Sunday, 15 October 2006

Cleaning the bike

In the spirit of automotive maintenance seen in Brett and Melanie's blogs, I decided to clean my bike today. I hadn't done this before. I'd been putting it off, but yesterday I went out to buy all the supplies.

First, warm soapy water to clean the bike in general. Rinse off with hose, dry with chamois. Spray mechanical bits with WD-40, especially the front - it's meant to stop bug splatter from sticking to anything. You have to be careful to avoid getting any WD-40 on the chain though; apparently it's a little too good at penetrating the chain links and dissolving the grease lubricant inside.
After cleaning everything else, it's time to clean the chain. Kerosene and a toothbrush removes the grime and drives out any water splashed on the chain from cleaning. I really need to get a rear wheel stand though, to be able to rotate the wheel freely. I had to get up, move all the towels and buckets, and roll the bike backwards a bit each time I finished cleaning a section so that I could expose the next length of chain. Time consuming and tedious, but not too hard. I'm afraid I got a few oilstains on the concrete from having to move everything each time though. Ah well - rental property :P
Man that chain had a lot of gunk built up on it. Anyway, once clean, you take the bike for a quick spin to warm the chain up - apparently you should apply lube to a warm chain. Because I'm paranoid, I put on all my gear to to for a <5-minute ride around the back-streets. Felt a bit silly - and a bit hot! - but better safe than sorry.
So back home and time to lube the chain. The manual says to use only 30-50w motor oil as a lubricant. I couldn't find any though. I don't actually know what the numbers mean, and all the products on the shelf were labeled Xw-Y, not X-Yw. And there wasn't any X=30 Y=50 in any case. So I figured Castrol chain lube would be alright, despite what the manual said, because after all it's made for O-ring bike chains like mine.
So I repeat the work-a-bit,-roll-the-bike-a-bit routine, but at least this is easier and quicker than cleaning with the kero and toothbrush. The packaging says to apply the lube sparingly, so I trust it, but I always hate not knowing what someone means when they say "sparingly". I hope I used enough. The lube gets applied to the inside of the chain, and you take the bike for another quick spin to use centrifugal force to spread the lube all through the chain links. Repeat gearing-up-for-5-minute-ride. And then home and done!
Only, the brakes don't work so well now, even after I used them several times to get rid of any moisture on the discs. I wonder if I accidentally got some WD-40 on the discs or something... presumably lubricant on brake discs is not a good thing :D I'll leave it overnight, try another ride, and if it's still a problem I'll try cleaning with kerosene.

Overall though, I feel like I've taken another important step along the path to becoming a proper biker :D


Brett said...

woot! Nice work Nick :D

Anonymous said...


Use de-natured alcohol. It'll take the oil off and it airdries clean.

We use it at the bike shop to clean greasy parts as well as disc brake pads and rotors.

Melanie's D

Anonymous said...

Hey Nick

I will see if I can remember this correctly, but the 30-50w oil is the viscosity of the oil.... The reason for the two values is that it is a mixture of two types... Basically the twp types perform differently at higher temps etc.. Therefore you don't want it too thick when cold, but you don't want it to thin when hot....

If I remember correctly, 30-50w (w stands for weight) is about the same consistancy as diff oil I use to put in the cruziers. Thought it's mean a while....

If you are really interested, I can search out my diesel fitter books and find it out for you exactly.