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Bicycle Mechanics Broken bottom bracket? Tacoed wheel? If you're having problems with your bicycle, or just need help fixing a flat, drop in here for the latest on bicycle mechanics & bicycle maintenance.

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Old 09-11-05, 08:50 PM   #1
jbrians
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I hesitate to ask this but I want you to know I've just finished scanning ALL of the pages in this section from the beginning looking for a similar thread (btw, we should have a section totally devoted to chain oiling...it comes up on every single one of the 250 pages I've looked at!)
There are a lot of us out there who have been doing our own maintainence on our bikes for years and the oldfashioned way has worked for us just fine. Solvent washes for the chain and regular oiling would see us getting 3-10 years life out of the driveline components. Axle/chasis grease from the hardware store and we'd never have a bottom bracket fail on us. Same thing with wheel bearings. A squirt or two of oil down the cables would see them lasting just about forever too.
Personally, I loved the days when I could tinker around with my bike for hours at a time but the reality is, I don't have that luxury now...but I hate paying someone to work on my bike when I know I will do a better job on it.
Modern materials are lighter but I don't think they are designed to last longer, meaning maintenance if anything needs to occur more frequently, not less.
My question: I have always taken my chain off and give it a solvent bath every 4 weeks and then add my favourite secret sauce (50/50 varsol/oil) every week before a ride. Will I be just has happy with the results (and have more time to ride) if I use a commercially available chain cleaning tool , Parks for example, every week or so and give the chain the full treatment? I'm trying to save some time as I now have 5 bikes that I look after, not just one but I don't want to save time if I won't get the longevity I'm after.
Same with bearings. A $2.00 can of grease goes a long ways. I always believe that clean cheap grease is better than expensive dirty stuff. Are the new components wearing out faster than the older ones even with the new bike specific lubes?
Sorry for rambling on...it's a problem you develope when you get older!
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Old 09-11-05, 09:11 PM   #2
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How long shoud a chain last? In the first place that would depend on how much it is used. A chain will last 3-10 years if the bike is ridden 500 miles or less per year and you don't mind wearing out a cassette as you wear out the chain. It could last 3-6 months if the bike is ridden 5000 miles or more per year or if the owner wants to replace chains before the worn chain accelerates wear on the cassette. 5000 miles or more per year would not be uncommon among the riders that frequent these forums.

There is no question that the chains on today's 9 or 10 speed drive systems are thinner. However, I don't think they are any weaker. I think you could expect about the same chain wear on an older 5 or 6 speed system. Personally, I don't see the difference. I think you are simply communicating with people who put a lot of mileage on bicycles because they are serious riders. I don't think chains are any less resistant to wear than they were 20, 30, 40 or 50 years ago.
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Old 09-12-05, 08:26 AM   #3
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I have one of the Park chain cleaners and found it worked very well with the expensive Park cleaning solution. I have tried kerosene and similar inexpensive dodges and not gotten similar results. Now, I just do the degreaser-soapy auto sponge thing and it seems to work as well, if a bit more messy.

The economy of home-made lubes seems somewhat overdone to me, a bottle of top-grade chain lube is what, 7-8 bucks? Lasts for a year or more....

Buying one of the new "breakable" chains or links seems like a good idea to me; pop it off and soak in a good solvent, then re-lube. But you still have to clean up the drivetrain.

The patrol bike I ride is seven years old and has the original chain. It still tests within spec, and the bike shifts cleanly and accurately. (Shimano LX and XT components)
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Old 09-12-05, 08:47 AM   #4
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What is Varsol? Which oil?
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Old 09-12-05, 09:33 AM   #5
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What is Varsol? Which oil?
http://www.exxonmobilchemical.com/Pu..._Grades_WW.asp
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Old 09-12-05, 10:06 AM   #6
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How many religions are there? There's probably an equal number of bicycle chain maintenance programs. Everybody thinks that theirs is the one true way to excellence.
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Old 09-12-05, 10:18 AM   #7
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I'm not really that religious but I am getting lazy!
The remove chain, solvent wash and re-oil route has blessed me with LONG component life...I literally can't remember when I last changed the chain on my road bike: probably 10 years at least. And neither it nor the freewheel is worn beyond spec. (only 1/16th on the chain now) But again, I keep it well oiled and scrupulously clean. It does get messy though!
I want to simplify my life and if the results, using a Parks tool for example, will result in a good clean drive line then I'll give it a try.
I am really looking to replace a method that works very well for me, with one that works for me...if you get my meaning.
The Parks routine takes what, maybe 15 minutes from beginning to end? The solvent wash and re-oiling takes me close to an hour at least...more if you include the time required for the varsol (mineral spirits/paint thinner) to evaporate from the chain.
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Old 09-12-05, 10:38 AM   #8
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The chain cleaners are fast. Fill it, whoosh it around a little, drain it.
Run the chain through some rags to get more gunk off and oil it.
If you're slow you could be riding in 5 minutes. But if I was riding immediately I'd use a dry lube.
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Old 09-12-05, 08:47 PM   #9
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Old timer at LBS and I concur that paying for expensive grease is a waste of money. Best stuff is marine grade grease. By a huge tube for the price of 10-15 tiny "bike" specific greases that will barely have any leftover from R+Ring a BB and headset.

A good substitute for chain lube is chainsaw bar oil (Stihl is great). Avoid this for off road (i.e. sand) as is very sticky and will collect dirt, even for road bikes use sparingly then clean often. It's very tenacious and has great lubrication properties. If you get things dirty kerosene or diesel fuel is a great chain dip but over $3 a gallon now.....
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Old 09-13-05, 10:50 AM   #10
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Thankyou for all the replies.
The concensus seems to be that for speed, use a cleaning tool. For a superior job, do it by hand.

Thanks
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Old 09-13-05, 11:29 AM   #11
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The tool is not bad! I used to use it a lot when MTBiking. Instead of the expensive solution or petroleum solvents I used 50/50 citric degreaser/water. That stuff is powerful and water soluble - easier to dispose of -
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