I'm not a particularly neat person. I'm not dirty and I've got good hygiene, but one could never call me a neat freak.
However, lately I've been trying to keep my bikes clean. You won't see me with a toothbrush working out bits of gravel dust and grease from every nook and cranny, but it's pretty easy to wipe things down with a rag and a pre-moistened dusting wipe.
I've found that cleaning my bikes is relaxing, and also helps me inspect parts for wear and damage, potentially identifying a problem before it gets too bad.
My friend Jeff had been telling me about some of the various citrus based, biodegradable degreasers on the market, such as Simple Green and Purple Power, and how easy it is to clean a chain and cogs using them. I found the jugs of degreaser in the automotive section of a big box retailer.
I'd already learned how to remove the master link from my chains, but didn't have any way to get freehub cogs off.
Last week I got a cogset lockring removal tool and a chain whip. Using these I was able to take off my nine speed cogset off the Specialized Tricross and soak it in some Purple Power degreaser.
I put the chain into a big Gatorade bottle and sealed it. I let everything soak while I cleaned the rest of the bike. I'd give the bottle a good shake every now and again to try to dislodge some of the grease on the chain.
After I was done cleaning the bike, I removed the cogs and chain from their degreaser bath, rinsed them off, and then wiped them down with an old tee-shirt. The result was amazing. All of the parts shined like so many crazy diamonds. I was able to pour off most of the used degreaser into another container, leaving the dirty stuff at the bottom, where I could dispose of it later. I'll keep the used degreaser for the next time. Perhaps I can get two or three uses out of a batch of this stuff.
I put a little grease on the freehub splines and reassembled the cog set, spacers, and loose cogs back on to the hub before using the lockring tool again to tighten the assembly. I wasn't sure how hard to tighten down the lockring, but after it started to catch into a series of grooves, I gave it one more good twist. I didn't want it to be too hard to take off again the next time, or risk damaging it or the threads. If anyone has some advice on how tight this should feel, please let me know.
I threaded the chain back through the derailleur jockey wheels and rejoined the two ends using the master link. Then I applied some of my drip lube on the chain, shifted all the gears while turning the pedals, and then wiped down the chain.
I'm still amazed as how shiny this all is. I always forget that these parts come silver colored, and not really blackened, as they tend to get over time.
The next order of business is to get it all dirty again with lots of gravel dust on Sunday's Last Bacon Ride of the Year.
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