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bike cleaning home | tri-newbies online home
tri-newbies online bicycle cleaning & maintenance 101
Cleaning the Bicycle Wheels and Rear Cassette/Freewheel
After cleaning the chain, I then move to the back of the bike to clean the rear wheel and rear cassette/freewheel. This does require that you remove the wheel. And you want to perform this step AFTER cleaning the chain because dirt and grime from cleaning the chain will make its way down to the cassette/freewheel. NOTE: With the exception of the rear cassette/freewheel, you will perform the same steps on the front wheel as well. If your cassette/freewheel was gunked up with dirt, the shifting may be off just a bit once it is clean. Therefore, after completing the bike clean-up, practice shifting the gears and adjust if necessary. 
1) After cleaning the chain, I then move to the back of the bike and begin cleaning the wheel and cassette/freewheel. To do this, it is best to remove the rear wheel. And you find it much easier to remove if you remove the chain from the chain ring. First make sure the chain is shifted down to the small ring of the front crank system. Then take your index finger wrapped with a cloth (photo 1) and start at the bottom of the chain ring. Place your finger between the chain and chain ring, pulling down on the chain just a bit so the chain is about a half inch off the ring. . Then, run your finger along the chain, while slowly guiding the chain to the inside (photo 2). Then drop the chain to the inside of the chain ring, resting it on the bottom bracket tube (photo 3). This wil release the tension of the chain and allow you to pop off the back wheel. 
2) Fill you plastic container with some degreaser (photo 4). Grab your toothbrush, your container, your rear wheel and an old t-shirt or rag to lay accross your lap. Find a comfortable place to sit and get ready to clean that wheel! (photo 5)
3) Once the rear wheel is removed, remove the skewer. (photo 6). It is fairly simple. Just unscrew one end. Once removed, loot at the springs to see if there is a build up of dirt/grime. If there is, drop them in your container filled with degreaser to soak while you clean. If the springs are clean, then reattach the skewer so you do not loose any of the parts and put it off to the side (photo 7).
4) As mentioned in step 2, lay a cloth or old t-shirt across your lap to keep the grease and grime from getting all over you. Dip your toothbrush into the container and begin scrubbing away at the cogs of the cassette. Make sure to get in between the teeth. Be liberal by keeping the brush wet and clean
(photo 8). 
5) Once you have given the cassette a good cleaning with the toothbrush, take a rag and make a fold pulling tight enough to slip the fold in between each cog
(photo 9). Now, the cassette will only move in one direction. So, once the rag is between the cogs, turn the cassette with the rag then drag the folded cloth backwards cleaning a small portion of the gap. Continue the back and forth motion (similar to a ratchet wrench) until you complete the circumference. Then drop down to the next gap. Do this until you have cleaned between all the cogs. Repeat this step by folding the cloth in a new spot, apply some grease directly on the fold and run through each gap again. This will pick up any loose dirt and grime (photo 10)
6) After cleaning the cassette, take the rag adn wipe down the hub (photo 11)
7) Clean the spoke nipples. Dip the toothbrush into your container of degreaser and scrub the spoke nipples. The spoke nipples are usually neglected and shouldn't be. If ever you have a loose spoke, it is important to be able to tighten it. If your spoke nipple is rusted or oxidized, you will not be able to adjust it. After cleaning the spoke nipples, wipe down the hubs and spokes (photo 12).
8) Finally, shoot a little Teflon spray in the shoot of the hub before putting skewer back on the wheel
(photo 13).
 
 
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