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Old 01-25-13, 05:59 AM   #1
North Coast Joe
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Couple More Older Beginner Questions; Got a Second?

So, I've been putting some effort into cycling almost daily since the beginning of November '12. Getting better condition, shedding body tonnage, having fun and feeling better about myself. Started doing 5 miles and built it up to 20+ daily, then dropped back to 11-15 depending on time available. Until the "great fall".....creeping around a corner (on ice) when the bike shot out from under me with incomprehensible quickness. Okay, lesson learned. Don't ride on icy road days. Cool. BUT, now it's been five days straight of icy roads and I'm going stir-crazy worrying about gaining all the weight back, losing conditioning, yadda, yadda. Can't do the studded tire thing right now, or the indoor trainer isn't in the budget either. I guess I could do some weights or something while I wait for snow free days. Hey, thanks for the chance to talk myself through this! Never mind that rant

Another question about maintenance, though, please. When I brought the used bike home in November I gave it a thorough cleaning using Simple Green to do the chain, deraillers and cassette/chainring. I use a chainlube max twice weekly and wipe the chain down almost every ride. The cassette has picked up so much crap already that it'll need to be degreased with a brush again. Is this the nature of the beast? What a pita! How do all you bike pic posters keep the drivetrain looking so dry and clean??? I do wipe the whole thing quickly after a chain lube job. I can't figure it out! The bike runs so quietly and shifts so well after a fresh lube, I'd prefer that to a dry chain and resulting performance. Tips?
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Old 01-25-13, 06:39 AM   #2
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My wife and I bought a $25 Bell brand folding stationary trainer stand for her bike. This, and her $120 manual treadmill gives her the ability to exercise indoors on near daily basis (the excessive cold and heat in our area make it difficult for us to remain active during the dead of winter and summer). This stationary stand is also useful as a basic repair stand.

As for your chain/cassette lube problem:

I think you might be over-lubing the chain. Some people rarely (if ever) lube their chains, while others (like myself) only do so occasionally (Note: be forewarned that there is a lot of "pro and con" controversy over lubing chains). You might also consider carefully wiping the chain down after you lube it.

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Old 01-25-13, 06:48 AM   #3
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Clean the chain and cassette/rings, wipe them down, lube the chain, lightly, wipe it down good, then wipe down the cassette and chain rings as well and the rear derailleur's pulleys, when ever your do your maintenance. Works for me and cuts down on the sling factor. I am using Tri-Flow lube for my chain (not advocating any lube or method at all, save the flames, please)

And yes, the chain lube question can turn into a donnybrook of a thread really quick, almost as bad as a helmet thread sometimes. Best of luck and welcome to the 50+ gang Joe.

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Old 01-25-13, 08:30 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by North Coast Joe View Post
The cassette has picked up so much crap already that it'll need to be degreased with a brush again. Is this the nature of the beast? What a pita! How do all you bike pic posters keep the drivetrain looking so dry and clean??? I do wipe the whole thing quickly after a chain lube job. I can't figure it out! The bike runs so quietly and shifts so well after a fresh lube, I'd prefer that to a dry chain and resulting performance. Tips?
Oy, that sounds familiar. I too, wonder how it is people keep their cassettes so admirably clean. I've tried lubes of all kinds and compositions, lube only when the chain needs it, and wipe it down afterwards. Still the cassette gets gungy fast.

Personally, I think a spanking clean cassette may a rolling analogy to a spanking clean desk ... the hallmark of a sick mind. Unless it's bad enough to accelerate wear, who cares?

I'm all ears for the answers, though ... hope springs eternal, and I've not resigned myself to permanent citizenship in Grimeville just yet.
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Old 01-25-13, 08:55 AM   #5
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Oil attracts dirt on the drive train.I always clean the cassette when I clean the chain.Take a look at white lightening products.They clean the drive train while you ride. 2 ,Try marching in place bringing knees high as you can,move arms like walking,then like jumping jack,military press,etc when you are bored with that go to steps in house walk up 2 steps and down 2 steps.Do this for 45 mins.Works for me.
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Old 01-25-13, 10:39 AM   #6
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A clean chain is the sign of a sick mind
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Old 01-25-13, 11:48 AM   #7
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I generally ride older and/or more rugged bikes. They have older chains. I think I've only worn out one freewheel ever. I rarely clean and lube my drivetrain. I think the newer systems with eleventy-eight gears benefit more from regular cleaning and lubing. My theory is that all their materials are skinny to fit all those gears into the space available, so a given amount of wear represents a greater percentage of the component's life. Old heavy stuff, on the other hand, has enough material that, even if you lose some to wear, will function properly for a longer time. So if you have 7 or fewer gears in the back, cleaning and lubing is probably not worth the effort, except when your riding in sloppy (slush, road salt) conditions.
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Old 01-25-13, 12:12 PM   #8
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I hear that.

