I had one of these. With the exception of the narrow brush (which can be bought seperately), whos curved, toothed end is wonderful for cleaning gunk out of cassettes, I found the tool a waste of money. I wound up throwing mine away.
If you're seeing a lot of grime, your problem is almost certainly not the conditions in your area, although this can exacerbate the problem. Rather, you probably leaving too much oil on your chain/drivetrain.
The following will work better than the Park cleaner, save you money, and reduce your environmental impact.
- a general utility cleaning brush. Long bristles (2-3 inches), not too stiff. I got mine for 3 bucks at the grocery store.
- Degreaser. Citrus degreasers are fantastic, and imho worth the money, but dish soap works pretty well too.
- HOT water (I use a bucket too)
- lubricant suitable for your weather.
I also strongly recommend a chain-checker -- a simple little tool for checking chain wear, but you can always just run by your shop periodically to have them check it, if that's convenient.
Cleaning a gunky drivetrain
I say drivetrain, because it's usually not just your chain that's gunky, the casset, chainrings, and especially derailleur typically get really gunky too. If you're keeping your chainring lightly oiled (defined below) you won't have to do this too often -- after a really muddy ride for example
- put some hot water in a bucket.
- put some degreaser (e.g. citrus or dishsoap) directly on the dirty parts of your drivetrain, and on the scrub brush.
- scrub until you reachthe point of diminishing returns. The hot water is there to dip your brush in and get rid of grime.
- rinse things off thoroughly. Dry it thoroughly (air drying is ok). Then oil your drive train as described below.
I do this once a week, or daily when riding in inclement weather. That's pretty frequent, but the more frequently you do it, the quicker and easier it goes. You can experiment with frequency depending on your riding conditions, but you should find this is all the drivetrain maintenance you need until you chain wears out, with the gunk-cleaning being a special case.
- drip some oil on your chain while rotating the crank to get oil on all of the chain.
- After youve worked your fresh oil into the chain take a clean rag (not full of gunk) and run the chain through the rag until no more oil comes off onto rag. You shoudl see a faint glisten of oil on the chain, but touching the chain shouldn't get your fingers oily. If you've been over-oiling your chain for a while, you might go through a couple of rags.
- you can change your gears a bit as you do this to apply the process to all chain rings/cassette rings.
- check that your chain isn't worn (you can do this less frequently). As soon as it shows worn, replace it.
If you ride a lot in wet weather, you'll need to do this more frequently. Frequency, not quantity of oil is key in this situation.
The most common mistake people make is over oiling their chains. The excess oil accumulates dirt and gets gunky making cleaning a hastle. Every single time you oil your chain, wipe it with a rag like this. Do this frequently enough and you'll always have a nice clean drive train. If your chain oil always comes of black (blacker than whatever lubricant your using which is rarely black), just do this process frequently until things start looking nice.