“A clean bike is a fast bike.” It’s something that many of us repeat to ourselves as we summon the motivation to clean our bikes, especially before big rides and races. And it’s true: a clean bike’s drivetrain and brakes simply work better, so you will feel faster. Plus, when you clean your bike, you have the chance to closely inspect it, which means you are more likely to catch small problems before they become ride- or race-ending problems.
Step 1: Pick your venue
First, find a suitable place outside to clean your bike. Depending where you live, you may be able to set up a semi-permanent spot, complete with a bike stand, hose and cleaning supplies, for easy, frequent bike cleanings. But maybe that’s not an option for you, or you’re traveling? Consider using a bay at a local car wash, or borrow a friend’s driveway or lawn and hose.
Step 2: Assemble supplies
No matter where you clean your bike, it’s helpful to create your own portable bike cleaning kit. Key elements should include soap, degreaser, a chain cleaning kit, brushes of various sizes, a sponge, polish, old towels and rags. Store it all in a bucket that you can travel with and use during cleaning.
Step 3: Take care of your drivetrain
Because drivetrains are typically covered in lube, they attract dirt, mud, sand and other grit. Use a chain cleaning kit with degreaser to thoroughly clean your chain. Taking some time to scrape the accumulated gunk out of pulley wheels, off chainrings and from in between gears will make your drivetrain turn more smoothly, which means less effort to pedal. Use degreaser and a brush to get that gunk off; water alone won’t do much.
Step 4: Use soap and scrub
Although it’s tempting after a long hard, dirty ride to simply hose off your bike, which is still better than doing nothing, it will get much cleaner if you use soap and scrub. Despite all the marketing hype, no special soap is needed; dish detergent works great. Simply add some soap to your bucket and fill with water. If it’s a cold day, use hot water – it’ll be easier on the hands.
After initially spraying down your bike with water, use a sponge to soap up your frame, fork, wheels and other parts. Use a scrub brush for extra effectiveness wherever grime is caked on. Remove your wheels to get to hard-to-reach places. Last but not least, don’t forget to soap up your drivetrain so you get all that degreaser off.
Step 5: Rinse
Rinse your bike with water thoroughly after using degreaser and soap. Be careful where and how you spray water; avoid using a strong spray, such as from a power washer, directly into moving parts like bearings and bottom brackets, unless you also plan to re-lube or re-grease them all afterward. One of the great things about ROTOR UNO groupsets is that you don’t have to worry about the water potentially corroding your bike’s steel cables because both the brakes and shifters are actuated hydraulically; there are no metal shift or brake cables.
Step 6: Polish
Getting all the dirt off your bike will make your bike look much better, but if you want to do a super pro job, also dry your bike with an air compressor or old towels and then polish your frame and any shiny components. Be sure to check in advance that your chosen polish is ok to use on your frame. It’s hard to hurt metal, but not all substances are good for all frame materials and paints.
Step 7: Re-assemble and lube
Put the wheels – and any other parts you might have removed during cleaning – back onto your bike. Finally, lube your drivetrain, pedals and any other essential moving parts so they don’t rust or seize up.
When you want to get the most out of your bike, the gears must be working perfectly. If you also use ROTOR Q RINGS, to help squeeze every ounce of efficiency out of your drivetrain, the front derailleur needs to be adjusted just right. We will show you the best tricks to help you adjust it perfectly.
The front derailleur is still one of the most important parts of your drivetrain. Although in MTB, single front chainrings are spreading like wildfire across all price points, on road bikes, double front chainrings is still the most common setup. And if you use ROTOR Q RINGS, the front derailleur alignment is key to getting the most out of them, keeping the shift between the two rings as smooth as possible.
If you are using the standard Q rings, QXL Rings or the Q rings Qarbon, then the front derailleur adjustment is slightly different to a conventional setup allowing the shift between chainrings to be as smooth as possible. Below we will guide you through all the process.
Once the chainrings are fitted to the cranks, we can see that as the Q Rings are oval, the distance between the front derailleur and the rings is variable when pedalling. With standard chainrings this distance is fixed, and is usually between 1.5 and 3mm. The first thing to do is to loosen the gear cable to remove any tension to the derailleur, after this we can loosen the bolt on the direct mount or the seat tube collar that attaches the derailleur to the frame. Once loosened, adjust the lower exterior part of the derailleur arm 1.5 to 2mm from the large chainring at the most oval part. This is important as if done incorrectly the chainrings will foul on the derailleur, which could damage both parts. Once we are sure that the distance has been adjusted correctly, we can then tighten the seat tube collar, or the direct mount, fixing the derailleur into place, making sure that it is parallel to the chainrings. The next step is to reattach the gear cable. Fine tuning of the gears can be done using the inline adjusters near the shifters. Once fitted, make sure that the derailleur arm moves freely without touching the chainrings.
