When I fell in love with my bicycle and cycling, I got curious to explore it a bit beyond the ordinary urge. The first thing I was keen to know is how to keep it in top condition and what all are the DOs & DON’Ts for the maintenance of a modern bicycle and what are the vital parts of my beloved Trek 4300D. I got more and more curious as I was exploring the net to discover more on the subject of bicycles. While reading some well researched material on the net and watching few videos on Youtube, I learnt that the chain is the most important part of any bicycle which needs utmost attention all the time, on daily basis actually. The biggest enemy of bicycle chain are dust and water and one can not avoid these if cycling honestly.
What do I do? is the next question … As they say … first thing first … so everytime, you come back home after riding your bicycle, the first thing is – pick up a clean rag (lint free), hold it gently in your palm and the chain run through. Now, hand pedal the cycle in reverse direction slowly. This will clean the loose grit. But this is not enough as a routine for days. Therefore, one needs to do degreasing of the chain periodically (depending on the terrain and the usage of bicycle), which certainly needs special brush. There is no fixed schedule for the chain cleaning. One has to assess the grit visually.
Everything about a bicycle is simple. That’s what makes it such a great machine to ride — and also a great mechanical work of art!
Onething is clear that a healthy chain is the most crucial component for the pleasure of riding and cutting the cost of spare parts. A clean and well lubed chain makes cycling a pleasure as the gears shift easily and the noise is reduced, needs less energy to peddle. One must know what is a chain, if you wish to understand the maintenance of it. There are so many moving parts in one chain, can you imagine – more than 110. The grit which clings to the chain, works like emery and each part of the chain gets worn out which results in `loose chain’. Actually each part gets worn out by fraction of a millimeter and results in total wear of more than an inch in total length of a chain. Usually, the misnomer it as `extended chain’.
Many people have encashed on this issue and come up with so many products for the maintenance of chain, i.e. dusting, cleaning, degreasing, lubing, etc. Before you dive into it, please learn from the experienced cyclists or from the professional mechanics about which product is worth its price and which one is a must.
- Degreasing agents are expensive and the price becomes double and four times sometimes when one buys from companies like FireFox. Just get a reliable dealer other than FireFox, one can get these things much cheaper.
- Do NOT use WD-40 for degreasing ever.
- The first thing to do is brush off the grit from chain, teeth of the rear cluster of gears, front chainwheel, derailleur, etc.
- One may use diesel for degreasing. Either pour over a good piece of clean rag, wrap it over the chain, run the chain through it for two minutes or so, repeat the process by changing the rag. The best would be pour diesel into the cavity of the brush shown here in the photo and then run the chain through it and change the dirty diesel two three times. There is nothing which can be better than this, not even closer to it by miles!
- One must give a gap of few hours between degreasing and lubing, preferably overnight, so the degreasing agent has dried up. One must hand peddle the chain few times during this idle period and let it run through a piece of cloth gripped gently in your hand. May place the bicycle in the sun, so the degreasing agent dries up.
- Once degreasing has been done properly and the chain has dried, the degreasing solvent has disappeared, the chain can be treated with lube. In my opinion dry Teflon lube is really good for normal conditions. It shall attract less of grit. Teflon as a material needs no explanation. This lube can be bought in India now. If you do not have any of these lubes, you may even use any engine oil. Just pour few drops over a piece of cloth (with multiple folds and layers) and spread it over your palm and hold the chain and hand pedal it. Just repeat two three times. But it will attract grit while cycling.
DO NOT FORGET to dry-wipe clean the chain of your bicycle after every ride ! I could not resist buying two chain degreasing brushes for Rs 680 (used to be Rs 1200 when I got one from overseas) each from FireFox, I had no other choice in the market. But its worth every penny … will save you hard rides, fast wear and tear of gear system of your bicycle, etc. One must buy this brush if you love cycling and your bicycle. Dirt, grease, grime and stubborn soils are cleaned with amazing ease! Unfortunately, only FireFox is selling these brushes.