Bike maintenance is something every athlete either loves or hates… and that usually is directly related to their knowledge on the subject. But love it or hate it, a well maintained bike is a fast bike!
One of the simplest maintenance tasks you can do will also have a huge impact on your performance come race day. That is cleaning your drivetrain! First of all, if you don’t know what a drivetrain is, that is all the parts that help your bike go forward (crank, chain, cassette). Keeping these parts clean will not only make them last longer, but help transfer more of the power you are putting into the pedals into forward motion… and that is always a good thing!
So where do you start? I recommend taking
your bike outside or into the garage… you can do this in the bathtub… but my wife doesn’t recommend that… especially if she just cleaned 🙂
Next you need to gather your supplies. Here’s a simple list:
- Old rag (I use an old T-shirt) or two would be better
- Degreaser (I recommend a special bike degreaser… but WD-40 works in a pinch)
- Hose or Old water bottle (You have a few lying around right?)
- Brush (an old toothbrush works)
- Chain Lube
If you are new to the game, you can scrounge up whatever you have lying around the house… something is better than nothing. If you are serious about this (I suggest you get serious) then there are plenty of starter kits you can get… I like this one, or this one, and this chain cleaner tool.
So now you have your supplies, so let’s get cleaning!
- Wipe off the chain– Just use the rag to wipe down the chain while you pedal backwards. (It helps if you have a bike stand, but I make due with just having it on the ground or on my trainer.) You are really just starting to get the excess gunk off
- Degrease the chain– Spray it or drip it on, however your product works. Spray the cassette and derailleur cogs too.
- Scrub the parts– Use the brush to scrub the parts. Get everything good and make sure you get all the grime out of there. This is where a chain cleaner tool comes in real handy. If you don’t have one (GET ONE!) you can scrub a section and then pedal backwards with your hand to get the next section.
- Rinse– I like to use the water bottle to rinse the parts good. It is a little more accurate than a hose and a whole lot easier on your parts.
- Dry– Dry all the parts with the rag. Wipe them down good… maybe go for a little spin around the block.
- Lube your chain– You don’t need much. Drip a bit on each link of the chain while you pedal backwards. Take your rag and gently grab the chain while you pedal backwards to wipe off the excess. Every once in awhile you would put a drop on the moving parts of your derailleurs too.
There you have it! You are all good to go with your nice, clean bike!