Sunday, November 28, 2010

How To - Clean Your Chain

I know I've posted a bit on cleaning your bike, including the drivetrain. But on one of my many meanderings at the local shop, I saw and bought the following: The Grunge Brush.

Now, for those that experienced "grunge music", the name has a different connotation, although "dirty" comes to mind.

The bit that got me was the end with the three sided brush. It looked like one of those chain cleaner tools that always got filthy, got dirty cleaning fluid everywhere, and looked trashed about 60 seconds into its first use.

With the open ended design (no case around the brushes), the tool promised to be a bit neater. Also, since there was no up or down or forward or backward, it'd be easier to use.

New secret weapon.

It's rare enough for me to find a favorite new cleaning tool. The original Park brush dates back a while, probably 15 or so years ago, and at the shop we used to wear them down regularly. So for me to find this little gem, that's unusual.

To use it you do like you normally do with the chain - spray down with some mild degreaser (Simple Green is my favorite), let the chain get nice and wet so the degreaser penetrates the greasy black stuff on the chain.

Then slip the three headed side over the chain. In my case I like to push the tool down onto the bottom bit of chain, just before the rear derailleur, or push it up into the chain just in front of the cassette. Both methods get the third brush on the inside of the chain, with the two other brushes doing the sides.

(Finish Line's site has the brush used 90 degrees off of my recommendation, with the two opposing brushes getting the top and bottom of the rollers. That's fine too but I want the side plates clean as well.)

Swipe back and forth maybe 4 or 5 times, applying pressure in different directions on each swipe. So emphasize scrubbing the outer plate, the inner one, and the rollers. Move the chain 6-8 inches and repeat swiping motion.

In about 2 minutes you're done.

The nice thing is that the tool gets the left plates of the chain clean, i.e. the outer plates facing left. For me those are the hardest to get clean.

You can use the three headed side to get the chainrings too, although a standard Park brush helps get at the nooks and crannies. I use the Grunge Brush's pointy end to get the pulleys clean and to poke out any black gunk hiding in crevices and such.

With the Grunge Brush, a hose, and some Simple Green, my bike-cleaning required time has dropped to something ridiculous, 5 or 8 minutes or so. I use a bit of car wash in a bucket for the rest of the bike, and quickly wipe down the damp steed when I'm done. A bit of chain lube and presto!, ready for action.

A clean bike is a happy bike. The process of cleaning the bike forces you to look at it carefully. You'll catch things that you may not otherwise see. You'll get a feel for how much wear the drivetrain has, what kind of life it has left, based on the looseness of the chain and the width of the arcs in the cassette and chainrings.

Of course a clean bike also looks pro. It shows pride in your equipment, pride in your riding.

Make it so.


Unknown said...

I like the Grunge Brush as well. But I still have a hard time with the inner chainring. The pointy end seems best for knocking off the dirty bits, but not for a deep clean.
Some would say I shouldn't be riding on the inner ring anyway.

Aki said...

That's a good tip. I try to avoid the small ring too.


For the small ring I like the toothbrush type brush of the Park brush. It's a bit softer than the Pedros one.