Thursday, January 11, 2007


How much faster does a clean bike ride than a dirty bike? A new chain versus a stretched one? One that's silent over one that squeaks?

I wish I knew. I wish I could put a number on it. Then I might be more motivated to take better care of my bike.

When I read this stuff, it gets me to thinking how much more fastidious some are with their bikes (like Mark) than I am with mine. His bikes are always clean. My bikes? Well...

My bikes are spattered with dirt and Gatorade stains. My drive-side chainstay, with its omnipresent grease spots, is a dalmatian. My chain is black (I buy them silver). When it squeaks I lube it...but I'm usually listening to something while training, so often I don't notice the squeaking, until a group ride.

Last July I was climbing the 3,800 vertical feet up to Brighton (Utah) in the Porcupine Hill Climb. My chain was a little squeaky that day. My seatpost was squeaking a little too (no more trouble with that, at least). But the worst of it was that my derailleur hanger was bent inward a bit. This didn't effect shifting, but when I was all the way inside, on the biggest cog, the derailleur cage would rub up against my spokes a little. I remember riding beside this guy about half way up. He turned to me and quipped, "You ride pretty fast for how noisy that bike is."

I sort of wanted to punch him. But I sort wanted to cry too. Yet, strangely, I still haven't had that derailleur hanger fixed.

It's not like I don't clean my bike, or take care of it. I do. I enjoy it, even. I take it apart, piece by piece, and enjoy soaking my chainrings in Joy and rubbing off every spec of grease. But I certainly don't do it every day (or ever month). I rotate my tires and change my handlebar tape. Sometimes I replace the cables. But still, on a group ride, in a race, my bike always seems to be the dirtiest, the ugliest, and the nosiest. In fact, ever since I can remember it's been this way. I guess it's just one of those things. much faster would I be if it weren't?


UtRider said...

You should see if blogger will let you post an audio file of you riding your bike. That would be funny...

The guys at Contender always tease me about never riding my mtn bike because it's clean when I bring it it. You'd be amazed what a damp rag can do for a bike in 5 minutes.

The only reason I cleaned my chain this week was because I had to remove links to size it properly for the new compact.

Sandy said...

Clean chains are for girls!