Show your drivetrain some love

This short guide runs through some quick general procedures you can carry out to help keep your drivetrain components in check.

By Charlie Collins

Stuff you will need

  • Allen keys
  • Drivetrain cleaning brushes
  • Degreaser
  • Grease
  • Stanley blade/pick
  • Cloths
  • 30-45 minutes

We’ve already shown you how to give your chain the much needed attention it can often deserve. This time we follow on with some checks and tips for the rest of your drivetrain’s parts.

Doing so, will help towards quiet, perfect shifting gears while prolonging the life of certain components. Keeping on top of the maintenance will save you pennies in the long run, because one worn-out component can lead to faster wear in the next, leading to hefty replacement parts costs.

With some essential tools, you’ll be able to easily and effectively clean most of your drivetrain’s componentry. We’ll be heading deeper than this though, checking hidden areas beyond where a brush will go, therefore these guides are based on a freshly cleaned drivetrain. It’s also wise to remove the chain if you have a split-link as this will make each job a little easier.

It’s recommended to carry out wear checks to your drivetrain several times a year. For the cleaning and regreasing of the rear mech jockey wheels and chainset, a couple of times a year will ensure they run smoothly throughout. If you regularly use a jetwasher, then it’s worth doing more frequently, as grease can be pushed out, although this can be said for any components with sealed areas!

Rear mech

drivetrain service

1. With the chain removed, check for excessive side-to-side play in jockey wheels – replace if bearings are overly worn. Check rear mech pivots to ensure they are not overly worn, shown through signs of excessive play.

drivetrain service

2. Remove jockey wheels, making note of the correct mounting locations/orientations.

drivetrain service

3. Separate the parts of each wheel and clean.

drivetrain service

4. Use a Stanley blade or pick to lift seals being careful not to damage them. Fully clean internals using degreaser.

drivetrain service

5. Once dry, re-grease jockey wheels and refit seal to bearing. Refit to rear mech ensuring parts are in correct orientations.

drivetrain service


If you have fitted a new chain and the gears are now skipping, you will need to replace the cassette. It’s too worn to mesh correctly with the chain.

You can check for wear by holding the rear brake and pushing down on the cranks. Excessive wear shows when the chain visibly rides up on the teeth.

Generally, a worn cassette only needs replacing if gear changes are sloppy, or the chain is skipping.

Front chainring

drivetrain service

1. If the chain is changed often enough, then your chainring(s) will last far longer. Check teeth visually, looking for evenly proportioned teeth.

drivetrain service

2. If the chainring’s teeth are beginning to look like sharks teeth, it’s time to replace it.

drivetrain service

3. When the teeth of a narrow-wide ring begin to wear it loses the ability to keep the chain on, so replace it if you are often dropping your chain.


drivetrain service

1. Check for any visual damage to the chainset, chances are it is cosmetic, however it always pays to be sure there are no serious cracks or gouges in them. Pay close attention to chain ring tabs as they could be bent or cracked from chainring impacts. Also move crank arms side-to-side, checking for bottom bracket bearing play, replace if there is any play.

drivetrain service

2. Remove cranks from bottom bracket and clean all areas including the bottom bracket.

3. Turn/inspect bottom bracket bearings with your finger. If very notchy and rough, you should replace.

drivetrain service

4. Grease bearing surfaces and axle, then refit chainset.

Muc-Off Ultimate Cleaning Kit

Okay, so you don’t need all of this kit for your drivetrain, but it includes some super handy brushes and Bio Drivetrain Cleaner. Both will make cleaning your drivetrain far easier than using a toothbrush and washing up liquid!