April 5, 2011

Spring Cleaning: A Thorough Cleaning of The Bike

Last Saturday I went and did an informal mini-triathlon. I started off at a local pool, then biked down by the Huron River, and then ran around the neighborhood at home. When I started out on this adventure the sky was blue and the birds were chirping; it was a beautiful spring day. When I came out of the pool to bike the sky was a little more cloudy, but I decided to press on. A few clouds weren't going to stop me, right? Just before I got to Dexter (about 10 miles into my trip) the sky opened up and gave me everything it had. I got all four seasons in about a half hour. There was heavy rain, snow so thick I had to pull over for a while because it caused white out conditions, hail that pierced my cheeks, and sleet that seemed to easily drive through all my layers of clothing. I got home, and by this time it was back to being sunny and nice out. I went on my run and on the last few blocks of the run it started hailing really hard again. "This is true Michigan training," I thought to myself as I cleaned myself of icicles and random road debris. Later I went to go wipe down my bike and that's when I decided it was time for some spring cleaning. It had been a while since I had given the machine a good and proper washing. This last ride made it a total mess.

Since it was too cold outside to run a hose comfortably I took the bike downstairs, into the laundry room. I prepared a bucket with some warm water and a dab of dish soap (just enough to make a few bubbles on the surface). Next to me were three rags and an old toothbrush. I took one rag and wet it with plain water and wiped down all the non-oily parts of the bike. Then I took another rag and wet it with the soapy water and wiped the same parts. With the third rag I dried all the wet parts. In order to get to the hard to reach places I took the wheels off. The front wheel is an easy one to take care of, but the back wheel requires a little more dexterity. I've found it's easier to deal with it if it's in the smallest gear. Once the rear wheel was off I started taking care of all the oily parts (as in the drivetrain). First I used the soapy rag on the chains. Then, when that was exhausted I took the old toothbrush to it. The rag got most of the oil and dirt from the exterior of the chain, but inside there was still plenty. Using the toothbrush, with the bucket below catching the runoff, I was able to (very slowly) make my way around the whole chain and get it far cleaner. Then I rinsed the chain with the hose (bucket still below) and tackled the gears in a similar fashion. Once all the gears and chain were rinsed and dry I grabbed some lubricant and got it lubricated, making sure to shift through all the gears before wiping the excess off.

Drivetrain before cleaning

Drivetrain after cleaning

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