I bought a POS hybrid with fenders for riding in the rain some time ago. It has a 7 Speed chain that would cost all of $5 to replace. The chainrings and cassette are all steel, so they won't wear easily and will be damn cheap to replace too. I lube the chain frequently, and with grime attracting wet lube. I might run it through a chain cleaner once in the while for yuks, but other than that ...

PS: It is raining today. Did I ride my "rain bike" or did I wimp out? Well ...

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Old 01-25-13, 12:42 PM   #9
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In my whole 3 years of experience I've found that I tend to get very close to 2000 miles before 24 links are greater than 12-1/16th inches (.0625" in 12" stretch), at which point I've replaced. But that was with the less than attentive maintenance schedule shown by several above, maybe around 600-700 miles in between cleanings. The last chain install I decided to see what a 100-200 mile schedule would do. I've got 2480 miles on this one and just did measure it at very close to .04" stretch. If the wear is linear, looks like I'll get about 3600 miles on this one. BTW: 10 speed chains are expensive enough to try to save.

BTW: I use one of these and with a purple degreaser from Walmart ($5/gal) as the cleaning fluid. After a couple of minutes of that, the chain looks brand new. Then shoot it down with a water hose, dry and lube.

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Old 01-25-13, 01:11 PM   #10
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When you get up to the 9 and 10 speed cassette chains, those are narrower and more fragile. They tend to get creeky more quickly and require lubing more often. Just brush down the exterior and relube with chain lube then wipe down. It doesn't have to be that clean, as long as the gunk is not building up on it. Keeping it fairly clean and lubed will increase the shifting performance and help make the chain last longer. These cost around $30, I replaced mine last summer, So they are not cheap and regular maintenance is always good.
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Old 01-25-13, 01:19 PM   #11
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In my whole 3 years of experience I've found that I tend to get very close to 2000 miles before 24 links are greater than 12-1/16th inches (.0625" in 12" stretch), at which point I've replaced. But that was with the less than attentive maintenance schedule shown by several above, maybe around 600-700 miles in between cleanings. The last chain install I decided to see what a 100-200 mile schedule would do. I've got 2480 miles on this one and just did measure it at very close to .04" stretch. If the wear is linear, looks like I'll get about 3600 miles on this one. BTW: 10 speed chains are expensive enough to try to save.

BTW: I use one of these and with a purple degreaser from Walmart ($5/gal) as the cleaning fluid. After a couple of minutes of that, the chain looks brand new. Then shoot it down with a water hose, dry and lube.

My Defy 1 2012 Shimano Tiagra(10 speed) chain was still in tolerance levels after more than 6000 miles. I decided to change the chain anyway.
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Old 01-25-13, 01:34 PM   #12
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My Defy 1 2012 Shimano Tiagra(10 speed) chain was still in tolerance levels after more than 6000 miles. I decided to change the chain anyway.
Yeah, with the lightweight road bike in temperate climates you will notice its not as hard on chains as your not transfering as much torque via the chain. With low geared mountain bike cassettes and lower chainrings, studded tires for winter etc. much more wear and tear will occur on the chain due to the much higher stresses being applied. Also if you have some off road jaunts that will add more gunk to your chain.
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Old 01-25-13, 02:39 PM   #13
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I use an air jet with my shop air compressor to clean the cassette and hard to get places around the brakes and BB and such. Then lube and wipe off. I didn't figure that out until I had my sectuer for a few months and the cassette and pulleys were really gunky. I'm staying on top of it now.
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Old 01-25-13, 02:46 PM   #14
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I hear that. PS: It is raining today. Did I ride my "rain bike" or did I wimp out? Well ...

I rode again today Vic. Rode the steel GT again (my beater bike) and it wasn't bad. Re: Wimpy; hope you don't grow nipples on your knees like that!

