Those grimy derailleurs

Winter brings harsh conditions. Road grime, salt, sand, and slush can wreak havoc on your drivetrain. My winter commuter was abused over the summer and fall months. Getting my stubborn, grimy derailleurs to shift smoothly again was a time-consuming adventure.

Considering the fact that I was about to buy a new pair of derailleurs, though, it was cheap and worth it. I posted some good info over on another Crooked Cog Network site: Blue Collar MTB. I know quite a few readers are planning on riding through the winter. For those of us without single speed or internally geared bikes, this will probably help.

Continue Reading: De-Crustifying Derailleurs

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0 thoughts on “Those grimy derailleurs”

  1. Paul in Minneapolis says:

    After pedaling through three winters I found the perfect winter/foul weather bicycle. A Dutch style bike; it has an internal 8 speed transmission with a rear drum brake and fully enclosed chain guard. It is a Trek L200, they were sold here in the US back in 04 and 05. I really lucked out when I found this one. Next, I am ditching the sidewall generator for one built in the front hub, along with brighter lights. Living up north with all the winter ice, I will add studded tires. I don’t think a bicycle can be so easy to care for and still be fun to ride.
    I still love my fast and trailer pulling derailleur bikes, but now I can opt for a carefree bike and enjoy the ride with out all the time-consuming-cleaning and adjusting. Too bad the US subsidizes gas (at a great cost to everyone) and not transportation bicycles!

  2. Quinn says:

    Luckly this winter hasn’t been bad yet, and luckly 2 of my 3 bikes are single speed, so I can ride those on the worst days, although I am thinking about setting one of them up as a Dingle Speed (2×2), so I cam able to use it as a winter-long daily rider.

  3. Doug says:

    Thanks for the needed info. I’ve been riding non-stop to work every day since May, rain or shine. So far the weather here in NH has been cold, some rain and only one morning of slush. Right now I’m using a mountain bike daily. During the summer I switched to street tires and now I’m back to the knobies. Monday I’m expecting the studded tires I ordered. I can’t wait to show them off to my co-workers:) There is nothing more enjoyable than peddling by my heavily frosted vehicle in the morning knowing that I don’t have to scrape the windows! I’ve been looking on Craig’s List for a second bike to use for the winter but I have not seen one available that’s close by yet. Any suggestions for a winter bike? My commute takes me up a long hill in the morning that finds me shifting down.

  4. John in Portland says:

    Thanks for the info. Last winter, I was constantly maintaining my deraileur. Next to that, I spend oodles of time keeping my brakes up. This year I haven’t had to touch anything, and probably won’t, since I upgraded to internal gears and brakes. Just keep that chain lubed! Also, with generator hubs you don’t even have to worry about batteries.

  5. Paul in Minneapolis says:

    @Doug, My internal geared hub with the 38 chain ring and low gear is comparable to my hybrids 36X30 gear that I use on 98% of hills in the twin cities. Both of my derailleur bikes have a gear for climbing telephone poles, too. With internal geared hubs the sprocket can be replaced with higher or lower to fit the rider’s needs. Internal geared bikes are costly, unless you find a good used one. It is nice not spending one or two hours after getting home cleaning my drive train on messy days. Sheldon Brown has a good write up on internal gears.
    My comute is ~8 miles, with some hills, one I hit 30+mph desending and only need my 36X30 to climb.

  6. Noah says:

    Let’s keep it kind of on-topic. I did mention that this was for those of us who don’t have the luxury of Fixed/Single/Internal Gear. The merits of various drivetrains a easily another post, another time.

    I was wanting to convert my winter bike to a Nexus 3. I can get the hub for cheap but the spokes, rim, and build labor will put me over budget for the time being. My mountain bike has suitable drop-outs. Maybe next winter.

    It ended up being a lot cheaper to just give these derailleurs a good degrease, clean, and lube. I spent about $20 on supplies that will probably help me keep the bike shifting smoothly all winter long. As more people start looking at their old beater bikes and start tuning them up for the winter, I figured this mechanical tip would come in quite handy.

