Been riding alot and getting really dirty. I read alot of material on cleaning my bike, specifically the drivetrain. I spent a hour the other day cleaning the chain and cassestte with a toothbrush and degrease. Neither were very clean when I was done.
I brought it to my friends house, who is a seasoned vet, and he looked my bike over before a big ride. He immediatly started spraying degreaser directly on the cassette and chain. Both ended up very clean. After lubing the bike back up, it worked better then ever.
He claimed this method was fine for the bike. My question is, Is this method of spraying degreaser directly on parts (chain, cassette, and derailers) potentially harmfull to the hubs and bottom bracket. Or is this a safe method if done correctly and carefully. I obvioulsy dont trust my friends.
Double-metric mtb man
It is a quick, easy and potentially (though not always) harmful way of doing it. It gets stuff clean, but can make it a lot easier for degreaser to get where you don't want it to go.
For my chain, I find a chain cleaning box does wonders for the "bulk" dirt and a little time with a chain brush and cloth finishes the job. For the cassette, I prefer the folded rag and some elbow grease...working it carefully between the cogs and down to the spider... everything gets good and clean and there is a lot less potential for degreaser getting where it shouldn't.
To keep drivetrain wear to a minimum the only place you want lubrication is between the chain bearings/rollers and the point where the inner and outer plates overlap. In an ideal world (haha), cassette sprockets and chainrings should be completely dry as collected dust will combine with whatever fluid is present to create an abrasive surface.
So, by applying degreaser directly to sprockets/rings, before you even get to using an appropriate lube on the chain you're dealing with a wet drivetrain. Not only is it wet, but any degreaser left on the cassette/rings will immediately start to break down whichever lube you run on your chain. I'm sure you can work out the progression...
In my experience, applying cleaner/degreaser directly to the drivetrain will leave you with more problems than you had before you started. A quick fix, perhaps, but you're making more work for yourself and will get less mileage from components, especially the chain.
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I agree w/ SteveUK. That quick/easy method might work but in the long run you'll get degreaser where it shouldn't be. Drivetrains work better and last longer when its not sloppy w/ lube, degreaser, dirt, or anything else.
When you used the toothbrush and degreaser you didn't really clean it, you just redistributed everything. The toothbrush only loosens the grease.
I find that most of the grease can be removed from the cassette and chainrings w/ a dry rag (no degreaser). Use the degreaser when the stuff is caked on and won't just come off w/ a rag.
Beside removing the cassette for a real cleaning the best thing you can do is use strips of rag between the cogs like dental floss (the thickest pieces of rag you can get away with). Then use a rag to wipe between every tooth (it gets harder as you get to the smaller cogs, then you have to be creative). Do the same thing to the chainrings.
Cleaning the chain is easiest if you have one that can be removed w/ a quicklink, like those found on SRAM chains. Shimano chains should not be removed for cleaning since you weaken the pin when you do this.
If you can remove the chain drop it in an empty gatoraid bottle (wide mouth bottle) w/ mineral spirits. Shake then pour the m.s. into a second gatoraid bottle (this stuff can be reused indefinitely since the crap settles out to the bottom). Then rinse the chain in hot soapy water, then rinse clean.
When its dry put it back on the bike and put one small drop of lube on every roller of the chain. That is, apply the drop of lube to the top of the roller on the inside part of the chain.
Any more lube than this is a waste and will just pick up dirt and grime to wear down your drivetrain + make future cleaning a pain.
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Great advice from 3 smart guys above.
Indiscriminantly spraying/applying anything (except perhaps water) near the drivetrain is a bad idea - be methodical & careful even when lubing your chain.
One reason has been covered above - minimize goop for dirt to collect on & keep appropriate lubes/degreasers/whatever only on the specific part(s) you want them on, and secondly - keep ALL of that crap well away from your disc brake rotors & pads or your wheel rim!
I don't think the degreaser is really ever needed. I just use the hose and a brush. Brush the chain cassette and cogs while rinsing with water. I use an old toilet brush and a gentle spray of water. Then I let it all dry and re-lube. I ride in fairly muddy conditions and this method gives me great results.
I don't use degreaser unless I'm doing a full rebuild. I don't like the idea of it getting into the brackets and what have you and "degreaseing" them.
For regular maintenance I just use some soapy water a rag and an old tooth brush. I clean the drive train every weekend while wiping and relubing the chain before most rides.