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Old 01-25-13, 03:05 PM   #15
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Do you have stairs?
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Old 01-25-13, 03:10 PM   #16
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How dirty your drivetrain gets is a function of where you ride. I've got chains that have lasted two or three years, with very minimal "stretch," riding on the indoor velodrome. I would imagine if you rode in Arizona, things would stay pretty clean with little chain stretch. But ride in the Pac NW or around the Great Lakes, and I would imagine your drivetrain would be clogged with balled-up black dirt and you'd be lucky to get even 2,000 miles (just over 3,000 km) on a chain.

I ride a fixie all the time, and I'll get between 2,000 and 3,000 kilometers out of a wider 1/8" track chain during the winter. But the brake pads are usually the first to go, and rims don't last long either. Last year I went thru at least seven chains and seven or eight sets of front brake blocks, with most of the wear happening in the fall and winter months.

So yes, you do have to do some regular maintenance of your bike if you live in the rain/snow belt. But at least the amount of work you need to do is pretty minimal compared to if you were a cross-country ski racer, having to wax up before each session, removing wax with a heat gun and scraper, structuring the base with a metal edge, hotwaxing, scraping, brushing, etc etc. between sessions, and for each set of skis used. I like just cleaning (wiping down) the chain and lubing every now and then.

PS - you can get a cassette cleaning brush to keep the cogs clean, but the greasy stuff just flies everywhere. Just use a small screwdriver to break up the gunk, then run a rag between the cogs.

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Old 01-25-13, 03:25 PM   #17
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The recumbents I ride have a chain that is about 3 times longer than a DF bike. Therefore to change out the chain cost 3x as much.

Each winter I totally clean the chain with kerosene and let dry for several days. When I put the chain back on I lube with Mobil 1. Before each ride I wipe the chain down with a rag, and re-lube when it appears dry. My first chain lasted 8000 miles, and even at that my Park chain wear tool only showed .75 wear in some places.
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Old 01-25-13, 05:05 PM   #18
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... When I brought the used bike home in November I gave it a thorough cleaning using Simple Green to do the chain, deraillers and cassette/chainring. ... Tips?
When I took my bicycle maintenance class, the instructor strongly recommended AGAINST using any kind of degreaser any where near the hubs or bottom bracket (such as on the cassette and chainring) under the theory that the degreaser would work it's way inside and do what it is supposed to do: degrease the hubs, freehub and bottom bracket.

For the cassette and rings I have a grunge brush with a 2 inch long set of bristles that I use to clean them using just water. Sometimes I just run a stream from a hose over them.

I have also seen it recommended to use a rag wrapped around a screw drive to clean between the cassette rings. But, if I am going to get that fussy I simply remove it and clean it with whatever is handy.
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Old 01-25-13, 06:44 PM   #19
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I replaced the SRAM PC971 9 speed chain on my LHT after 7,100 miles ridden over 2 1/2 years. The LBS estimated the chain was good for another 300 or 400 miles based on the stretch being a bit less than 1/16", but I decided to replace it anyway, before it did any cog damage.

I don't ride much in the wet, but I do ride on a lot of grit. About 2,500 miles were on gravel or crushed stone. I weigh about 155, and for about 2,500 of the miles, I hauled an extra 35 to 45 lb. of stuff. The drive train is 24/36/48 with an 11-34 cassette. On hills I generally spin rather than stand and hammer.

The chain is always dry and clean to the touch. I do not remove the chain to clean it, nor do I use chain cleaning solvents or devices. Cleaning amounts to running the chain thru a dry rag till it is clean to the touch. I also wipe down the cassettes and chain rings, and clean the gunk from the deraileur pulleys. The chain is cleaned that way after every ride.

About once a month, or after any ride in the rain or on wet surfaces, I apply a teflon based lube, like Finish Line Teflon+. The chain gets one drop of lube per roller, then is run thru a rag til dry and clean to the touch. It takes 5 to 10 minutes of spinning the chain through the rag before all traces of the lube are cleaned off.
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Old 01-25-13, 10:19 PM   #20
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And yes, the chain lube question can turn into a donnybrook of a thread really quick, almost as bad as a helmet thread sometimes. Best of luck and welcome to the 50+ gang Joe.
That is true, but I use White Lightning Epic, a light chain lube. It needs to be applied more often especially in wet weather, but does not goop up like a lot of the heavier, more viscous lubes.

The same grit that coats your bike also works into the chain. I would rather have degreaser in the links than fine grit. The degreaser will evaporate and then clean oil applied. Putting clean oil on a dirty chain is like putting oil on your sharpening stone. it just floats the grit around.

The same grit is in the chain.



