Got any snowy commute derailleur &/or bike rinsing advice?
Today was my first snowy ride. I’m pretty happy with my level of warmth thanks to some great advice on this board & from REI (except for cold fingertips – ouch!).
About a mile into the ride, though, the derailleur got very funky.
I ride a 24-speed Trek Navigator (“comfort bike”) with Shimano derailleurs.
I keep it pretty well cleaned & lubed, and no moving parts appeared to have extraordinary slush buildup.
This morning I rode salted/plowed streets and part of an unplowed trail in Frick Park.
The front derailleur was the worst of the two: barely responded to the “clicks” of my shifters, then would jump around of its own free will. The rear derailleur was only slightly more responsive.
Could this a temperature-related thing? Any advice?
What is your technique for rinsing/desalting you bike? Do you do it once you get to work or just at the end of the day?
I rinsed all the moving parts with warm water, then wiped everything lightly dry and spun the chain around a few more times.
It has a wet winter lube on the chain and I used triflow on the moving joints and cables of the derailleurs.
internally geared hub with belt drive. problem solved.
I would suggest getting full-wrap fenders if you don’t already have them. That will keep a lot of crap from flying onto your front derailleur and feet.
A fixed-gear bike will solve all of the above except the rinsing/desalting question. An old fixed-gear bike will take care of that one.
cold fingertips – ouch
I put mittens over my gloves (Which, in turn, go over my glove liners).
I tired to get mittlens that were just plain thin cloth at REI this saturday. They had thin cloth mittens – in women’s S and XS sizes. I wanted them in men’s XXL to fit over my gloves and sit in my backpack. For when I leave the house when it freezing, but its really, REALLY cold when I come back.
Various other things I wanted for winter they didn’t have. It made me think that they sell “outdoorsyness” similar to Stephen Coulter’s “truthiness.”
As long is it stays well below freezing, I just leave my bike outside. Until it thaws, desalting isn’t such an issue. Also, if you rinse your bike off, it’s very hard to get it dry enough to prevent things from freezing up. Yes, in the cold, derailleurs can get balky. Lube gets real thick. Everyone knows that WD-40 is not a good lube, but I rely on it in the winter because it addresses both problems.
@Ricky: I’m pretty sure what I have is a full wrap front fender. No rear fender, though.
@morningsider: ha ha. I like my granny gears + if I rode a fixie around town people would probably start shouting ‘cougar.’
I switched to bar a end shifter as a friction 1×8 and didn’t have any issues with shifting today. Full fenders keep all the junk off if you don’t already have them. I don’t rinse my bike at all anymore, just wipe it off at the end of a wet day and lube the chain.
@lyle: good point about leaving it outside. I have a large office & am allowed to bring the bike in, which may not be such a good idea if it’s salty.
@rsprake: Interesting about switching to the friction shifters. I don’t know too much about how the “clicky” ones work  internally, but it did occur to me that the problem could be w/ the shifters & not the derailleurs.
What about “rinsing” the components with windshield wiper fluid?
Whatever it takes.
When It gets really cold, I am the Pillsbury doughboy.
Norwegians say there is no such thing as bad weather, simply inadequite clothing.
+1 on full fenders WITH a long mudflap on the front. Unless it’s really, really messy, full fenders with a flap with keep most stuff off the shifty bits.
Can you tell from the photo above
(scroll ^^^^^ thataway)
if my fender and flaps are as long as you’d advise?
I wouldn’t use wiper fluid on a nice bike, the alcohols and solvents in it can mess up a variety of paints, adhesives, rubbers, and plastics. Stick with water, wipe it down and dry it off as best you can (if it is indoors) and lube it up when it is mostly dry. I think we were probably at the same winter riding thing at REI. Someone (maybe you?) asked about washer fluid and the two guys looked at each other and sort of shrugged and said, ‘sure why not!?’. I resisted lecturing the lecturers.
