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The most useful cycling tool... EVER !

Updated: Apr 7, 2023

Quite simply the second most annoying thing about cycling is maintaining your bike. The most annoying thing can only be whispered in shady dark corners in dank cellars, deep underground far away from sensitive ears, for fear of hearing its name brings forth much anger.

So, focusing on the second most annoying thing, Maintenance, and of that laborious chore is the cleaning ritual.

Some love it, most don’t, but we all have to, at some point, give the bike a wash. Cutting through the ceremony of it all, we should keep our bikes clean because they last longer, and they look better. There are few things in this world that I would recommend, especially when it comes to cleaning, but when it comes to something that makes your life so, so much easier I will climb a mountain 10 feet high to shout from its top about the splendour that this thing is.

The thing I’m writing about is the Park Tool CM-5.3 - Cyclone Chain Scrubber. That’s posh chat for a chain cleaner. The CM-5.3 reminds me of Mclarens and Lamborghinis method of naming cars at the moment, I digress…

Now, of all the things you have to clean on a bike the chain is probably the most fiddly, filthy and frustrating job to do. I hated doing it. I’d put off doing the job for days, weeks, even years, but eventually I would to take the chain completely off the bike, dump it in the sink and scrub it with an old toothbrush, swearing under my breath and It didn’t matter how meticulous I was with that process, the chain never, ever got really properly clean. It just got less dirty for a bit.

This’ll be the point where the proper cleaning nerds chime in with “why didn’t you buy an ultrasonic cleaner”. Well I very nearly did. I can’t believe I’m actually admitting to that but yes, I very nearly wasted an amount of money on something completely unnecessary. I also put off buying one of these chain cleaners as well, thinking that they were all a bit of a money spinning gimmick. Reason being is I’d see them all over the place, discarded, unused, unloved and broken in the corner of peoples sheds and garages. How wrong I was, because those people were fools, fools I tell ya. They were the cheap, horrible and badly designed chain cleaners that you do waste money buying. Breaking almost instantly on seeing the job they were intended to do, and even if they manage to survive the first round of cleaning they never really did a good job, only really as good as my toothbrush and sink method.

Frustrated and annoyed at the prospect of another sink session with my selection of chains I decided to at least try one of these tools out. I went and got one of Park Tools chain cleaners. Reason being, I Know Park Tool has a reputation for making very good tools, similar to Mr Kipling having a reputation for making exceedingly good cakes, I figured it’d be a wise choice and good investment reminding myself of the old adage “the man who wants to save pays twice”

Winner winner, chicken dinner !

After the first use of Park Tools CM-5.3 chain scrubber my life instantly became one step closer to a permeant state of zen. I can not express to you enough why you need this tool in your life. Gone where the days of stooping over the kitchen sink thrashing away with an old toothbrush and soap, acquiring mucky fingers and the stink eyed wrath of my better half. In where the days of sparkling fresh chains, all done with ease and without the need to remove them from the bikes.

You clip the whole contraption over the lower chain run on the bike and then you just spin the cranks backwards.

The whole system has a set of three brushes and a sponge wiper, housed inside a Park tool blue plastic casing, The plastic casing is extremely robust, I mean you can’t stamp up and down on it like you’re out raving or sling it over the house, but for its purpose its spot on. My chain scrubber currently lives in a bucket outside on a balcony open to all the elements, it gets used regularly and then ceremoniously thrown back in the bucket. I’ve had my chain cleaner for near on three years now and the thing is still rocking on. The three brushes inside clean above, below and the sides of the chain and as the chain goes through the tool it ends up going through the sponge wiper which clears off any excess. The degreaser stays in the sump of the tool and there’s a magnet attached to the bottom which keeps any metal particles from being sent back to the chain via the brushes. The only real weakness of this chain scrubber is the magnet. I lost mine a while back as it just pushes on a plastic lug on the bottom of the tool. It’s probably in the bucket somewhere and it’s my own fault for losing it.

I know tools typically have only one purpose, I mean you can’t use a BB facing tool as a tooth flosser for instance but if there’s one thing that’s made my life easier when it comes to maintaining my bike on a day to day basis, the Park Tool Chain Scrubber is by far and away the most useful thing I have and I shall climb a 10 foot mountain and decry that you should also have this in your cleaning bucket too.

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