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Steam Clean
#1
My wife just bought a Wagner steam cleaner that cuts through dirt and grease very well. We used to use steam to clean engine blocks and such, so I was wondering if there would be any reason not to use it to clean greasy drive trains, etc. Of course everything would have to be properly lubed afterward, but the steamer warms the part so they dry amazingly fast.
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#2
Chains are definitely NO. Because there is no way to put the factory applied grease back in side.

Freewheels and and freehubs; though technically rebuildable; for most of us, we do not suggest attempting - very very few bike stores with attempt, and those that do will charge $$$$. Cheaper to replace.

Sealed bearings are also a no; as they are not designed to be relubricated. Replace them if you steam them.

Everything else, okay, as long as you completely take apart and relube.

Best to take the bike all the way down to the basic components, and clean them, rather than try to clean an assembled bike.
Nigel
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#3
I'm confused with the two trains of thought involving the cleaning of bikes. My owner's manual says to use a safe degreaser to remove the grease from the chain, cassette and chainrings while the wheels are on the bike, and then hose off the degreaser from the top of the chain with a soft flow of water, not a hard spray. I have been using Giant's Orange Foam Degreaser and the instructions on the can say the same thing. I have been doing this every month for the past year on my hybrid and have had no issues with the bearings or the chain. However, I have also read in several places what Nigel is saying and not hose down the bike or its parts. I have not degreased the drivetrain to my road bike yet but was planning to do so this Friday before my 150 mile ride. Don't know if I want to take the chance on doing it to the road bike or just add more dry lube to the chain and wait till after the ride.
HCFR Cycling Team
Ride Safe...Ride Hard...Ride Daily
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#4
I recommend wiping the chain off with a clean rag, then applying your favorite lubricant in moderation, wiping any excess off.

Remember, Giant has an interest in you purchasing parts for your bike, not making those parts last forever.

At the temperatures and pressures seen inside bicycle bearings, modern lubricants will not break down. It is purely a matter of replenishment, and wiping the dirt off the outside.
Nigel
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#5
Nigel,

That would make sense except that Giant doesn't really make the parts that are involved with the degreasing process. I could be wrong, but since there are so many manufacturer's that make the components, I don't see where Giant would benefit from it. When I spray the degreaser off the components, it is pretty much like a moderate rain hitting them. I don't know of too many people that tear their bikes down and re-grease everything after riding in a heavy rain, unless they rode in deep water that is over the bb and cassette level.
HCFR Cycling Team
Ride Safe...Ride Hard...Ride Daily
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#6
Chains aren't really that sealed a mechanism. I think grit and grime does make it's way inside the joints so it would be good to flush it completely clean and relube. However, I have to agree on cleaning the cassette on the bike. You really don't want degreaser to get into the freehub or wheel bearings. Even a tiny amount of degreaser will liquefy grease in a way that water can't. I will spray some degreaser directly onto a rag and run it through the cogs dental floss style, then follow up with a dry rag to take off any remainder. But I don't like to spray any kind of cleaner at the bike anywhere near an internal bearing assembly.
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#7
Do the same cautions re steam also apply to boiling hot water?
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#8
 Nice to see the thread back up. Personally I use Super Clean, a biodegradable degreaser to clean my bikes. I will hose the wheel rims down but avoid spraying directly on the wheel hubs. i ran into Super Clean building plastic model airplanes as it removed old dry paint without damaging the plastic.
"Where ever we go, there we are"
  Reply
#9
(05-09-2011, 01:43 PM)Myosmith Wrote:  My wife just bought a Wagner steam cleaner that cuts through dirt and grease very well. We used to use steam to clean engine blocks and such, so I was wondering if there would be any reason not to use it to clean greasy drive trains, etc.  Of course everything would have to be properly lubed afterward, but the steamer warms the part so they dry amazingly fast.

My background is more Motorcycle than bikes, but I can say a BIG NO to steam Cleaners....  It's a great way to cause wheel bearing, chain, brake pad assembly , and other issues on a motorcycle.  
I would think that wheel & Pedal/Crank bearings on Bicycles would be affected by this even more than Motorcycles...

No, I wouldn't use a steam cleaner...
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