Go Back  Bike Forums > Bike Forums > Cyclocross and Gravelbiking (Recreational)
Reload this Page >

Excessive dirt build-up drying up drivetrain on every ride - is this normal?

Notices
Cyclocross and Gravelbiking (Recreational) This has to be the most physically intense sport ever invented. It's high speed bicycle racing on a short off road course or riding the off pavement rides on gravel like : "Unbound Gravel". We also have a dedicated Racing forum for the Cyclocross Hard Core Racers.

Excessive dirt build-up drying up drivetrain on every ride - is this normal?

Old 08-31-20, 10:00 AM
  #1  
howardv
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Apr 2015
Posts: 84
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 49 Post(s)
Liked 36 Times in 20 Posts
Excessive dirt build-up drying up drivetrain on every ride - is this normal?

I come from a mountain biking background and recently purchased my first new gravel bike (Pinnarelo Grevil). It has a 1x Shimano GRX drivetrain (42T chainring and 11-42 Cassette). After riding about 15 miles of gravel, the amount of dirt accumulation is excessive. My legs, the entire bike, and the chain/cassette get filthy dirty. My two water bottles are completely muddy (condensation from the ice inside and the dirt). I know this is part of dirt riding, but I'd have to go on 20 mountain bike rides to accumulate the kind of dirt I get from half of a single ride with my new gravel bike.

Problem is that after the first 15 miles, my drivetrain completely dries out and starts making lots of noises under heavy load (while climbing using the lowest gear). I usually go on 40+ mile rides and I think it's unreasonable to have to clean and re-lube during a single ride. I clean my chain and cassette after every ride and use dry lube (Rock N Roll or ATB lube), but it still makes grinding noises after 15 miles of dirt riding. To test, I used a wet lube and it seems to perform much longer without grinding noises, but the chain is filled with grime since wet lube attracts more dust and dirt.

Why does my gravel bike get so much dirtier than my full suspension mountain bike? On my mountain bike, I have the SRAM Eagle 1x drivetrain and the dry lube easily lasts my entire ride without any grinding noises. Is this due to a gravel bikes geometry? Maybe it's my tires? Is there another type of dry lube that lasts more than what I've been using? Or could there be another cause for my grinding noises? The attached picture is after 5 miles of dirt riding.

Pinarello Grevil
howardv is offline  
Old 08-31-20, 11:54 AM
  #2  
Chi_Z
Senior Member
 
Chi_Z's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2013
Posts: 507

Bikes: Niner RLT 9 RDO

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 262 Post(s)
Liked 68 Times in 50 Posts
possibly due to the increase in speed, just bring a small bottle of chain lube with you
Chi_Z is offline  
Likes For Chi_Z:
Old 08-31-20, 11:55 AM
  #3  
Rides4Beer
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2018
Location: VA
Posts: 1,405

Bikes: SuperSix Evo | Revolt

Mentioned: 12 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 707 Post(s)
Liked 771 Times in 397 Posts
I think it's just due to the nature of dry/dusty gravel roads, I've found the same thing. I'll use wet lube if it's really dry out, for the same reason, end up with chain/gear grinding half way through the ride if I used dry lube. I give the bike a full clean after a gravel ride anyway, so it's not a big deal to me.
Rides4Beer is offline  
Likes For Rides4Beer:
Old 08-31-20, 03:12 PM
  #4  
chas58
Senior Member
 
chas58's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Michigan
Posts: 4,694

Bikes: too many of all kinds

Mentioned: 35 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1081 Post(s)
Liked 353 Times in 283 Posts
that is pretty much what my bike looks like. Just look at the dirt on the ground in your picture. Ride 20mph over that stuff and its gonna give you the look in your picture.
chas58 is offline  
Old 08-31-20, 04:36 PM
  #5  
howardv
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Apr 2015
Posts: 84
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 49 Post(s)
Liked 36 Times in 20 Posts
Originally Posted by Chi_Z View Post
possibly due to the increase in speed, just bring a small bottle of chain lube with you
In over 20 years of biking, I've never had to re-lube during a ride. So far, the wet lube may do the job for the entire ride (still testing). Funny thing is that common knowledge says to use dry lube on dirt roads so the dirt sticks less. The ATB and Rock N Roll dry lubes are very thin. Wondering if there's any dry lube that's a bit thicker? Or possibly using one of those Teflon sprays before using dry lube?

