Jenni Gwiazdowski, founder of London Bike Kitchen, shares her beautiful pearls of bike-maintenance wisdom. This week it's how to get that chain dental-hygiene clean
Californian Jenni Gwiazdowski started up London Bike Kitchen to encourage people to fix their own bikes. Based on an American concept, you can drop in to an open workshop and fix your own bike, with friendly mechanics on hand to guide you through. Here, she shares an awesome fix for cleaning that dastardly chain.
What’s the one bike maintenance essential everyone should do at this time of the year?
Clean your chain! If you rode through a cold winter and wet spring, it’s probably gone through hell. And if it’s not caked in mud, it’s probably all dried out.
Stupid question, but how do you clean your chain?
There are a few ways. One is to use a dedicated chain cleaner contraption, which will come with loads of brushes. Or, you can get crafty and use two old toothbrushes. Face them next to each other until they’re kissing and put a rubber band around the handles. Then spray some chain cleaner on there and scrub, scrub, scrub, with one toothbrush on top and one on the bottom.
Do you put any fairy liquid or anything on it?
There’s lots of controversy over what damage that could do, so I try to avoid it and use a Muc-Off chain cleaner or the Agent Apple chain cleaner from Green Oil. They tend to be biodegradable, so safe to use outside.
Any other ways?
If you can get your chain off (it’s best if you’ve got a quick link that you can take on and off), you can put it in a litre bottle with some Coca-Cola. That gets your chain sparkling over night. You can only imagine what it’s doing to your stomach or teeth!
Any last pearls of wisdom?
When you oil your chain, let it sink in for about five minutes, then wipe off as much as you can. That is one of the most important things to remember. If you don’t, it will attract all the dirt and grit from the road and turn into a sandpaper paste on your chain. People think they’re doing their chain a favour by lubing it up, but they actually making it worse. It’s probably better to have a dry chain than an uber-lubed one.