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Old 01-28-12, 10:46 PM   #1
TomD77
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Cleaning chains and gears

I think I have cleaning my chains down since I use SRAM chains (easily removable) and take the chains off to soak in degreaser. The last time, I spent quite a while on the rear cassette and other rear bits with a spray degreaser and a stiff nylon brush but even after 20 minutes+, I wasn't even close to happy with the result. I bought a $12 can of "Finish Line" bike degreaser and cleaner and, while it did get ALL the gunk off the chain and cassettes, a large portion of the gunk was deposited elsewhere on the bike.

That + no way in hell am I going to start buying a large number of $12 + tax spray cans that blow crap all over my bike means I am still looking for an ideal way to clean my rear cassette, chain ring and other gears.

Suggestions?
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Old 01-28-12, 11:02 PM   #2
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To do the job right you really need to remove the cassette from the wheel itself and then clean it properly.
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Old 01-28-12, 11:04 PM   #3
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When I want to clean a cassette or Freewheel, I simply remove it.
MUCH easier to get to.
On a cassette, I'll just drop it in a container of "solvent" and let it soak for a bit first.
Freewheel has the bearings inside, so that's not a viable option.
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Old 01-28-12, 11:50 PM   #4
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As the others have mentioned, remove the cassette from the hub, (cogs and spacer combinations, vary) and place the parts in a small container of mineral spirits.

Use some latex / rubber gloves, swish them around and in a moment or two the parts will be shiny and clean. Maybe be a mild brushing ( I use a small bottle brush) but nothing more needed.

Then just lay them flat on a few paper towels or hang to air dry.

If you don't like mineral spirits a decent household dish soap will accomplish the same thing, although you will have to scrub harder and it will take you longer.
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Old 01-29-12, 01:38 AM   #5
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To clean the cassette while on the wheel--Get some sisal string--the old style natural rough coarse stuff- and use it between the rings. I have a chain cleaning tool and use that for the chain and if I am cheapskate it is sneak to the kitchen and use clothes washing liquid-- the less foamy stuff for automatic washers- and dilute with water 50/50. Then wash out with the hose and then to get rid of the water it is WD or similar.

Then it is down to clean the bike with soapy water and elbow grease.
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Old 01-29-12, 05:09 AM   #6
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The issue with leaving the cassette on the freehub is that the solvent seeps past the seal on that side and gets into the bearings. It's not something you want to happen. It's always best to remove the cogset to clean it.

There are various half-moon brushes on the market designed to get down between the cogs. Of course, if you have cogset such as Deore, you can remove it from the freehub, undo the small bolts through it and take all the cogs and spacers apart to wash them. You don't even have to screw them back together as a unit before putting them back on the freehub.
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Old 01-29-12, 06:54 AM   #7
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Old fashioned pro-race bike mechanics use diesel as a cleaner for these parts as it contains a percentage of oil. Cheaper to buy by the gallon!
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Old 01-29-12, 07:07 AM   #8
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I remove the rear wheel and hold it horizontally on my workbench with the drive side up. Then I pour a little solvent onto a rag and use it to "floss" between each pair of cogs. I'm thinking it's about a 5 minute job.
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Old 01-29-12, 07:35 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Retro Grouch View Post
I remove the rear wheel and hold it horizontally on my workbench with the drive side up. Then I pour a little solvent onto a rag and use it to "floss" between each pair of cogs. I'm thinking it's about a 5 minute job.
^^^ This.

But to add to it, I first place the wheel drive side down, spray it with an orange degreaser, brush the cogs, then rinse clean using an adjustable nozzle set on a light spray. When the gunk is off, I turn the wheel over and use a rag with some cleaner on it to better clean (and dry) the cogs. Turning the wheel upside down and using a low volume, low pressure spay helps keep water out of the bearings.
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Old 01-29-12, 07:36 AM   #10
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Here's a nice video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EelVZ1xBwIw
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Old 01-29-12, 08:29 AM   #11
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I just take off my glasses when I go out to ride and I don't see the dirt.

A stiff brush with soap & water every couple of weeks will remove enough of the dirt to prevent undue wear without removing the cassette (wheel off bike).

