I’ve often marveled at the spotless drive trains I see on other people’s bikes. I have come to the conclusion that there are two ways for me to achieve this. Don’t ride, or clean that drive train.
I had recently achieved an epiphany in the dental hygiene area. After years of resisting flossing, when confronted with the fact that my teeth would probably fall out if I continued in my evil ways, I have become a flossing zealot.
A similar problem occurs with your freewheel (OK, cassette for those who weren’t alive in the 60’s). The space between cogs is a fertile area for all sorts of crud to settle. While your freewheel doesn’t have to worry too much about gum disease, it is a pretty filthy mess. So I decided to start flossing my freewheel.
My previous approach was basically to ignore it. Round about every six months, I would have to take the rear wheel off for some reason, usually a flat, and I would take the opportunity to ram a screwdriver in between the cogs in an attempt to dislodge a portion of the mass of impacted black gunk.
My new philosophy is to keep those cogs spanking clean. I purchased a container of water based solvent, and went at my freewheel. First I did the flossing bit to get out most of the crud in the interstices of the freewheel. Then I smeared on the solvent with an old toothbrush (from my pre-flossing days), and rinsed the whole thing with water. Was looking pretty good (I had forgotten what color my freewheel actually was).
Next day, as I was riding in to work, taking great joy in actually being able to see space between the freewheel cogs, I was appalled to see there were still chunks of black crud that had escaped the initial cleansing. So back to the shop that evening when I started picking out the offending bits.
Next morning, I was again admiring my freewheel when I realized there were still more nasty black bits. The horror! I could barely wait through the workday until I could go home and purge this disgusting excrescence from my pristine freewheel.
At this point I came to the realization that this was bordering on obsession, and maybe I should just let the black bits fall where they may.