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Your mechs will thank you for their better shifting if they are kept clean and well-oiled. Here's how.
Your derailleurs are tasked with moving a greasy bike chains up and down the cassette. They are directly in the line of spray from the wheels and it is no surprise they can get gunked up.
It's a good idea to give yours a lubricant every now and again. You can extend their service life by keeping them clean and free from obstructions. Here's how...
Insider tip: The chain runs through your sprockets and chains, so they don't need any oil. Excessive oiling can attract dirt and wear them faster.
1. Use degreaser to clean the surface
You don't have to disassemble the derailleur completely. Instead, you can spray it with degreaser. You shouldn't do this too often as grease could be pushed out of the pivots by soaking it in.
The same process applies to both the front and rear mechs.
2. Keep the cages clean
Grab a brush to clean the dirt from the cages of the rear and front derailleurs. You could remove the chain first if you are particularly careful, but it is possible to do a good job even if it is still there.
3. Get rid of all the dirt
You might notice that the jockey wheels are clogged up if you haven't paid much attention to your rear derailleur in a while. You can scrape it off with a flat-head screwdriver if it is really bad. Then, use an old rag for any remaining grime.
4. Examine the jockey wheels
The jockey wheels, like the rest of the drivetrain, will gradually wear down. They will change from having a flat, blunt profile to becoming spike-like teeth. They will need to be replaced once they have developed this characteristic.
5. Oil the jockey wheels
Your jockey wheels will appreciate a little lubrication, regardless of whether you are replacing them or keeping the old ones in place.
Use the right lube for the season.
6. Lubricate the pivots
Four pivots are located on the rear derailleur and two at the front. They can both benefit from some occasional lubrication. Poor shifting can result if they become sticky. This is especially noticeable when you move down the cassette or into small chainrings. To help the mech sink in, give each one a little grease.
As the chain runs through your sprockets, it provides sufficient oiling to ensure that they are properly lubricated. Excessive oiling can attract dirt and wear them faster.