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Serious cassette cleaning

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Serious cassette cleaning

Old 11-05-09, 01:26 PM
  #1  
agarose2000
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Serious cassette cleaning

Ok folks - I'm interested in doing a serious cassette cleaning. I've got a Shimano Ultegra 12-25 cassette, and I've got the tools and experience with taking it off and putting it back on.

I've been dunking the disassembled cassette in Simple Green, sloshing it around, and wiping it with paper towels, but it doesn't seem to return to a really clean looking condition. My cassette's a year old, so I don't expect it to look brand new again, but it looks only mildly better than if I had just sprayed the SimpleGreen right onto the cassette and let it drip off.

Any suggestions for getting it as shiny-new looking as possible?

(I also know this is all for vanity's' sake - it shifts and performs perfectly fine.)
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Old 11-05-09, 01:30 PM
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I'd take the cassette off and soak it in cleaner for a few hours (depending on how dirty it is). Then use an old washcloth or other type of rag and it should clean up. I haven't used Simple Green before, but I do this with Pedro's citrus cleaner almost once a month during the season.
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Old 11-05-09, 01:34 PM
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make sure if you use any citrus based cleaner to rinse it thoroughly with warm water and dry because citrus is acidic
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Old 11-05-09, 01:35 PM
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Had similar problems. Didn't clean my cassette for 1600 miles & they looked like s***. I actually soaked the cassette for 2 days in chain cleaning solution & then grabbed a towel to wipe things off. It'll never be shiny, but it is passably clean. You could also just buy some thick brushes & scrub the hell out of it.
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Old 11-05-09, 01:55 PM
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soak. rinse. dishwasher it
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Old 11-05-09, 01:57 PM
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Small, ultrasonic parts washer. Type used to clean jewelry. I got one at harbor freight for ~$50 IIRC. I use it for a lot of stuff but works great on cassettes. With SG solution or just plain water rinse after a citrus degreaser spray and tooth brush pre-scrub.
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Old 11-05-09, 01:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Ygduf View Post
soak. rinse. dishwasher it
Great idea....I take you're not married though?
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Old 11-05-09, 02:01 PM
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Mineral spirits, duh.
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Old 11-05-09, 02:02 PM
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Why remove the cassette? Just take the wheel off the bike, wash and spray and soak the cassette using a good degreaser (automotive grade), use a thick brush to agitate, then rinse off and dry.

A cassette is your gearbox and it should not be shiny or new looking. It needs that coating of lubricant so that the chain does not erode the cassette teeth (as quickly). So, it should look like it is coated with some lube because it is.

I think your wheels should be shiny & clean but not the cassette.
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Old 11-05-09, 02:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Ygduf View Post
soak. rinse. dishwasher it
did this with a rifle once. wifey did not like finding a disassembled assault rifle mixed in with her dishes.
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Old 11-05-09, 02:06 PM
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Diesel or mineral spirits in a jar. Wash, rinse, reuse once the gunk settles to the bottom of the jar.
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Old 11-05-09, 02:10 PM
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Scrub brush (the harder the better), degreaser (dish soap) and elbow grease.

It's worth cleaning sometimes. The last time I cleaned mine my whole drivetrain got noticeably quieter: I had that much junk built up. Dirt includes sand, which will do more harm than the grease coating it will do good. Cleaning it isn't going to make it erode faster: Not changing your worn out chain is.
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Old 11-05-09, 02:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Palomar01 View Post
Why remove the cassette? Just take the wheel off the bike, wash and spray and soak the cassette using a good degreaser (automotive grade), use a thick brush to agitate, then rinse off and dry.
Anybody more mechanically experienced care to comment? This seems like a bad idea. Seems like that degreaser you're soaking it in might get into the freewheel and possibly even the wheel hub bearings and I would think that you wouldn't want that.

Removing a cassette is a breeze. I don't see why you wouldn't.
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Old 11-05-09, 02:19 PM
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Well that's like saying riding in the rain or riding your MTB offroad and forging a stream is not good. It's not like you are submerging your wheel in a degreaser bath. I suggested soaking it using the degreaser spray on the cassette.

