Go Back  Bike Forums > Bike Forums > General Cycling Discussion
Reload this Page >

Cleaning rims for braking -- when, how and how often?

Notices
General Cycling Discussion Have a cycling related question or comment that doesn't fit in one of the other specialty forums? Drop on in and post in here! When possible, please select the forum above that most fits your post!

Cleaning rims for braking -- when, how and how often?

Old 05-20-20, 09:29 AM
  #1  
elcyc
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
elcyc's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Location: So. California
Posts: 126

Bikes: Gary Fisher Advance (1993, heavily modded); Fuji Absolute 2.0 (2010; modded)

Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 53 Post(s)
Liked 8 Times in 7 Posts
Cleaning rims for braking -- when, how and how often?

I have center caliper brakes on my Gary Fisher, and use Kool-Stop Eagle 2 pads. All my riding is commuting/city here in LA county, Southern California.
I've heard various suggestions on when, how and how often to clean/maintain the rims. Everything from once a ride to "as needed".
How do I "litmus test" for a dirty rim? E.g., paper towel with 90% isop. alcohol, rubbed across the rim, and it turns black. I do this, and this is indeed what happens even though the rims look "clean" from a loose glance.

Also, what is the best/quickest cleaning method? Say, Scotch-brite with 90% isop. alcohol, etc.

Lastly, should I use non-petroleum chrome/metal polish (e.g. car buffing compound; Bass polish) to keep the rims smooth?

Thx!
elcyc is offline  
Old 05-20-20, 09:33 AM
  #2  
Wanderer
aka Phil Jungels
 
Wanderer's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: North Aurora, IL
Posts: 8,149

Bikes: 08 Specialized Crosstrail Sport, 05 Sirrus Comp

Mentioned: 5 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 175 Post(s)
Liked 46 Times in 36 Posts
I just clean mine with alcohol, after washing the bike (just a wipe with an alcohol wetted cloth) - about every month or so! If I do a lot of miles, and am cleaning/oiling the chain, it may get an extra wipe!
Wanderer is offline  
Old 05-20-20, 10:21 AM
  #3  
elcyc
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
elcyc's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Location: So. California
Posts: 126

Bikes: Gary Fisher Advance (1993, heavily modded); Fuji Absolute 2.0 (2010; modded)

Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 53 Post(s)
Liked 8 Times in 7 Posts
Originally Posted by Wanderer View Post
I just clean mine with alcohol, after washing the bike (just a wipe with an alcohol wetted cloth) - about every month or so! If I do a lot of miles, and am cleaning/oiling the chain, it may get an extra wipe!
Thx!
I should've asked earlier ... how much difference does a cleaning like that make in braking performance. A little, a lot, or enough to matter?
elcyc is offline  
Old 05-20-20, 12:48 PM
  #4  
elcyc
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
elcyc's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Location: So. California
Posts: 126

Bikes: Gary Fisher Advance (1993, heavily modded); Fuji Absolute 2.0 (2010; modded)

Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 53 Post(s)
Liked 8 Times in 7 Posts
Okay, I just cleaned both rims quite thoroughly. With towel and 90% alch. I also followed with Scotch-brite scrub and toweled/alcohol'd again.
It made almost NO difference.

On a related note, front braking (despite having brand new pads) are the problematic ones of the two.
The rear pads are nearly 10 years old (but still have ample tread) -- but rear braking is decent on this Fisher.

IIRC, front braking used be much more effective (i.e., "grabby")

(BTW: The cables were replaced concurrently on both front and rear, and are in good shape I think)

Any suggestions for better pads, mounting / aligning techniques, resurfacing rims, etc. are appreciated.
elcyc is offline  
Old 05-20-20, 12:58 PM
  #5  
GlennR
Passing on your left
 
GlennR's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: Long Island, New York, USA
Posts: 6,751

Bikes: Trek Emonda SLR, Sram eTap, Zipp 303

Mentioned: 29 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1922 Post(s)
Liked 888 Times in 469 Posts
Aluminum or carbon wheels?

I have Zipps and they recommend acetone.... it works great.
GlennR is offline  
Old 05-20-20, 01:07 PM
  #6  
masi61
Senior Member
 
masi61's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: SW Ohio
Posts: 2,628

Bikes: Puch Marco Polo, Saint Tropez, Masi Gran Criterium

Mentioned: 21 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 617 Post(s)
Liked 89 Times in 67 Posts
Originally Posted by elcyc View Post
I have center caliper brakes on my Gary Fisher, and use Kool-Stop Eagle 2 pads. All my riding is commuting/city here in LA county, Southern California.
I've heard various suggestions on when, how and how often to clean/maintain the rims. Everything from once a ride to "as needed".
How do I "litmus test" for a dirty rim? E.g., paper towel with 90% isop. alcohol, rubbed across the rim, and it turns black. I do this, and this is indeed what happens even though the rims look "clean" from a loose glance.

