One of the main reasons I eventually give up my bicycle commute in winter is that keeping my bike -mainly the drivetrain- clean despite all the rain/dirt/salt/hail/snow becomes too much of a time suck.
The weather means I feel I have to clean my chain at least every two or three days. But days are short and I have no shed. So on weekdays that means working in the dark under a streetlight in the cold. I know the cleaning is worth it, but after a few sessions with freezing fingers, eyes straining to find my tools I usually give up.
What I am looking for is a minimal routine that will keep my chain clean enough despite the weather.
[edited to add:] I'm currently trying the following, but I'm not sure how well it will work in the long run:
- At the end of each leg of my commute I use my waterbottle to spray the worst of the dirt and (hopefully) all the salt of my drivetrain.
- In the morning before I leave I check my chain and, if I feel there is not enough oil on it, I add a drop to each chain roller, turn the crank a few times, and wipe of the excess.
No cleaning (other than the waterbottle) no resting to let the oil seep in.
[edit2, to answer some questions:]
- I have full fenders on my bike.
- I currently use this lube: http://www.cyclon.nl/index.php?m1=2&m2=9&m3=11&m4=19&lang_id=4 which is supposed to be a wet lube.
[Edit3: what I've done:]
- I have switched to an even wetter lube. (this one: http://www.cyclon.nl/?m1=2&m2=9&m3=11&m4=22&lang_id=1)
- I got myself a chain cleaner (this one from BBB: http://www.chainreactioncycles.com/Models.aspx?ModelID=4671)
- I found a non-automatic car wash. (they are rare here, the first two google maps hits were no longer in business) There I can hose my bike down to remove the worst of the dirt/salt.
- I have accepted that I will probably buy a new chain come spring.
I think I'll ride to the car wash every weekend or every other weekend depending on conditions. This takes me, including cleaning my chain and re-oiling everything after the hosedown, about 35 minutes including the 5k one-way ride to the car-wash. Pretty good!