In E-bikes, Lake Tahoe Biking, Mountain Bike, Mountain biking, Road Bike Ride, Road cycling, South Lake Tahoe Mountain Biking, Tahoe Mountain Biking, Tahoe Road Cycling

Cleaning Your Bike’s Drivetrain

Cleaning your bike’s drivetrain optimizes its performance and longevity.

Your bike’s drivetrain transmits your pedaling power to the rear wheel to move you forward. It consists of the chain ring(s), which are the large gears in the front attached to pedals, the chain, the cassette, which is the cluster of gears on the rear wheel, and the pulley wheels on the rear derailleur.

Overtime, unattended drivetrains can get a buildup of grease containing grime. This dust-dirt infused grime can clog up the chain and gears increasing friction and diminishing performance efficiency. Grime can also accelerate the wear on the drivetrain’s parts and lead to needing part replacement.

Periodically cleaning your bike’s drivetrain increases your pedaling performance and diminishes mechanical wear on the parts. Here is how to clean your bike’s drivetrain.

Getting started with cleaning supplies:

Bike Cleaning Supplies

Cleaning Supplies

• Soap or degreaser (I like Dawn dish soap)
• Brushes (long bristle brush or a bike brush claw tool)
• Bucket
• Water source
• Cloth rags
• Lubricant

Cleaning your bike’s drivetrain

Remove grime with long bristled brush

Cleaning rear cassette


Prepare some soapy water in your bucket or use degreaser.

• Start with the rear cassette. Shift the gears so the chain moves to one end or the other of the cassette to gain most access to the cogs.

Get in between the sprockets with your soapy brush and periodically dip the brush in your soapy water and clean thoroughly. If you have a brush claw tool, place the claw between the cogs and turn the pedals backwards. Then shift the gears to move the chain to the opposite gear from where you began. Depending on brush bristle length, if too short, you can use a rag’s edge and get in between the cogs, sliding it back and forth until clean.

• Derailleur pulley wheels. Since you are working on the rear cassette, the derailleur is right there too. An old toothbrush works well here by cleaning the pulley wheels. The pulley wheels can easily get grime caked on.

• Finally, clean the chain. Thoroughly scrub the chain with a brush.

• Now, rinse the entire drivetrain using a water hose or bucket of fresh water. Avoid using a high-pressure water system as it can force water into areas that can promote rust.

• Inspect the entire drivetrain. If you notice components are still dirty, repeat the cleaning process.

• Dry the drivetrain. You can wipe it down with a dry cloth or let set in the sun to dry completely.

• To complete cleaning your bike’s drivetrain, liberally lubricate the chain using your favorite chain lube. Let the lube set for a couple of minutes and then backpedal the chain to help the lubricant soak into the chain links thoroughly. Now, using a clean dry rag, wipe off the excess lube on all moving parts. Take your rag and place it on the chain, between the chain ring and derailleur, and turn the pedals backwards so the chain travels through your hand held rag – cleaning the sides and top/bottom. Leaving excess lube on any part will quickly attract dust and dirt to it. Notice how clean or not the rag is. Repeat until clean.

Using a rag to remove excess lube

Wipe excess lube off

By cleaning your bike’s drivetrain on a regular basis, it reduces grim build up and helps improve your pedaling power, reduces wear, and makes it easier the next time you clean because there is less grime build up.

Have fun with this easy way of cleaning your bike’s drivetrain and notice the improved performance and ease of shifting your gears.

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