Also, what is the best/quickest cleaning method? Say, Scotch-brite with 90% isop. alcohol, etc.

Lastly, should I use non-petroleum chrome/metal polish (e.g. car buffing compound; Bass polish) to keep the rims smooth?

Thx!
I would say go for it and try the thing you asked about last. If your rims are machined sidewall I think they might benefit periodically from several passes with clean paper towels and Mother's Mag Wheel Polish. This stuff removes a lot of metal thus the paper towels will be very black. Do at least 2 applications of the full machined sidewall, 1 side at a time. You will see it take a bit of polish and some of the score lines might smooth out a bit. I finish with one last treatment with Meguiar's Cleaner Wax to get the excess mag polish off and to seal the aluminum pores a bit more. Test ride the bike around the block and see if it is any better. Your pads may be hardened. There is a cheap Chinese brand of Shimano compatible pads sold on eBay that comes in different colors that has a good mix of durability, softness and excellent stopping power. Not as long lasting as stock Shimano pads, but not as fast wearing as the reddish colored Kool Stops that everybody always recommend.
masi61 is offline  
Old 05-20-20, 01:47 PM
  #7  
elcyc
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
elcyc's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Location: So. California
Posts: 126

Bikes: Gary Fisher Advance (1993, heavily modded); Fuji Absolute 2.0 (2010; modded)

Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 53 Post(s)
Liked 8 Times in 7 Posts
Originally Posted by GlennR View Post
Aluminum or carbon wheels?
I have Zipps and they recommend acetone.... it works great.
I have Sun Rhyno Lite (aluminum I think).
Acetone? Really? You/Zipp must be thinking of use with tires removed.
From Google: "Acetone will not dissolve rubber, but prolonged exposure will degrade it. "
elcyc is offline  
Old 05-20-20, 02:14 PM
  #8  
BNSF
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2020
Posts: 73
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 33 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 42 Times in 21 Posts
Originally Posted by elcyc View Post
I have Sun Rhyno Lite (aluminum I think).
Acetone? Really? You/Zipp must be thinking of use with tires removed.
From Google: "Acetone will not dissolve rubber, but prolonged exposure will degrade it. "
Or as a last resort, there is always 1,1,1-trichloroetheyne. It'll clean up anything.... But it might give you cancer.
BNSF is offline  
Old 05-20-20, 02:23 PM
  #9  
GlennR
Passing on your left
 
GlennR's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: Long Island, New York, USA
Posts: 6,751

Bikes: Trek Emonda SLR, Sram eTap, Zipp 303

Mentioned: 29 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1922 Post(s)
Liked 888 Times in 469 Posts
Originally Posted by elcyc View Post
I have Sun Rhyno Lite (aluminum I think).
Acetone? Really? You/Zipp must be thinking of use with tires removed.
From Google: "Acetone will not dissolve rubber, but prolonged exposure will degrade it. "
Been doing it for years and never had a problem.
GlennR is offline  
Old 05-20-20, 02:30 PM
  #10  
prairiepedaler
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2016
Location: Jolly 'ol Winnipeg
Posts: 853

Bikes: BRC Explorer 43lb'er, Raleigh Elkhorn, Cannondale SM600, Maruishi MT18 Frame, Sekine Toledo Frame

Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3 Post(s)
Liked 69 Times in 42 Posts
I keep all the socks (so many!) that develop holes in the heels for rags. I usually hold a plain dry rag up to the braking surface and walk the bike backwards one rotation. If they are really nasty, I'll do it twice each side. Depending on the weather, I usually do this procedure once a week. I also will release the calipers (canti) and manually wire brush the surfaces of the pads if the weather has been lousy (i.e. wet or sloppy).
prairiepedaler is offline  
Likes For prairiepedaler:
Old 05-20-20, 02:34 PM
  #11  
pdlamb
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: northern Deep South
Posts: 6,062

Bikes: Fuji Touring, Novara Randonee

Mentioned: 29 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1246 Post(s)
Liked 338 Times in 236 Posts
I'll wipe down the rims with a clean, dry (to start with!) paper towel after a rainy commute, if it's not also too cold. Hard for OP to relate, from LA, I suppose.

I'll also wash the rims when I wash the bike, 3-4 times a year.

