One of the less wholesome sides of cycling is the increased commercialisation of our pastime. What began as something we cobbled together with old bicycle parts, a pair of shorts and a t-shirt is now a multi-million pound business that is designed to make us spend money.
Like any sport, cycling is subject to huge amounts of marketing and advertising designed to part us with our cash. While much of the equipment available can be useful or even essential, not all of it is.
So with that in mind, I’m sharing some of my home made versions of popular commercial cycling products. The first is degreaser and the second is chain lube. Both have loads of commercial versions at various price points. Both can be easily made at home.
Natural orange degreaser
The drivetrain of any bike is only ever clean and shiny until that first ride. However carefully you might lube, that area of the bike is always dirty. As any cyclist knows, keeping the drivetrain clean is an essential maintenance task. It helps reduce wear, stops rust and helps keep gear changes slick.
One product that I see a lot of is the chain or drivetrain degreaser. These products can be expensive but you don’t need them. With only three ingredients and a cheap spray bottle, you can make your own degreaser that cuts through anything you’re likely to see on your chain. What’s more, it’s completely natural and won’t harm the environment.
What you need:
500ml warm water
2 Tbsp. washing up liquid
40 drops of orange essential oil
Mix these ingredients together in a cheap spray bottle (available at most DIY shops for £1) and spray that grease away. It not only cuts through oil and muck like butter, it also smells nice too!
Homebrew chain lube
Another product that seems to get a lot of marketing attention is lube. There are some amazing products on the market right now and you will pay through the nose for most of them. Unless you’re interested in marginal gains, one is very much like another. The only difference worth worrying about is the wet lube/dry lube difference.
Back in my mountain biking days I used to make my own chain lube. It is one of the things I have brought with me to the road and I still use it today. I also use it for cables when servicing too.
It only uses two ingredients, both of which any home and car owner will have lying around. So if you want to try making your own chain lube, here’s how. This is wet lube BTW.
What you need:
100ml motor oil
300ml white spirit
The ratio is 3:1 white spirit to oil so you can mix any amount you like. Any engine oil will do, I run a diesel car so tend to have 0W – 40 oil lying around. Save an old lube bottle or use a plastic bottle with a needle nose, whatever works for you. Lube when you get back from a ride and wipe off an hour or so later. Easy.
If your chain is heavily gunked, using white spirit on its own cleans that right up. If you have a lot of stubborn grease, diesel on a rag will get it shining and new once more.
There are somethings that are just better done old school. While it’s easy to buy a lube off the shelf, why pay £8.95 for a tiny bottle of lube when you can make some yourself for a tiny percentage of that price? The vast majority of riders don’t need Teflon or other trickery, it’s just a chain after all!