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  1. #1
    Senior Member neilfein's Avatar
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    How do you clean a hub gear drivetrain?

    I've tried using a Park chain cleaner, but it doesn't fit in between the chain and frame of my Dahon Curve. Cleaning the rest of the bike is not a problem, but what's the best way to thoroughly clean the drivetrain? (I'm hoping to avoid removing the chain and soaking it.)

    Thanks.
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  2. #2
    Bicycling Gnome
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    I place a sheet of cardboard between the wheel and chain to protect the bikes rims and hence my ability to brake and then spray the chain and rear sprocket area with lots of wd40 while rotating the pedals backwards. I apply an old toothbrush to the rear sprocket area and scrub all the crap off especially between the sprocket and the hub where it collects. By now the whole drive chain is running with solvent and washed off grit and I turn the pedals for about a minute with all that solvent and light oil running everywhere and then I apply clean lint free rags to the chain (I'm using lumps of old cotton bedsheet at the moment) and turn the chain backwards through my fingers holding the clean sheet to the chain, against the sides and the upper and lower surfaces. This removes massive amounts of grit, old gunk and gum from the chain. When it's pretty clean, I repeat the exercise and clean it again. Then I make sure I clean the rear wheel rim and chain stays carefully with a neat spray of citrus cleaner to remove any specks of oil splashed by the moving chain and spray it with a hose pipe. Most of the oils plashes are on the cardboard off cut I stuffed in there, but a really solvent wet, moving chain chucks a fair bit of crap around.

    At this point, I apply a small amount of engine oil for chain lube to each link of the chain and wipe that over with clean sheet too after spinning the chain around backwards with the pedals.

    When I am satisfied that the rear rim and brake blocks are perfectly clean, and that surplus oil that might drip off the chain has been wiped away, I leave the bike for a while in a warm place to evaporate all remaining solvent and then I ride it.

    I suppose I do this maybe every hundred miles in winter depending on the weather and how much filth is being thrown around the chain. In summer, I play it by ear, looking at the chain and making sure it is lubed without being filthy with oil. I replace my 3.50 chains about every 1800 miles, and while they are worn by then, they are not worn out. It makes no sense to leave chains on the bike longer than that. Why wear out the sprocket's and chain rings? Chains of the type that are needed on your Dahon and my Merc are dirt cheap. Mine are KMC.

    By the way - you can take off the rear sprocket of the sa hub on the dahon (some of them have other hubs which I know nothing about) and you can reverse the sprocket after about 3000 miles and wear the other side of the teeth. Mine had a fair bit of wear on one side of the teeth at 3600 miles and two worn chains. The profile of the other side was pretty much as new. I'll wear out this new chain and then chuck the sprocket along with it - should get another 1800 miles which will mean 5400 miles out of the back sprocket. Amazingly, the alloy chain rings still have a perfectly symmetrical profile. The 52 toothed one I use almost all of the time looks perfect even after 3600 miles. I really would have expected the soft alloy to have worn, but of course, with 52 teeth, each one tales a lot less hammer than those on the steel rear sprocket with only 14 teeth. I suppose each tooth gets only between a third and a fourth of the work of each tooth on the rear sprocket, so..... not so surprising.
    Last edited by EvilV; 02-11-09 at 03:40 PM.

  3. #3
    jur
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    I have concluded that chains wear by far the most when riding in the wet. So cleaning and lubing immediately after a wet ride is of utmost importance.

    I use Prolink, a "dry" lube - it does not pick up much dirt. So it suffices for me to blow the chain clean using a cheap compressor which I bought mostly for cleaning my bikes. After a thorough blowing clean of the chain, relube and I'm ready to go again. So this is a method to avoid removing the chain.

    For your Curve which does not have a derailer, just use Prolink or Rock'nRoll Gold, and wipe well after lubing - no further cleaning necessary.
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  4. #4
    Senior Member badmother's Avatar
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    This is the only proper way to do it!! http://sheldonbrown.com/chainclean.html
    Sheldon is "the man"

    Just wait til your geared hub needs to be cleaned! I just started cleaning the Nexus 7 for the black BMX folder tonight, after lying to days on the sofa staring at it. They say that grease is soap mixed with oil and I can realy belive that after seing the innside of this hub. I am leaving it now for tomorrow, hoping that soaking is going to bring out more of the solid stuff that used to be grase.

    I started cleaning it becouse I realised there was sand innside (just had totake a look..) but now I realised that is not the only problem. I do not think this hub has done alot of milage, but it is old judging from the state of the grease.

  5. #5
    Senior Member neilfein's Avatar
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    I had heard that WD40 can damage bike parts, although Sheldon seems to think that you can make do with it.

    badmother, that's hilarious! Sheldon does have an article on cleaning. I'm gonna do this: http://www.sheldonbrown.com/chains.html#cleaning

    Thanks, everybody!

    Edit: There's also an article on extending chain life with hub gears or singlespeed bikes.
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    I'm in the celtic folk fusion band Baroque and Hungry. "Mended", our new full-length studio album, is now available for download.

  6. #6
    rhm
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    multimodal commuter rhm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by neilfein View Post
    That's very helpful! Unless, of course, you have a cog with an odd number of teeth. And of course if you have a Sturmey Archer SXF8 hub, your choices are 19, 23, and 25 teeth. Oooo, bummer, man.

  7. #7
    Senior Member neilfein's Avatar
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    While we're at it... I installed a new frame joint a while back, and I must have tightened something too much; the frame is hard to fold or unfold. (I actually need two hands and a foot to get it unfolded.) Anyone seen this? Loosening the screw doesn't help anything. (You'd think I'd know since I installed the thing...)
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    I'm in the celtic folk fusion band Baroque and Hungry. "Mended", our new full-length studio album, is now available for download.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by neilfein View Post
    (I'm hoping to avoid removing the chain and soaking it.)
    But it's so easy to remove the chain on the Curve. No chainstays!

    If you don't use any oil after cleaning the chain won't dirty as easily (although you might consider dipping it in melted wax immediately after cleaning to force out any water that worked it's way in during cleaning). Mine doesn't get much dirtier than the chainstays.
    Last edited by makeinu; 02-12-09 at 07:48 AM.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by rhm View Post
    That's very helpful! Unless, of course, you have a cog with an odd number of teeth. And of course if you have a Sturmey Archer SXF8 hub, your choices are 19, 23, and 25 teeth. Oooo, bummer, man.
    All that means is that you need an odd-numbered front chainring, I think.
    Last edited by alpacalypse; 02-12-09 at 03:25 PM. Reason: Never mind, stupid mistake.

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