Maintenance Monday 4 - Bike Magic

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Maintenance Monday 4

We’ve already covered how to clean your bike, lube the transmission and sort out your cables after a dirty weekend. Cleaning the transmission thoroughly every month can really prolong its life though. So this week you’re giving your chain a bath.

Even if you’ve been cleaning and lubing regularly, or using a clip on chain brush bath, there are some places that just can’t reach with the chain still on the bike. So it has to come off.


Chain removal technique depends on the chain. If you’re running a Sedis/Sachs Powerlink chain then this is easy once you’ve found the special gold link. Just drop the bike into a lower gear so you have plenty of slack and then push the links together and wiggle till it pops off.

If you’ve got a Shimano chain, you’ll need to make sure that you’ve got some spares of the special joining pin they need, before you immobilise your bike and have to walk to the shop to get one.

Otherwise just use a chain rivet tool to gently push the rivet through – not all the way out – until the links can be waggled apart. Our tip is to undo the chain from the back, so that when you’re pushing it together again the rivet is being driven from the front which is much easier to reach.

Make sure you get rid of the cake crumbs first.

Once it’s off, it’s bathtime. I use an old baking tin, and whatever ecologically sound degreaser I can get my hands on. In this case it’s Finish Line, but the stuff from Finesse, Pedro’s, Weldtite etc. or even diluted Muc Off works fine. You can even use petrol, parafin or white spirit if you really want but they’re harder to dispose of safely and can do real damage to your skin with prolonged contact. If you’re concerned about your hand modelling career then a pair of latex gloves keeps your pinkies protected.

Simply add enough of whatever cleaner you’re using to cover the chain and let it soak a while to penetrate the filth.

You are the dirtiest link; Goodbye!

Once the crap is starting to lift off it’s time to scrub down. This is a splattery, filthy job so don’t be tempted to do it inside.

X-Lite (pictured) Park and Pedro’s all do specific chain scrubbing brushes but if you’re skint, old washing up or toothbrushes do the same job but not as quickly or neatly. Make sure you scrub all the links thoroughly on all four sides to chase out any crap that’s hidden in there.

Big rubber beaked bird was always on the lookout for nest material.

Get the crap out of the rest of your transmission while the chains off too. Unless it’s really filthy, use the same brush and degreaser, as you did for the chain to save wastage.


Dry the chain using a rag or kitchen towel, making sure you wipe off any remaining craddock that might have rinsed back on. 



The ‘money shot’ equivalent of mechanical porn

If you use a dry wax based lubricant, (like Finish Line Krytech here) then this is an ideal chance to really let the chain soak it in and ‘set up’ properly before you put it back on the bike. Just remember to shake off the excess before you get wax everywhere.

Now it’s just a case of refitting your rejuvenated chain and looking forward to riding squeak free next time you’re out.

Top Tips Don’t want to go through all this too often?

If you’re looking for more running time between chain changes and new cassettes and chainrings to match them, then try alternating two chains. If you ride each one for a month at a time, it can slow down wear on tear on other components caused by chain stretch, which means less replacement and more cash in your pocket!

Next week:

Now we’ve covered the transmission it’s time to move onto that other maintenance heavy area – suspension forks. We’ll deal all the immediate after ride maintenance issues, how to set your forks up for your style of riding and how to do basic strip down cleans and check ups. We’ll also be covering basic tweaks such as travel adjustment and damping oil changes with the help of the experts.


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