To make sure that the front derailleur is working correctly, shift from the small to the large chainring a couple of times whilst working through all the sprockets in the rear cassette, making sure the chain shifts smoothly. The H / L screws are used to limit the movement of the derailleur both in the lower and higher gears (small and large chainrings) this is needed with conventional rings also, it is adjusted so that the chain is not thrown off the chainrings.
3.The QXL rings spacer
If you are using the QXL rings, remember that if you have a direct mount derailleur you will need to install the spacer to the front derailleur to be able to shift correctly. With a QXL ring the oval shape is much more pronounced than the standard Q RINGS, too much for a standard direct mount derailleur, as it cannot be raised high enough to clear the chainrings. When you purchase any QXL Rings two spacers are included to fix this problem. The spacer is to be fitted between the mounting point on the frame and the derailleur. Due to the shape of the spacer, the derailleur is displaced slightly to the rear, allowing more room for the larger chainring. To install the spacer we first need to remove the gear cable, we then remove the bolt holding the derailleur in place completely. Once free we can install the spacer with the bolt provided and re-attach it to the frame using the original bolt, remember to install a chain guide if needed; this is to stop the chain falling off the small chainring. We then adjust the distance between the chainring and derailleur to 1.5-2mm, making sure it is parallel to the rings, fit the gear cable in place. Once fitted, make sure that the derailleur arm can move freely between the chainrings without touching the teeth. As said above, we can use the H/L screws to limit the movement of the derailleur, fine tuning it using the chain guide.
4.OCP Chainrings (Optimum Chainring Position)
If you are using chainrings with OCP technology, being able to adjust the rings to find the best position for maximum efficiency. You will not have clearance problems using the OCP system, once the derailleur is adjusted correctly. This is due to the fact that the overall maximum diameter is not changed by adjusting the position of the chainring, If you swap it out for a larger chainring, then you will need to re-adjust everything using the steps listed above.
Once upon a time, bikes and components were made primarily out of steel. Then aluminum came along and became the material of choice for cycling industry designers. More recently, the buzz has been all about carbon. Yet despite the hype, carbon isn’t the best choice for every application, and aluminum continues to play an important role in cycling.
Steel has always had its advantages. At approximately 2.5 to three times the density of aluminum, it’s is a stronger material, and even considering the fluctuations in the prices of raw materials over time, it’s generally cheaper to make something out of steel than out of aluminum.
Nonetheless, aluminum started making its way into cycling in the 1970s and became more ubiquitous in the 1980s as engineers honed design and manufacturing processes. So why did aluminum become so popular?
Aluminum appealed to cyclists largely because it’s lighter than steel. That weight adds up when you consider not only a bike’s frame, but also its components. And who doesn’t enjoy riding and especially climbing on a lighter bike?
Aluminum is also inherently more malleable than steel. That means it can be made into more complicated shapes – think intricate frame designs. It’s also more resistant to corrosion without any extra special treatment: it doesn’t rust. That means you don’t have to coat it or paint it or worry if you scratch it, which is great for bikes that are often ridden outdoors in wet or humid conditions or offroad.
With the increasing popularity of carbon for frame and component materials since the early 2000s, it may seem like aluminum is going the way of steel – to a much lesser prevalence in the cycling industry. However, while carbon is extremely light and rides well, it is both more expensive and more fragile than aluminum.
So even as we see high end road and mountain bikes increasingly going with more and more carbon, aluminum is still a solid choice for entry level and mid-level bikes. Many brands currently offer both carbon and aluminum versions of popular frames to meet a range of different price points.
Assuming that the price of raw materials and manufacturing process for carbon and aluminum don’t change substantially relative to each other, aluminum should continue to be an important part of the cycling industry moving forward.
When it comes to components, the same thing is true: many top brands are making carbon and aluminum versions for the exact same reasons: durability and cost. Yet some are still betting largely on the successful future of aluminum.