I do bike maintenance every 3-4 days when on a long tour. We had 35 days of rain on this trip, with part of the route covering over 400 miles of dirt roads and trails. An application of light oil every 3-4 days keeps things working well. Everything is washed down using dish detergent and then rinsed with my high pressure water bottle. Sometimes there is a hose available.


My wife's chain after a 2900 mile, 3-month tour. Only rinsed and wiped during that time, but I would have cleaned it if possible. Used a light lube every 3-4 days. This chain needed replacement after this trip. The grass was from following too close behind a roadside mower.

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Old 01-25-13, 10:46 PM   #21
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Oil attracts dirt on the drive train.I always clean the cassette when I clean the chain.Take a look at white lightening products.They clean the drive train while you ride. 2 ,Try marching in place bringing knees high as you can,move arms like walking,then like jumping jack,military press,etc when you are bored with that go to steps in house walk up 2 steps and down 2 steps.Do this for 45 mins.Works for me.
+1 exercise - cross training.
I would go crazy going up two, down two stairs for 45 minutes.
Find a 4+ storey building and go up and down the whole stairwell.
Mind numbing, but not as bad as two stairs up, two stairs down.
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Old 01-26-13, 05:43 AM   #22
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... I would rather have degreaser in the links than fine grit. The degreaser will evaporate and then clean oil applied. Putting clean oil on a dirty chain is like putting oil on your sharpening stone. it just floats the grit around. ....
Degreaser on the chain is good.

Degreaser in the hubs and bottom bracket is not.
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Old 01-26-13, 07:42 AM   #23
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+1 exercise - cross training.
I would go crazy going up two, down two stairs for 45 minutes.
Find a 4+ storey building and go up and down the whole stairwell.
Mind numbing, but not as bad as two stairs up, two stairs down.
Try doing 80 minutes. Last year I had surgery on my right hand and had to stay off the bike(on the road) for 3 weeks. I had no trainer at that time and did up 2 steps, down 2 steps for 80 minutes or more 6 days a week, garage to house, for 4 weeks(wanted an extra week to be sure hand healed).
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Old 01-26-13, 08:46 AM   #24
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I replaced the SRAM PC971 9 speed chain on my LHT after 7,100 miles ridden over 2 1/2 years. The LBS estimated the chain was good for another 300 or 400 miles based on the stretch being a bit less than 1/16", but I decided to replace it anyway, before it did any cog damage.

I don't ride much in the wet, but I do ride on a lot of grit. About 2,500 miles were on gravel or crushed stone. I weigh about 155, and for about 2,500 of the miles, I hauled an extra 35 to 45 lb. of stuff. The drive train is 24/36/48 with an 11-34 cassette. On hills I generally spin rather than stand and hammer.

The chain is always dry and clean to the touch. I do not remove the chain to clean it, nor do I use chain cleaning solvents or devices. Cleaning amounts to running the chain thru a dry rag till it is clean to the touch. I also wipe down the cassettes and chain rings, and clean the gunk from the deraileur pulleys. The chain is cleaned that way after every ride.

About once a month, or after any ride in the rain or on wet surfaces, I apply a teflon based lube, like Finish Line Teflon+. The chain gets one drop of lube per roller, then is run thru a rag til dry and clean to the touch. It takes 5 to 10 minutes of spinning the chain through the rag before all traces of the lube are cleaned off.
I have the same routine as this, except that I use a wax-based lube and just pour it on the chain liberally, wiping off for about 30 seconds. Once a week or so (I ride every day). My chain outlasted my 8-speed cassette this year.
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Old 01-26-13, 09:13 AM   #25
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My singlespeed chains (which includes the internal gear hub commuter bike) never get cleaned and rarely get lubed. My commuter chain gets replaced once a year and the canti brake posts get polished and lubed--more due to rust (outdoor thing).

My geared bikes get chain and cassette cleaning and lubing begining of the summer and end of the summer. Touring bikes going on a trip get the works before departing (remove cassette and clean completely, chain, ders, brakes, etc). I actually use one of those plastic chain gauntlet things with brushes and degreaser resevoir that you clip over the chain and spin the pedals. They usually break immediately so I have to rig up something to hold them together.

(afterthougth: I noticed when I visited #1 son in NYC that carrying my bike up/down three flights of tight stairs left me with terrible chain grease on shirts and jackets. If I had to do that frequently I might be more diligent about cleaning it. Or at least perfect my carry method.)
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