At least twice a year, or if you’ve been riding in really grotty conditions, you’re going to have to get your mechanic hat on. This is also a good opportunity to check the wear and tear of all drivetrain components, in particular your chain.
If you’re not comfortable with the idea of pulling your derailleur cage apart, pop along to your LBS to get the job done!
- Remove the rear wheel for better access. Using the appropriate Allen keys, remove the two screws holding the jockey wheels in the derailleur cage, and remove the jockey wheels. Set the inner derailleur plate and screws aside.
- If you have a Shimano model, gently remove the black caps from either side of each bearing using a slim, blunt tool (or your fingernails).
- Check the bearings and seals: if they’re in good nick and spin well you can skip the next step and go straight to cleaning. If they look rusty, crusty or catch at all, get ready to hand out some bike-specific TLC:
- With a very small screwdriver and a bit of patience, DELICATELY and CAREFULLY work your way around each blue seal, lifting it away from the bearing. Think of it as your grandmother’s crystal.
- Put everything in a shallow dish of degreaser to get rid of any muck. Some swirling and possible toothbrush rubbing may be required.
- Gently dry all the parts.
- Put a couple of drops of specific lubricant over the bearing balls and replace the seals, pressing them firmly into place. For Shimano models, put the black caps back in position, making sure they’re flush and aligned to avoid any unwanted friction.
Reinstall the jockey wheels and inner derailleur plate and tighten the screws carefully. Make sure you mount the jockey wheels in the right position in the derailleur cage (up for top, low for bottom) with the print towards the outside. Pop your rear wheel back in, and you’re ready to go!