Saturday, September 19, 2009

Cyclists Unite! We Have Nothing to Lube But Our Chains!

More advice from ChipSeal

Home after the commute in the rain, should the bicycle be put away wet? Yes and no.

Steve noticed grit everywhere when he was done acting like a six year old, (Fifteenth comment.) and you will have a grit problem whenever you ride in the rain or at a beach.

Road or beach sand acts as an abrasive on your chain, gears, brake pads and rims. This is the stuff we want to remove after a ride in the rain. Then we want to re-lubricate the chain.

First thing when you get home, before you dry off, grab a rag and a hose and spray down your bike. I recommend doing this on the front lawn. If it is still raining, and your neighbors notice you, it will confirm their suspicions as to your mental state! If they ask you about it just say; "Don't worry, the bicycle likes it!"

Your first target should be the undersides of your fenders with the bike on its side. This will stop all that crud stuck under there from falling down on the newly cleaned parts or messing with your parking space. (For ChipSeal, that would be his bedroom.)

Then stand the bike up and spray downward over the entire bicycle. A hard spray can force water into the frame cavity through cable guides, water bottle screws and other tiny holes. It won't hurt most bottom brackets, but it can be hard on any part that has iron in it. (If it is "real", if you know what I mean!)

After a quick rinse, open your brakes and and give the face of the pads a good hard spray. Run your fingertips along the face and dislodge any grains of sand lodged there. This will keep the pads performance top notch and prevent deep scoring of the rim, extending it's useful life.

Many brake pads seem to melt in the rain. You may find your rims smeared with black residue and streaks down your fork and seat stays. Now is the easiest time to remove it while it is still wet, and why you brought a rag. In my case, my reflective tape's performance will have been compromised by this phenomena.

After a final rinse of your rims and brakes, close your brakes to avoid a surprise and spray down all of your chain and gears. Hard spray is fine. Don't be afraid to overdo it. Then park the bike where it can drip dry and get out of your wet clothes.

Later, lube your chain. I use a two step spray and wax lube method. Sheldon Brown didn't, but said there were many legitimate camps. So I will describe what I do, and hope not to start any fights.

I use White Lightning Clean Streak degreaser. This will remove all the lube and dirt left on your chain, and displace all that water as well.

I use cardboard to protect my rims from over-spray and later, over-drip. Spray the Clean Sweep generously on the chain while rotating it back wards in your favorite chain ring. The wipe with rags for about five chain rotations. If it is still picking up black, repeat the process. Then let it air for about ten minutes.

I use Rock and Roll lubrication "Red", or as I learned from their product site, "Extreme". I follow their directions, and I use it generously. This is a wax based lubrication, and it suits my cycling because it resists collecting dust. I a ride a bit on dirt roads.

These extra steps will diminish the extra wear your bicycle receives by riding in the rain. I will not take them if there is little evidence of grit on the bike. Once you see a gritty bike, you will see it is not hard to see.

If you anticipate a long ride or commute in the rain, you may want to consider taking along some chain lube to apply.

I have found a few parts on my single-speed to have an inclination to rust. The bolts on my stem and water bottle cages. You may wish to give them a shot of Pledge Protection Plus.

My wet cycling shoes get stuffed with newspaper for about ten minutes, and then I take it out and replace it with more dry newspaper.

And now it is your turn. What do you do when you come home wet?


RANTWICK said...

CS - First, excellent title. Second, my approach to maintenance after a wet ride is way way more lazy. When it comes to normal bike maintenance, I focus almost solely on the chain. After a big rainy ride, I'll just slop some more lube on the chain, unless it is due for a cleaning, in which case I take it right off and clean it using Sheldon's pop bottle method.

I prefer wet lube, and use Tri-Flow for most. I don't usually think about brake surfaces until they are filthy, and then (thanks to my friend Cafiend of citizen rider, I now know that rubbing alcohol works wonders.

HeidiTri's said...

Hmmm. I have much to learn!
Until now, my routine included drying off the frame and bringing the bike inside.

