I haven’t written about maintenance for quite some time because bikes don’t get too dirty on the trainer. I am as meticulous about the care of my bikes as my own lack of knowledge allows, so my road bike was clean as a whistle when I brought it in to my office for the winter. That said, my favorite place to clean drivetrain is on my trainer. It’s not the easiest, of course. Easy is putting it on the stand, popping off the rear wheel and getting to it… However, on the trainer is where I can really concentrate on some detailing.
Instead of cleaning the cassette with a brush and soapy water, if I take the pressure off of the rear wheel, once I’ve degreased the chain with my degreasing tool I can simply shift through the gears to deposit some of the drippings onto the cassette. Once that’s done a shop towel, folded in two, fits perfectly between each sprocket – a simple up and down motion with the towel (from behind the bike) cleans the teeth and advances the cassette. Shining up the cassette in this manner takes about two minutes. From there, I’ll get into the pulleys (the two wheels on the rear derailleur – if the grease is too caked on, use a flat head screw driver to get the big chunks off, then wipe clean) and then the chain rings. For the chain rings I always use my cassette brush dipped in degreaser to work on the tough to get places, such as in between the big and small chain rings. Then I wipe the chain rings down and dry up any degreaser still left on the chain (DON’T try do clean the chain rings without shifting onto a different one, lest you deposit old grease back onto the chain). Then I’ll wipe own the derailleurs if need be. Spit-shining the drivetrain takes about five to ten minutes depending on how fast I want to get through the process.
The nicest thing about cleaning the drivetrain on the trainer is that you’ll have a hand free to advance the pedals and shift. While this isn’t as awkward on a bike stand, if you haven’t plunked down the $150, it can be tricky.
Finally, through the “trainer” season I clean my drive train once a month, whether it needs it or not. The cleaner and more well lubed my bike is, the longer all of the parts last, and when you’re running Ultegra components, replacing them is not cheap.
Now, just for those who might wonder, “How clean should my chain, cassette, pulleys and derailleurs be”?
This is what you should end up with when you’re done (keep in mind, my bike is 14 years old – the components have some serious miles on them):