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Thread: Chain Cleaning

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    Chain Cleaning

    Do you have to clean your chain before putting new oil on it?
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    human velocipedio's Avatar
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    No.

    SHould wipe-off your chain... And you should consider giving it a full clean periodically, but in regular riding, you don't have to do it all the time.

    You should lube before every or every other ride. You don't want to be cleaning the chain that often, do you?
    when walking, just walk. when sitting, just sit. when riding, just ride. above all, don't wobble.

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    Just ride. roadbuzz's Avatar
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    Depends on what you lube with. If you use a paraffin-based (wax, maybe folks in the UK call it kerosene?) lube, like White Lightning, no. If you use a petroleum based lube, you don't need to lube as often, and cleaning first is a good idea.
    Last edited by roadbuzz; 01-13-02 at 07:49 PM.

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    Senior Member cyclezealot's Avatar
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    I normally use Pro Link chain lube. Even with teflon based lube,over the miles, the cluster gets gritty and dark. I take pride in the drive train looking shiny.
    AT least once a month I use my chain cleaner kit and a degreaser to really get into the cluster and get back that silvery look. Plus a good citrus cleaner to clean deraillerus.
    Teflon based lubes, every other ride? Afraid maybe I lube it up once a week, about 120 miles. Being generous with lube, always need to get off the excess.

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    Senior Member pat5319's Avatar
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    Yeah, usually, unless your'e puttin some kinda petroleum on it- even then it's a good idea

    Ride non squeeky
    Pat
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    I would probaly use degreaser on it and then re-oil it. Is that right?
    When using the degreaser do you give the chain a good scrub?
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    Just ride. roadbuzz's Avatar
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    Soaking the chain in degreaser and scrubbing with a toothbrush is probably the ultimate chain cleaning, but kind of a pain. If you keep your drivetrain relatively clean, one of those on-the-bike chain cleaners works fine (try to keep the cleaner from splattering on your tires or rims, though). Another simple alternative is to drop your chain into an empty plastic 2 liter soda bottle, add cleaner, put on the lid, and shake. You'll probably have to cut open the jug to get the chain out. After you're done, wipe the excess of the chain and let it dry. I usually let mine dry at least a day. Then re-lube.

    For any of the above methods, except the on-the-bike cleaner, you can re-use the cleaner by pouring it back into a jar when you're done. Most of the grunge will settle to the bottom. Just don't shake it up much before using.

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    Donating member Richard D's Avatar
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    I've started using one of the clip-on chain cleaners, and it works fairly well - I'll still want to take the chain off and give it a more thorough clean every so often. I also find (probably more for looks than anything ) that it's best to run the chain through a cloth dampened with degreaser to clean the outer plates.

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    Currently riding an MTB with a split personality - commuting, touring, riding for the sake of riding, on or off road :)

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    I wonder, once you have all the grit off a chain, how useful it is to strip of the existing ube with detergent agent. Maybe its tome for some research into tribology...

    I dont think shiny cogs really contribute much to chain life, the bearing surface is at the tooth not the side of the cog.

    Has anyone ever considered running 2 chains, one being cleaned/lubed, and the other on the bike. Using a Sachs powerlink, swap them over every few weeks.

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    Just ride. roadbuzz's Avatar
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    I made a half-hearted attempt at that a couple of years ago, alternating chains from week to week, one on the bike, the other soaking in mineral spirits. The drawback was that the chain ultimately sat on the bottom of the can, soaking in the crud that the degreaser removed. In retrospect, with a little effort I could have cobbled something up that would have worked better. Maybe fashion a little platform out of hardware cloth (a wire mesh with wires spaced 1/4" apart), that would keep the chain out of the crud.

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    Originally posted by MichaelW
    Has anyone ever considered running 2 chains, one being cleaned/lubed, and the other on the bike. Using a Sachs powerlink, swap them over every few weeks.
    Nice idea Michael, but I was led to believe that the rear cassette should be changed along with the chain. Although 2 or 3 weeks shouldn't make much difference I suppose.

    I spent over an hour last night cleaning my chain alone. Yes, I know its a lot but I have only myself to blame as I left the bike untouched for 2 weeks after I took it for a ride in the snow. Its running smooth now but you can imagine what it looked like.

    I intend buying a new one before the season starts again - along with a new cassette just to be on the safe side.
    If you want spectacular results, you have to know how to treat your bike badly.

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    Originally posted by Weasel


    I was led to believe that the rear cassette should be changed along with the chain.
    Only if the cogs are worn due to chain wear. Replace the chain before its worn and cogs will last for several years.

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    Originally posted by MichaelW
    Has anyone ever considered running 2 chains, one being cleaned/lubed, and the other on the bike. Using a Sachs powerlink, swap them over every few weeks.
    I must admit to not trusting powerlinks and prefer to rely on rivets.
    plus je vois les hommes, plus j'admire les chiens

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    I try to give my chains a thorough cleaning every few weeks, more often if I ride in the rain or slush, and lube and wipedown in between cleanings. I use the on bike chain cleaner from Park tools.

