Cleaning Drivetrain

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Cleaning Drivetrain

Postby msconfig » Tue Jul 02, 2013 11:30 pm

Hi guys,

Would you guys have tips on cleaning the drivetrain (cassette, chain & crank) of a roadie? Looking at a few sites, some suggest using a chain cleaner for the chain and a brush for the cassette however others are suggesting I take the whole chain and cassette off and soak it in degreaser. It would be useful to gain a bit of insight into each method. I'm running a CS-5700 cassette and CN-5701 chain. Also would any kind of degreaser (one from Repco?) be sufficient or must I look for one specific to bicycles?

Method 1 - Chain Cleaner + Brush
The first method looks easiest, but the chain cleaner just doesn't look like it will clean thoroughly and it looks messy (liquid coming out from the holes as you spin the cranks?). I've also read that I should be careful with getting degreaser in the hubs as it could dry out the lubrication in them. Definitely something I'd have to keep an eye on.Would all I would need for this method be:

1. Chain cleaner - http://www.wiggle.co.uk/park-tools-cm52 ... n-cleaner/
2. Cassette Brush - http://www.wiggle.co.uk/muc-off-claw-brush-1/

Method 2 - Removing Chain + Cassette
The second method - removing the chain and cassette and soaking it in degreaser sounds tedious, but looks like the clean would be more uniform (no random crap stuck somewhere). I don't mind it, but i'd prefer not having the break the chain every time I clean. I've read that I could use replaceable "master links" by KMC and SRAM however I'm unable to find information on which ones I can use. Would anyone have links to ones compatible with Shimano chains? Would all the tools I need for this method be:

1. Lockring Tool - http://www.wiggle.co.uk/bbb-btl-12-lock ... oval-tool/
2. Chain Whip - http://www.wiggle.co.uk/bbb-btl-11-turn ... whip-tool/
3. Chain Tool - My little multi-tool says it comes with a "full-function chain tool head" - is this sufficient: http://www.wiggle.co.uk/topeak-hexus-ii ... ulti-tool/
4. Chain Pins (assuming I don't have a master link): http://www.wiggle.co.uk/shimano-pack-of ... hain-pins/

Thanks for the help guys,

Dave
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by BNA » Wed Jul 03, 2013 12:06 am

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Re: Cleaning Drivetrain

Postby Duck! » Wed Jul 03, 2013 12:06 am

Depends how gungy your chain is. If it's not too bad, most lubes will actually clean the chain to an extent - generously apply lube & run through the gears a few times to really work it into the links, then wipe the excess off. It will continue to flush the gunge out as you ride, so just wipe it off after the first few rides & it'll be sweet.

If it's really gross, removing it from the bike is by far the best way, but it does take a bit of time to do it properly. Flush it out thoroughly in degreaser, preferably something that is not too acidic or alkaline, as too powerful either way will corrode & weaken the chain. You may need to run it through a couple of times to get the muck out properly. Once it's clean, wash the solvent out in warm soapy water. After washing, rinse in metho and allow to dry. The reason for the metho rinse is that being alcohol, it's water soluble, and will bind to the water inside the links after washing it. Being alcohol, it has a much faster evaporation rate than water, and as it evaporates will pull the water out of the chain with it. Once refitted to the bike you can reapply your preferred lube.

As far as an openable joining link, there aren't any specific to Shimano chains; any 10-speed link will work.

Really gubby cassettes are also best cleaned off the bike. Most sprockets can be cleaned with a rag moistened with degreaser; the bigger ones pinned to spiders will need a rag pulled through to clean the muck out from between the pinned sprockets. This bit can be done with the sprockets on the hub; as you pull the rag back & forth, the ratchets will in turn allow the cassete to spin & then hold it in place while you pull the goo out. You don't need to go to the wash/metho rinse stage with the cassette, because you can much more easily clean & dry the sprockets properly just with a rag.
I had a thought, but it got run over as it crossed my mind.
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Re: Cleaning Drivetrain

Postby bychosis » Wed Jul 03, 2013 1:22 am

Tis topic is a regular, and has been done many times.
you missed Method 3: use a cleaning lube like Rock n Roll. Apply liberally, wipe off excess. Done. The solvents in the lube dissolve the crud and carry the lube into where its needed then evaporate off leaving the lube where it's meant to be.
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Re: Cleaning Drivetrain

Postby im_no_pro » Wed Jul 03, 2013 9:42 am

bychosis wrote:Tis topic is a regular, and has been done many times.
you missed Method 3: use a cleaning lube like Rock n Roll. Apply liberally, wipe off excess. Done. The solvents in the lube dissolve the crud and carry the lube into where its needed then evaporate off leaving the lube where it's meant to be.


This is what I do, with an occasional off the bike clean (prob once a year, or if I do a particularly long ride in wet & crappy conditions i'll strip it down).
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Re: Cleaning Drivetrain

Postby rkelsen » Wed Jul 03, 2013 10:22 am

msconfig wrote:Would you guys have tips on cleaning the drivetrain (cassette, chain & crank) of a roadie?

This question has caused many a flame war, here and elsewhere on the internet.

The reason for this is that there are many variables at play. We all seem to believe that our own personal solution will fit everyone else's needs.

Anyhow, what do you aim to achieve by cleaning & re-lubing your drivetrain? How dirty is it? Does it squeak/is the chain stiff? Or is it just a bit greasy?

In reality, if you don't ride it off-road or in the rain, then a quick wipe down every few weeks will probably suffice. Measuring the chain and ensuring that you replace it before it wears too much is a more important aspect of preventative maintenance than how clean it is, IMO.

Although it is counter-intuitive, my own experience is that chain life is not a function of cleanliness or lubrication.