Wish I knew all of this before I took my bike to the Cape last year.

Steve A said...

Excellent. Now, are all these things from bike stores? The wax stuff sounds great. I use Simple Green as a cleaner & Finish Line Dry (from LBS) as a lube . The "Dry" is a lie - the crud gets all over my chainstay. I'm not wild about the stuff but at least it was cheap. Frankenbike; I just keep adding old fashioned machine oil to the chain. I may switch to gear oil - it is heavier & would last longer.

I can't release the pads on Buddy readily - is a swipe of a paper towel wet with rubbing alcohol a good substitute?

Steve A said...

This is an inspiration!

Trisha said...

Great tips, even better post title -- I laughed out loud.

ChipSeal said...

Eh, I missed on the title. I rushed it and didn't quote it correctly.

""Cyclists of the world unite! We have nothing to lube but our chains!"

Steve, this lube and degreaser is in stock at B&B Bicycles in Cedar Hills, my LBS.

I don't use rubbing alcohol, but then I am a teetotaler! I'm so lazy I am put off by the name.

I have found that the black brake pad gunk is removed easily when it is wet, and being lazy, attack it immediately.

I should have noted that brake pads designed for superior performance in the wet, like Kool Stop Salmon pads- -are not messy in the wet, and perform as advertised. (They have ones that will fit your brakes, don't be put off by the racing slant on the website.)

To all: Thankfully, the modern bicycle is a wonderment of elegant design, and is able to suffer years of abuse without complaint. These steps will put further into the distance when you will have to replace your chain, your chain rings and your rear cog or cassette.

Most bicycles take years to put on the miles that a regular utility cyclist will ride in a month, so limiting wear will be more important to us.

Steve A said...

Which brings up the future post of just how long we can make the chain & associated components last. If one is in pursuit of the elusive 10 cents per mile goal, such items are relevant.

Dottie said...

Wow, I'm sure your bikes thank you! Usually I ride my Dutch bike with enclosed chain and brakes when it rains; I don't have to worry about anything. If I ride my normal bike, I wipe the grit off the frame and the chain with a towel and then lube. Otherwise it will "squeek, squeek, squeek" constantly. I've never hosed my bikes, since that's pretty impossible living in a condo in the city.

I would advise against hard spraying a bike with internal hubs, as I read that it can leak and compromise performance.

Rollz said...

Great tip on the newspaper in the shoes. I used it twice today it works awesome.

ChipSeal said...

Dottie is right. I have heard that some folks power wash their bicycle, yikes!

When I dwelt in an apartment, I put my bicycle in the bathtub/shower combo to spray it down. It fit better with the front wheel off.

ChipSeal said...

Rollz: At least newspapers can be useful again!

Chandra said...

Nice post and great tips!

Now, I feel guilty. I rode in the rain but left the bike in the garage, as usual and DID NOT wash it. Shame on me!

Well, I will do it tomorrow!!
Peace :)

popeye cahn said...

I must admit I really don't ride in the rain anyway, mostly because it doesn't happen that often here in SoCal to be of any concern, even the coastal virga and occasional puddle slop drys up quickly.

I do clean and lube the drive train every so often as I see fit. Right now or rather the last time I rode it was squeaking to the rear of my behind so I think I'll drop some lube (T-9 Boeshield)on the chain and rear der for good measure.

cycler said...

Fantastic photo!
I love that he has an umbrella to keep his head dry as the rest of him is immersed!

ChipSeal said...

Yes, both of them put Steve and his Frankenbike to shame. It's like they were challenging his six year-old inner self; "You call those puddles? We'll show you stinking puddles!"

Steve A said...

He has forgotten the North Texas maxim of "turn around, don't drown!"

Looking closer at the photo, that looks like my second cousin Lee Son Steve and his bike, "Flying Frankenpigeon."

Velouria said...

Wow, you win! When it rains this badly, I opt out.

Six said...

Great post. Lots of good info for those of us who are inexperienced rain riders. Thanks.