Clean It Right
A Clean Chain Means a Happy Drive Train (it also means a happy chain)!
In the old days chains were often cleaned in a coffee can with kerosene or turpentine (or gasoline or even benzene or, sometimes, cooked in molten paraffin. Ah, the good old days.) . Today's eco-friendly Citrus Degreasers used with sophisticated Chain Cleaner tools (photo, right) do the job in seconds and with little or no mess. All you have to do is put degreaser into the tool, snap it onto the chain and backpedal )Please remember that the used degreaser is filled with nasty stuff and should be disposed of carefully.).
Keep Your Clean Chain Clean with Finish Line's Grunge Brush
Finish Line's Grunge Brush is an economical and easy way to quickly clean your bike chain and gears when they aren't too dirty (an old tooth brush is even more economical and REALY amusing when someone fails to notice), which is the easy way to keep your drivetrain from ever getting too gunked up. This thin, stiff-bristled brush fits into small places and can be used "dry" to remove the heavy stuff, or the bristles can be moistened with degreaser to do a more thorough cleaning job. Then you can wipe the chain and cogs dry with a rag to finish the job.
Clean The Drivetrain With Speed Degreaser
For keeping the rest of your drivetrain spic and span, give Finish Line's Speed Degreaser a shot: it actually works quite well and is pretty much a unique product in it's category. This super-duty cleaner features a powerful turbo sprayer and is formulated with strong, fast drying biodegradable cleaning agents. Speed Degreaser will clean the grimiest of drivetrain parts in just seconds — it's that fast!
Floss Your Bike Teeth
Finish Line's Gear Floss is an ingenious tool that makes cleaning your cogs easier and faster than ever. It also fits into any nook and cranny on your bike for ease of cleaning hard-to-reach areas. It's made of intertwined micro fibers in a 20-inch rope. The micro fibers attract and hold grit and grime great making cleaning easy. Use Gear Floss to clean your cassette cogs, derailleur pulleys, bottom bracket, chainrings, brakes, pedal/crankarm interface and more! A less expensive alternative is the cotton yarns sold by the yard at many craft shops.
Lube It Right
Lube The Chain
The chain is the heart of your drivetrain and a dry or dirty chain can seriously degrade your cycling experience. It makes your bicycle signicantly harder to pedal, can cause annoying squeaking, and on a bike with gears it can hamper the shifting too. To avoid these issues and keep your bike running right, keep your chain clean and well lubricated at all times with Finish Line chain lubes. Unless you get a kick out of carrying small animals and birds along with you on your rides, we strongly advise against lubricants like crank-case oil. Also, while WD-40 makes a rather nice line of bicycle specific lubes, the eponymous product is the last thing you should think of when you are lubing your bike, though it does make a rather nice solvent.
Lube The Derailleurs
Besides the chain, it's important to lubricate the front and rear derailleurs too since they're working hard with every shift. They have pivoting parts, springs and pulleys to move your chain from cog to cog and chainring to chainring. To do this smoothly, efficiently and quietly, and to minimize drivetrain wear and tear.
Lube The Brake And Shift Levers
The brake and shift levers on your bicycle also have important working parts, springs and pivots that need to be kept clean and lubed so that you can brake and shift optimally. We recommend using Finish Line's dry-style lubes. Run your levers through their range of motion while applying lube to the pivot points. Also, apply lube to the adjusting barrel threads to keep them turning easily and to prevent corrosion. We, of course, don't have to remind you NOT to lube your brake pads, do we.
Try Finish Line's Double Shot Oiler
Cyclists commonly ask us what the right way to lubricate a chain is? We're partial to Finish Line's Double Shot Oiler. This cool tool is your lube and application tool in one. It delivers a measured amount of Finish Line lubricant right where it's needed link by link.
It ensures no missed links, no wasted lube, no mess, and no drips on the rear wheel. Plus, the Double Shot screws onto all Finish Line squeeze bottles so you can use it with your favorite lube. The Double Shot is the fast, accurate and mess-free way to lube your chain.
More specifically, we recommend a wet lube for riding in the rain or for a more quiet drive train and if you don't mind cleaning your drive train a bit more frequently, dry lubes (like Tri-Flow) if you want to keep your drive train clean and don't much care about drive train noise, and wax lubes (we prefer T9 Boeshield, shh! don't tell Finish Line) if you don't mind frequent application but you want to maximise chain life.
