How to Remove Rust from Bike Gears

These yellowish shit! I hate it.

I love to ride on country roads. But, I need to wash the bike more frequently whenever I ride on dirt. That’s not a problem. The problem is that the bike gears are getting too rusty day by day. I hate it. So, I must remove this rust from the gear.

It’s not always necessary that you ride off-road, and the gear gets dirty and rusty. Sometimes, you leave the bike without maintenance, and the gears get rusty.

Whatever the reason is, you must remove rust from gears. It’s a must if you want to ride efficiently. Why is doing it so crucial?  I will explain it in the next section. Also, I will discuss how to remove rust from bike gears. That’s what you are looking for.

Why do you need to remove rust from bike gears?

Why do you need to remove rust from bike gears

Firstly, bike gears become corrosive due to rust. Eventually, the cassettes or cogs get damaged or worn out because of rust. A damaged gear or gear with broken teeth has no use.

Secondly, Chain skipping and stuck appear because of rusty gears. Thus, it causes inefficient shifting.

Lastly, the overall performance of the bike gets poor because of rusty gears. When there is rust, friction creases between the components. So,  the chain, cogs, and freewheel can’t rotate precisely due to friction.

How to keep bike gears from rust

After my bike gear becomes rusty, I realize something. It’s the rainy season here in Oregon. That’s why the humidity is higher than the average. It can be a reason why the bike gears get rusty.

However, I could prevent the rust if I had realized it before. But, it’s okay. I will share it with you so that you know how to keep your bike gears from rust.

  1. Storing in a Dry Place: Whenever you store your bike, make sure the place is dry and free from moisture.
  1. Wiping After a Wash: You must keep the gear clean to prevent rust. But sometimes, the gear gets rusty because of overwash. To avoid this situation, wipe the water from the bike as soon as you wash it. 
  1. Lubricating Regularly: The ultimate preventive measure is to protect the gear from moisture. You can apply WD40 to the gear. It works like a waterproof coating to prevent gears from being wet. But, I would recommend using general lubricants. It also prevents moisture and makes the gearing smoother. Moreover, it;’s not so harsh as WD40. So, you can use lubricants without any worries.

How to remove rust from bike gears

Now you know why the rust needs to be removed. Many people do many things as the internet is flooded with many hacks and tips on it.

But, most of them are not the right way to do it. Correctly doing it is crucial, or you may damage the cog-set. Let’s know how to remove rust from bike gears.

Step-1: Removal & Wash

How to remove rust from bike gears

Before you start removing rust from the gear, wash it first.  You can clean it while it is on the bike. But you must remove the gear if you want precise cleaning.

So, let’s know how to remove and wash bike gear.

  1. Firstly, take the wheel off the bike. For that, loosen the quick release. Or, remove the nut with an Adjustable Wrench if there is no quick release. Then remove the axle nut or screwer nut. And the wheel is ready to remove. But do it carefully so that the brake pad or derailleur won’t damage
  1. Secondly, separate the cassettes or cogset from the wheel. For that, get a compatible Freewheel Removal Tool and loosen the freehub. Now, separate the cassettes or cogset from the freehub, and you are ready for the wash.
  1. Thirdly, clean the cassettes with soap water. You can simply use detergent or dish wash for the job. Or, you can use Degreaser. However, make the solvent first. Then apply it through the cassettes. Also, rub it with a brush so that grime remove precisely.
  1. Finally, rinse the cassettes with cold water. Do it until all the grime gets removed. Lastly, soak the remaining water from the cogset with a clean rag. That’s it.
Freaky Tip: You can try Ultrasonic Cleaner to take the washing job to the next level. The process is discussed in detail in my Bike Chain Cleaning Tips. Check it out.

Step-2: Rubbing the cogs

Changing Freewheel

Before starting the actual job, wear a pair of Gloves, Safety Goggles, and a face mask. It is necessary because the chemical you are gonna use is harmful to the human body. So, get ready and jump into the work.

  1. Firstly, you have to rub the cogs to remove rust. For that, get some Sand Papers. If the gear has cassette systems, rub the cogs one by one. Otherwise, wrap the sandpaper around a thin, long wooden cube. Thus, you will be able to reach all the difficult corners of the cogset. However, rub the cogs gently until the rust thoroughly gets removed.
  1. Secondly, dip all the cogs and other components into a Rust Remover solvent. Then wait for an hour to let the chemical do its job. After that, scrab the components with a brush so that the remaining rust gets removed.
  1. Finally, take the gears out of the solvent. Then, wipe the chemical with a microfibre cloth. Now, align the cogs to the freehub and prepare the gear for the next process.
Warning: Above process can clean the bike gear and keep it rust-free. But it can damage the component sometimes. As the chemical is corrosive in nature, don’t overuse it. Thus, you can avoid gear damage.

Step-3: Installation & Lubrication

After rubbing the cogs, install the gearing like before. Also, you will need aftercare so that the gears can prevent rust itself. Anyway, let’s do it step by step.

  1. Firstly, reinstall the freewheel into the wheel. Then, reset the wheel and tighten the quick release. Also, make sure the chainstay on the gear. Now set the chain around the lowest cog and try to tighten the freewheel. You can either use a Chain Whip or do it with freehand. For that, uplift the bike, squeeze the rear brake lever and pedal at a time. The freewheel will be tightened.
  1. Lastly, increase the rust resistance of the gear. For that, you can spray WD40 or apply lubricant to it. I recommend getting a suitable Bike Lube and lubricating the gear after every wash.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does WD-40 Remove rust?

Yes! WD40 efficiently removes rust from bike gears. As it features rust dissolver technology, bike components get rust-free thoroughly.

How do you remove rust without scrubbing?

It’s a homemade solution. Make a solvent of vinegar and salt. Then dip the bike gear in the vinegar bath. After an hour, the rust will be dissolved. Thus, you can remove rust without scrubbing.

Will salt and vinegar remove rust?

Well, it works to some extend. But, it’s not so efficient as rust remover chemicals. Vinegar is a weak acid that slowly dissolves rust. But it becomes stronger and faster when mixed with salt. So, make a solution of one-gallon vinegar and one cup of salt. Then, it’s ready to remove rust from your bike gear

Can Coke/Pepsi clean rust?

It is often considered a myth. But,  Coke or Pepsi can truly remove rust. As acetic in nature, soft drinks are able to dissolve metal oxide (which we know as rust). But it won’t be a good option for rust removal because of its low efficiency.


Rust creation is nothing but a chemical reaction that occurs on metal in the presence of water and oxygen.

So, if you eliminate one of them, the metal will remain rust-free. As you can’t remove air from a place, water is the only element to avoid. So, keep your bike from a humid area to keep it from rust.

If this chemistry lesson seems boring and went over your head, read the post once again. Look, I have described an easy way to keep your bike gears from rust.

Doing this will help you to prevent rust. Well, rust will still appear, but not too early. 

However, prevention is not the ultimate solution. So, you will need a fix. That’s why I have also discussed how to remove rust from bike gears. I hope that has helped.

That’s it for today.


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