Drivetrains need loving too!
One of the most neglected part of any bike is the drivetrain. It is easy to overlook the maintenance on this very important section of your bike, often leading to a costly fix. Save yourself money down the road while enjoying the best that your bike can give along the way with these simple tips and tools. Plus, what's better than playing with lubricant on Valentine's Day?
In this post we will go over some of the basics to help you maintain your bicycle’s drivetrain. It is very common for your bicycle’s chain and drivetrain to be the dirtiest part of your bike. A dirty chain will increase the rate of wear on your drivetrain. To extend the life of your chain, chainrings, cassette, freewheel, or cog you will want to perform regular maintenance on your drivetrain. There are many variables to how often each individual would need to clean and lubricate their drivetrain. The easiest way to decide if it’s time to clean and lubricate your chain is to visually inspect your chain. Does it have dirt and grime build up on it? Is it dry and maybe a little rusty? Is your chain making noise? Squeaking or gritty and crunchy? These are examples of when it is time to do a little bit of chain/drivetrain maintenance.
- Degreaser and/or Cleaner
- Chain Specific Lubricant
- Rags and/or Brush
- Cardboard or towel to catch any dripping gunk and lube
*** Pro Tip: If you have a repair stand, by all means use it to clean and lube your bike. If not, we like to flip the bike upside-down so that the handlebars and the saddle are on the ground and the drivetrain is pointing up. Also, if you want to keep the floor clean below your bike, place it on a large piece of cardboard, paper or a towel.
Step 1: Clean your drivetrain well! Get all of the built-up gunk off of it by using a degreaser or cleaner. We offer an all purpose bicycle cleaning product that is handy for pretty much any part of the bike (try not to get lubricant or soap on brake pads). Citrus based degreasers do very well. You can even use something like a soapy Dawn water. Whatever will cut through the grease and grime. Clean the whole drivetrain. Wipe down your chainrings, freewheel, or cassette. Using a rag and a brush, if you have one, can be helpful to get in between the cogs on the cassette and other hard to reach places. It is alright to strip off all of the existing lubricant in this step because we will be applying lubricant later. The chain should be clean and dry.
*** Pro Tip: You can access the drivetrain and each side of the chainring(s) and cog(s) by spinning around your cranks while the bike is upside down. Just make sure NOT TO get your fingers caught in-between the chain and chainrings or cogs! Ouch!
Step 2: After your thorough cleaning of the chain, chainring(s), and cog(s), it’s time to apply the lubricant. To make sure we do a great job, we multiply the cleaning and lubrication process by using Finish Line 1-Step Cleaner & Lubricant. Apply a generous amount of lube while trying to keep it neat so excess lubrication isn’t dripping off of the chain. One big reason you will want to wipe the chain, and anywhere else, of excess lube is because you don’t want to get lubricant onto the wheels braking surface or your brake pads. This is because lubrication and braking don’t go well together. Another good reason to wipe off the excess lubricant from your chain is because the lube will collect dust, dirt, sand, and salt, holding it onto your chain. Please keep this in mind while applying lube and while cleaning up.
*** Pro Tip: Want to do a really good job cleaning your chain, or need to replace your chain? Purchase an affordable chain tool like this Park CT-5 and you can take apart your chain and clean it like a pro.
For those of you who are visual learners, we have put together a short video on how to clean and lubricate your chain. Give it a watch here:
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