Ultrasonic Cleaning: How To Get A Super Clean Bike Chain & Cassette
Speaker: Cassettes and chains can get really
dirty. Then everyone loves riding a clean bike. They look nicer, they’re faster, and
the drivetrain is more efficient, and regular cleaning will make your components last longer.
But cleaning takes time and effort, and it can be really difficult to get every last
bit of dirt out from intricate components like chains and cassettes, but not with one
of these. This is an ultrasonic bath and in this video, I’m going to show you how you
can use one of these, what they can do and also where you can get one. They’re not especially
Ultrasonic baths, also known as sonicators, create tiny little bubbles induced by high-frequency
sound waves to agitate or vibrate the liquid that’s inside the bath. These agitations or
vibrations in the liquid, create huge pressure on any dirt or contaminants that are on the
object that you put inside the bath. Whether that’s your cassette, your chain or any
other component you want to clean. The cleaning action also penetrates blind holes and is
excellent at getting into tiny recesses and cracks, making it ideal for cleaning something
as complicated as a chain. They’re also often used to clean jewelry,
and as an organic chemist, I used to use them to sometimes clean lab apparatus, but also
you could use them to actually dissolve stubborn solids into various solvents, which was important
for various chemical reactions. You didn’t need to know that but [unintelligible 00:01:42]
nerdy fact for you. Anyhow, we’re going to clean this filthy chain and cassette. Now,
if you want to pick one of these up yourself, you can do on websites like Amazon for around
£50 or $60 or so and they go up in price generally depending on the size. I think this
one was about £80. You’ll then want to put some kind of cleaning
solution inside the liquid, something aqueous-based is going to be best and ideally, we’d always
say use something a bit more environmentally friendly that’s not going to destroy the environment.
So something like this Bio Degreaser from Muc-Off would be great. You can also use solvents
like white spirit and they’re very powerful and potent at cleaning things, but they’re
not quite as good for the environment and also factor in that there is a health and
safety thing here, you don’t want to get this kind of stuff in your eyes, and also, they
can be highly flammable. So just be careful with that.
White spirit isn’t too bad though because the– well the autoignition temperature of
white spirit is about 240 degrees, so it’s quite hard to set it on fire without a naked
flame, but still, it’s well worth being careful with these things. I’ve stress, I would recommend
you use something that’s a bit more environmentally friendly. I mean if you are a total chemistry
nerd, then you can actually recycle white spirit using a distillation still, that does
fall within my weird skillset, but most people are just going to probably chuck it down the
sink, which isn’t very good [unintelligible 00:03:15].
Also, remember anything that you do put in the bath is going to be more potent at cleaning
than it would be normally. That’s because the bath is able to warm it up, which helps
clean, but also the vibrations improve the potency of the cleaning as well. You can actually
use water and just a drop of washing up liquid and that will work pretty well in most cases.
Put on some nitrile gloves just to stop any nasty dirty stuff getting on my hands. It
looks like I’m going to fry some chips, don’t I? [laughs] It’s not a deep fat fryer. I’m
going to put my dirty chain in here. There we go, look at that.
Also going to put the cassette in there as well. In fact, I’m going to put the cassette
in half and half because that way I might get like a nice half clean, half dirty thing
going on, which would be pretty cool. I’m going to turn the bath on. Vibrates in a way
and drop it in. That’s working its magic. Now, this is cleaning, I’ve set a timer on
the unit for five minutes, we will see how it turns out after that. I don’t know if you
can hear it on the camera but there’s a real high frequency vibrations sort of sonic waves.
I guess if you were a dog, you’d probably find it really annoying. It’s quite loud.
Now in theory, you could use this to clean all manner of bicycle components, so brakes
and derailleurs and things like that, but this kind of system is going to be excellent
at stripping grease out of bearings. For example, if you were going to be putting in something
like a rear derailleur, it might be worth removing the jockey wheels and just cleaning
them separately, because the grease inside the little bearings on the jockey wheels will
probably get stripped out and you don’t necessarily want that. You could use it to clean bearings
but just bear in mind you’ll have to take out the seals and regrease them again.
If you’ve got a really dirty chain like the one I’ve got, then you’ll probably want to
do a couple of immersions like this where you change your cleaning solution, put a fresh
batch in and do the chain again. One of the things that’s useful as well is to use brushes
to help loosen the dirt, and I’d actually suggest that you clean all the surface dirt
off as best as you can first with it on the bike and using a hose pipe and some degreaser.
Then immerse it in the bath because the bath is best at penetrating in between the rollers
and the links of the chains and getting the dirt that you can’t normally reach and loosening
that. The water had a kind greenish tint from the
Muc-Off in there, but it’s completely changed. It’s like brown and grey black now. It really
is stripping that dirt off the components. Right, that’s all done. I’m quite excited
to see how clean this comes out because my chains never normally get that dirty. This
is one of [unintelligible 00:06:23] chains, obviously.
Now it’s done, I’m going to take the chain and cassette out and I’m just going to rise
them with some water under a tap just to wash off any residual dirt that’s just left on
the surface, but the sonicator or well, the ultrasonic bath should have loosened any of
that dirt, so it should just come off nice and easily. Right, I’ve just rinsed these
off and you can see the cassette. That’s incredible where it’s been half in and half out of the
cleaning solution. This cassette truth be told wasn’t the filthiest
dirtiest cassette in the world, but you can see there on this half where this SRAM logo
is, how it’s much much cleaner after just– well that one’s just been into it 10 minutes
compared to that side which has still got all the dirt on it. That’s cool, but this
chain, check this out. That’s just much, much, much cleaner now. You could eat dinner off
it. Right, I hope you found this video useful, and if you have, then consider following us
on social media, and also, why not check out some more of our videos. You’ve got a load
of other ones with other useful cleaning tips.