Difference? Fewer squeaks and less grinding noise if there's enough black to see a difference after cleaning. Haven't seen any change in brake effectiveness, except for the back wheel the time or two I over-oiled the chain.
pdlamb is offline  
Old 05-20-20, 03:00 PM
  #12  
Wanderer
aka Phil Jungels
 
Wanderer's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: North Aurora, IL
Posts: 8,149

Bikes: 08 Specialized Crosstrail Sport, 05 Sirrus Comp

Mentioned: 5 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 175 Post(s)
Liked 46 Times in 36 Posts
Originally Posted by prairiepedaler View Post
I keep all the socks (so many!) that develop holes in the heels for rags. I usually hold a plain dry rag up to the braking surface and walk the bike backwards one rotation. If they are really nasty, I'll do it twice each side. Depending on the weather, I usually do this procedure once a week. I also will release the calipers (canti) and manually wire brush the surfaces of the pads if the weather has been lousy (i.e. wet or sloppy).

Yep, don't forget the pads!
Wanderer is offline  
Old 05-20-20, 03:30 PM
  #13  
CAT7RDR
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2017
Location: Hacienda Hgts
Posts: 760

Bikes: 1999 Schwinn Peloton Ultegra 10, Kestrel RT-1000 Ultegra, Trek Marlin 6 Deore 29'er

Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 258 Post(s)
Liked 421 Times in 255 Posts
I just use a damp cloth or Lysol wipes. Seems to work well removing dirt and not causing discoloration. I also clean the rims and spokes with Lysol wipes after every ride as a way to check spoke tension while cleaning. Occasionally I'll find a loose spoke.
CAT7RDR is offline  
Old 05-20-20, 03:41 PM
  #14  
berner
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2010
Location: Bristol, R. I.
Posts: 4,208

Bikes: Specialized Secteur, old Peugeot

Mentioned: 19 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 606 Post(s)
Liked 393 Times in 250 Posts
And just as important as rims, don't forget to polish the spokes for a snappy look.
berner is offline  
Old 05-20-20, 03:46 PM
  #15  
Gresp15C
Senior Member
 
Gresp15C's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2014
Posts: 3,131
Mentioned: 16 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 800 Post(s)
Liked 226 Times in 166 Posts
Getting grit out of the pads is a good idea. That tends to be more of an issue on my winter bike. I usually hear it if it's there.

Otherwise, I'm probably like most cyclists, in that I clean things more often than necessary, and not for any functional reason.
Gresp15C is offline  
Old 05-20-20, 04:20 PM
  #16  
elcyc
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
elcyc's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Location: So. California
Posts: 126

Bikes: Gary Fisher Advance (1993, heavily modded); Fuji Absolute 2.0 (2010; modded)

Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 53 Post(s)
Liked 8 Times in 7 Posts
Actually, now that I think about it, I do clean the rims about 1-2x week, usually with a clean, dry towel. But every other week with Windex. I do this mostly for cosmetics-- i.e.,spokes, wheels, but the braking-rim surface does get some love in this ritual.
Still, with my recent deliberate cleaning of rim (brake-pad mating area), I did pull off black stuff. May've been partly the 90% alch. towel rubbing the tire???
elcyc is offline  
Old 05-20-20, 04:29 PM
  #17  
GlennR
Passing on your left
 
GlennR's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: Long Island, New York, USA
Posts: 6,751

Bikes: Trek Emonda SLR, Sram eTap, Zipp 303

Mentioned: 29 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1922 Post(s)
Liked 888 Times in 469 Posts
BTW.. i clean my wheels at the same time I clean the bike... about once a week or 150 miles.
GlennR is offline  
Old 05-20-20, 06:37 PM
  #18  
elcyc
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
elcyc's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Location: So. California
Posts: 126

Bikes: Gary Fisher Advance (1993, heavily modded); Fuji Absolute 2.0 (2010; modded)

Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 53 Post(s)
Liked 8 Times in 7 Posts
The following image is from Sept. 2004. I'm still using the SAME bike, calipers, brake pads (!!), rims/wheels, tires, maybe 12k miles later (only changed brake cable once)...