Working with Aluminum
As aluminium product manufacturing and finishing techniques become increasingly more automated over time, manufacturers have been realizing goals of less waste, faster production times and higher quality – all of which translates into lower costs. Its manufacturing can easily be done in-house with the appropriate equipment; unlike carbon, it does not have to get outsourced to a specialized manufacturing facility in an often far away place like Asia.
Furthermore, aluminum frame design is becoming more sophisticated. Long gone are the early days of thin aluminum straight gauge tubes mechanically glued or screwed together and the subsequent days of framesets with big, fat aluminum tubes. They, respectively, produced frames that rode too flexy and too harsh. Modern designs create aluminum bike frames that give a much more comfortable ride.
Today, there are a few common ways of making parts out of aluminum. One is hydroforming, or using hydraulic fluid to press aluminum into shape. Shimano is famous for using forging methods whereas ROTOR has invested heavily in CNC machines. Both brands have been loyal to making parts out of aluminum for decades. ROTOR, in particular, comes from a strong background in aeronautical engineering, an industry with extensive aluminum manufacturing expertise.
An advantage to CNC machining is that its equipment can be easily reprogrammed so as to be able to make a variety of different parts. That’s especially useful to a component manufacturer like ROTOR that needs to make everything from chainrings to power meters to brakes.
Take a tour of ROTOR’s factory
There are many parts of your bike that you can easily be looked over when servicing. One of the major groups that cannot be missed is the drivetrain. Chainrings, cassettes, chains and derailleurs should always be clean and lubricated. Once worn out, they should be changed immediately. We explain all the tips and tricks of maintaining your drivetrain in perfect condition.
The drivetrain is one of the principal parts of our bikes. Whether you have a mountain bike, road bike or both, performing routine checks and regular services on your bikes are one of the most important things to be done on a bike. It can save you from headaches when out on a ride, and money in the long run.
The most obvious tip is keeping your bike clean and lubricated. A good wash and re-lube of your bike after every ride, especially if it includes water, mud, dust and dirt, will keep it working perfectly for longer, it will also help keep wear to your drivetrain to a minimum. Mountain bikes are especially sceptical to premature wear due to how often they get ridden in adverse conditions, mud and dirt that gets caught up in the derailleurs can cause havoc if left unattended. In these cases a more powerful degreaser is needed when cleaning. If you ride a road bike, or your mountain bike has only collected a thin layer of dust, then a cloth impregnated with degreaser can be used to wipe down the chainrings, cassette and derailleurs to remove the surface dirt then applying a new coat of lube will suffice. Performing these basic maintenance tips will prolong the life of your drivetrain and keep it working perfectly.
An interesting tip taken straight from the professionals is to use a plastic bottle cut in half and filled with degreaser, using a paintbrush, you effectively “paint” the degreaser onto the parts that needs cleaning, it is then left for 5 minutes and rinsed with warm water. This will thoroughly clean even the most stubborn dirt of even the most hard to reach places. Once done, a clean cloth can then be used to dry the area. There are other options like specific cleaning agents for chains that can be used with a cleaner designed especially for chains. It works by encasing the chain in a plastic box. The chain is then passed through a degreasing agent and through some stiff brushes that brush away any excess dirt. Never use products that are not designed especially for bikes, as these can be too corrosive and can damage metals and paint.
CHECK YOUR CHAIN LENGTH
The part that suffers most wear is the chain. But wear can be affected by many factors, dirt, water, mud even the chain tension itself… It is recommended to have a chain wear tool (chain stretch is measured in mm). This a quick and easy method of ensuring your chain, and transmission is in tip top condition. Although logic would suggest that chains be changed every 1000km, they can be used for up to 2000-2500kms. In adverse conditions then it is best to replace it every 1000-1500kms. A worn chain will not only affect how the gears work, and sound, but will also create premature wear on the cassette and chainrings. On 1x systems, the chain tension is higher, which can cause quicker wear throughout the drivetrain, but the plus side is that they are easier to clean and maintain, as well as being less complex. It is incredibly important to keep the chainring clean, as due to the shape of the teeth being used to keep the chain from falling off, any excess dirt or wear can affect how they work.
