Technical FAQ: Cleaning that new chain and some follow-up

A recurring painDear Lennard,I'm writing because I just read the shoe review in the VeloNews Buyer's Guide, and you mention in there that you use a custom orthotic. I was happy to see that the Shimano SH R300's I just purchased got high marks, but I am still having issues with my right foot even with the new shoes. I got the new shoes because I was having the problem with my four-year-old Northwave Evolutions.

A sticky question
Dear Lennard,
What is that sticky stuff that comes on a new Shimano chain?

Should I remove it and lube the chain before using the chain for the first time? If so, what takes that stuff off?

I’ve been researching this on the Web, and there are a lot of different views and answers. Some folks claim the goo is “cosmoline”, a preservative. Depending on whom you believe, it’s either the best lube on the planet and should be left on, or it’s the worst gunk you can imagine and should be stripped off.

Would you like to weigh-in on this issue? What do you do when you lube a new Shimano chain?

Dear Steve,
Great question! I think that Shimano’s factory lube is quite effective, and I certainly do not try and remove it with a solvent.

Solvent could displace the lube and get in between the pins, rollers and plates and could bring on squeaking.

When the factory lube has collected noticeable dirt, I start adding Pro Gold’s ProLink after every ride. Once the chain is less sticky, thanks to repeated ProLink application, I wipe the chain, chainrings, jockey wheels, cogs and derailleurs before each time I drop ProLink into it.

I’m convinced that I get the longest chain life and best shifting performance using this method and lube brand than any other approach I’ve taken.

Nice group. Is there a bike?
Dear Lennard,
In the VeloNews Buyer’s Guide, you reviewed the Centaur gruppo. Are there any bikes that come stock with Centaur?

Dear Thomas,
Yes, there are. In fact, we included one in that same issue: the Colnago CLX Centaur, which retails for $4699.

Feedback on the February 19th column
Dear Lennard,
You wrote, “Carbon molds cost a lot of money, as they are precision machined, often have heating elements built into them, and must be made of giant, thick pieces of metal (usually aluminum) so that they do not distort under the pressure and heat of the carbon curing process.”

Are you sure about aluminum being the mold material? It’s kinda soft and the coefficient of expansion is about twice that of steel and costs about twice that of mild steel.

Dear Laszlo,
You are absolutely right. They are usually made out of steel. I don’t know what I was thinking when I wrote that. I have been to several carbon frame factories, and the molds are always steel.

Dear Lennard,
Your answer to Brian about SRAM cassette compatibility is confusing and correct in part, only. You state “Shimano 10-speed freehub bodies, however, are aluminum and have taller, deeper splines,” which is true of the FH-7800 and compatible Dura-Ace level hubs, the only hubsets marketed by Shimano that work with matching Dura-Ace compatible 10-speed cassettes, only.

Shimano sells other hubs that are marketed and sold for use with 10-speed cassettes including the FH-6600 and FH-5500 hubs and compatible wheelsets. Of course these hubs work with 8- and 9-speed cassettes, too, which the FH-7800 hub does not. Thus the SRAM OG-1070 cassettes that Brian asks about work on most of the 10-speed groups and wheels sold by Shimano, the same as most of Shimano’s own 10-speed cassettes such as the CS-6600 and CS-5600 series. The only quirk again is the 7800 series, with the higher spines you mention, which is an outlier with limited compatibility even in Shimano’s own lineup of componentry. The limited options and compatibility is the reason that myself, and a lot of other riders, have avoided the 7800 level hubset.

Feedback on the February 12th column
Dear Lennard,
One way to make the 9-speed rear derailleurs work with cassette larger than what is rated is to replace the 11-tooth top derailleur jockey wheel with one of the older 10-tooth jockey wheels. I did this and was able to run a 12-32 Shimano cassette with a 9-speed Ultegra long cage rear derailleur.

Also some frames have a longer derailleur hanger than others. I was able to run a 32T rear sprocket on a 1997 Trek 5000 with a short cage Shimano 600 rear derailleur with no shifting problems. At this time Trek was providing tech support to riders via their Wrench Force vans and the technicians said the Shimano book said this would not work. I told them I ignored the book and used trial and error.

Dear Lennard,
I did the same thing as Jeremiah when I put the 32 on my Ultegra triple setup (Trek 5200) – putting the B-screw in backwards. It sounds a tad noisy on the bike stand, but has rides flawlessly under load. Thus far, I’ve used it for 9000 miles and on several transmissions. How it works may depend on the style of the dropout.

If that doesn’t work, a cycling buddy made the same mod (sliding a 32T 105 cog from Harris Cyclery in front of an Ultegra 12/27 cassette, leaving out the 13t cog), and while he was doing this noticed that the Dura-Ace B-screw on his other bike was longer than the Ultegra B-screw, so he swapped them. That gave him the extra clearance he needed.

Another cycling buddy went a step further. He took apart the B-spring assembly and redrilled the stop for the spring 90 degrees from stock. This also has worked flawlessly now for years, and he’s been using a 34 the whole time.

What I love most about Sheldon’s Brown’s idea of sliding the bigger cog in front a standard cassette is that it’s so darn cheap. 10 bucks is all it cost me for the 32-tooth cog, and all I lost was the 13-tooth cog, which I never used anyhow. Once I’m going that fast I just would shift right over it in to the 12. How often can you get something for nothing?

VeloNews technical writer Lennard Zinn is a frame builder (,a former U.S. national team rider and author of numerous books on bikesand bike maintenance including the pair of successful maintenance guides”Zinn and the Art of Mountain Bike Maintenance” and “Zinn and the Art of Road Bike Maintenance” as well as “Zinn’s Cycling Primer: Maintenance Tips and Skill Building for Cyclists.”

Zinn’s column is devoted to addressing readers’ technicalquestions about bikes, their care and feeding and how we as riders canuse them as comfortably and efficiently as possible. Readers can send brieftechnical questions directly to Zinn (’s column appears each Tuesday here on