    I know that any bike shop would have tried to bully me into buying all new derailleurs if a quick shot of tri-flow or some other lubricant didn’t immediately un-stick them (it didn’t, I tried that). That’s at least $80 or more. My time is worth money, but the time and expense of taking it to a shop was a good trade off for me this time.

  7. Midtown Flyer says:

    “I know that any bike shop would have tried to bully me into buying all new derailleurs if a quick shot of tri-flow or some other lubricant didn’t immediately un-stick”

    Not all of us wrenches. Had you brought your bike to our shop, I would have scoped out the derailleur, and either cleaned it in our professional grade parts washer or done the same thing you did. It would have depended on how busy we were on that particular day.

    Then you would have got my 50 cent lecture on keeping your parts cleaned regularly and how to lube them.

    This would only have cost you $10.00. And you would go away with the knowledge of how to clean your own part in the future. We figure you will come to us to buy your lube and parts, and do the more complex bike work in the future if we are honest with you, don’t overcharge, and help you out by teaching you how to do the basics.

    All this aside, this was a very good article – and you are helping out alot of people by providing this information. Keep up the good work

  8. Noah says:

    Sorry to paint all techs as money-hungry. That wasn’t my intent.

    I don’t know. These were BAD, especially the front. It took a good half hour of scrubbing and soaking before I could get it to spring back to the small ring position on its own, and more scrubbing and some tri-flow to get it to do so smoothly. Couple that with surface corrosion (it’s a 10-year-old bike and these are OEM parts) and I’m pretty sure most techs would have written the front derailleur off. The rear wasn’t quite as bad.

    The manager of the shop I bought 2 of my bikes from (who’s also the best wrench in the shop) has always been helpful and will let me watch or tell me over the phone how to do something. Keep in mind that this kind of rapport has come with 2 years of frequent interaction, many a 24-pack of good local brew and the like.

    If there’s one piece of tech advice that trumps all others, it’s “always be friends with the wrenches at your shop!”

    Seriously, though, my FD took more than a modicum of dedication, but it still turned out great, and thanks for your comments 🙂

  9. Paul in Minneapolis says:

    Back in the fall of 2005 I was relying on my bicycle more and more. After reading about how fast the chain rings and cassette can be destroyed by a chain that was not maintained,
    I started buying spare parts off Ebay. It took me several months to learn about which parts would work on my bike and find them at really cheap prices, usually high end parts in very could condition. I had only one bike then and accumulated three chains, and an extra whole drive train. If I didn’t have time to clean parts after rain or slush all I had to do was exchange the chain and what ever was needed, then I could clean the parts later. The chains I used were Sram with the easy off and on master link. Being able to remove the chain easily is great when cleaning, but I had the master link come unhooked twice wile riding. The last time I never found the pieces to the link and had to use the chain tool on the multi-tool to repair the chain as it was in the middle of nowhere. As to cleaning parts, I prefer citrus cleaners, I let the parts soak overnight and they cleanup fast. Within a year I bought my second bike, and then I could use the other till I had time to do the cleaning”

  10. By the looks of your downtube, I’m guessing you don’t use full fenders and mudflaps? I’ve found that a full front fender with a mudflap that hangs almost to the ground will cut out a lot of the salt-sand-moisture bath that your chainrings, chain, front derailleur and bottom bracket would otherwise get. Even with a both fenders, the drivetrain still gets slimed, but less so than without. Frequent cleaning and liberal use of Phil’s Tenacious oil still recommended.

    Also, it’s too bad Lizard Skins apparently no longer makes the Grunge Guard rubber derailleur covers. Pain that they may have been to install, they kept the pivot mechanisms clean.

    It isn’t just the derailleurs, either. Last winter I had the canti studs on my winter bike rust to the point where the calipers would no longer disengage from the rim. A major pain that I wrote more about here.

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