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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2015
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    In a Subaru, heading North
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    Drivetrain Cleaning Frequency

    How often are you cleaning your drivetrain? I've been cleaning mine, with a fresh chain lube-up, then after one ride (I usually do a 10-ish mile loop on my local trails) it looks filthy again and is very gritty (you can hear the grit when the bike gets pedaled on the stand).

    It seems excessive to have to clean prior to every ride. I don't want to be nuts about it, but I also don't want to wear out my drivetrain prematurely either.

    So, what's typical around here? And what's the best product/method for blasting grit and gunk off the cassette? I was thinking of getting some citrus cleaner in aerosol. Something with the shooting power of say a can of brake cleaner.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
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    northern BC
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    ever try a wax based lube? IME its way cleaner
    Lee Lau - xxx-er is the laziest Asian canuck I know

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    cow hampshire
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    1,765
    I pretty much suck at keeping mine clean, but have gotten better this past year by cleaning randomly. Maybe once a month. I do hose my bike down after every ride though, so that takes the big junk off. It's gets more difficult or nonexistent once the temps drop and the hose is disconnected...soon.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
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    Raleigh
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    Kinda depends on your substrate and your weather. Worst excessive wear I get is on long gravel road climbs. Real gravel with the white dust mixed in. That shit seems to get up in the chain and work it's way in. Rainy singletrack in most places I've ridden, just hose it off and relube when dry.

    Every once in a while I'll use one of the plastic chain cleaner things with the gears and brushes in it; mix of Simple Green and water. Spin the crank a few times, dump muddy water, repeat until not muddy water and chain looks clean. Dry, then drip oil one link at at time with NFS, spin cranks for a minute, then wipe clean. That's when I'm feeling obsessive about it, which is rare.

    Between cleanings I'll either hit it with a dozen drops of the NFS or I'll douse it with Pro Link oil which is pretty cheap for a 3pk of bottles at Performance.
    I've never had any luck with wax based lubes, but I'm not a roadie either. Fuck caring that much about your chain. I'd rather it wear out a week earlier than if I'd treated it like a baby. Sometimes I get a little boner when I see my mechanic using his ultrasonic degreaser. Last one I looked at was $70 at Harbor Freight. Tempting.
    If you want me to take a dump in a box and mark it tubeless, I will. I got spare time.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Barre, VT
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    3,098
    This stuff will clean the shit out of your drivetrain. I swear by it. It will blasts gunky jockey wheels, cassettes, caked on chainring grime. A big can goes quick so I use it sparingly.

    Click image for larger version. 

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  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
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    1,043
    Don't go the aerosol route. Get a chain cleaning thing, whatever solution you want and run it through that when its gross. Get a thinner and lighter lube, shouldn't be getting that gritty after one ride unless its fresh cut trails in the rain every ride.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    cow hampshire
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    1,765
    Quote Originally Posted by Anospa View Post
    Don't go the aerosol route. Get a chain cleaning thing, whatever solution you want and run it through that when its gross. Get a thinner and lighter lube, shouldn't be getting that gritty after one ride unless its fresh cut trails in the rain every ride.
    Hmm. Yeah, I use simple green and a couple different style brushes. One is a specific chain brush. It really is a pia and it is the last thing I want to do, so yeah my shit probably wears out before it should if treated properly.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2015
    Location
    In a Subaru, heading North
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    221
    Why no aerosol?

    What about the cassette and chainring? if just running chain through a chain cleaner, how to best clean those?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
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    1,043
    No need for aerosol spray, it'll overspray and be a waste. If your chain is clean, chainring and cassette should stay fairly clean. Wire brushes for those if they end up dirty.

    I just do a citrus cleaner with water (or simple green with water) in the chain cleaner and run it through a bunch and just dump it wherever. Rinse cleaner and chain with water. Dry chain, lube up, clean off excess.

    Don't use wet lubes, its just not worth it. I'd rather need to reapply dry lube after riding in the rain then have the wet lube pick up a bunch of grime. If you're doing massive rides, then starts making sense to do wet lube or carry more with you to prevent premature wear.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
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    Shadynasty's Jazz Club
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    7,509
    Never. Soap and water with a washcloth on the rare occasion I wash the bike, but otherwise, I just add lube when it needs it.

    ETA: Got some Squirt at a race earlier in the year. I've been happy with it. Works like a typical wax lube, but lasts longer, and doesn't disintegrate at the sight of muck/water.
    Remind me. We'll send him a red cap and a Speedo.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2015
    Location
    In a Subaru, heading North
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    I find that my cassette picks up a lot of junk regardless of how clean the chain is. If I'm cleaning the chain, I always clean the cassette and chainring as well. But they get filthy just as quick. Chain is easy to wipe down quickly, the cassette, not so much.

    I've been using dry lube (WD-40 brand)

    Has anyone had issues with citrus cleaners damaging frame finishes?

    I see WD-40, Simple Green, Finish Line all make bike specific degreasers. A little worried what they may do to things they touch aside from the drivetrain.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
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    Eburg
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    11,024
    Quote Originally Posted by ADKmike View Post
    Chain is easy to wipe down quickly, the cassette, not so much.
    Cleaning cassette is easy. Remove wheel, hold edge of clean rag in tension between hands, placed edge of tense rag in gaps between cogs, use sawing motion and freehub ratchet to clean 360* of cog, repeat for each cog. That takes a couple minutes, including taking off and putting on wheel.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    cow hampshire
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    I just try to keep stuff away from the brakes. Hit all the cogs/cassette with simple green and brush the shit out of it spinning backwards and it will get clean enough. It's just going to be a mess on the next ride anyway.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
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    northern BC
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    13,936
    Quote Originally Posted by jm2e View Post

    I've never had any luck with wax based lubes, but I'm not a roadie either. .
    Guys at the Yeti shop are using Boeshield and recommended a wax based so I cleaned all the smoo from the chain with one of those cleaners with the gears and brushes and mailordered this stuff

    https://www.mec.ca/en/product/5026-7...y-Lube---120ml

    way cleaner, seems to work fine, reapply when chain starts to make noise
    Lee Lau - xxx-er is the laziest Asian canuck I know

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    LV-426
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    14,010
    Depends on what you mean by "cleaning."

