Maintenance Monday - Bike Magic

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Maintenance Monday

Legs still suffering from the wear and tear of the weekend’s riding? Then think how your bike is feeling, just slung in the shed without so much as a pat on the saddle. Our new maintenance Monday slot is designed to give you the mechanical first aid knowledge you need to keep your bike ready to ride at all times.

We figured you’ll be resting not riding on Monday, but that doesn’t mean you can’t play with your bike. Invest a bit of time now and it’ll also pay you back handsomely in savings on prematurely worn parts.

Part 1 Working on the Chaingang

Nothing cripples your bike faster than a seized chain, and nothing wears out cassettes, chainrings, jockey wheels and the chain itself faster than leaving it filthy. The sooner you clean and relube your chain after a ride, the less time it has to corrode, stiffen, and generally degrade. Do it immediately after a ride while the kettle is boiling for a cuppa, and it’ll be a whole lot easier.

Top Tip: Word of warning: spinning chains, grease, lube and degreaser mulch are not compatible with delicate interior decorations. Scrub up outside or face the consequences.


There are a whole load of products available to make this easier. While some just don’t work well at all, others are best in specific conditions – whether that means sandy, sloppy, muddy, gritty or regular river riding.

Round here (North Yorkshire) Finesse’s (0800 2986116) snotty multi -lube gets our vote for winter and their dry lube or Makt chain lube for summer. For cleaning we normally just use a gentle hose and brush, with Weldtite degreaser or X-lite’s rather savage Muc Off saved for stubborn stains. My favourite cleaning stuff has to be the comedy ‘spray on snow’ multi-cleaner from Finesse but it doesn’t last long. A quick once over with X-Lite bike spray stops rusting while in storage.

Down south some in the office use Finish Line Wet (Madison) for winter as their dry lube rapidly goes squeaky if it’s not summer. Meanwhile Cullen proves he’s king of lube with the arsenal he uses to proof his bike from the ravages of Epping forest. “Finish Line Krytech wax or Silkolene heavy duty motorbike oil spray on the chain though the Makt stuff is great. I clean that off with a mixture of Halfords chain cleaner and Finish line Bio degreaser, while the rest of the bike gets a swill with Finish Line pink bike wash, Stinky’s Bike wash ( or blue Fairy liquid before a rinse and all over spray with GT85.”

Another well-liked lube is Rock and Roll chain oil ( Otherwise we reckon the best bet is to see whose bike squeaks least at the end of your next group ride and ask what they use. Forum favourites we’ve seen recently include motorbike chain wax and chainsaw oil, so be prepared to experiment.

Several companies also produce chain-cleaning baths with brushes and degreaser sumps inside. Clip them on the chain, pour in the degreaser, whirl the pedals round and out comes a clean scrubbed chain. They’re fast, clean, easy to use and last a long time making them well worth the £20 – £25 they cost.


Whatever you do, read the instructions beforehand. Muc Off can strip paint off if you leave it on too long neat, while wax lubes like Krytech need time to soak in and harden or they won’t stick.

If you’ve used an oily lube then chances are it’s collected a load of muck that will soon form a grinding paste on your chain. Clean the chain as thoroughly as possible with a degreaser but be careful not to degrease suspension bearings or freehub / bottom bracket assemblies as well. Brushes are more accurate than spraycans, and you can get right inside all the links and spocket crevices to chase out hidden filth. Park (Madison) and X-lite both produce special brushes for sprocket cleaning though an old toothbrush or rag will reach most places.

If you haven’t got a workstand turn the bike over to make sure you’ve done behind its ears. Remember, the more thoroughly you clean, the smoother your bike will run.

Don’t forget to clean jockey wheels, sprockets and chainrings too.

Leaving degreaser on the chain will strip off new lube just as well as old lube, so make sure you wipe / rinse it off as thoroughly as possible. A gentle hosing or an old rag works well, just make sure it isn’t going to leave loose threads in your transmission.

Now you’re ready to oil up with your chosen lube. Remember that wet sticky lubes will cling on but also collect crap, while dry lubes normally just won’t cut it in winter. Waxy lubricants can work really well in some situations but are often a right arse to “set up” correctly on the chain. WD40 and GT85 will fall off almost as fast as they spray on. As we said earlier, ask around and see what works in your area and with your riding / maintenance style.

As for application, if you’ve got a dropper bottle make sure you hit every link, but if you’ve got a spray can make sure you don’t lube disc brakes and wheel rims too.

Next week:

Clean bike = happy bike.

We tell you how to wash behind the gussets without getting soap in the seals.


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