Bicycles/Maintenance and Repair/Cleaning parts

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Cleaning parts can be done with a cleaning solution of some kind, and/or with a rag or stiff brush. A couple of notes about cleaning products:

  • Solvents must be thoroughly cleaned off parts that are to be re-lubricated. Residual solvent will have a solvent effect on the replacement lubricant.
  • Even a bio-degradable solvent will have whatever substance it removed mixed in with it after use, and thus must be treated according to both the laws applicable to the solvent itself and the dissolved substances.

Power Washer[edit]

Using a power washer is an option in some situations, but care must be taken not to displace lubricant from parts. A high pressure stream of water is capable of displacing the grease from a bearing surface, including from sealed bearings, which are not designed to be lubricated by the user. Some very powerful power washers can also take the paint off of a bike. As such it is not recommended to clean a bike with a power washer because it is very hard to dry the water and replace the grease.

Cleaning and lubricating a bicycle chain[edit]

Cleaning and lubricating your chain is one of the simplest and most important things to do to keep your bike in good working order. It is also an activity that draws intense debate with many people insisting that their way is the "Right" way to do it. The short story is, the cleaner and better lubricated your chain is the longer the entire drivetrain (the chain and gears) will last, but no drive-train lasts forever. It is worth spending time taking care of your drivetrain, it's not worth obsessing about.

You need:

  • Lubricant,
  • A couple Rags
  • Old toothbrush

The choice of lubricant is important. DO NOT use WD40* as it is too thin and will evaporate leaving nothing to lubricate the chain. Use special bike chain lube found at any bike store. Some lubricants are formulated for wet conditions, others for dry. The difference is the viscosity. A dry lube used in wet conditions will require more frequent applications, a wet lube used in dry conditions will gather dirt, and require more frequent cleaning.

Prior to lubricating, clean the chain as well as possible. Usually a chain cleaning tool, or a toothbrush is sufficient. Remove the chain from the bicycle and soak it in a solvent such as a cycle degreaser. Hang up chain to dry off. Paraffin will also work, but is unpleasant and unhealthy to work with environmentally hazardous, and flammable; as such it is not recommended.

Dirt is what causes a chain to wear out, so keeping your chain as clean as possible extends its life, and the life of the entire drivetrain.

Apply the lubricant on the chain non-pressurized drip type lubes are recommended as are more accurate, and waste less lube than spray lubricants.

Put a rag behind the chain so that the lube does not contaminate the tires or other parts of the bike. Rotate the pedals to move the chain and lubricate the whole length. Wipe the chain with the rag to remove the excessive lubricant, as this just gathers dirt and does not help lubricate the chain.