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  1. #1
    Senior Member bruce19's Avatar
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    Pulleys: buying & maintaining

    I've learned that keeping the pulleys clean keeps my rear derailleur functioning as intended. I was just wondering what people do and use to maintain theirs and are some pulleys better than others? Any suggestions for brands of new pulleys?

  2. #2
    I need speed AzTallRider's Avatar
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    I clean them with a stiff paintbrush dipped in Simple Green, and lube them periodically with chain lube. When I've replaced them, I've gone ceramic.
    "If you're riding less than 18 MPH up a 2% grade please tell people Coggan is coaching you."

  3. #3
    www.ocrebels.com Rick@OCRR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by [B
    AzTallRider[/B];13390124]I clean them with a stiff paintbrush dipped in Simple Green, and lube them periodically with chain lube. When I've replaced them, I've gone ceramic.
    What AzTallRider said, except I use a putty knife to scrape off the larger accumulated old lube and dirt-sludge, then Simple Green for the final clean. When I replaced my SRAM Force pullies recently, I went to ceramic too . . . and yes, there is a difference! Still painfully expensive, but much smoother and much less drag with the ceramics.

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    Senior Member Looigi's Avatar
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    Personally, I refrain from using water, soap, detergent, etc. I clean with a solvent, like mineral spirits, WD40 etc.. then apply an appropriate lube, which for pulleys is medium weight machine oil.

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    There are a number of after market jocky pulleys out there with sealed bearings. The notion is that they are more durable and offer less friction. The friction losses of the whole bicycle drive train and bearings are less than 1% so I bet that any losses at the jocky pulleys would be unnoticeable unless the pulleys completely refused to turn. The name that I am familiar with is Bullseye and a pair costs something like $20.

  6. #6
    I need speed AzTallRider's Avatar
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    I used to use solvents, as I was afraid of introducing water to the metal parts, in particular the chain. But I gave Simple Green a try, and have not had any issues whatsoever. I let the drive chain air dry as I clean the rest of the bike with baby wipes, then I lube. and the lube appears to displace any residual water. Of course this is Arizona - water evaporates quickly most of the year. The lube lasts as long or longer than when I'd take the chain off and rinse it in gasoline. There has been no rust nor corrosion, and of course it's far better for the environment. It's also a far less distasteful a job, and so I do it more often, about once/month. I lube the chain about twice per week: every 75-100 miles.

    My pulley bearings are sealed - the occasional lube just makes sure everything around them has a little protective coating. The chain bearing area (and the rear cogs) gets lubed by running the chain through the gears after I lube it, and before I wipe off the excess. I run the chain through a paper rag dampened with lube, then lube, then run it throiugh the gears, then wipe again. It seems to work, and lasts ~100 miles. Any noise is only from cross-chaining. 10 speed tolerances are so tight you can hear anything that isn't perfectly aligned, especially with the Dura Ace RD, which seems to be more precise/tight in that regard than Ultegra.
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    Every few months I take mine off, disassemble them and clean them in minearl spirits, then lube reassemble. The pulleys get gritty feeling after just a few rides but I'm too lazy to clean them more often. The sealed bearing version sounds like an excellent idea.

  8. #8
    Senior Member bruce19's Avatar
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    I've been using the Simple Green and brush routine as well. Recently I picked up some degreaser from the LBS. The gruppo on my bike is Dura Ace so I think the pulleys are pretty good to begin with. Not sure if they are ceramic.

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    Senior Member Allegheny Jet's Avatar
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    I use Simple Green for several washes until the gunk builds up on the pulleys and chain. To get the chain and cogs clean I use Park Tool chain cleaner that I spray on from an old Windex bottle then brush and hose the gunk off.
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    I squirt some Pro-Link chain lube on a rag, pedal backwards, and clean off any built-up gunk.
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    Have bike, will travel Barrettscv's Avatar
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    I clean with a dry soft cloth and lube about every 500 miles. After 10,000 miles, I'll buy new and upgrade
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  12. #12
    What??? Only 2 wheels? jimmuller's Avatar
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    If you use Simple Green, do you rinse before allowing to dry? I would think so, but nobody mentioned it, so I'm asking.
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    Senior Member Allegheny Jet's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jimmuller View Post
    If you use Simple Green, do you rinse before allowing to dry? I would think so, but nobody mentioned it, so I'm asking.
    Depends, if I'm using dry lube then I wait for most of the water to drain then apply the dry lube and wipe excess of with a dry rag. If I'll be using wet lube, I wait for the chain and cogs to dry first. I usually remind myself to apply the wet stuff by leaving the lube bottle on the seat so I have to move it before using the bike later.
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  14. #14
    I need speed AzTallRider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jimmuller View Post
    If you use Simple Green, do you rinse before allowing to dry? I would think so, but nobody mentioned it, so I'm asking.
    For me, it has been yes for the cassette and RD, and no for the chain. I use one of the chain cleaner thingies that lets you run the chain through brushes and a cleaner bath without taking it off. I change the Simple Green and do it again, then just let it dry. Comes out very clean, and the ProLink lube I use has pretty significant solvent properties, that are going to take care of any residual Simple Green. I relube again very soon after a cleaning; usually the next day. Plus, rinsing the chain is going to get a lot of other parts wet, like the FD, which rarely needs more than a wipe down. I rinse the RD and cassette because, otherwise, the gunk would just stay there.
    "If you're riding less than 18 MPH up a 2% grade please tell people Coggan is coaching you."

