December 22, 2008

A clean drivetrain makes for a happy rider…

For the last few weeks the roads around here have been horribly dirty and, worse, covered in salt. My chain was turning brown and the muck had got everywhere making gear changes hesitant and best and sometimes non-existent. The front derailleur was stuck on the middle ring and would not move at all. Time for drastic action…

So, at the weekend I gave everything a thorough clean. The chain came off and was subjected to the Sheldon Shake, followed a good overnight soak in oil to make sure the oil got into all the joints. It was then hung up to allow the excess oil to drip off and finally wiped to get all the oil off the outside of the chain. You want lots of oil in the joints but ideally none on the outside. Oil on the outside just attracts all the muck from the road. It was amazing how much dirt came off the chain.

While that was soaking, the deraileurs were properly cleaned and oiled – much easier with the chain off so you can move them backwards and forwards to work the oil in and the muck out.

And the result of all that is that every change this morning happened first time, crisply and predictably. In fact, I had got into the habit of slightly overshifting the rear, to make sure of the change, and now sometimes I’m getting two-shifts for the price of one. The shifters are meant to do that if you push them far enough – I just need to get used to the fact that everything now works properly again! And being able to use the big ring on the way down the hill on Westwood Heath Road meant I could get beyond 30mph without danger of spinning out. And the whole things makes so much less noise!

All-in-all and much more pleasant ride, and well worth the few hours of time spent on it.

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