I think that toe-in geometry on the Kool-Stop Eagle "Claw" is correct?
elcyc is offline  
Old 05-21-20, 09:23 AM
  #19  
Chuckles1
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2019
Posts: 145
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 68 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 34 Times in 25 Posts
Once in a while, maybe every 200 miles or so. I use degreaser on a paper towel, with bike on work-stand. Hold moistened towel against rim, careful not to contact tire, and spin wheel by hand. Turn towel to put clean surface on rim, and repeat until no more clean, moist surfaces left on towel. Done!
Chuckles1 is offline  
Old 05-21-20, 11:20 AM
  #20  
ThermionicScott 
7-speed cultist
 
ThermionicScott's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: CID
Posts: 20,044

Bikes: 1991 Bianchi Eros, 1964 Armstrong, 1988 Diamondback Ascent, 1988 Bianchi Premio, 1987 Bianchi Sport SX, 1980s Raleigh mixte (hers)

Mentioned: 87 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2779 Post(s)
Liked 699 Times in 491 Posts
I only do it after rainy rides. Bucket of water and a rag is enough.
__________________
Originally Posted by chandltp View Post
There's no such thing as too far.. just lack of time
Originally Posted by noglider
People in this forum are not typical.
RUSA #7498
ThermionicScott is offline  
Old 05-21-20, 11:50 AM
  #21  
dedhed
SE Wis
 
dedhed's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Milwaukee, WI
Posts: 6,799

Bikes: '68 Raleigh Sprite, '02 Raleigh C500, '84 Raleigh Gran Prix, '91 Trek 400

Mentioned: 23 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1299 Post(s)
Liked 703 Times in 484 Posts
Every time I ride in the wet/rain I hose the rims off when I finish. The black, oily, gritty runoff is amazing. Then I use brake clean on a paper towel when they have dried.
I'll usually also clean them with brake cleaner when I clean the chain or when I do a general cleaning.
dedhed is offline  
Likes For dedhed:
Old 05-21-20, 12:14 PM
  #22  
Phil_gretz
Journeyman Bike Commuter
 
Phil_gretz's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Alexandria, VA
Posts: 5,881

Bikes: '71 Jeunet 640, '74 Fuji Special Road Racer, '79 Peugeot PXN10LE, '88 Fuji Saratoga, '13 Motobecane Fantom29 HT, '16 Motobecane Turino Pro Disc, '16 Motobecane Gran Premio Elite, '18 Velobuild VB-R-022

Mentioned: 16 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 971 Post(s)
Liked 618 Times in 349 Posts
My commuter bike has disc brakes, so...unrelated to this thread.

But for my other bikes, it's whenever I feel like it. For example, if I have the bike up on the stand for a chain measurement or lube and wipe, then I am also likely to give the rims a wipe also. I use the ammonia-based spray "Dirtex" as an all-purpose cleaner. Spin the wheel and spray. Wipe with clean cloth. Walk around to the other side of the bike, spin and spray. Wipe. This keeps most rims acceptably clean.

But my bikes aren't immaculate. They're clean and work very, very well. But they're not showroom clean.
Phil_gretz is offline  
Old 05-21-20, 01:10 PM
  #23  
Doug64
Senior Member
 
Doug64's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Oregon
Posts: 5,857
Mentioned: 29 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 906 Post(s)
Liked 249 Times in 148 Posts
Originally Posted by elcyc View Post
The following image is from Sept. 2004. I'm still using the SAME bike, calipers, brake pads (!!), rims/wheels, tires, maybe 12k miles later (only changed brake cable once)...


I think that toe-in geometry on the Kool-Stop Eagle "Claw" is correct?
The toe-in looks like it could be a litle excessive, but not bad. I'm a little curious about the anlgle of your straddle cable and the poisition of your brake arms. Could you post a head-on picture of your brakes?

Last edited by Doug64; 05-21-20 at 07:09 PM.
Doug64 is offline  
Old 05-21-20, 01:13 PM
  #24  
79pmooney
A Roadie Forever
 
79pmooney's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2014
Location: Portland, OR
Posts: 8,631

Bikes: (2) ti TiCycles, 2007 w/ triple and 2011 fixed, 1979 Peter Mooney, ~1983 Trek 420 now fixed and ~1973 Raleigh Carlton Competition gravel grinder

Mentioned: 100 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2386 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 830 Times in 560 Posts
Unless you get oil on your rims, there is little you 'have" to do except road grit is destructive to the braking surface. When I hose my bikes off post-ride with a light spray, I blast through the rim and brake pad with the jet. I wipe my rims periodically, mostly for appearance, with either a clean rag (old socks and T-shirts like above) or paper towel but rarely has this been to cure a problem or have I noticed a change in braking from those wipes. I don't see the black braking dust as a braking problem, just appearance, Now the road grit, especially the local northwest volcanic grit can be very destructive and is the biggest limiting factor on how long my rims last.

Ben
79pmooney is offline  
Old 05-21-20, 01:23 PM
  #25  
Oneder
Banned.
 
Join Date: Apr 2018
Posts: 822

Bikes: Wahoo of Theseus, others

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 428 Post(s)
Liked 64 Times in 45 Posts
I don't do it, but I would if I got some mud on there.
Oneder is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

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

Copyright 2018 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.