    What I wonder about is if continually taking the chain apart via powerlink, or breaking links, weakens them, and eventually may contribute to failure.
    "...perhaps the world needs a little more Canada" - Jean Chretian, 2003.

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    Breaking rivets is definately bad, and if you have a permalink system, it can get expensive.
    Sachs Power links seem fine. Ive never had one break, or heard of one break. You can easily carry a spare if you are worried.
    Breaking the link is done by hand, with no tools or force, so it wouldnt cause me any worry.

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    Senior Member Harry's Avatar
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    Originally posted by roadbuzz
    I made a half-hearted attempt at that a couple of years ago, alternating chains from week to week, one on the bike, the other soaking in mineral spirits. The drawback was that the chain ultimately sat on the bottom of the can, soaking in the crud that the degreaser removed. In retrospect, with a little effort I could have cobbled something up that would have worked better. Maybe fashion a little platform out of hardware cloth (a wire mesh with wires spaced 1/4" apart), that would keep the chain out of the crud.
    Put in some old nails at the bottom of the can...

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    Alas, all the scrubbing of your chain (whether by a scrubbing tool or by a toothbrush) does not one d@mn thing about the dirt inside the link. A good soak and agitation in a solvent (not simple green-it's a detergent, not a solvent) is the only thing which will really clean a chain. you may not trust powerlinks (I do, never had a problem, and I do a lot of O.O.T.S. climbing), but everytime you break a link, that link pin is now weaker than any powerlink will ever be.
    Je vais à vélo, donc je suis!

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    So I have to take chain off the bike, put it in a bucket of degreaser and leave it there for over night and then clean the degresaer off, put the chain back on the bike and oil it again?
    Can WD-40 be used anywhere?
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    I confess to using WD40 after really rainy rides, when my bike lived outdoors. I would squirt it over the chain and cogs, let it drip off, then apply some real lube like bike oil.
    WD40 can be used to displace water, put a rust-proof coating on metal, dissolve some heavier lubes, but NOT provide any serious long term lub in highly stressed areas like chains.
    I do use it to flush out the crud from an unsealed freewheel, then after it drains out, drizzel in some bike oil.

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    How often (or after how much mileage) is it advisable to change your chain?

    Should I be taking a spare chain when touring? Last year I did 3500 km over two large tours and god knows how much commuting/ smaller rides and I've never had my chain break.

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    Chain life is highly variable, depending on lube and dirt. As the chain wears, it gets longer. You can get chain lenght guages to measure the wear, ot you can measure it yourself ober 10 1" lengths.
    Run a chain in an old fashioned oil bath, and it will go for years, possibly decades without wearing. Run a chain dry in the dust and it will grind up within a few weeks.
    You need to be touring in pretty remote areas to take a spare chai with you. Chain breakage is not a fatal problem. Simply use a chain tool to remove the snapped link and join the two ends. Take a few spare links if you want to maintain the length. A spare powerlink may be wise.

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    Mr. Cellophane RainmanP's Avatar
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    Originally posted by alan
    So I have to take chain off the bike, put it in a bucket of degreaser and leave it there for over night and then clean the degresaer off, put the chain back on the bike and oil it again?
    I believe it was Pat who suggested using diesel fuel as a chain cleaning solvent since it acts as both cleaner and very light lubricant. You still have to lube, and you have to use a petroleum based lube in this case because the residual fuel is not compatible with wax based lubes. Have I stated this correctly. I haven't tried this yet. I am still using Simple Green in a Park Chain scrubber though I know this procedure has been questioned. And I use non-petroleum based lubes. I may yet try the diesel idea.

    As far as a container for agitation for chain cleaning, I think a large plastic peanut butter jar would be more convenient that a soda bottle. I use them for cleaning bearings and related hub, bb and headset parts. By letting the gunk settle out you can pour off and reuse the cleaner solvent over and over. After getting the the parts good and clean I give them a rinse in fresh solvent which then goes into the settling jar for reuse.
    FWIW,
    Raymond
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    Diesel is horrible stuff to handle.

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    No, just put it in a bottle, add some cleaner, swirl good, rinse twice, then let dry.
    Je vais à vélo, donc je suis!

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    Originally posted by roadbuzz
    <snip> Another simple alternative is to drop your chain into an empty plastic
    2 liter soda bottle, add cleaner, put on the lid, and shake. You'll probably have
    to cut open the jug to get the chain out. <snip>
    I'm really digging back here, but I needed to clean my chains today and remembered
    this post.

    The soda bottle worked OK, and I had to cut off the top even though I had put
    a loop of copper wire on the open link to be able to fish it back out. The chain had
    gotten kinks in it due to the agitation....normal, and wouldn't go through the narrow neck.

    The next chain, I used an old milk jug. No problem getting the kinked chain out. Milk jugs!!!!

    Also I found some Dumonde chain lube on line at a motorcycle site. My LBS sells
    4oz for $15. A 16 oz bottle was $7.80 on line. Slightly different formulation I'm sure,
    but it looked good going on my chains.
    Greenspeed GTO 1027

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