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bike cleaning

nix85's picture

By nix85 - Posted on 12 August 2010

hey guys,
i recently have been given 2 different pieces of advice and am wondering whats right in regard to bike cleaning....the place i brought my bike said wipe it down and spray the chain with WD 40 then wipe of the excess then lube...(this place is my LBS, and i tend to find the advice here on par, and all the guys are extremely helpful..always), the second place i jsut popped into as i was trying to kill sometime said DW 40 is the worst thing i can use as it strips everything..... my thought isnt that the point on hse chain we want to strip all the crap away?? so i thought id see what everyone else uses to clean their bikes


philberesford's picture

Not on my life would I let that crap go anywhere near my bike.

I use Muc-off on the frame and wheels and a citrus degreaser on my chain and cassette which I remove before cleaning.

LadyToast's picture

CT20 in water. Let it soak and rub in with a brush. Water off with a host pipe at LOW pressure.
Dry lube chain (for riding off-road).
Light oil for shifters, mechs and sometimes cables.
Teflon grease for bearings and bushes
Nappy rash cream for your bot

I hear many airports wont let WD40 in hangers. It sure smells nice though Eye-wink

Logan's picture

No way I would use WD40.

Normally I run a SRAM chain with a powerlink and then get some citrus degreaser and use a paint brush to get rid of the crap, then put the chain back on and relube accordingly.

daveh's picture

I bought a big container of truck wash from an auto-parts store. When you water it down as per the instructions it's basically Muck Off but at a fraction of the cost. I just started using Rock 'n Roll and was amazed at what a great job it does. A generous amount on the chain, leave for 5 minutes and then wipe it off until I can't wipe off any more. The chain is left well clean and nicely lubed. Got back from Terrey Hills riding through that sandy paste and after a general bike clean the chain was still basically clean. I am sure that there are other great lubes that are similar but it seems like it is well worth the extra cost for a good one.

chrischris's picture

I'm super keen to get a SRAM chain next time so its easier to remove & soak.

Can I run a SRAM chain on Shimano gear? Are SRAM chains rust resistant?
(Currently using Shimano XTR - I was told they are rust resistant)

bluray's picture

why not just use a sram power link on a shimano chain, just as good if not better.

jpack's picture

agreed, XTR/dura-ace chains are way better than SRAM. in my experience they last 2-3 times longer.
Just use a SRAM powerlink with the shimano chain.

Yes, sram and shimano 9 speed chains are non-directional and compatible.
Note: 10 speed required different, directional chains

hawkeye's picture

with Shimano chain. I've not had a happy experience with transmission life using SRAM chains. I now use exclusively XTR chains - much longer-lived, which means my cassette and chainrings last longer too.

Rohloff chains are the gold standard though.

re: cleaning, I use a soft brush with a little dishwashing detergent in water in a bucket, and a hose on low pressure. Be careful not to spray AT the bearings, or you'll wash the crap straight in. ACROSS is better. I up the pressure a bit and spray through the chain from above to wash the grit out (thanks for the idea Rob), and then dry with a rag, flexing the chain on the way through to wick the water out of the rollers as much as possible.

Once the chain has dried it comes off and goes into a kero bath to dissolve the old lube, and the second pre-cleaned chain goes on.

My new favourite lube is Purple Extreme. Doesn't attract dirt, yet it doesn't wash out on wet rides etiher. Doesn't seem to gum up shifter cables either.

Horner's picture

How long do you leave the chain in the kero bath?
Can you leave it too long and kill the chain??

Brian's picture

You can, I left one in for about a week and it rusted solid.

Edit: Actually, now I think of it, it was leaving it in a bath of WD40 that did the damage.

Fatboy's picture

Good to see so much good advice. I agree with the masses - no wd40 at all; citrus based cleaners are best; never spray the bike with any pressure as Hawkeye explained and also it doesn't take much pressure for fork seals to open up and swallow the water. When running 9 speed I always used xtr chain with SRAM link. Now I'm running XX now & haven't done enough km to start trying different chains.

Scottboy's picture

everyone just killed you with comments . WD 40 is good for getting your car started & loosening up nuts & bolts NEVER apply it to any part of your bike , as for the other comments you can buy expensive bike washes they do work or you can use soapy water on the frame & buy a chain wash machine from a LBS & citrus degreaser from the hardware & some degreaser from super cheap auto . DO NOT put any degreaser on or near your brake area including the rotor , you can get a small narrow brush from the supermarket to clean the cassette with , using spray on degreaser. As for the chain it is personal choice but good to have two as suggested & especially a powerlink

muvro's picture

Depending on what I've ridden through, my cleaning approach is different.