Originally Posted by Rides4Beer View Post
I think it's just due to the nature of dry/dusty gravel roads, I've found the same thing. I'll use wet lube if it's really dry out, for the same reason, end up with chain/gear grinding half way through the ride if I used dry lube. I give the bike a full clean after a gravel ride anyway, so it's not a big deal to me.
Glad to hear I'm not the only one faced with this issue. I also clean my drivetrain after every ride.

Originally Posted by chas58 View Post
that is pretty much what my bike looks like. Just look at the dirt on the ground in your picture. Ride 20mph over that stuff and its gonna give you the look in your picture.
I go down trails a lot faster on my FS mountain bike than I do with this gravel bike. Much more control with fatter tires, lower saddle, and full suspension on rough gravel. And my MTB never gets even remotely as filthy as this gravel bike (same terrain). Maybe it's the tires that just grab and kick up more dirt?
howardv is offline  
Old 08-31-20, 08:33 PM
  #6  
shoota 
Senior Member
 
shoota's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: Stillwater, OK
Posts: 7,464
Mentioned: 24 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1547 Post(s)
Liked 349 Times in 253 Posts
normal. find better lube.
__________________
2014 Cannondale SuperSix EVO 2
2019 Salsa Warbird
shoota is offline  
Likes For shoota:
Old 08-31-20, 08:55 PM
  #7  
zen_
Senior Member
 
zen_'s Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2018
Location: 'merica
Posts: 186
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 77 Post(s)
Liked 67 Times in 43 Posts
I take a square of paper towel with me on long rides to wipe my chain off mid-ride(ish), which is really effective on waxed chains when it's very dusty. I know the hot waxing thing is a big leap few will take (it's not that bad if you wax a bunch of chains at the same time), but it just makes everything so much cleaner and easier, plus the huge reduction in drivetrain wear.
zen_ is offline  
Likes For zen_:
Old 08-31-20, 09:57 PM
  #8  
SalsaShark
Senior Member
 
SalsaShark's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2014
Location: Eastern Iowa
Posts: 538

Bikes: 2014 Trek Allant drop bar conversion, modified Schwinn MTN commuter, 2015 Trek 520, Soma ES, Salsa Journeyman, 1980 Trek 414

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 135 Post(s)
Liked 241 Times in 121 Posts
I ride with full fenders and front mudflap....it helps immensely in keeping the drivetrain clean
SalsaShark is offline  
Old 09-01-20, 04:43 AM
  #9  
dsaul
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: South Jersey
Posts: 1,981
Mentioned: 16 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 595 Post(s)
Liked 487 Times in 325 Posts
I've been using Pedro's X-Dry lube and it works pretty well. I've tried numerous other wet, dry and wax lubes and this is my current favorite. I apply it before each ride and it has some type of wax particles in it that build up on the chainring and pulleys, so It needs to be cleaned off regularly.
dsaul is offline  
Old 09-01-20, 05:38 AM
  #10  
GrainBrain
Senior Member
 
GrainBrain's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2017
Location: Central Io-way
Posts: 2,093

Bikes: LeMond Zurich, Giant Talon 29er

Mentioned: 15 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1075 Post(s)
Liked 364 Times in 272 Posts
Originally Posted by zen_ View Post
I take a square of paper towel with me on long rides to wipe my chain off mid-ride(ish), which is really effective on waxed chains when it's very dusty. I know the hot waxing thing is a big leap few will take (it's not that bad if you wax a bunch of chains at the same time), but it just makes everything so much cleaner and easier, plus the huge reduction in drivetrain wear.
Keeping the drivetrain wiped down was my "aha!" moment for gravel riding. I was recommended Dumonde Tech lube by the LBS gravel riders and it's a good chain lube. More importantly then lube brand is maintenance methodology IMHO. Specifically as zen_ mentions is keeping the chain wiped off.

OP:
To start I have a chemical sprayer with water and a park tool chain cleaner that I use first to get the drive train clean initially. I'll run the sprayer into the chain until it's smooth and free of anything. I'll then wipe down the chain until relatively dry, and apply lube - then wipe down again. I only do this maybe every 400 miles? Usually after getting caught in the rain.

