Bicycle maintenance | 2 MIN READ

How to keep your bike's gears shifting perfectly

In our last segment we paid attention to a perfectly clean chain. Now we want to make sure your gears work perfectly.

Clean and grease the inner cable

First, remove the outer cable cover from the stops on the frame. This will allow you to slide the outer cover along the cable so you can lubricate the shifting cable. With the outer cable loose take a clean rag coated with degreaser and wipe down all visible section of the inner cable. Any dry section we will rejuvenate with a little cable grease.

The best way to grease the inner cable is to place the grease on a rag and draw the cable through the rag while holding pressure on the rag with your thumb and finger. We want to avoid any globs of grease on the cable and force as much grease as possible into the strands of the cable.

Repeat this process on each section of cable that you can access. 

Clean the front mechanicals

Now spend time cleaning the front mechanicals. First use a small brush such as a tooth brush and plenty of hot soapy water and scrub inside and under and all around the front chainrings and derailleur. There will be plenty of dried grime in here so be diligent. Use a piece of rag to “floss” around the mechanicals and you will have them gleaming in no time. Once the area is dry use a sparingly amount to lubricant on all the joints. This area is under constant stress and really likes to be lubricated to work smoothly.

Clean the rear mechanicals

Next turn your attention to the rear mechanicals and since you now have a bright shiny cable you must make sure the jockey wheels in the rear derailleur are clean and free of the oily gunk that builds up on these parts. Take a small flat head screwdriver and place it on the jockey wheel face while you rotate the cranks to turn the jockey wheels thus allowing the screwdriver to scrape all the oily build up off these parts. Repeat the same process on the inside of the jockey wheels (watch out for spokes on your knuckles). 

With the serious gunk gone take the toothbrush and some degreaser to clean the jockey wheels and then towel the derailleur dry dry before lubricating the jockey wheels with a very small amount of lube. This area collects lots of dirt and dust so after lubricating use a rag to wipe any excess lubricant away.

Clean the cassette

The cassette is your final stop on the bike maintenance express. The cassette has lots of places for 

stuff to hide. Using a old spoke end to pick away between each ring until you have all the big stuff out. Now go to work with the hard bristle brush and hot soapy water and scrub the cassette clean of remaining grung. Use a little degreaser to lift stubborn spots. This area see lots of dirt and dust so try your best to clean both inside and outside of the rings.

Take your “flossing” rag and run it between all the rings and in no time you will have a nice clean cassette and crisp shifting gears. You’ve been at it for an hour and now it’s time to go for a pedal on your nice clean bike.

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