Chainrings and cassettes tend to last longer than the chain. The normal wear ratio is one cassette and chainring change for every 3 chains if you keep them in good condition. Unfortunately this is not an exact science, and many factors can affect how your drivetrain wears. It is recommended to check all parts of the transmission regularly. A good tip is to check the shape of the teeth of both the cassette and chainrings, once they take the form of a shark fin then this is an indicator of excess wear, and will need to be changed. You will also find that the gears will stop working efficiently, this is probably the most obvious sign that something is amiss in your drivetrain. Another part that is commonly overlooked are the derailleur sprockets, these are used to guide the chain up and down the cassette, so any excess wear here can also cause problems when changing gear. Removing, cleaning and regreasing them, is a simple job that should only take 10-15 minutes to do. They are mostly made of plastic (except for some high end models or aftermarket upgrades) and do not tend to last long, but they are a vital part of the drivetrain.
Lastly, it is important to know which components have been changed and which ones have not. If you have changed the chain three times, then it is time to also change the cassette and chainrings. This way, the wear is even and you will always have a perfectly working machine. When leaving your bike for extended periods of time without use, leave the chain in the smallest sprocket and chainring, this reduces tension that can affect the rear derailleur and chain.
Whether you are upgrading or simply replacing worn out components, when it comes time to buy new cranksets or chainrings, there are several key parameters to consider. Here’s what you need to know to help you select the correct new components.
Chainrings, Crankset or Both?
First, you need to determine whether you’ll be changing only your bicycle chainring(s), your crankset or both. Most bicycle cranksets are designed with replaceable chainrings, so you can easily and more affordably swap the rings without having to replace your entire crankset. If your crankset is still in good shape, you may only have to swap your chainrings the next time you do your drivetrain maintenance. Quality cranksets last for years and many sets of chainrings.
Number of Chainrings
Cranksets commonly come with one, two or three chainrings, depending on your bike’s age and intended use. The trend over time as we get more and more gears out back is to have fewer chainrings up front. A majority of modern road, mountain, gravel and cyclo-cross bikes now come with just one or two chainrings. The advantage to having just one chainring is that your bike will not need a front derailleur or shifter, which means it will be lighter and cleaner-looking with fewer parts and cables. The disadvantage, of course, is fewer total gear choices.
Size of Chainrings
No matter how many chainrings you have, size does still matter. If you’re swapping out chainrings, be sure to check how many teeth are on each and replace your existing rings with a chainrings that have the same number of teeth, unless you are intentionally trying to alter your gearing. Chainrings with more teeth feel harder to pedal and chainrings with less teeth feel easier to pedal.
Shape of Chainrings
Traditional chainrings were circular, but many new chainrings are oval shaped. Oval chainrings such as ROTOR’s Q RINGS have been shown to not only reduce stress on the knees but also to improve performance and thus minimize fatigue. Q RINGS virtually decrease the gear ratio in the dead spot of your pedal stroke and increase the gear ratio in the power phase, which is when you exert the most force while pedalling. They are also adjustable, with up to five different positions, to suit your unique pedaling style. If you are switching from round to oval chainrings or vice versa, you will typically also have to purchase new cranks that will fit the different style of rings.
Method of Attaching Chainrings
It’s not just about how many teeth your chainring has. There are many different crankset designs out there, which means there are many different ways of interfacing with chainrings. Chainring bolts are the most common way of attaching chainrings: typically using four or five such bolts. It’s also important to know the exact pattern of those bolts – factors such as bolt circle diameter (diameter of the circle that connects the center of all chainring bolts) are important in spec’ing a chainring that will fit on your cranks. Many chainrings are not compatible across different brands or even across different models for any given brand.
Method of Attaching Cranksets
Cranksets attach to a frame via bottom bracket, and there are many different types of bottom brackets. If you’re swapping out your entire crankset, be sure to select one that is compatible with your current bottom bracket type. Special tools are required to remove and install a majority of types of bottom brackets and cranks, so if you’re confused about what kind of bottom bracket you have, what tools you’ll need to swap cranks or how to use those tools properly, consult your local bike shop for help.
Cranks come in a range of sizes, most commonly from 165mm to 190mm, and ideal crank length is often determined by three factors: your height, your cycling discipline and your personal preferences. If you change your crank length, it will change how it feels to pedal your bike, and it may change your fit on your bike. When replacing your cranks, check to make sure you’re swapping them out for the same size unless you’re intentionally trying to make them longer or shorter.
Why so many different cranks and which suits you best?
Single or double chainrings: which is better for mountain biking?
Converting from single to double chainrings: What you need to know
Wellness benefits of Q chainrings