Pinkbike and BikeCo.com
are excited to bring back the mechanical “how-to’s” with the new Tech Spotlight articles that you can expect to see on the last Tuesday of every month. Joe Binatena, BikeCo’s owner and world class mechanic, will help walk riders through a variety of tasks, from basic jobs like the bike wash shown here, to more advanced work that you'll be able to read about in the future. We aim to provide readers with a gauge on difficulty and risk for these projects, and also encourage you to post any questions in the comment section below when it comes to things that need more explaining.
The Functional Wash
|Difficulty: low - no special tools required, and only basic common sense needed to perform. |
Risk: low - while there is little chance of damaging the bike, you should know about the chemicals you're using and be aware of any contamination that could occur.
When performed correctly you will minimize shift and chain drop issues, improve component reliability, and even help maintain maximum resale value. When performed incorrectly you not only sacrifice all of the positives listed above, but also open yourself up to more work, paying for service, replacing damaged components, and even possible component failures. So, here we set about showing you good techniques to help keep your bike riding right and increasing service intervals across the board. Performing a functional wash should take only between five and fifteen minutes, and it's something that can be done quicker once you have your routine down pat. There are a few things to be aware of, though, including overspray: Murphy’s law says things are going to go where you don’t want them, so don’t help it along by spraying at poor angles. It's also good to get into the habit of only using the water and supplies that you need to get the job done. Less is more, after all.
Tools for the Job:
• Workstand: No, you don’t have to have one, but it makes every service task on your bicycle easier. Easier means you will do it more often, and doing it more often means things last longer and you have more money for trips rather than parts.
• Bike specific cleaner: Bike specific cleaners account for carbon fiber, aluminum, titanium, and disc brake pads and rotors. While most bike wash is safe on brake systems, avoid all degreasers - it doesn’t take much to chemically foul your rotors and pads.
• Chain lube
• Bearing or dental pick
• Step 1 -
Mount your bike in the work stand. Be aware of how you position the clamp if you have an adjustable seat post. Here, Joe has marked his seat post height with blue painters tape and extended the outer tube for clamping. This protects the post's stanchion and cable, while also being a good time to assess your seat post / frame interface. If you have difficulty rotating or extending the seat post you may have the beginning of a fusion issue caused by contamination. If so, remove the post and thoroughly clean the interface. Electrolysis fusion typically takes a while to occur, so rotating and extending your post during a wash will almost totally eliminate the potential trouble down the road. This is a great example of an ounce of prevention being worth a pound of cure - a fused seat post in your $3,000 frame is a huge issue that is time consuming and high risk to solve. Also note that the FOX D.O.S.S seat post's cable is not clamped by the workstand's head, but rather routed around to prevent kinks or it being crushed.
• Step 2 -
Here we see Joe using a spray degreaser on the chain to ease cleaning. Take note of the spray angles in each photo. In the front he sprays towards the three o’clock position on the chain ring, away from the bottom bracket. On the cassette he sprays at roughly the nine o’clock and directly behind to avoid accidental rotor exposure and minimizing potential hub exposure. Once around the chain is enough if your bike is getting functional washes regularly, with keeping the buildup to a minimum being the difference between a quick run through and a huge project. Also, remember that degreaser is only used on the drivetrain. • Step 3 -
With the degreaser still on the chain, Joe begins to spray the bike wash. Less is more with this one, so use just enough to get the job done. Bike wash is sprayed directly onto the frame. In this case the bike is dry, but it does depend on the brand as to whether you need to spray the bike first. The fewer times Joe has to spray his bike, the happier he is with bearing life, etc. While they do list this particular bike wash as being brake safe, Joe minimizes any contact by lightly spraying a thin stream near brake assemblies. • Step 4 -
Here are four ideas to control water when washing your bike. You will note that the upper photos are utilizing a spray rather jet. The jet is used on the chain and seldom anywhere else, and water should be angled to avoid blasting bearing systems. Headsets, bottom brackets, hubs, and suspension linkages are all susceptible to premature failure if they have water forced into them, so take care not to blast suspension seals! Even in dry, dry Southern California it isn’t entirely unusual for BikeCo’s mechanics to open a bottom bracket, or hub, or frame and have water come out from aggressive washing. If you think you were aggressive with your hose it may behoove you to pull the seat post out, flip the bike and see if water comes out of the frame. • Step 5 -
Cleaning the boogers off your pulleys, cassette and chain rings goes a long way to keeping your bike running well. Buildup on derailleur pulleys happens quickly and will negatively effect your shifting equally as fast. The time you take to lube your chain before each ride is also a great opportunity to knock off the buildup, and one of the first things to look for on a bike with a relatively fresh drivetrain and shifting issues is pulley buildup. On occasion we will see pulleys that have so much buildup that they appear to be completely circular, but the amount shown here on Joe’s derailleur is likely only from one or two rides. The same buildup on your chain rings not only affects shifting, but can also create chain drop issues on a single ring setup. A seal pick helps Joe easily clean in the tight quarters, although a dental pick will work equally as well. • Step 6 -
Joe uses a rag to finish cleaning the chain. As shown in the top sequence, he grasps both sides of the chain, and while back pedalling firmly closes his fingers against his palm while rotating his wrist to the right. This action, coupled with the chain ring teeth pushing loose debris to the outer radius, works extremely well. A couple times around with the rag engaged near the rear derailleur and you are done with excellent results. • Step 7 -
Cleaning the drivetrain also makes for an ideal time to review its condition. While you are cleaning the chain on the ring (use the largest on a multi-ring crankset
) use your hand to feel for links that are flared, bent or sticky. This is a great habit to get into between race runs, and only ten or fifteen seconds of checking a chain could prevent disaster. As you backpedal the system, review tooth condition on your cassette and chain rings. Bent teeth will stand out very clear when the system is in motion. • Step 8 -
When you dry your bike, take into account the coating. This bike features a matte finish and a large field of white. We have found that the finishes on most bikes seem to dull if they are aggressively dried. Joe uses just enough rubbing to eliminate any grease or finger print marks on the light colours. The less rubbing a frame endures, the longer the finish looks factory. • Step 9 -
We recently came across this 'Hard Part Dressing' which brings carbon and other parts to a finish that may be better than the day you unboxed your new bike. For lack of a truly technical term, it seems to give the carbon a “wet” or “liquid” appearance, even on matte bikes. Here again we see Joe using a good spray angle - you do not want this anywhere near your brakes so spray a bit into a rag rather than directly onto the bike and go to work. • Step 10 -
It's now time to lube your chain. For dry, sub-two hour rides we suggest thinner dry lube. For rides longer than two hours Joe has been experimenting with a combination of dry and wet lube. ''I find that if I use a dry lube and let it totally dry, maybe even apply it the day before, and then use a bit of wet lube on top of it, there is a substantial performance benefit on three or four hour rides,
'' he says. It seems that the dry lube creates a surface that will slightly absorb or hold the wet lube. This keeps the wet lube from flinging off, which keeps it on the chain longer. The dry lube also seems to provide a primer that easily wipes off with the wet, providing a better looking, better functioning chain. Safety check the bike and you’re ready to ride.We hope that you found tips in this that will help you better maintain your ride. If you made it this far, checking off your good cleaning habits along the way - awesome, you’re doing it like the pros. We will look forward to the next installment here on Pinkbike on the last Tuesday in February. If you have an idea that you would like to see on Tech Spotlight please email Nate@BikeCo.com to let us know what issues you’ve had that can’t seem to be solved and we will put Joe on the task.www.bikeco.com