If it's been a really sandy and wet ride real bike killer stuff (ie Perimeter-Long, Duckholes-Center), or really muddy, I'll simply hose the bike to remove all sand from the bike, paying particular attention to the chain, cassette and both derailleurs. Then I, remove the chain and let it soak in Kero. Whilst the chain is soaking, I dry the bike with a chamois and absorbent rag and clean the bike with some of Meguires waterless cleaner. It's a cleaner and polish in one that you spray on. I use a micro fibre cloth to spread it and dry it. I then use some fine spray lube on the derailleur joints and moving parts, giving everything a good looking over to check for any worn or broken parts. Give the wheels and tyres a once over as well. Then when the bike is done, I clean the cassette by dipping a toothbrush in the kero and slightly wetting the cassette. Then get a rag and slide it back and forth through each sprocket. When done, I take to my chain with a long bristled tooth brush and clean it right up, ensuring there is no grittyness or gunk anywhere on it.

I then let the chain hang and dry. After it's dry I then use Royal Purple Maxx Chain on it and let that dry. In really wet and horrendous conditions I'll get 50kms out of it no probs. If it's dry and just road use, I'l get up to 120kms before the wax has been worn off the rollers of the chain. It does leave a bit of gunk on the chain, but going through sand it just pushes it to the side and out of the way instead of letting it get ground up into a grinding paste.

Probably a bit over the top, but I love my bike and I'm really anal about it. lol

If it's just commuting or dusty, I'll do a simply clean of the bike with the hose and waterless spray cleaner, then check and do any lubing necisary.

GiantNut's picture

I wash my bike and then use WD40 on the chain to prevent corrosion and get more grit out. After spraying I ride around the block to fling all the water/WD40 off. Then before the next ride I spray with bike TF2 Teflon chain spray.
If I am doing a big clean I use Kero....

warpig's picture

Anyone concerned about getting citrus degreaser on carbon frames? I tried the stuff (usually use supa cheap auto degreaser on Al frames bikes, but it's pretty harsh stuff so I avoided it for carbob), but was a bit concerned it's stuff the clear coat, or get through one of the inevitable nicks on the chainstay and delaminate. I use a sheet of cardboard to stop overspray, but by gees it made a mess...

Fatboy's picture

Citrus + Carbon are fine. Just check the bottle as some citrus cleaners are petrochemical based - they're the ones not to use.

Re the debate over using WD40 & Kero on your chains vs. Citrus:

If you have a cheap source of chains or are a sponsored rider then Kero & WD40 are great as they clean everything spotlessly and are especially good at getting every last bit of gunk out of your chain. Try standing for a few minutes with kero in the palm of your hand vs. citrus cleaner in the other. You will find the kero will remove all moisture from your skin and leave it feeling dry. The same applies with your chain. The kero or other petrochemicals will clean it beautifully but will remove every bit of oil/lube. It is nearly impossible then to get lube back inside your chain to where it's needed to make your chain function properly and prevent wear & tear.

obmal's picture

from my experience with SRAM chains (hey they are cheap and don't break) the chain will stretch way beyond its usefulness before its worn out from lack of lubrication? my challenge is getting it clean enough ( removing sandstone grinding paste), so I soak them in kerro/wash with water, repeat until clean (after every ride) and then lube with either dry lube or ATF (what ever is handy) before a ride, i really don't think cleaning a chain with kero shortens its service life?

It's pretty easy to lube a chain no matter how dry it is?

Lach's picture

Surely if degreaser doesn't remove all the lube from inside the rollers - as people claim kero does - then it is not removing the crap that adheres to that lube? If the lube and crap can get in there in the first place, then surely its relatively easy to re-lube in there with a generous approach to lubing after cleaning with kero? I know this may be a bit wasteful as it involves wiping the chain with a clean rag after lubing to mop up any excess, but it seems to work for me. Have had very good life out of a recent SRAM chain with only a few kero washes and regular wiping / re-lubing between times.

As for cleaning the rest of the bike, I usually just give it a gentle hose off if its a bit muddy and use a soft rag and some white lightning cleaner to remove any stubborn stains.

Brian's picture

Mr Sheen also works a treat to finish it off.

hawkeye's picture

and chain wear are the same thing.

Here's an article explaining what it really is, why it's the enemy of your cassette and chainrings, and why only one of the many commercially available chanwear checkers does the job right.

warpig's picture

Thanks Fatboy: I feel a bit better now. There's a quite a few weeks pay in all that bloody carbon!

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