by Chuck Harney
We often hear people complain about the lack of shifting efficiency, sluggish performance from their bike, or squeaky brakes. Sometimes the reason can be mechanical, but often it’s due to a dirty and grimy drivetrain, brakepads, braking surface, or all of the above.
Here are a few tips to keep your wheels running smooth:
Clean the Drivetrain for Optimal Peformance: To keep the drivetrain clean, first use a Citrus Degreaser to strip the gunk off your drivetrain. Keep in mind, this will also remove any Chain Lube as well. When re-applying Chain Lube, try to use the least amount of lube that will adequately lubricate your chain. Also, use a lube appropriate for your riding and conditions (dry vs. wet).
We’re happy to recommend the right Chain Lube if you’re not sure which type is best for your needs. When lubing the chain, let it soak in and then wipe off the excess with a rag. This helps prevent a buildup from developing. If you do this once a week or every other week, you will keep your chain grime free. This practice will keep your bike operating more efficiently, as well as protecting your chain from premature wear.
Riding in wet weather will require that you do this more often as you and your bike will be coated with any and everything from the road. In addition, after riding on a wet day clean your brake pads and braking surfaces of your rims with a wet rag or with rubbing alcohol. Think about the damage a brake pad coated with grime and dirt can do to the braking surface of your rim.
Cleaning Muddy Bikes: Another challenge is mud. The best approach is to deal with it immediately upon returning from your ride. Why? Because, if you let the mud dry, it’s more difficult to remove without scratching your frame. When you wash it off before it dries, it rinses right off – saving you scrubbing and possible paint-job damage. Be sure to apply lube to the chain, brakes and derailleurs after rinsing so that the water doesn’t cause squeaking and corrosion.
Proper Bike Storage: How you store your bike can affect how clean it stays, too. It’s best to keep it inside away from the aging affects of the weather. It takes a while, but even if the bike is under an overhang, if it’s stored outside, dampness in the air will rust the steel parts, ozone will attack the tires and sunshine will fade the paint. If you live near the ocean, it’s especially important to keep the bike indoors because the salt in the air will corrode things extremely quickly.
An easy way to store a bicycle indoors is to purchase an indoor storage rack or hooks. These devices will hold your bike by the wheels or the top tube and keep it off the floor and out of the way.
The Bike Rack is an independant full servie bike shop located at 1412 Q Street NW in Washington DC