Chain Cleaning

Another thing I did today was to grasp the nettle, as it were, and clean the chain on the Orbea.  Following the advice given to me by Matt at Lifecycle UK, where I bought the bike from, I try to do this once a month in the winter.

The story is simple – the chain is the most complex part on the bike – hundreds of moving parts under massive stress and subjected to all sorts of unpleasant weather and road grime.  Cover it with oil, as you were always told to as a kid, and you effectively have a magnet for any road-borne salt, grit, dirt and ‘swarf’ (metal fragments produced by the friction between chain and gears, basically).  So if you look after your chain, the bike will pretty much look after itself.

The mess before, and the solution....

The mess before, and the solution....

I’ve seen all sorts of flashy chain cleaners in use – you can get them  from most decent bike shops.  The principle is that you get a plastic case containing a number of roller brushes, and you clamp this onto the chain and fill it with a solvent.  Then, (using a bike stand, hopefully!), you turn the cranks and run the entire chain through the cleaner and the brushes clean the grime off it.  All very nice, and a potential purchase for the future.  However right now, not having such a tool, I decided to use some more basic, but equally effective tools.

It's a messy job....

It's a messy job....

Gunk, as you will know if you have ever worked on the engine of an old car, is an evil-smelling but very effective substance, made of paraffin distillates, for removing heavy grease.  You brush it on with an old paint brush, leave it for a few minutes, then wash off with hot soapy water.  So, as you can see from the pictures, I had a high old time brushing it on to the whole chain, then moving on to the rear block, the rear mech, and the front chainrings and mech.  Thisw having been done, I then proceeded to brush the parts with one of the set of cheapo Tesco’s cycle brushes I bought recently.

Starting to work now.....

Starting to work now.....

Once thoroughly cleaned, I took the bike out and pressure washed it, blasting off all the loosened rubbish and leaving a sparkling clean bike.

That's better.....post-pressure-washer

That's better.....post-pressure-washer

The final step in my routine is to dry it off when back in the garage, and then spray the chain, front and rear mech with WD40.  This, as all you home mechanics will already know, is a petroleum distillate which acts to displace water from moving parts, forming a light, and quite temporary, lubrication barrier.  It needs applying regularly on a bike,as it will be knocked off the first time you ride; but it means that whilst the chain is lubricated, it does not have a heavy, greasy coating that attracts dirt and allows it to become an abrasive pest.

Almost as good as new!

Almost as good as new!

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