing the chain). I have a spare crank+chainring set that I paid $22 for but haven't had to use it this time around. It'll be around $50 if I change everything, about $30 without the crank+chainring.
    Work: the 8 hours that separates bike rides.

  16. #16
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    If you ride in the rain, crud is going to build up everywhere. The jockey wheels seem to be particularly bad because the chain packs it on tighter. I don't know if I believe that the lube has anything to do with this. I scrape it off once in a while with a rag and fingertip, and I can definitely tell a huge difference in efficiency after I clean it. I doubt it does any damage unless you let it get ridiculous.

  17. #17
    Igo
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    Quote Originally Posted by ItsJustMe View Post
    My derailleur wheels are so dirty you can't see them. There's a mass of dirt/oil in the shape of where the chain hits them.

    I don't really bother cleaning anymore. I've tried meticulous cleaning, and also hardly any cleaning at all and barely lubricating, I found it makes little difference to either performance or longevity of parts, so now I just blow the dirt off with a power washer a few times a year, lube it when it looks dry or squeaks, and leave the chain on until the thing starts having trouble, at which point I replace the entire drivetrain, which is < $50 (cassette, chain, derailleur wheels, possibly chainrings). I did this for the first time this spring at 9000 miles on this drivetrain (I had been replacing chains every 1800 miles, and still blew through cassettes in 9000 miles so the life of the cassette is unaffected by not changing the chain). I have a spare crank+chainring set that I paid $22 for but haven't had to use it this time around. It'll be around $50 if I change everything, about $30 without the crank+chainring.
    Like you keep saying, ItsJustYou.
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  18. #18
    Igo
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andy_K View Post
    If you ride in the rain, crud is going to build up everywhere. The jockey wheels seem to be particularly bad because the chain packs it on tighter. I don't know if I believe that the lube has anything to do with this. I scrape it off once in a while with a rag and fingertip, and I can definitely tell a huge difference in efficiency after I clean it. I doubt it does any damage unless you let it get ridiculous.
    Machines will be machines.
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  19. #19
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    Cleaning the nastiest part of the bike...

    I gave up on on-the-bike chain cleaners. I use SRAM chains with the removable link, and I'll pull the chain off and soack/scrub occasionally. I do this to a new chain, before installing, to remove the factory-supplied grease. When the derailleur gets bad (or I'm feeling extra sparkly) I remove the derailleur, disassemble the cogs, and scrub them. (Note: my commuter is a single speed, this is done on the other bikes).

    I use a dry lube of one kind or another. Used to use White Lightning, and it worked well on my MTB on dry hardpack. Currently use Boeshield T-9, it's slightly messier than white lightning, but holds up a little better to wet conditions. It is by no means a "wet lube" or rain lube, and should be reapplied after significant water contact. T-9 also works on lots of other components, which white lightning never really did well at.

  20. #20
    Must... ride... more... Phil_gretz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AdamDZ View Post
    The RD will gunk up regardless of what you do. It's just a fact of life. I use Tri-Flow too but still clean my chain, RD and cassette. Excessive gunk buildup (in particular of the gritty kind) can lead to potentially catastrophic situation where the pulleys stop spinning smoothly, then the chain shears the pulleys, gets itself stuck in the RD, yanks the RD, breaks it off and sends all that metal into your spokes, which is generally considered bad for your bike and you as well. But that is pretty bloody rare. But possible.
    Last fall I took a group on an unpredictably wet and muddy mountain bike ride along "Difficult Run", a ;minor tributary to the Potomac River north of Washington DC. Had I known about the conditions, we wouldn't have gone, but they had driven far and we didn't have time to re-plan.

    I wish I had a photo of this. My rear derailleur was clogged with mud, grasses, and had a stout section of stick wedged in the tension pulley. We were powering through hard sections, but were so mud covered that we didn't stop for the last 30 minutes or so. I had been dragging the chain through the derailleur (and shifting) without the tension pulley spinning at all. Wore the teeth off of it, but didn't bend the deraillaur (much) thankfully. Stuff happens. But not so much on road bikes...

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