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best way to clean drivetrain...

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best way to clean drivetrain...

Old 09-03-12, 12:37 PM
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best way to clean drivetrain...


1. bought new MTB in 2010
2. hit roughly 1000km and decided to lubricate the drivetrain and the chain was "creaking."
3. acquired lubricant
4. wiped chain off
5. applied lubricant to about 1/4 of chain by dripping in the middle
6. pedaled backward
7. repeat process until chain is done
8. hit the fd/rd pivot points and and pulleys
9. let sit overnight
10. wiped down in morning
11. 1500km now
12. seem to be getting a little creaking from the rd
13. assume this is the chain as it's where it gets bent the most
14. same process as before
15. except after i finish the chain and back-pedal...
16. the chain is totally black


1. how to i clean everything before oiling (cassette/chainrings/pulleys)
2. it seems that the lubricant picked up all of the grime (before waiting overnight)
3. am I over lubricating?
4. i should be ok, right
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Old 09-03-12, 04:05 PM
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If your chain has a reusable connector, your best bet is to remove it. Put it in an old coffee can, pour in some mineral spirits (petroleum distillate, nor the new "green" water based substitute), soak it a while then swish it around. Pour off the solvent into a glass jar to settle for future use, add fresh and repeat. Do this 3-5 times until the solvent stays pretty clean. Allow the chain to dry completely (overnight is a warm place is best), then oil with your favorite stuff.

You can do a similar job on the bike using one of those chain washer devices (not a fan). But the process is the same, keep chainging solvent until it stays clean ensuring that all grit is flushed from the inside. Actually it'll probably never et perfectly clean, so you can quit when very little untra fine stiff flushes out (usually 3-5 rinses).

If you use a chain washer on the bike, remove the wheel and put an axle or one of those chain keeper pulleys in it's place so you don't make a mess of the cassette and wheel. While you're at it, remove and wash the cassette too, the same way, or dry clean it using a strip of rag between the sprockets.

There are also self cleaning lubes with solvent inside, but I find they wash as much grit into the chain as out, and are an expensive way to do the job.

BTW- just like with chain lube, there is more than one way to skin a cat, and you'll get numerous opinions, passionately claiming to be the best. Read them all, form your own conclusions, and do whatever makes the most sense for you.
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Old 09-03-12, 04:20 PM
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This is the best for me.

I wipe the chain with a rag while spinning the crank. I wipe off the derailleur as good as I can using a rag and a brush and do the same to the chain rings. I floss the cassett using a rag in between the cogs. After all that I put on drop of lube on each roller. I put a drop of lube on the pivot points of the derailleurs and the pulleys. I then spin the cranks again wiping off the excess lube from the chain. I wipe off any excess any where else I find any. Takes about ten minutes for the whole thing. I do this about every 200 miles and chains last me around 3000 miles. The chain itself only takes about 5 minutes if I just want to do it.

I just can't see spending a lot of time cleaning a chain I only paid 20-25 dollars for.
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Old 09-03-12, 05:25 PM
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If you really want to do a good job cleaning your drivetrain, remove all the drivetrain components (Chain, freewheel, crankset, front and rear derailleur. from the frame and clean them in some mineral spirits or WD40 in a small tub, using a variety of plastic bristled brushes of different sizes and stiffness to scrub off all the old grease and grit off them. Chains are always a challenge to clean as it get the dirtiest and sometimes the old grease will harden up that it just does not come off that easy. I had good luck using mineral spirit type paint thinners that melts the old grease off parts easier and quicker. After a few initial cleanings with solvents and brushes, I then put the chain in a bottle of the mineral spirits and spin and shake it thoroughly and you'll be quite surprised how much crud will still come out of the chain despite it looking clean already. Its mostly crud that's trapped between the roller pins and rolles and side plates which brushes cannot reach. I change out the solvent and re-shake the chain till the solvent stays mostly clear, dry it off with paper towels or rags and then hit it with my favorite chain lube. It is also good if you can disassemble your crank, derailleurs and freewheel as much as you can and clean them down to the last parts so they will perform as well as possible on your bike. It will take a few hours of work to do so, but you will appreciate the way they will perform on your bike the next time you ride it, and you will know that they will last much longer running clean.

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