To improve your shopping experience today and in the future, this site uses cookies.
I Accept Cookies

Bicycle Maintenance | How to clean your Drivetrain

Words by Will Crump

on 24/02/2021 17:15:00


Your in-depth guide on how to clean your drivetrain!

Maintaining your drivetrain can seem like the most strenuous and off putting task due to the sheer amount of moving parts that make up your drivetrain. Your drivetrain are the key components that transfer power from your cranks to your rear wheel as well as housing your gears. Due to the continuous strain that these components go through, it makes for good practice to keep on top of their upkeep as it will save you a lot of money in the long run!

As well as being put under continuous rider strain, the components are also exposed to the other elements a lot of the time. In this blog, we shall be going through - in depth - how to properly clean your drivetrain, how to protect it from the weather and riding conditions and a few simple tricks along the way to keep your costs low.


How often should I clean it?

Your drivetrain should be cleaned and lubed more frequently than we expect - often we leave them until they start to squeak or feely clunky however this can significantly decrease the longevity of the parts. In an ideal world, your drivetrain should be cleaned every 2 weeks or 200 miles but this might not be as ideal in the winter months. If you’re a mountain cyclist, you’ll often find yourself cleaning your drivetrain after every ride as they pick up so much dirt from the trails.

Necessary Equipment

  • - Bike Degreaser or Drivetrain cleaner
  • - Chain Lubricants
  • - A small set of detailing brushes or a toothbrush
  • - Cloths, rags or sponges
  • - A hosepipe or source of water
Shop our full range of Cleaning Products here!


Cleaning your drivetrain

Step 1:

Having a bike repair stand can come in very handy when it comes to this level of detailed cleaning. Keeping your rear wheel off the floor means that you can easily access all parts of your drivetrain by being able to spin the rear wheel. Once you’ve got access to your bikes geared componentry, start to wipe away any larger clumps of built up dirt and oil away from your jockey wheels, cassette and front chainrings.

Step 2:

Wiping away any larger groups of built up oil and dirt on your chain will prohibit you from pushing any unwanted grit into the links. Using a bike specific degreaser, drivetrain cleaner or GT85 will help breakdown old oil/dirt and start to turn your components back to their original colour.


Step 3:

Using small detailing brushes or a toothbrush, give your chain and cassette a really good scrub to really work the solution into the linkages to clean your bike parts. After cleaning your chain and cassette, rinse of your brush before using it on your derailleurs (especially the jockey wheels) to ensure that they spin without hindrance.

Step 4:

After cleaning your drivetrain with degreasers and brushes, use your general bike cleaner to rinse off the remaining degreaser as well as rinsing your brushes. If you find that your cassette is still very dirty in between cogs then it will probably be a good idea to remove the back wheel to really gain better access to each individual cog.


Step 5:

Shake any excess water off of your bike by lightly dropping the bike on its back wheel. Then proceed to use a clean and dry cloth to get your bike parts as dry as possible. This step is absolutely essential as it provides a better platform for when you come to lubricate your remaining parts.

Lubricating your drivetrain


Step 1:

In the aftermath of cleaning your drivetrain, you may have cleaned away the grease that sits on your derailleur springs. This grease basically allows the spring to compress without making any unwanted noises as well as helping your whole rear mech shift more efficiently.

Step 2:

Starting at the quicklink, apply either a wet lube or dry lube to your bike chain whilst back pedalling in the highest gear. Continue to backpedal your drivetrain for 2 loops or 20 seconds whilst gently applying lube directly onto the chain.


Step 3:

Once you’ve finished applying the lube take another clean cloth and wipe off the excess lube as this will stop dirt getting stuck into the chain when you next ride. After removing the excess lube, change your gears and repeat steps 2 & 3, two more times with your chain in the mid and low gears.

Step 4:

Once you have finished cleaning and lubricating your drivetrain, it is recommended to leave it for 3 hours before going out to ride your bike again.

Wet Lube Vs Dry Chain Lube


Dry lubes are best used in dry as it leaves a waxy residue. The Waxy residue ensures that dust doesn’t dry out the chain however, it doesn’t tend to last long which makes it the perfect lube for summer.

On the other hand, wet lube continues to stay as a wet substance on your chain and is a lot better at tackling wet and muddy conditions as well as being better for longer rides. However, wet lube is tedious when it comes to holding onto dirt which could ruin your parts faster if not treated.

Find your nearest Rutland Cycling store