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Tori’s Tips:: Maintenance Arsenal

Stock your bench and know when to grab the big guns…

There are a few basics that every home shop should have for basic bike maintenance. Here’s how to decide what and when to grab to help keep your bike rolling fresh and free wheeling.

There are a few basics that every home shop should have for basic bike maintenance. Here’s how to decide what and when to grab to help keep your bike rolling fresh and free wheeling.

Basics: Every shop should have all of these close at hand.

  • Rags—for all purpose cleaning. Old t-shirts, underwear, and retired towels work great. You can also buy fancy ones from the hardware store. Bike grime won’t wash out of these, so if you use a rag up, throw it away and grab a new one. Too much grease left in the rags from cleaning will destroy your washer. (And no, that doesn’t mean just take it to the laundry mat. Throw. Them. Away.)
  • Toothbrush: You need a new one anyway, right?
  • Stiff bristled brush: Park Tools, Pedro’s and many other brands make great ones that also are useful for getting into nooks and crannies.
  • Pokey tool: Basically, a sharp scribe to help pick, poke and finagle out the dirt from small crevices. Dental tools work well.

Degreasers: This list goes from least toxic and powerful to most.

  • Dishsoap in water. Works fabulously in a bucket for quick general frame and wheel cleaning. Use with a gentle hose rinse or if you really like to get close to your bike – in the shower.
  • Citrus or Eco: Citrisolve, Simple Green, Finish Line Citrus Degreaser, Pedro’s Bio-Degreaser are all examples of non-toxic (when used as directed) biodegradable cleaners that kick butt on grease and grime. Generally, you’ll want to spray these on and wipe clean. The main caution with these, despite their “eco-friendliness”, is that they are strong enough to eat through clear coat and the anodized coating on parts if used with too much elbow grease or not immediately wiped off. If you have some really tough grime, you might want to move up to the next level.
  • WD40 Bike Degreaser: This is somewhere between dishwater and a spray-on degreaser. It’s thick like shampoo so it doesn’t get everywhere and spray all over your bike where you don’t want it. The real bonus is that it rinses clean in water—making the whole job amazingly quick and easy, with infomercial like results. (Side note—this get’s the Gracie’s Wrench seal of approval!)
  • Petroleum/Chlorine Based (warning: use gloves or skin protection): WD-40, White Lightening Clean Streak. These are the big guns. They are in no sense eco-friendly, bio-degradable or good for your lungs or skin. However, if you’ve got built-up, tarred-on grime, this is the quickest way to get chains, cassettes and chain rings clean.

 Lubricants: The bike runs better when you lube regularly, most importantly after cleaning.

  • Chain Lube: Many believe a household oil will suffice but a good quality bicycle chain lube is formulated to penetrate and not leave too much behind, making it the much better choice. If you live where it’s wet, stick to a lube that’s oil based and a medium or wet level. If you live under the sun, a dry lube may work better. Use it on your chain and pivot points of the derailleur.
  • Bicycle Grease: Most threads on your bike require lubricant before they’re screwed in. This is also great if you’re servicing your bearings. (Note: if you notice threads on a bolt have a red or blue plastic substance on them, do not lubricate! It’s likely a thread locking component, so grease is not necessary.)

 

By Tori Bortman – Gracie’s Wrench, Portland, OR