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Gear Prudence: After moving from a rowhouse to an apartment building, I’m having issues finding a convenient space to take care of my bike. Cleaning chains and gears is messy, so I don’t want to clean my bike inside of my apartment. And outside on the sidewalk seems like a really selfish use of public space and has the drawback of having no access to water to give my bike a good rinsing before I dig into the cassette and other nooks. Any thoughts? —Must Enable Sparkling Steed
Dear MESS: Your desire for a clean bike is laudable as is your instinct to avoid cleaning your bike inside your apartment. There’s no surer way to lose that security deposit than a stripe of chain grime across an otherwise pristine carpet. You could clean your bike in the shower, but that seems like both a hassle and a surefire way to sully the space you use for your own bathing.
Your courtesy vis-à-vis public space is admirable, though maybe a bit too cautious. Is there some courtyard or semi-private area where you could take a bucket and some washcloths to do the dirty deed? If there’s landscaping around the building, there might even be a hose that your landlord or property manager might let you use.
If not, you might have to take your bike off-site, like to a self-service dog wash. Drape some mopheads over your frame, and if questioned, claim your bike is an oversized Puli. Or assess which of your riding buddies has the consistently cleanest cogs. Flatter their fastidiousness, go halfsies on the Simple Green, and bring over a six pack that you can split as you scrub your bikes together. —GP
Gear Prudence: I’ve become more diligent in drive train maintenance at home. But now, I have a growing pile of cloth rags that are begrimed with road grit and chain lube. What is the best way to clean them? I’ve considered throwing them in a washing machine, but am concerned about grease eventually getting on my clothes. —Researching A Grease Solution
Dear RAGS: A washing machine could certainly work, but GP, like you, worries that the accumulated gunk and grit will perniciously cling to the inside of the machine and find its way onto whatever you wash next. If you have all black clothes, this won’t be a problem. Otherwise, why risk it?
What’s wrong with a bucket? Fill it with as much water as you need and some laundry detergent, dump in your rags, agitate, and rinse. Allow them to air dry, and use that time to consider whether it would be easier to just get new rags, maybe ones that have formerly been your old socks or undershirts. —GP