You aren’t going to find a better solvent to dissolve salt than fresh water. If you don’t have a basement or something like that, and you have a nice bike, what I might suggest is you brush off as much of the shit you can with a dry rag outside and bring the bike into the shower with you.
Shifting problems are likely cables, though could possibly be derailleur pivots or the shifter mechanism. You could diagnose by letting the cable go slack and pulling by hand, and by moving the derailleurs by hand, feeling for what is sticking. Check the shifters by loosening the pinch bolt on the derailleur and pulling gently on the end of the cable while shifting.
If you haven’t replaced the cables and housing in a while, that’s not a bad place to start…
You know, I honestly can’t remember the last time I cleaned any of my bikes besides when they are filthy with mud from trail use. I clean the chain when it starts making noise.
People are usually doing more harm than good in constantly “cleaning” their bicycle by forcing water and contaminants past the bearing seals and washing away all of the oily and greasey goodness that keeps things working well.
@dwillen: thanks. yeah that might’ve been me who asked that @ REI, but I held off trying it precisely due to the concerns you describe.
My basement has a great floor drain: I’m more wondering what to do at work. Maybe I’ll take Lyle’s or BradQ’s advice.
@johnwheffner. I’ve NEVER replaced the cables & housing (except brakes). Thanks, I will try your suggestion.
Heh, you want to wash it more than once a day? I am doing real good if I wipe mine off more than once a week, and it would be a miracle if I washed it with any sort of water spray more than once every few months. Maybe that will have to change the more I ride on days like today? I lubed up the chain with a winter lube and one application of that seems to have lasted for a couple weeks now. I have full fenders on front and back.
You might want to consider a rear fender also, as it is, your rear wheel is spinning crap off right into the workies of your front derailleur, so that might be the problem.
Also, pay attention to the little slots where the cables run under the bottom bracket, they are out of sight and easily neglected. Keep them clean and greased.
That particular design of front derailer is really prone to stop shifting in near freezing weather. It gets gummed up with spray from the rear wheel much worse than other designs.
Fenders will cure a great many of your problems.
last winter I only wiped mine off a few times. I used a dish soap/water solution, and then wiped it with a wet rag after.
I clean my bike really often, every morning if the weather is bad. I bought a little sprayer at Home Depot for about $10, the kind you pump up by hand and I keep it at work. I keep the bike in my office, so anytime there’s gunk like salty snow stuck to it I spray it off. It takes about ten minutes, then I bring it in and set it on a board over the office rug. I posted before about how fast it dries, its all dry by 9:30 AM, I start work at 8. I don’t like the idea of a winter beater bike, I want my best bike in the winter !
I would say your flaps should be like this, or maybe this. Any shorter, and stuff will still get sprayed on your bottom bracket. You can make the flap from just about anything. Currently, I’m using a piece of stair tread, and before that, I had one half of a water bottle.
I agree with Brad: I used to be crazy about cleaning my bikes. Then I got a fairly pedestrian commuter, and I wipe it down every few weeks (just with a rag) and clean/lube the chain.
If your bike is super clean, you’re spending all that time washing it that you could be riding instead.
+1 for the sprayer from Home Depot….although I learned the hard way to not leave it outside on freezing days…..
+1 to Brad. Santa Cruz did an informal test a few years ago where they had three trail bikes and through the seaon they washed one constantly, one only after really muddy rides and one never. The occasionally washed bike was in the best shape when they did the season end teardown, followed closely by the never washed bike. The constantly washed bike was a wreck.
On a related note… what’s the difference between a winter lube and a regular lube? Is winter lube more tacky? I usually use ProGold, but that’s only lasting me like 20 miles before I have to reapply more. (My rear cassette and derailleur were covered in slush however)
Winter lube is really thick. At room temp, it is around the same consistency as honey.
in winter i use the same pedro’s syn lube on my road bikes that i used year round on my mountain bikes. it has detergents in it that help keep the chain form getting all bound up with crap. in the summer i use pedro’s ice wax or other similar “dry” lube for my road bikes. the mountain bikes get dirty all the time so they always get syn lube.