    Lube? After every ride or every other ride. I use a dry lube, which doesn't pick up much dust.

    Wash? With chain on bike, wash + spray degreaser on chain/cassette/etc -- depends on how mucky the bike is. Maybe every week or two.

    Remove chain and soak in degreaser? About once a year. Soak in 50/50 Simple Green/water (or whatever degreaser you like) overnight, hose clean, wipe dry, hang to finish drying.



    Some will argue that the grease that a new chain is packed in is the Very Finest Lube Evar, and that chains should never be soaked in degreaser. I disagree, and think that grease is the Very Finest Attractor of Grit Evar, and should be degreased ASAP -- before installing a new chain. I remove the chain off a new bike and soak it in degreaser before riding for the first time. I don't want any of that sticky shit glommed all over the cassette and chainrings. Degrease + dry lube = chains and gears last a very long time.
    Quote Originally Posted by powder11 View Post
    if you have to resort to taking advice from the nitwits on this forum, then you're doomed.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    lake level
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    997
    I generally only have to deal with fine dust, so usually just wipe the chain with a rag and lube every ride, takes all of 30 seconds. Every few weeks I'll just spray the bike, no need for cleaners, and hit the drivetrain with this thing http://www.finishlineusa.com/product...s/grunge-brush. Unfortunately I don't have anything to check my chain wear and always manage to forget to have the shop check it when I'm picking up random bits, so I'm probably not doing my drivetrain any favors with a stretched chain.
    I really lack the words to compliment myself today. - Alberto Tomba

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Donner Summit
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    430
    I just run a rag over the chain before or after every ride. When it starts to make noise (or any time it gets wet), add lube and wipe off any excess. Also measure to see if it's worn - if it is, replace. If it's dirty enough that I'm thinking about degreasing, I'll just replace the chain. Chains are a wear item just like tires IMO, and they're not that expensive (at least if you buy the cheap ones from KMC rather than the gold plated name brands).

    I'll clean the cassette with a rag like DIYSteve suggests after a particularly muddy/rainy ride. Otherwise I don't worry about it. Pulleys can be pulled out and cleaned if they're mucky, otherwise just a quick wipe and a couple drops of lube.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Posts
    1,238
    Rock & Roll Gold lube after every couple of rides. Lube chain, wipe off, let dry. Keeps things pretty clean.

    Cassette, chainring and pulleys get cleaned once or twice a year with Simple Green & water.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Trouserville
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    When shifting gets weird
    Besides the comet that killed the dinosaurs nothing has destroyed a species faster than entitled white people.-ajp

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
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    Ogden
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    4,650
    Quote Originally Posted by mmmm...pow! View Post
    I generally only have to deal with fine dust, so usually just wipe the chain with a rag and lube every ride, takes all of 30 seconds.
    This. I hardly ever wash my bike.

  21. #21
    Join Date
    Oct 2017
    Posts
    587
    Drivetrain clean? Never. I ride year round in Maine. Not much mud, but plenty of wet as I do ride in or shortly after rain. Ride all winter in snow too. I use finish line dry wet style lube. I haven't owned a bottle of degreaser in years and never hose the bike down as bikes and their bits don't like water much. I let the bike dry then flake and lightly wipe whatever crap is stuck to it.

    The biggest reason why your drivetrain might "need" a drivetrain clean is because you probably use way too much lube on your chain way too often. If you hold your bottle of lube above the cassette and squirt down onto the chain while you pedal the bike with your hand, you are 99.9% using way too much lube. One little drip of lube applied ONLY where the pin and plates meet is all you need. Drip drip drip that's it. No steady stream. It may take a minute longer but it's worth it. After lubing I get around 40-50 trail miles in before needing to re-lube and how I check is I run the tip of my finger along a chain link or two and if I get a thin black ish line of lube on my finger tip then I know my chain doesn't need lubing yet. My cassette never gets gunked up at all. Occasionally like once every few months I may flake some built up greasy gunk from my derailleurs pulley wheels.

    So by lubing less you'll work way less hard and your drivetrain will stay clean.

  22. #22
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Vancouver, BC
    Posts
    3,247
    I never clean my drivetrain. I lube my chain every rode with triflow and wipe of excess lube. I also use some sort of scraper to remove built-up grime from my jockey wheels when I lube. But thats about it.

  23. #23
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Barre, VT
    Posts
    3,098
    Don't go near aerosol lube but no love for aerosol degreaser? I can eat off my drivetrain, aerosol degreaser keeps that shit spotless.

  24. #24
    Join Date
    Feb 2015
    Location
    In a Subaru, heading North
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    221
    This stuff looks interesting, and cheap:

    http://simplegreen.com/products/bike...easer-aerosol/

    Claims it won't hurt paint.


    As far as a lot of the comments above - maybe it's where I ride, but I find I have so much sand and grit on my chain after a ride, that if I was to just do a quick chain wipe + new lube next ride, I'd be lubing on top of sand, which can't be doing much to increase performance, just making a bigger mess.

    Don't think I'm applying too much lube, but maybe I'll try less and see what happens. I don't usually wipe excess off, that's prob a contributing factor, although applying just to wipe off seems counter productive.

  25. #25
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Posts
    1,792
    Less is more. Or more is more--if you want more sand.

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