Now here's the trick - for best results do not ride for like 12 hours after initial lube application. Then, when I know I'll ride within a few hours I'll start wiping the chain down again and again. After riding I will again wipe the chain down. As the bottle of Dumonde Tech recommends - avoid slathering your drivetrain with lube, you don't need to.

TL;DR - The trick to a healthy gravel drivetrain is keeping the chain very dry so as not to attract excessive dust. I also use the fancier chains with nitride coatings on the pins.
GrainBrain is offline  
Old 09-01-20, 05:52 AM
  #11  
pipeliner
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2019
Posts: 83
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 18 Post(s)
Liked 41 Times in 23 Posts
Hot parafin wax is the answer. Watch the YouTube vids and join the club. A $12 crock pot and $8 worth of wax... I converted a month ago, can't believe how easy it is to keep clean.
pipeliner is offline  
Likes For pipeliner:
Old 09-01-20, 07:13 AM
  #12  
jadocs
Senior Member
 
jadocs's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2018
Location: USA
Posts: 2,192

Bikes: Ti, Mn Cr Ni Mo Nb, Al, C

Mentioned: 22 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 941 Post(s)
Liked 519 Times in 345 Posts
Yep...wax your chain as described above.
jadocs is offline  
Old 09-01-20, 07:27 AM
  #13  
u235
Senior Member
 
u235's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2017
Posts: 1,185
Mentioned: 12 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 437 Post(s)
Liked 131 Times in 85 Posts
That's my bike after just about every ride. Not a one time or an occasional one off. Add some rain or water into that and the wrong lube and it goes bad quick. I gave up on wax and silicone based lubes years ago for the exact reason you described. They just do not last in those conditions. Sure the chain looks "dirtier" with a petroleum based lube but I've NEVER got a squeek, grind, or noise and rides and shifts perfect the whole ride with or without water and will last multiple days without issues. Worst case if you want, you can dump or rinse some water on your chain to get some surface dirt off or ride through some tall grass and continue on like it never happened. Inside the chain is still well lubed and protected. I use Blaster cable and chain lube or similar. Wipe chain, apply and wipe chain before the days ride. At the end of the day.. I'd rather have a "dirty" chain that moves freely then a dirtless one that is also lubeless and making lots of noise. I've tried the lubes with the dirt shed theory in those conditions and it just does not last for me.

Last edited by u235; 09-01-20 at 05:36 PM.
u235 is offline  
Likes For u235:
Old 09-01-20, 07:29 AM
  #14  
base2 
Doesn't brain good.
 
base2's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2015
Location: Pacific Northwest
Posts: 1,777

Bikes: 5 good ones, and the occasional project.

Mentioned: 16 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 921 Post(s)
Liked 530 Times in 324 Posts
Plus one for wax.
I use an old tooth brush to brush off any gunk. (Usually very little.) Then apply Squirt, & let dry.

Getting your chain super, super clean, degreased, rinsed & dried before waxing is very important. But once done, the wax flows to all the places it needs to be. It's really important to let it dry completely before riding.

With wax, any dust that gets collected gets migrated right out & flakes right off at some maximum collection threshold. That's the reason it remains so clean.

I can easily get 100 miles & generally quite a bit more in the dustiest of conditions before the first "scissoring" noises.
__________________
My lights are obscenly bright because drivers are dim.

I shouldn't have to "make myself more visible;" Drivers should just stop running people over.
base2 is offline  
Old 09-03-20, 01:04 PM
  #15  
csrpenfab
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2018
Posts: 209
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 75 Post(s)
Liked 99 Times in 57 Posts
Totally normal. Here's a pic of my Niner after a 25 mile gravel ride. The bike had been bathed/lubed prior to the ride. The gravel I ride on has a lot of DG sections that have this wonderful "powdered sugar" like dust that clings to everything. Having said that, I've never had to re-lube on a ride and heck, I'll take this back out for another 30 miler with no lube. Sure, the chain is dusty, but the lube I've applied is still working. I use NixFrixShun lube and wipe chain dry well after working the lube in.

csrpenfab is offline  

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service - Do Not Sell My Personal Information -

Copyright 2021 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.