sitting on the coach yesterday morning, travelling back from scotland to civilisation, it warmed the cockles of my merino jumper no end to view the number of folks pedalling their way along glasgow's great western road, presumably on their way to work. salubriousness of velocipede is, i would venture, not a major priority when choosing a machine that will survive the grit and determination provided by a scottish winter, so the majority of the bicycles i observed were of less than world-tour, or even pro-continental standard. that, however, is of no nevermind.
however, one would presume that during a winter of riding to work at least five days a week, it would be in the riders' best interests to have the bicycle start first time each morning. there is little more humiliating to the bona-fide cyclist than to have one's neighbours clamber into their fords and beamers while vainly attempting to force the cycle into some resemblance of action. which is why my eyes were drawn to a bearded gentleman riding a sturmey archer equipped bicycle with a chain that was so bright orange in colour, it would almost have passed for hi-viz.
and despite my being ensconced within a state of the art, double-glazed coach, i could still hear the darned thing squeaking. what bothers me more is why could he not?
not all of us have mechanical tendencies; that's what bike shops are for. and not all of us are mightily impressed by the shinyness of a well polished peloton of bicycles during the tour each year, and subsequently fixated on making sure that not only the outer plates on the chain reflect the sun (a little scottish joke there), but also those facing the rear wheel spokes. and it doesn't just stop there, for there seems little point in one shine surrounded by an easily remedied dullness of chainset and hub. to be quite pointed in this respect, none of the foregoing depend on any mechanical knowledge whatsoever; if you can clean the screen on your flat-panel television, you sure as heck can clean and oil a chain.
when i was of school age, my parents pretty much drilled it into my psyche that it was all very well riding my raleigh twenty to school each and every day, but come friday eve or saturday morning, that chain had to be oiled, and in those pre-'spray lube' days, it had to be done in a very specific manner. after running an oily rag across its sequential tactility, a single drop of three-in-one oil should be applied to each pin all around its circumference. there was seemingly no need for oil on the side-plates, merely on the moving parts.
life is a great deal simpler now. lubricant sprays abound, and if you're less than concerned as to where the excess from that spray alights, 'tis but a mere doddle to spin the pedals backwards and liberally douse the cassette. however, many a lubricant, in whichever format you choose, will have a tendency to attract grit, therefore this inadvertent excess may render shiny parts less than mirror-like, so it becomes more prudent to revert to a verisimilitude of the three-in-one method of yore. and true to technological form, there's also a modern equivalent of the oily rag.
in the last of my current series of morgan blue reviews, while in possession of the recently spoken about colnago c59 disc, i felt it necessary to maintain the lustre and smooth runningness of its person, and thus frequently employed the services of mb's chain cleaner subsequently reinforced by precise application of their race oil.
the chain cleaner is contained in a one litre bottle; a clear blue (what else) liquid that can be applied in whichever manner you deem most appropriate. i soaked an old rag in the substance and worked it well into the chain, before rinsing off with plain old tap water, then drying with another from my infinite collection of oily and not so oily rags. as a rather volatile liquid, it took only a matter of minutes for the degreaser to evaporate, leaving a blank canvas for the morgan blue race oil.
this comes in a small can with an aerosol nozzle and short applicator, making it a simple matter of directing the fine spray to the precise part of the chain in which it is required. i've no idea whether the oil is blue or not, because each application is too small and too direct to reflect any colour at all. though not something i'd generally pay much attention too, on each repetition of the above process, i was checking for any slobberiness all over the chain and in the light of same, whether the race oil was picking up any of islay's belgian toothpaste which currently occupies a disproportionate area of the single track backroads across which the dedicated hebridean plies his/her trade.
it would be unfair to subject a bicycle chain to quite the frequency of application suffered by the campagnolo eleven-speed, but a review is a review, and it was only into its second week that i left all well alone after applying the race oil subsequent to degreasing. you could, if tenacious enough, contact the chaps at colnago uk to enquire after the quality of the chain on that c59, but suffice it to say, it looked every bit as good as it did when viewed, to quote marcel wust "first thing, straight out the box".
those belgians know a thing or two about toothpaste.
morgan blue chain cleaner retails at £11.00 while the race oil costs £9.99
saturday 2nd march 2013..........................................................................................................................................................................................................