I can never seem to get much more than 2,500km out of a chain, no matter what I do. I've tried every cleaning technique and brand of lubricant you could name... and have come to the conclusion that cleaning/re-lubing the chain is a complete WOFTAM. The longest I ever got out of a chain was 4,500km and it chewed up the cassette because I used it for at least 1,000km more than I should have. So now, I wait until it starts squeaking and then hit it with a generous dose of WD40. Yes, I said WD40. I replace them when they get to half a pin's worth of wear over 12 links (i.e. 1.5mm or 1/16").

Of course, people will chime in and tell me how wrong I am, but I don't care. I have more important things to do with my time. :) Like posting here :P
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Re: Cleaning Drivetrain

Postby jacks1071 » Wed Jul 03, 2013 12:54 pm

Can anyone tell me anything about "ultrasonic cleaners" - like the type used for jewellery and by optomotrists for cleaning glasses.

I see on ebay they arn't very expensive.

Am wondering it they might be good for cleaning chains and cassette's ?
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Re: Cleaning Drivetrain

Postby mitzikatzi » Wed Jul 03, 2013 1:46 pm

ultrasonic+cleaners
Thanks "search" there are other hits too
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Re: Cleaning Drivetrain

Postby biker jk » Wed Jul 03, 2013 1:54 pm

I use ProGold ProLink lube on all my bikes and find that it works very well as a cleaner. Admittedly, I wipe the chain clean and then wipe again with some ProGold after every ride. As such, my drivetrain never gets very dirty and the Park chain cleaning machine I have has been used only once to clean a friend's filthy chain.
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Re: Cleaning Drivetrain

Postby msconfig » Thu Jul 04, 2013 7:18 pm

Duck! wrote:If it's really gross, removing it from the bike is by far the best way, but it does take a bit of time to do it properly. Flush it out thoroughly in degreaser, preferably something that is not too acidic or alkaline, as too powerful either way will corrode & weaken the chain. You may need to run it through a couple of times to get the muck out properly. Once it's clean, wash the solvent out in warm soapy water. After washing, rinse in metho and allow to dry. The reason for the metho rinse is that being alcohol, it's water soluble, and will bind to the water inside the links after washing it. Being alcohol, it has a much faster evaporation rate than water, and as it evaporates will pull the water out of the chain with it. Once refitted to the bike you can reapply your preferred lube.

As far as an openable joining link, there aren't any specific to Shimano chains; any 10-speed link will work.

Really gubby cassettes are also best cleaned off the bike. Most sprockets can be cleaned with a rag moistened with degreaser; the bigger ones pinned to spiders will need a rag pulled through to clean the muck out from between the pinned sprockets. This bit can be done with the sprockets on the hub; as you pull the rag back & forth, the ratchets will in turn allow the cassete to spin & then hold it in place while you pull the goo out. You don't need to go to the wash/metho rinse stage with the cassette, because you can much more easily clean & dry the sprockets properly just with a rag.


Thanks for the advice mate. The chain and cassette is pretty gross and although I have been applying lube, maybe I should have spent more time wiping the damn thing. It's pretty black/dark now and I'd like to go back to a shiny silver cassette.

bychosis wrote:Tis topic is a regular, and has been done many times.
you missed Method 3: use a cleaning lube like Rock n Roll. Apply liberally, wipe off excess. Done. The solvents in the lube dissolve the crud and carry the lube into where its needed then evaporate off leaving the lube where it's meant to be.


I've been using Rock n Roll Gold, but as above, it seems like I haven't been wiping thoroughly enough after applying

rkelsen wrote:Anyhow, what do you aim to achieve by cleaning & re-lubing your drivetrain? How dirty is it? Does it squeak/is the chain stiff? Or is it just a bit greasy?



There's nothing wrong with my drivetrain (touch wood). Shifts a pretty smooth and no noticeable squeals. I just don't like the look of a black chain and cassette. I'd rather it be shiny :D
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Re: Cleaning Drivetrain

Postby warthog1 » Thu Jul 04, 2013 8:45 pm

biker jk wrote:I use ProGold ProLink lube on all my bikes and find that it works very well as a cleaner. Admittedly, I wipe the chain clean and then wipe again with some ProGold after every ride. As such, my drivetrain never gets very dirty and the Park chain cleaning machine I have has been used only once to clean a friend's filthy chain.


Same same, only I relube every 200 odd ks. Wipe chain and jockey wheels before and after lubing.
I never degrease the chain, why wash the factory lube out and replace it with solvent? Chain gets renewed every 6 months or so anyway.
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Re: Cleaning Drivetrain

Postby bychosis » Thu Jul 04, 2013 9:27 pm

msconfig wrote:
There's nothing wrong with my drivetrain (touch wood). Shifts a pretty smooth and no noticeable squeals. I just don't like the look of a black chain and cassette. I'd rather it be shiny :D


Ooohhhhh. CLEANING drivetrain, not lubing.
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Re: Cleaning Drivetrain

Postby rkelsen » Fri Jul 05, 2013 10:22 am

msconfig wrote:There's nothing wrong with my drivetrain (touch wood). Shifts a pretty smooth and no noticeable squeals. I just don't like the look of a black chain and cassette. I'd rather it be shiny :D

Then it's a waste of time. Chains will go black even if you only ride in the best of conditions. That's the nature of the beast, therefore it's not worth worrying about.

A quick wipe down should suffice.

If you want to lube it as well, R&R is probably the quickest & easiest way, but beware that it washes out in the rain... And you'll go through lots of rags.
warthog1 wrote:I never degrease the chain, why wash the factory lube out and replace it with solvent? Chain gets renewed every 6 months or so anyway.

What he said.
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