Cleaning the drive train

Something I always do and keep on top of is cleaning the drive train… and by that I mean

  • Chain
  • Cassette
  • Chainrings

I figure that if this is kept clean then I’ll reduce premature wear of the components and have a smoother running bike.

baby wipes, a cyclists best friend!It is a quick job to do if you keep on top of it, and really easy if you use the infamous baby wipes!

(excuse the pictures, but taken on a phone in a field in France where I am currently sat :) … hard life innit!)

So, with baby wipes at the ready here is how Johnny cleans his drive train!

First up, if you have a workstand, put the bike onto it, it has to be the best thing I ever bought for bike maintenance. The ability to turn the pedals, spin wheels and hold the bike at whatever angle I want it is fantastic.

But, since I am sat here in a field, I will make do by leaning it against my truck!

cleaning the chain with a baby wipeOK, to clean the chain I simply wrap a baby wipe around the chain and turn the pedals to run the chain through the wipe.

These things are magic for removing all the gunk that builds up on your chain, and in no time at all you will find you have a black and mucky wipe on your hands… at this point simply use a new wipe and continue until you have got all the muck off.

chain muck on the wipe Lovely huh, and all this stuff would quite happly start to grind away at your components if you didn’t remove it.

This isn’t oil remember, I never put oil anywhere near the drive train, just a ceramic based lube.

This muck is road grime, pure and simple, and best removed regularly in my opinion.



Anyhow, once the chain is clean, I move onto the cassette. To do this I first remove the rear wheel. Remember to click onto your inner chain ring and a small rear cog in the cassette to make life easier.

cleaning the cassette with a wipeTo clean the cassette I simply use another wipe and run it through between the cogs, the freewheel will catch and turn it for you which is handy.

Change the wipe when it becomes too mucky or tears, and keep going until you once more have a nice clean and shiny rear cassette.

It shouldn’t take long, and proves you don’t need a fancy cassette cleaning brush.

Once I have cleaned the cassette I normally clean the rims, spokes and hub, just wiping them over and then check for any wear to the braking surface.

Once done, replace the wheel and you should have a clean chain and clean cassette!



Finish Line lubeAfter giving the front chainrings a wipe off, it is then time to apply a little lube to the chain. As said I tend to use Finish Line ceramic based lube.

I’ve tried other lubes, but this stuff seems to do the job nicely and if it aint broke, don’t fix it!

Give the lube a good shake as it often separates in the bottle, and then you are ready to apply!

To do this I simply hold the bottle above the chain, and slowly turn the pedals to run the chain past the bottle nozzle.

This seems to dispense a drop onto each link, and this is where you want to aiming. No point in lubing the fresh air between the links!

Once I have lubed one side of the chain, I then move the nozzle over and lube the other side.

applying chain lube to the chain links If you have a quick link in your chain then it is easy to use it as a start point so you know when you have been around the entire chain.

After application, I click through all the gears both front chainring and rear cassette to ensure the lube is on every surface applicable.

Once this is done take an old rag, in my case a tea towel donated by Mrs Johnny, and run the chain through it to remove any excess.

There you go, a clean drive train and lubed ready for action!

All you should be left with is a small pile of mucky used wipes, and a tea towel that you had best be hoping wasnt mean to be used again for its original purpose!

mucky wipesa tea towel that will never dry another plate!

Johnny’s favourite stores