Sunday, January 30, 2011

How clean is clean, and does it matter?

Clean cassette
On a ride with LanceOldStrong I looked over at his cassette and was amazed, if not stunned, to see how clean it was. Given the recent weather here anything short of filthy would have been an accomplishment, but this drivetrain went far beyond that. It was sparkly.

I'd been meaning to clean up my bikes, and my plans to put on a new chain pretty much mandated I at least clean the cassette. Inspired by OldStrong and using the "Anything worth doing is worth over doing" approach I ended up not only installing my chain and scrubbing the cassette, but cleaning the crud-encrusted disaster drivetrains on my commuter bike and Tricia's commuter bike as well.

What a mess. There is just no easy way to do it. I popped the bikes on my cheap wobbley stand and used several brushes, Orange Peel solvent, a plastic chain cleaner device, the garden hose, a ton of rags and a special cassette brush. Even with all that, there's no way, short of taking off the cranks, to really clean between the chainrings.

The worst of it was around the derailleur pulleys on the commuters. It was amazing they still shifted at all. Naturally, that area is really hard to get to and requires a toothbrush.

I am now covered with black gunk. My clothes may never recover, and my hands will be stained for days.

But the bikes are clean, and my cassette shines like a diamond in the sun, so it was worth it, right?

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