February 14, 2014

We regularly get asked questions from riders and racers about bicycle maintenance and servicing. If you’ve spent several thousand dollars purchasing the perfect mountain bike or have recently upgraded to some sweet new forks and a swish 1×10 drivetrain, you’ll likely be wanting to take good care of your gear. There’s nothing worse than trashing a new derailleur or shredding through suspension pivot bearings just because you haven’t been bothered to investigate a squeak. Not only does it get costly, but poor maintenance can rapidly degrade the performance of your something-thousand-dollar machine. Knowing some of the signs to look out for, and learning some basic repair knowledge will go a long way to keeping your bike running smoother and less prone to mechanical issues.

And so the answer to the original question? Well in our opinion, the best maintenance that you should perform on a semi-regular basis is to simply keep your pride and joy clean. Cleaning, degreasing, and lubricating are relatively easy tasks for most riders to perform, but they are all extremely effective methods of preventative maintenance. Developing a cleaning habit allows you to get a closer look at all the crucial components and junctions on your bike, so you’re more likely to pick up any issues before they develop into costly mistakes. Taking your clean bike into the local bike store is also a sure-fire way to get high-5′s from the mechanic, rather than a stern grimace when your greasy chain and mud-covered tyres start shedding filth over the workshop floor. Previously in our Workshop Series, we’ve covered fixing noisy disc brakes and how to lubricate your bike chain. For this article, we’ll be taking you through a step-by-step process on how to keep your bike clean, quiet, and happy.

Weldtite is a British brand that has a long history producing specialist bike care products. They make an enormous range of chain lubricants, bearing grease, brush kits, degreasers, and all sorts of other goodies that are designed to turn the chore of cleaning into a pleasure. We were sent the Welditite Pit Stop Tub from Jet Black Products up in Sydney, which is designed as a basic all-in-one cleaning, degreasing and lubricating kit.

The Weldtite Pit Stop Kit features:

1 x 2.3 Litre bucket

1 x Dirtwash Bike Cleaner Spray (200ml)

1 x Citrus Degreaser Spray (150ml)

1 x TF2 Aerosol Spray with Teflon® surface protector (150ml)

1 x Sprocket Brush

1 x buffing cloth & cleaning sponge

RRP: $39

Step 1: Bike washing The first step to cleaning your bike is to get it wet. This will help in beginning to loosen any dirt or mud build up. Douse the sponge in water and give the bike a light scrub, making sure you’re giving it a good soak. A soft brush such as the one from Dirtwash can also be a great help for aggravating dirt and grease particles.

A sponge? Seems a little old-school doesn’t it, but in our opinion, using a bucket of water and a sponge to douse your bike before cleaning is a much better alternative than getting overzealous with a high pressure hose. If you know what you’re doing, pressurised water can make bike cleaning more effective and efficient, but it also has the potential to destroy bearings and suspension seals.

Use the sponge to wet the frame, fork, shock, rims – pretty much everything but the brakes. You don’t want to run the risk of contaminating the disc rotors or pads with a bit of transferred grease from the drivetrain, so avoid rubbing the calipers or rotors at all cost. If you’ve recently been for a muddy ride and the brake calipers are filled up with caked mud and dirt, you can use a light spray from the end of a hose to help dislodge that dirt.

2. Bike Cleaning Once the frame is wetted all over, grab the bottle of Weldtite Dirtwash Bike Cleaner and start spraying the frame, fork, wheels, and drivetrain. This is a foaming cleaner that will help to work its way into more stubborn dirt and grease on the bike, making it easier to wash away. After spraying, let the bike sit wet for about 10-15 minutes for the cleaner to do its thing. Dirtwash is safe to use on suspension seals, bearings, and disc brakes. However, we would still recommend against spraying the brakes directly – we have found that some brakes can become quite noisy and a little soft after using bike cleaners, so to avoid tempting fate, spray the cleaner away from the rotors and brake calipers.

3. Degreasing While the Dirtwash is working its magic, you can fill the time by degreasing your chain and sprockets. The Weldtite Dirtwash Citrus Degreaser is available in both liquid and aerosol versions, with the Pit Stop kit coming with a 150mL spray can. The pressure from the nozzle is ideal for blasting out dirt and grease off your chain. If your chain is looking particularly nasty, we’d recommend removing the chain off the bike for a more involved degreasing process. Otherwise, make sure you spray the chain down the bottom, with the degreaser nozzle pointing towards the ground. Run the chain around several times, so it is doused in the Citrus degreasing fluid.

Cassette teeth looking a bit putrid? You can use the spray degreaser on those too, though make sure you’re aiming the nozzle into the cassette, and not from the side so as to blow degreaser and oil towards the disc brakes.

You can use the degreaser on the chainring sprocket teeth too, spraying from both sides to soak the dirt and grease stuck to the chainrings.

Once the cassette and chainrings have been sprayed with degreaser, the sprocket brush is the perfect tool for loosening and removing any stubborn grease. As with the chain, if your cassette is particularly filthy, it’s recommended to remove it from the rear wheel in order to degrease it more thoroughly.

The serrated end of the sprocket brush is designed to reach down between each cog in order to remove any dirt that’s lodged between them.

4. Final wash After the degreasing process, it’s time to get the sponge out and to remove any remaining dirt and soap residue. At this point you can bust out a hose to help you soak the whole bike, but ensure that there is minimal pressure and the nozzle is set to a spray rather than a jet.

5. Buff away! Use the buffing cloth to dry off and polish the frame surface, as well as the suspension and rims. This process helps to restore the original shine of your bike, but it also creates a more slippery surface that makes it harder for dirt and grime to stick to in the first place.

6. Final drivetrain cleaning Although the degreasing process will have removed much of the greasey dirt off the chain and sprockets, there will still be some leftover. Grab yourself an old rag, and wrap it around the chain.

Run the chain through the cloth with your hands clenched tightly around it. You may beed to reposition the rag several times depending on how much filth the chain has accumulated.

You can also use the rag to clean off the derailleur’s jockey wheels, as well as the front chainrings.

7. Chain lubrication After cleaning the chain, it is necessary to let the bike sit to dry. This may take several hours, but you must ensure that the chain is dry before re-applying lubricant. Otherwise you will simply be trapping water inside the links, which will lead to rust and premature wear. Using the Weldtite TF2 aerosol spray, point the straw nozzle at the middle of the chain down the bottom of its length. Use a consistent spray as you wind the cranks backwards, in order to coat the entire length of the chain with lubricant. The TF2 lube is Teflon based, so it leaves a layer of PTFE behind on the chain in order to reduce surface friction. Because it is pressurised, the TF2 is good for blasting out any remaining water inside the chain. Allow the chain to sit for at least an hour or so, and then use a rag to clean up any excess lube that remains on the outside of the chain.

And there you have it – a clean bike! Depending on how much you ride and in what sort of conditions, this cleaning process can be carried out anywhere from once a fortnight through to once every couple of months. If you have any questions about the process we’ve described, or you have your own handy helpful tips of your own, please leave us a comment below!

Jet Black Products Website: www.JetBlackProducts.com Email: info@jetblackproducts.com

Words: Enduromag.com.au


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