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  1. #1
    Elitist Troglodyte DMF's Avatar
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    Best value on-bike chain cleaning device?

    I'm just not happy with the performance of my old chain cleaning device and I'm going to retire it.

    What's a really good one for the money? The Finish Line chain cleaning device looks good, but so does Park Tools' and Pedro's.

    Anyone had a chance to compare them?

    How does it hold up to aromatic cleaning fluids, like mineral spirits or gasoline (benzene to you Limeys)?
    Last edited by DMF; 04-29-07 at 08:30 AM. Reason: device!
    Stupidity got us into this mess - why can't it get us out?

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  2. #2
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    Found some TriFlow High Performance Degreaser in my local dollar store for $1 a 15oz bottle. Works like a charm in a standard chain cleaning device. Went back and got a multi year supply. Has a surfactant and has not harmed any surface I have tried it on.

  3. #3
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    I like the Finish Line cleaner. I usually load it with mineral spirits but any solvent seems to work well.
    I use the cleaning machine about once every 500 miles or so. I clean with a rag and home brew after about every 100 miles.

    Al
    Last edited by Al1943; 04-30-07 at 11:58 AM.

  4. #4
    Luggite bsyptak's Avatar
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    Buy a gallon of Simple Green from Costco for about $9 as I recall. I've found nothing better. Environmentally friendly too, except the sludge it gets off.

  5. #5
    Elitist Troglodyte DMF's Avatar
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    No no no! I mean what's the best chain cleaning device? Usually a solid. The liquid variety has been covered here exhaustively.

    Al, thanks for the note about using with an aromatic cleaning fluid. I forgot to ask about that.

    Oh, the heck with it. I'm going to start a new thread.
    Stupidity got us into this mess - why can't it get us out?

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  6. #6
    me have long head tube TallRider's Avatar
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    Most people probably just misread your question (and didn't look at the link you offered, etc). That said, I've had experience with on-bike chain cleaners and don't like them that much. I find it easier to just remove the chain (provided it has a power link or something of the sort) and dump it into degreasing liquid. But I don't have a ton of experience with on-bike cleaning devices, so don't rule them out on my bias (I assume you won't). I've used the Performance-brand device and it seems to work fine - I'm not sure what major differences there are between these devices.

  7. #7
    biked well well biked's Avatar
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    The most cost affective chain cleaning equipiment is to use a re-usable connector link on your chains for easy disassembly, a few old recylced containers (plastic soda jug with top cut off, cool whip container, etc.), a rag or two, and some mineral spirits (or I suppose Simple Green if you're so inclined). In using mineral spirits, you can pop the chain off, drop it into a container of mineral spirits, thoroughly agitate it, put the chain into another container with clean mineral spirits, agitate it again, take chain out, dry it off and put it back on the bike (or agitate again in another container of clean mineral spirits if needed, etc.). Then pour all mineral spirits back into a sealed container so the gunk can settle to the bottom; in a day or two you can pour off the now-clean mineral spirits for future use. Clean chain, free containers, free rags (old socks, etc.), re-usable mineral spirits. Very efficient in every way--
    Last edited by well biked; 04-29-07 at 10:55 AM.

  8. #8
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    I use to clean by taking my chain off and putting it in a solvent tank and washing it off, and I still do but only once a year now. Why once a year you scream? Because I've been using the Finish Line Cleaning Machine with really good results for the last 5 years or so; such good results that when I take it apart and clean it in the solvent tank very little extra dirt comes off.

    I have found that with the Cleaning Machine I clean my chain about every 100 miles instead of every 200 to 250 I was doing before; so maybe the more often cleanings is keeping the chain cleaner. I also use just their cleaning fluid, it's biodegradeable and it works. I've never used Simple Green because I don't like that crap, it can cause pitting, rust out parts, corrode aluminum etc.

    A word of caution using these things if you decide to get one, you have to back pedal the chain slowly through the unit, most people go too fast and the solvent splatters everywhere. Regardless don't do this in your living room, do it in the garage or basement otherwise your wife might drive a stake through your head!

  9. #9
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    Sorry about the liquid solid thing. I have tried Parks, and no name devices and I think they all work about the same. Best way is to take off the chain and soak in in a solvent of your choice in a steel coffee can per above ideas.

  10. #10
    Senior Member ken cummings's Avatar
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    I tried a Performance one 20+ years ago and the cleaner inside got dirty quickly and I needed to keep emptying the widget and refilling with clean cleaner. Likely I should have used it more often. I would vote for the one with the largest internal volume. +1 on moving the chain slowly.
    This space open

  11. #11
    Making a kilometer blurry waterrockets's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DMF
    No no no! I mean what's the best chain cleaning device?
    Shop rag. It will drive less junk into the chain than anything with brushes on it.
    Last edited by waterrockets; 04-30-07 at 06:20 AM.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by ken cummings
    I tried a Performance one 20+ years ago and the cleaner inside got dirty quickly and I needed to keep emptying the widget and refilling with clean cleaner. Likely I should have used it more often. I would vote for the one with the largest internal volume. +1 on moving the chain slowly.
    I had a similar, fairly low cost unit 10-12 years ago and I had about the same experience: the fluid seemed to get filthy immediately, and my impression was that it was just washing the chain with gritty, dirty fluid. I kept thinking "there should be a final rinse!" Perhaps I just wasn't using it often enough, but regardless I kind of quit using it. In most things, my feeling about washing is that a large volume of solution to dilute and/or wash away the solids is the key and I just didn't get the feeling this device was doing that. But again, it is probably intended for more frequent, regular use than I was doing.

    I switched to just lubricating more often and removing and cleaning in a jar every year or so. Other than routine, quick lubrication, I'm probably too casual with chain maintenance. I do watch for wear (aka 'stretching') and replace when necessary. I don't like a filthy chain and try to keep it lubed, but frankly, I could care less if it lasts 2,000 miles or 10,000 miles. I'm not a good example of meticulous maintenance, I try to get away with what I think is adequate, not optimal.

  13. #13
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    For me, the on-bike chain washers are superior to any off bike method. First, they're faster, which means I clean more often, like another poster said. Second, they get the chain cleaner, because the brushes dislodge the gunk in a way soaking never can and because every link and roller is in motion, allowing the solvent to flush more thoroughly than when soaking/shaking.

    Yes, the solvent gets dirty fast. But it's easy to do multiple rinses. I use a citrus solvent w/ water, and mix right in the machine. I fill a gallon water jug to have it handy. I usually do two solvent rinses, one plain water rinse, and then a WD-40 rinse to displace the water. It just takes a couple of minutes, and the chain is REALLY clean. Then wipe it down and lube w/ ProLink.

    Jack

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