Quite frankly if a wheel hub allows sprayed on degreaser to leak inside it, then how is it going to hold up riding in wet?
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Old 11-05-09, 02:22 PM
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Originally Posted by crhilton View Post
Scrub brush (the harder the better), degreaser (dish soap) and elbow grease.

It's worth cleaning sometimes. The last time I cleaned mine my whole drivetrain got noticeably quieter: I had that much junk built up. Dirt includes sand, which will do more harm than the grease coating it will do good. Cleaning it isn't going to make it erode faster: Not changing your worn out chain is.

I agree with you on cleaning it. I clean mine every 75-100 miles. I use the brush method but I just don't remove the cassette nor expect it to get nice and new looking.
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Old 11-05-09, 02:22 PM
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Originally Posted by crhilton View Post
Anybody more mechanically experienced care to comment? This seems like a bad idea. Seems like that degreaser you're soaking it in might get into the freewheel and possibly even the wheel hub bearings and I would think that you wouldn't want that.

Removing a cassette is a breeze. I don't see why you wouldn't.
In essence you are correcy, but as long as you don't aim any water under pressure at the seals near the freehub body then you should be safe from degreaser getting in there.

FWIW - yes pulling the cassette is the easiest and best way to thoroughly clean it....

....but I also rent...err..."demo" wheels at races and when it comes to cleaning up carbon cyclocross wheels filled with mud and grass at the end of a long day of racing.....hose, dishwasher soap, brush. Lather, scrub, rinse. Perfect.....shower, food, wheel building, bed.
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Old 11-05-09, 02:26 PM
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I don't think he meant "soak" in the literal sense of immersion, since it's still attached to the wheel. Think more "douse liberally".
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Old 11-05-09, 02:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Kotts View Post
I don't think he meant "soak" in the literal sense of immersion, since it's still attached to the wheel. Think more "douse liberally".
...and that folks....is your BF saying of the day...
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Old 11-05-09, 02:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Kotts View Post
Think more "douse liberally".
Damn liberals!!
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Old 11-05-09, 02:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Palomar01 View Post
Why remove the cassette? Just take the wheel off the bike, wash and spray and soak the cassette using a good degreaser (automotive grade), use a thick brush to agitate, then rinse off and dry.

A cassette is your gearbox and it should not be shiny or new looking. It needs that coating of lubricant so that the chain does not erode the cassette teeth (as quickly). So, it should look like it is coated with some lube because it is.

I think your wheels should be shiny & clean but not the cassette.
sofa king we todd did
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Old 11-05-09, 02:40 PM
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Dishwasher: Tried it, still happily married (or as happily as I was before using the dishwasher for bike parts) was not that impressed with the results.

Toothbrush: I soak my cassette for a day in dish washing soap and water, then scrub with an old toothbrush and wipe with a rag. That works well and the actual scrubbing part take 10 minutes.

I do plan on trying simple green.
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Old 11-05-09, 02:42 PM
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To date I have been unable to clean the cassette completely while it is on the bike. I use dish soap and a scrub brush reguarly and I can get the outside pretty and clean, but if you look at it from the non-drive side it is still dirty. The only way to get that off is to disassemble.

As far as the bearings go, they are "sealed", meaning that unless you go nuts you will do no harm.
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Old 11-05-09, 02:42 PM
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Honestly though I do have to say, as I mentioned before, when I am in the shop and have time I just spray with citrus degreaser, scrube quickly with toothbrush, dunk in water (if not using my ultrasonic cleaner) and wipe dry.
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Old 11-05-09, 02:44 PM
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Originally Posted by exRunner View Post
As far as the bearings go, they are "sealed", meaning that unless you go nuts you will do no harm.
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Old 11-05-09, 02:47 PM
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Hmm. I've found simple green works great to make the gunk easier to remove. The only problem I have is how to clean off the gunk/simple green mixture. This is on a SRAM red cassette, so taking the cogs apart is not an option. Rags tend to get caught on the cogs, and the spacing is so narrow, it's hard to fit cloth between them anyway. Toothbrush just kind of seems to spread stuff around...
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