Quit cleaning & go ride.
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Old 01-29-12, 08:40 AM   #12
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I just wipe everything with a rag when I do get inspired to clean it, which isn't often.
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Old 01-29-12, 09:34 AM   #13
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I use a small amount of WD-40 on the cassette to soften up the gunk (with the wheel off the bike), then floss between the cogs with a rag. I do the same with the chain as OP, soak off the bike.
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Old 01-29-12, 11:42 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Retro Grouch View Post
I remove the rear wheel and hold it horizontally on my workbench with the drive side up. Then I pour a little solvent onto a rag and use it to "floss" between each pair of cogs. I'm thinking it's about a 5 minute job.
This is what I do on the rear cogs. I also wipe down the chain by wrapping a rag around it and spinning it backwards after every ride. That takes about a minute.
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Old 01-29-12, 02:59 PM   #15
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Cleaned 3 drive chains today-

Bike 1---Used the chain cleaning tool with Proper degreaser in it- or rather commercial degreaser I have at work. 1 minute turning the chain and it was clean. Then used a brush to clean the deraillers and Crankset and took the wheel off to get the sisal in between the cogs. Total time 10 minutes but add 5 for cleaning the rear wheel of Dirt and oil.

Bike 2--Have a detachable chain so skinned knuckles later and chain was in the degreaser in a jar and shaken. Then the brush on the deraillers and crankset and No sisal left so folded rag to get between the cogs. Total time 10 minutes + 5 for the wheel and two putting on the elastoplast.

Bike 3 quick wipe over the chain with a greasy rag and wipe excess dirt off the deraillers and crankset. total time 5 minutes and did not do the wheels. Then 15 minutes to do it properly as the chain crunched as it turned and the bike looked dirty.
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Old 01-29-12, 03:26 PM   #16
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Lots of ways to clean the chain and gears, the main thing is to do it often and keep it lubed.
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Old 01-29-12, 03:33 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Retro Grouch View Post
I remove the rear wheel and hold it horizontally on my workbench with the drive side up. Then I pour a little solvent onto a rag and use it to "floss" between each pair of cogs. I'm thinking it's about a 5 minute job.
+1
I always clean my cassette this way.
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Old 01-29-12, 04:36 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stapfam View Post
as the chain crunched as it turned and the bike looked dirty.
Heh!

If the chain crunches like someone chewing ice cubes, it is possibly past time to clean--
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Old 01-29-12, 04:44 PM   #19
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I floss cassettes on the bike. I use the white towels (60 pack) from costco. Spray some solvent on the doubled over edge and floss. It just takes a few minutes, so doing it often is easy. Works great on pavement ridden bikes. bk
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Old 01-29-12, 08:35 PM   #20
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I'm looking at the Park Tools chain scrubber, right now I use a mild detergent and a rag for the cassette so I can run it between the rings. I don't like spray cleaners fro the crap they spread when I cleaned my dirt bike chains. I still take the chain off (SRAM as you have Tom) to clean it and always wipe it off after lubricating it.

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Old 01-29-12, 08:38 PM   #21
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Coffee can and gasoline!!

I'm kidding, of course. Used to do the mineral spirits or WD-40 bulk fluid.
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Old 01-30-12, 09:16 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stapfam View Post
To clean the cassette while on the wheel--Get some sisal string--the old style natural rough coarse stuff- and use it between the rings.
Was in the LBS the other day and saw a Finish Line product called "Bike Floss" which was essentially that.
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Old 01-30-12, 09:46 AM   #23
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I need to start a search for some common material (and cheap) that can be used for flossing.
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Old 01-30-12, 10:00 AM   #24
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I don't like the chain cleaning machines that clamp on to the bike. The few times I used one way back when, I made more of a mess than I cleaned up. For routine chain cleanup, I drip more than enough Pro Link on the chain, let it sit overnight and then backpedal to run the chain through a hand help shop rag to remove whatever grime comes off with the excess lube. Then I keep running the chain through the rag until it is as dry as I can get it. If the chain gets too gunked up for that method, I take the chain off and clean it thoroughly.
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Old 01-30-12, 11:06 AM   #25
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Use something that doesn't attract dirt and get all "greasy" in the first place, then there is little/no cleaning to do.
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