  15. #15
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    Regular cleaning/maintenance of drive train (including pulleys) keeps tandem/single running smoothly.
    Living in southern AZ helps as we seldom get into rain/slush/mud/snow to get things dirty.

  16. #16
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Keeping the drive chain clean will keep it running smoothly- but the quality of the RD does have an effect on how effective it will be. Most realise that to an extent- the better quality of the RD-the better it will change. Higher quality and you get better pivot points and better materials. I can't talk about road but off road and the Rd's used to last about 1 year before they started to have a bit of play in them. Changing the pulley wheels would not have an effect as the whole DR was Knackered. But if I went from LX (105) to XT (Ultegra)- then I might be able to squeeze 2 years or somewhere near it. Never bothered about going XTR (Dure Ace) as the expense would not be worth it. Then one year I got a deal on an XTR and went for it.

    It was time for the annual rebuild of the Tandem and every year I had to replace the XT RD. Put it on and it felt smoother and crisper and added bling to the onlookers if they could see it under the Mud. Following year and got all the rebuild items for the Tandem- including a new XT rear mech as that was replaced every year. That XTR RD was still good. Following year and still not bad- only a bit of play so the XTR stayed on for another year. 3 Years out of one rear derrailler is unheard of in my book- especially on the Tandem.

    But going onto replacing the pulley wheels with something better? Already mentioned it that my experience is offroad but it is not something I would bother about. By the time I wear out the Pulley wheels- I would have replaced the complete derailler.
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  17. #17
    I need speed AzTallRider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stapfam View Post
    But going onto replacing the pulley wheels with something better? Already mentioned it that my experience is offroad but it is not something I would bother about. By the time I wear out the Pulley wheels- I would have replaced the complete derailler.
    stapfam, you just need to crash more. My LBS told me the pulleys are designed to give out in a crash to save the RD. Not sure if I buy that, but I had to replace my Ultegra pulleys, and I had crashed.
    "If you're riding less than 18 MPH up a 2% grade please tell people Coggan is coaching you."

  18. #18
    Have bike, will travel Barrettscv's Avatar
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    The minor improvements between older models (5600 v5700, 6600 v 6700) and the performance features between 105 V Ultegra can really justify a replace & upgrade decision;

    Upper pulley: Ultegra uses the very durable ceramic bushing, 105 uses steel. Significant difference in life expectancy and mid-life precision.

    Lower pulley: Ultegra uses a sealed cartridge bearing, 105 uses a steel bushing.

    Parallelogram: Ultegra has two forged aluminum links with brass bushings, 105 uses a stamped-steel rear link.

    Pulley cage: Ultegra uses aluminum inner and outer plates. If I recall correctly, 105 uses a steel rear plate.

    The 5700 and 6700 were tweaked a little to officially handle 28-tooth cogs maximum, versus 27 for the 5600 and 6600. I hear Shimano is now revamping 105 again to handle 30-tooth cogs on an official basis, so it could be worth waiting a month to see how the chips fall. Or get Tiagra 4600, it's awfully close to 105.
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  19. #19
    Senior Member bruce19's Avatar
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    Just a couple observations....after thoroughly cleaning the pulleys I went out for a 15 mi. ride yesterday. It was a beautiful day but for cycling it was a bit chilly and really windy. Nevertheless, the drivetrain performed flawlessly and was just smooth and quiet. And, having spent a considerable amount of time focusing on my bike's Dura Ace drivetrain and my gf's Ultegra drivetrain my eyes were opened. I've never ridden Ultegra so I can't speak to function but the finish on the Dura Ace components are works of art while the Ultegra is industrial in appearance.

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