Cleaning the Chain – The First Try

Having had my bike for about a month, and covering about 140 miles in that time, I decided it was time to give the chain and mechanism a bit of a clean.

To be honest, I probably should have done this a bit sooner. I’d notice the ride was getting a bit noisy and not quite as smooth as it was when I’d first bought the bike, a bit of a sign that maybe it was starting to get gunked up – and hardly a surprise considering I take it on gravel routes, including at post-rain times with puddles.

So, this being my first proper clean, it was off to Amazon to buy some kit. Brushes, clothes, degreaser and dry lube. Thanks to next-day delivery, I was all set by lunchtime yesterday, to get to work.

I decided to hose the whole bike down first of all, to get as much muck off the frame as I could before starting work on the mechanics. This part wasn’t too bad actually, as I’d given it a wipe clean not too long ago and the recent drier weather had meant there wasn’t too much grime to remove. Still, I figured better to do that first, than at the end and risk dirtying the chain again, or worse, washing off the freshly applied lubricant.

Once I’d given it a good scrub down, it was time to apply the degreaser. A simply enough job – just spray on to the applicable parts – chain, chainset, cassette – leave for a few minutes and then scrub. By this point, my hands were black with grease and grime, and my previously hosed down frame was starting to get dirty all over again – but the chain and parts were all starting to come up nicely.

Back to the hose then, to rinse off the degreaser, and then some cloths to dry the parts, ready for lubrication. I was a little unclear on exactly how much to use here, so I probably went way overboard, but I covered the entire chain with dry lube, whilst back-pedalling and working through the gears to ensure that it was also applied to each cog on the chainset, cassette and derailleur jockey wheels. A quick, light wipe down afterwards with another cloth to remove the excess finished the job.

I had one final thing to do though. I was getting a nasty clicking noise when on the middle and large chain rings that was eluding me for ages. Finally it twigged – a lose sticker on the front mech was catching on the teeth, when in those two gears, but not on the small ring. Pliers out, I removed that sticker and I now, once again, have a quiet ride.

Cleaned Chain

I still need to get the bike out for its initial post-clean run, but thanks to a poor forecast over the next few days, I doubt that’ll be soon. Assuming that goes well though, I think I can take my first cleaning attempt as a success. I did feel it took a bit too long though, but with practice and experience – and perhaps doing it a bit more frequently – hopefully, this will improve.

ETA (27/06/17): Fortunately, the weather held off this morning and I did get to test run the bike on a 16 mile round trip up and down the local canal. All seems well!