by Frank Pedeflous
As this illustration shows, a bicycle has lots of parts. In order to keep your bike clean and functioning in top shape, you need to make sure that all of these parts stay clean and free from the dirt and grime the road can throw on them. One of the most effective ways to get all of these assorted parts clean is to use an ultrasonic cleaner. A small bench-top ultrasonic cleaner like the Omegasonics 7950 with its 7 gallon tank or the 1420 with a larger 14 gallon tank are the perfect machines for keeping your bike cleaned and lubricated.
How Does an Ultrasonic Cleaner Work?
Cleaning can be done by hand with rags and cleaners, so what makes using an ultrasonic cleaner so much more capable to take on the task of cleaning your bike? That all begins with knowing how an ultrasonic cleaner works. Those bike parts, particularly the cassette, are made in a way that they can be very hard to clean by hand.
Ultrasonic cleaners work by having the parts fully submerged in a cleaning bath. The bath is then excited by sound waves that create very tiny bubbles. Those bubbles contain a ton of energy and, as they impact the surface of the bike parts, they blast off all of the dirt, oil and grime with tiny hot jets. Since the bubbles are so small, they are able to get to every surface on your part, ones that you could never reach by hand.
The Process for Bike Parts
While you wouldn’t use the ultrasonic cleaner to clean the frame, it is perfect for drive train parts like the chain, derailleur, cranks, cassettes and even the pedals.
You would start by removing the parts from the frame of the bike. Make sure that any hardware that holds them in place goes along with the part. That can be cleaned as well. Give the parts a quick wipe and rinse to make sure that all of the excess dirt is off of them. This isn’t necessary but it will reduce the time needed in the ultrasonic cleaning tank.
Once the parts are ready, fill the cleaning tank with your cleaning solution of choice. A perfect selection would be one that can break up and carry away oil-based grime. The disassembled parts are placed into the basket that comes along with the cleaner and you can set the timer and walk away. Five minutes might be good enough to get a good cleaning done. If they aren’t as clean as you would like, you can set the timer to longer or place fewer parts in the bath at once.
When you use a good, free-rinsing degreasing product with a built-in rust inhibitor, there’s no need to rinse the parts once they’re removed from the bath. By coupling a little air to blow off excess moisture and the flash drying that occurs from the heated bath, the parts can go right back on the bike.