This is the second part of a two-part article on bike cleaning made simple. The first part was posted earlier this week and is available on the Suggested by the Author link below.
The next thing to inspect is the brakes. Make sure that they are still centered and that the wheel is true enough not to rub on either side. Look at the cables to make sure there is no sign of fraying cables and that the levers feel smooth. Frayed brake cables should be replaced immediately. Listen to the brakes as they hit the rims to see if they sound different. Occasionally do a more comprehensive inspection especially if you hear something. Drop both wheels using a shop stand. If you do not have a stand, you can make do by hanging your bike using some rope and a tree branch or the rafters or a hook in your. Carefully inspect the brake pads for imbedded flecks of glass or grit. If you leave the grit in the pads they will wear down the brake surface of your wheels. Use the point of a thin knife to flick the grit out. If there was a lot of grit you can use a fine metal file to smooth out the pads. Don’t use an emery board or sand paper as they can leave fine grit behind. Clean off each pad with a wet rag so as not to leave any grit on the pads.
Then turn your attention to the drive train. Use a chain brush to clean loose grit off of the chain. Brushes such as the “Grunge Brush” made by Finish Line are a step up from a collection of old tooth and nail brushes. Others use snap-on chain cleaning machines with degreaser and rotating brushes. The main thing is to get something that you find convenient to use so you will use it often. The best cleaning tool in the world is useless if you find it hard to use so you do not use it as often as a simple brush. Then put several drops of chain lube on a rag and run the chain through it making sure to lightly cover both sides and the top and bottoms. I use ProLink for my chain, but there are several equally good products on the market. In no event should you use WD-40 to lube a chain. WD-40 was formulated for its intended use as a solvent, not a lube. It will remove lubricant from parts, but not replace it with a lubricant. It does get rid of household squeaks by cleaning parts not by lubricating them. Many a chain has been ruined by a helpful neighbor with an aerosol can of WD-40 “taking care” of a squeaking chain.
If you are feeling a bit obsessive you could also wax your clean bikes. For unpainted Ti bikes or clear coated covered carbon bikes this part is easy. Spray some Endust on to a rag and rub it on the frame. Do not spray it on the bike. You do not want to spray Endust on your rims or your next ride will be unnecessarily exciting when your brakes don’t work. For painted bikes you can use car wax on the frame just like on your car, but given the comparatively small size a much easier task.
This post-ride check up really takes no more than 15-30 minutes to accomplish especially when you have all of the items in one place in your garage.
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