Just Don't Overdo it
Remember that lubes are designed to be sticky in order to adhere to their target. As a result, an over-lubed bicycle (particularly an over lubed chain) can end up attracting every stray bit of grit, debris, small rodents and passing birds (we originated this bit of wit and are sill waiting for our royalty check). This is not only messy, it is hard on your drive train and can be hard on your trousseau and upholstery. Lube it but try and keep it neat and reasonably clean.
Don't Just Clean Your Bike — Detail It!
Get It Nice And Clean With Finish Line's Super Bike Wash
After a long mountain-bike ride, or a long winter in the basement, treat your two-wheel pride and joy to a complete washing. It's fast, easy and fun with Finish Line's Super Bike Wash (or a dilute solution of "Dawn" dishwashing detergent). It has special surfactants and cleaning agents to quickly break down the dirt and grime that tends to accumulate on your bicycle frame and components over time and it sprays on for ease of use.
Make Cleaning Easy With A Brush Set
You can use a sponge or a rag to clean your bike, but we think you'll find it a lot easier and even more fun to do the job the way the pros do: with special brushes made for the task. Finish Line makes the perfect (and unique) set. There are sizes and shapes that make cleaning the frame, wheels, hard-to-access places, and even the tires easy. Plus, all the brushes are designed to clean but never to scratch your frame the way abrasive and/or dirty rags and sponges can.
Give Your Baby That Showroom Shine
An expertly polished bicycle looks fantastic and even seems to ride more easily. Plus, modern frames and components are made of high-tech materials and feature quality finishes, so they are designed to be shiny, bright and stylish. More importantly, polished frames and parts resist dirt and moisture so they stay cleaner longer. These are all reasons why you might try Finish Line's Showroom Polish & Protectant. It's an easy way to keep your ride beautiful and it also provides a protective film that resists abrasives, repels water and inhibits rust! We prefer "Lemon Pledge" furniature polish which has the added bennefit of hiding small scratches in titanium frames when applied with 000 steel wool.
Other Stuff To Do
Maintain Your Seatpost
We recommend removing your seatpost every few months and applying a thin layer of grease (for alloy posts) or carbon-prep (for carbon posts) to the part that goes inside your frame. This will ensure that the seatpost never corrodes and seizes inside the frame and it also keeps it easy to raise and lower your seat to adjust it.
When we say 'seizes inside the frame' we are not just whistling Dixie. Removal of a seized seatpost is one of our least favorite, most demanding and expensive jobs. It involves the careful demolition of the seatpost until it can be crushed and pulled from the frame. It can take three or more hours with no guarantee that the frame will survive and we charge for every second no matter how the frame ends up.
Don't be afraid to apply grease to carbon fiber components. a properly cured carbon bit or piece is virtually inert. No solvent you are ever likely to come into contact is going to affect it's integrity.
Lube Your Suspension
Oil-damped suspension systems require some TLC in order to keep working smoothly over the years. For basic maintenance, keep the gaskets, O-rings and stanchion legs lubricated with Finish Line's Stanchion Lube (photo, right). And, most shock makers recommend having the shock oil replaced with new oil once a year. Finish line makes a particularly nice line.
Caliper brakes squeeze the rims to stop you, so it's important to keep the rims clean of any rubber deposits from the brake pads and clean of grime and dirt, too. Finish Line's Speed Degreaser works well for this (as does a "Scotch Brite Pad"). Once the rims are good and clean, check the brake pads. Glazed, hardened or dirty pads can cause a loss of braking power and squeaking noises. Brake pads with embedded bits of grit or metal will rapidly chew through your rims. Clean them by scrubbing off any debris and hardened glaze with sandpaper and carefully pick out any debris.
Whether cable or hydraulic, disc brakes offer impressive stopping power. But to maintain it, you have to keep them clean and the ideal way is with Finish Line's Speed Degreaser that easily removes both dirt and glaze off the rotors. Just be sure to replace the pads if they get chipped or contaminated with grease and grime. And keep those grubby, greasy fingers away from the disk unless you like that high-pitched, finger nails on chalk board noise every time you hit your brakes.