OK, my problem is the derailleur cable. Thanks, @johnwheffner.
My fingers were warm today! I used old department store gloves (spandex w/ thinsulate…kind of like those cheesy isotoners) under the lobster claw gloves. Happy.
I hate to disagree with the chemist, but the chance of washer fluid hurting your bike (any more than water) is very slim.
Most washer fluid is very mild compared to a general purpose degreaser. In fact, some washer fluid is literally blue water. Big Lots is notorious for selling dyed water without anything else in it.
Even washer fluid with boosters and additives is still relatively mild.
The only damage I have ever seen from washer fluid was staining on oxidized white paint.
Also, to agree with Lyle, (which I hate to do), WD-40 is a great solvent (and a very poor lubricant).
Like Brad, I rarely clean my bikes.
I’m going to try and wash my bike tomorrow. It’s fairly crusted in salt now.
yeah, the rack on my rear tire has a nice layer of salt over it…
Washer fluid they sell in the summer is pretty much blue water. “Winter” washer fluid has a large percent of alcohol in it. They don’t even sell the winter stuff in California, because it fails to conform to their environmental protection laws or something of that sort. People always complain of frozen washer fluid when they make a trip up to Tahoe to ski.
So I guess it depends on what sort of washer fluid you’re buying.
yesterday evening the chilly dark solitude of my ride home was accompanied by my chain squeaking in two part harmony. Today I plan on applying some lube to it…
I bought lube over the summer. I think I have finishline xcountry wet lube. Is this the right thing to use now that it’s not summer? I figured I’d follow the directions in my Park Tool bike repair/maintenance book. Is there an avoidable flaw in my plan?
I know this is like asking about a plan to tie my shoes, but in the past many brilliant plans have later invoked “it seemed like a good idea at the time…”
All windshield wiper fluid has chemicals in it. The summer version is close to something like Windex. The winter version adds something (typically methanol) to lower the freezing temperature. You can buy “concentrate”, which will be undiluted alcohol.
If you think about it, the exterior of a bike is much like that of a car (paint, plastics, rubber, etc) so you’re unlikely to watch your bike dissolve before your eyes. The notable difference is lubricants which on a bike are exposed. The reason to use WW fluid is if you need to keep your bike outside and plain water would just freeze. Some of us have this problem.
I’m not a chemist but I expect that a less reactive alcohol (such as isopropyl) would make sense as the additive to water. Then again, if you do your rinsing on a sunny winter day you might get your bike to dry before icing becomes an issue.
so, looking at my bike, and listening to it, it has the “creaky door” sound going on when I pedal. It’d be tough to describe any better than that. Maybe the salt is causing it?
@rubberfactory: I have a creaky sound on my bike, but it’s my (aging) saddle. Do you know where the sound is coming from?
bottom bracket, I think. I’m terrified of bottom bracket problems ever since I went up a tiny, not even steep incline and my bb just fell apart into a million pieces.
That time, though, it was already loose (I didn’t even know what a bottom bracket was, or that it could fall apart), and I check mine almost unreasonably often to make sure it’s not loose these days.
That latest issue of Bicycling covers noises pretty well.
Methyl alcohol, ethylene glycol, and water are going to be the main ingredients in washer fluid.
If you think washer fluid is going to strip of lubricants, try cleaning greasy hands with it–washer fluid is not a very aggressive solvent at the solution.
The MSDS we have on-file for the Prestone De-Icer Washer Fluid we stock, lists the alcohol content between 16-40% and the water content at 60-100%.
My point is, cars are made out of the same materials as your bike and no one worries about washer fluid doing any damage (and I deal with extremely anal car people with disgustingly expensive cars).
I wouldn’t wash my bike with it, but it won’t do any damage if you did.
(Not all washer fluid has chemicals in it, Big Lots, Dollar Generals, etc often gets caught selling “washer fluid” that is literally just water.)
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