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Tutorial: How to clean and lube your bike for winter

Cyclist magazine
9 Dec 2019

With the weather closing in fast, make sure your bike’s prepared

The average car advert is more likely to show the fantasy of racing along deserted, sun-drenched roads rather than the more prosaic reality of a lonely man stuck in traffic on a rainy motorway slip road. And similarly, cycling is sold to us with the promise of warm, carefree days spent riding under clear skies. In the UK? Come off it!

If you haven't done so already it’s time to prepare your bike for winter. We show you how to get your bike ready even if you’re not…

How to lube your bike for winter

1. Clean chain using cleaning machine

Ensure the bike is in gear, and the chain can be back-pedalled freely. Fill the chain cleaner up to the line with solvent (use a chain-specific product) then attach the device into place on the lower section of the chain.

Ensure the chain is seated between all the rollers and sponges inside the chain cleaner. Snap the lid closed.

2. Back-pedal

Holding the chain cleaner firmly in place with one hand, use the other hand to rotate the cranks backwards at a steady rate. Around 30 revolutions of the cranks should be sufficient to give your chain a thorough scrub.

Make sure you hold the chain cleaner straight and steady to avoid accidentally derailling the chain off the chainrings and getting jammed.

3. Clean/dry with rag

Once done, unclip the top of the chain cleaner and remove it carefully to avoid spillages.

Decant the dirty solvent into a separate container and let it settle if you want to reuse it, or dispose of it appropriately.

Wipe the excess off the chain and leave to dry.

4. Apply lube

As the weather gets harsher, it’s worth switching to a slightly heavier lube. This is because frequent showers can quickly displace thinner alternatives.

Place a drop on each chain link. Finish Line make this handy applicator to help apply lube without dripping or excessive wastage.

5. Lubricate the cables

Cables suffer in wet weather. To get at them to apply some lubricant, shift the chain into the largest chainring and sprocket.

Then, with the chain still in place, shift down into the smallest without pedaling. This should create slack betweent the housing and the inner cables, allowing you to squirt on some oil.

6. Oil the jockey wheels

If they’re mucky it’s a good idea to wipe down the jockey wheels before cleaning the chain.

Check they’re not too worn. Having dealt with the chain, drop a little light oil (chain lube will also do the job) onto the centre of each jockey wheel.

This will help keep them spinning smoothly.

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