We all love riding our bikes – in the city, on the trails or long fast rides out of the city. A well-maintained bicycle is critical to ensure the bike rolls smooth and fast, definitely, requires a lot less maintenance, and clean bikes last a lot-lot longer and save you a ton of money.
Degreasing, Cleaning, and Lubrication are the maintenance activities required to be performed regularly and can easily be done at home or by your local bike shop.
Our bikes have plenty of moving parts and require some form of lubrication to ensure efficiency and prevent wear and tear. Unlike automobiles, bicycles have a lot more exposed components to reduce unnecessary weight and lubricants/grease end up gathering dirt and grime which can not only reduce the life of the component but also reduce performance.
A degreaser is used to break down the old, grimy lubrication on the bicycle so that it can be replaced by smooth fresh lubrication in the form of oils or grease depending on the place of application. Degreasers are typically harsh in nature, need to be used sparingly and are used liberally on the major drivetrain components – chain, cassette, crank, derailleurs – to ensure they are clean.
NOTE – avoid using degreasers on components other than those mentioned above. For example, if degreasers are applied on a hub, it can strip the much necessary grease and damage the moving components which would grind against each other without the grease. Best would be to take your bike to your local bike shop once a year and have the experienced bike mechanics strip the entire bicycle down and degrease, clean and lubricate as per the required spec.
A good degreaser, when paired with a good brush set, will make drive train maintenance much easier. Old rags and toothbrushes can be a makeshift option too, to get rid of stubborn grime from those though to get at places.
Bike cleaners are designed to be used on bicycle frames and components once the heavy grease has been stripped out using a degreaser. Bicycle specific cleaning agents ensure delicate components like bicycle seals, plastic components, and the paint job are handled with care and prevent any side effects. These definitely help to make washing a bicycle that much easier.
These products are not strong as degreasers, and cannot be used instead of a degreaser. They are typically used on frames, saddles, wheels and other hard to reach parts to strip light grease/lube on them. Again, having proper bike specific wash brushes help to ensure we can reach those nooks and crannies and make it so much easier to wash a bicycle fast.
Step three of the cleaning process – after degreasing out the old grease, cleaning the surface with a bicycle specific cleaner, its time to ensure we apply the correct lubrication to ensure the bicycle is ready to be ridden. Lubrication helps in reducing the friction between components, ensures the ride is smooth and also prevents wear and tear of the rubbing components.
There are two major forms of lubrication are Grease and Oil.
Grease is generally applied on ball bearings, cables and threaded areas on the bike. Grease is used while installing fixed components like seat post, headset as this helps to ensure components don’t seize over time.
Bicycle Oil (bicycle lubricant) is majorly used on the drive train components of the bike – chain, cassette, derailleurs and the crank. Oils are less viscous, and hence easily slide between the chain links to help in smooth movement of the chain.
We have three major kinds of bicycle lubricants
- Dry Lube: best suited for dry and dusty conditions. It leaves a thin coating on the chain which does not attract dust; this would be an ideal choice when riding in dry conditions.
- Wet Lube: more viscous compared to a dry lube. They are well suited for wet riding conditions; they stick on the chain even during rains.
- All Weather Lube: These are more generic that are suited for all riding conditions.
Remember, a well-maintained bike is fun to ride. By taking care of these D.I.Y maintenance activities of – Degreasing, Cleaning and Lubricating – you can enjoy your cycling a lot more and also ensure maintenance and replacement costs are minimized.