Of the many tricks I learned as a mechanic, few have had the lasting utility of the folded T-shirt pulled taught. Greg LeMond was on his way to winning his second Tour de France when a co-worker showed me how to fold an old T-shirt and grab the crease so that I could slide it between two cassette cogs and wipe away dirty chain lube and grime. Holy cow.
So effective a technique is it that I have employed it ever since. I’d have written “ever after,” except for three reasons. First, this isn’t a fairy tale. Second, I’m not dead yet. And third, because Finish Line.
Gear Floss, Finish Line calls it. I’m going to venture that if such a name isn’t self-explanatory to someone, that person doesn’t work on their bike to any great degree. Nothing wrong with that. Lucky are they who can pay others to do their bike work. Okay, maybe hard-working is a more accurate term. Nothing against those who work hard and can’t afford to pay someone else to work on their bike. Or against those who still like working on their bike. Oh heck. See where this is going?
Okay, Gear Floss. This stuff is terrific. It’s fluffy in a way that T-shirts are not. Because it’s fluffy, it absorbs degreaser in a highly useful way. It’s long enough that you can get all the way around a really big cassette or even chainrings. Liberal application of degreaser will keep it useful even long after it’s turned black.
I’m not a big fan of scrubbing things with brushes unless you’ve got a significant enclosure, like saying the cooling tower of a nuclear plant. Every time one of those little bristles lets go, there’s a fine misting of blackened degreaser. There’s no T-shirt on earth black enough to hide it. Exposed skin ends up looking like it’s been exposed to some zombification process in a post-apocalyptic movie. Not quite my fave.
So, down on brushes. Up on floss.
For $6.99 you get 20 ropes that are 20 inches in length. It takes me about three of them to get through a full cassette. One more will get me through the worst crannies of a crankset. These are handy in that they’re easy to pick up by the end and set aside once thoroughly used. The same is not necessarily said of T-shirts. More than once I forgot that I’d used a T-shirt for cassette duty only to grab it an hour later and end up with a hand grimier than tar sands. D’oh.
Final thought: If only it came in mint or cinnamon.
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