I like to keep the bike clean and ready to ride. I wipe the bike down after every ride and I clean and lube the drivetrain after every second ride.
Yesterday, the bike started to make some terrible sounds from the pedal crank area and from the rear cog. The noises were similar to the grinding sound of a pepper mill — those shakers at restaurants where you turn a crank to mince the peppers. Only this sound was much, much louder. And whenever any torque was applied to the drivetrain, especially when climbing and more so when using the granny end of the gearing, harsh abrasive sounds would emerge.
I had no idea what was wrong with the machine.
I took it over to my LBS and had the bike mechanic take a look. The symptoms were easy to reproduce. Even a slight turn of the crank would cause that nasty grinding sound.
The root cause? A dry chain.
How could that be? I had just lubed the chain.
It has been an unusually warm and dry summer. Right now I am riding around 300 kilometers a week. I clean and lube after every two rides. The roads I ride are primarily chip and tar and they are dry and dusty. Two weeks ago I changed the type of lube that I am using on my chain. All of those factors likely played a role in causing a dry chain. That and not enough lube on the chain to keep it quiet.
I have been riding road bikes for over forty years and this is the first time I have ever experienced a dry chain. Thankfully, it did not cause any damage to the machine. Looks like I have to lube the chain after every ride.
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