In this article we’re going to discuss how to get a sparkling clean bicycle cassette. In fact, I’m going to explain how to clean your bicycle cassette so thoroughly it will look like you just pulled it from the packaging.
I’ve cleaned many cassettes by simply pulling a towel or cloth in between the gears. Just like many videos on YouTube still show.
But this way of cleaning bicycle cassettes takes frustratingly long. It’s difficult to get the cloth in between the gears, because the teeth keep snatching the cloth. It isn’t really all that effective. And it even hurts my back because of the time being hunched over.
Step 1. Removing the bicycle cassette
Before cleaning any part including the cassette it’s almost always best to remove it. That way you can get to hard to reach parts. I understand that of course it takes extra time to remove parts. But it really doesn’t take that long if the wheel has a quick release.
I use a Park Tool Cassette Lockring Tool FR-5.2G to remove the ring that keeps the cassette into place on the rear hub. Because you’d turn the cassette if you’d turn the lockring tool you’re going to need a chain whip to hold it. I use the Park Tool Sprocket Remover – Chain Whip SR-2.2 for this. The last step is to loosen the lockring by turning the lockring tool, in this case with an adjustable wrench.
Step 2. Cleaning the bicycle cassette
With the cassette freed from the wheel you can place it in a small bowl and fill it with white spirits or turpentine. A small one makes it easier to fully submerge the cassette with a single bottle of the stuff.
I use a dish brush to actually clean the cassette while holding it with my other hand. The hand which gets into contact with the paint thinner is wearing a rubber glove. Paint thinner is nasty stuff, and you don’t want to get into contact with it (too much).
Step 3. Putting the clean bicycle cassette back on the wheel
Putting everything back together again is just a couple more steps. First I grease the freehub. The freehub has splines on them. which are vertical indentations. They make sure the cassette can only go on the freehub in one way. Making this process extremely easy to do and preventing any mistakes.
In this case the cassette had several fused sprockets, one single one (the smallest), and the lockring. The lockring has normal threading and can be hand tightened. The lockring tool and adjustable wrench do the rest. And that’s it you have a perfectly clean bicycle cassette.
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