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Just bought a new set of tires and tubes for my 85 Motobecane LeVelo and after pulling the wheels and removing the tire's I got to looking at the wheels and would like to clean the rims and spokes up before installing the new tires.
They have some light surface rust in little specs on the suface of the rims and the spokes are dull from age, My question is what is the best way to clean off this rust from the rims and what do you use to clean up the spokes?
I have been told to use SOS pads and steel wool, Is this a good thing to use? seems like it may be a little harsh and would leave the chrome on the rims with surface scratches.
Could someone tell me the best way to clean them up?
 

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If the rims are rusty, then they're not alloy. If they're steel (test it with a small magnet) go ahead and use the SOS pads on both rims and spokes. SOS works great on spokes (BTW, you can use the pads dry, too). The SOS pads are made from a very fine grade steel wool, so they're unlikely to scratch. My suggestion is to try it gently on a small spot before scrubbing away at the rim. For the spokes it's a slam-dunk: SOS away. You can also buy some fine grade steel wool at the hardware store and use it dry or with some oil lube, like Tri-Flow.

On the other hand, if the rims are indeed alloy, get a tube of Simichrome polish, some paper towels, turn on the radio to your favorite station, and start polishing. They'll look like new. I love Simichrome!
 

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a dissenting view

Sounds like your steel rims are chromed (that would be common). SOS or any other steel wool will indeed make lots of fine scratches. Just use a metal polish that's recommended for chrome. Simichrome is good, but there are other brands if you can't find that. The hardware store will have them.

BTW, if you decide to spend a little money and upgrade that bike a bit, aluminum rims (that's what bikee's mean by "alloy") will make the biggest difference for the least $. Even the cheapest aluminum wheels will be way lighter and will make a noticeable difference. As a bonus, braking will be vastly improved, especially in the wet. Those chromed steel rims were really awful for braking in the rain.

Assuming those are 27" wheels with thread-on freewheel, Harris Cyclery has a set for 99.95 that are a good deal.
http://sheldonbrown.com/harris/wheels/630.html
 
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