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  1. #1
    Senior Member rumrunn6's Avatar
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    The Truth About Chain Cleaners

    So are these gizmos all they are cracked up to be? Are they really mess-free? Doesn't the chain get wet anyway and spray all over everything anyway?

    I heard of folks soaking their chain in mineral spirits - that sounds easy enough, cuz then you just wipe it and or let it drip-dry? But doesn't that strip the lube from the innards and make it difficult to re-lube every joint?

    Anyone use an automated unit and like it - or is it just hype? The sample videos I've seen don't show an actual cleaning - they are always of clean chains without any solvent in the device.
    cycling is like baseball ~ it doesn't take much to make it interesting

  2. #2
    My bike's better than me! neil0502's Avatar
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    It would be well worth your time to search the forum.

    It's hard to imagine that anything concerning chain maintenance has been left UN-said, at this point.

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    Senior Member Febs's Avatar
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    The Sheldon Brown method is the best: http://sheldonbrown.com/chainclean.html

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    The newer versions of these machines work well. They certainly are not mess free. I use the Finish Line machine and the latest Park machine and they both do a good job and are easy to use. You can use any type of degreaser in them, I use mineral spirits. I use one of these machines about once every 500 miles. Between those cleanings I use a rag with mineral spirits wrapped around the chain while turning the cranks. I also use a rag to floss between the cogs.

    Al

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    Senior Member rumrunn6's Avatar
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    I'm not doing the complete chain dis-assembly - that's nuts.
    cycling is like baseball ~ it doesn't take much to make it interesting

  6. #6
    rebmeM roineS JanMM's Avatar
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    If you don't take the chain completely apart, as recommended by Sheldon, then you are not being completely and obsessively thorough.
    RANS V3 (steel), RANS V-Rex, RANS Screamer

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    Great State of Varmint Panthers007's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rumrunn6 View Post
    I'm not doing the complete chain dis-assembly - that's nuts.
    So was Sheldon - but in a good way. He was kidding.

    I have one of those gizmo's - the plastic things with the brushes inside a see-thru box. I used it once. I highly doubt I'll use it twice. It doesn't do a very good job - unless you run it several times with clean solvent each time. And that's expensive. I'll keep using charcoal lighter-fluid as my chosen solvent. And NOT in a plastic gizmo.
    How do you keep an idiot in suspense?

  8. #8
    My bike's better than me! neil0502's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rumrunn6 View Post
    I'm not doing the complete chain dis-assembly - that's nuts.
    Your bike WILL fall apart, then.

    I read it on the Interwebs, some place.

  9. #9
    Senior Member johnknappcc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rumrunn6 View Post
    I'm not doing the complete chain dis-assembly - that's nuts.
    I do that after every ride . . . you should also.

    Quote Originally Posted by neil0502 View Post
    Your bike WILL fall apart, then.
    True story, I've seen it happen.

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    Senior Member demoncyclist's Avatar
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    rumrunn-

    I have the Park Chain Cleaner. It does a pretty good job, and my chains seem to last a long time. If you want to try it, I bet my office is not too far off of your commute. PM me and we can discuss...
    DEMON

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  11. #11
    Great State of Varmint Panthers007's Avatar
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    I hope you all don't end up owing him a new chain...
    How do you keep an idiot in suspense?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Panthers007 View Post
    It doesn't do a very good job - unless you run it several times with clean solvent each time.
    If the solvent gets dirty, doesrn't that mean that the chain is less dirty? What method dosen't get the solvent dirty?

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    A bike mounted chain cleaner has to be messy. The chain gets drenched with solvent that has to end up all over the chainrings.

    I take the chain off and out it in an old water bottle filled about 2/3 with mineral spirits. I shake the bottle for about a minute, pour off the mineral spirits into a storage container for reuse, then clean the chain again. You can use another batch of solvent or hot water and dishwashing soap. I use the soap, then finish up with a hot water rinse.

    To relube, I just apply my 4/1 mix of naptha and oil. WD-40 works too. I don't know where folks get the idea that you can't get lube to the pin area. The clearances are loose and any relatively thin oil will penetrate quickly. The idea that the pin are gets dry from cleaning and can't be relubed easily is total nonsense.

  14. #14
    Senior Member johnknappcc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveSSS View Post
    WD-40 works too.
    Here it comes . . .

  15. #15
    Great State of Varmint Panthers007's Avatar
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    Yep! It's BOHICA Time! - bend over here it comes again...

    http://bicycletutor.com/no-wd40-bike-chain/

    How do you keep an idiot in suspense?

  16. #16
    mud
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    It's time for a front row seat and popcorn, just enjoy the show!!!! Maybe a little WD40 instead of butter.
    I'm not old! I've always been wrinkled, balding with a spare tire.

  17. #17
    Great State of Varmint Panthers007's Avatar
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    But a really good chain (and most anything) lube is this -

    http://www.rei.com/product/759028?pr...:referralID=NA

    Available at many outlets.
    How do you keep an idiot in suspense?

  18. #18
    Senior Member rumrunn6's Avatar
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    demoncyclist - thanks for your offer - that's more than generous - but probably more trouble than actually cleaning my chain! :-)

    I haven't heard that WD40 shouldn't be used as a cleaner. In fact it says WD40 was invented as a cleaner, but that while it even contains lubricants, the lubricants are not adequate for a bike chain, meaning OK to use as a cleaner, not OK to use a lubricant. of course spraying it anywhere near greased ball bearings would be counter productive, unless of course you were cleaning them and re-greasing them

    so far I'm not convinced these devices are worth buying

    +1 for storing and reusing solvents! better idea than just spraying WD40 all over the place - man that stuff stinks too
    cycling is like baseball ~ it doesn't take much to make it interesting

  19. #19
    Senior Member rumrunn6's Avatar
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    Panthers007 - I would get that but it's not available in a gift box ...

    I've been using this:

    http://www.rei.com/pwr/product-revie...ze-Bottle.html
    cycling is like baseball ~ it doesn't take much to make it interesting

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Panthers007 View Post
    Yep! It's BOHICA Time! - bend over here it comes again...

    http://bicycletutor.com/no-wd40-bike-chain/

    I hope that nobody believes that nonsense you keep posting. I've lubed one of my Campy 11 speed chains with nothing but WD-40 for nearly 1000 miles now and the chain wear is about the same as I get using my homebrew lube with synthetic motor oil and 80/90W gear lube. Sure there are better lubes than WD-40, but it does an adequate job.

  21. #21
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    It used to be dead easy to break apart a chain in order to give it a soak, but you can't really do that very easily with chains today. So, it's one of those machines, or nothing, because just cleaning the outside of a chain is pretty much useless. It's inside of it you have to worry about. My feeling about chain cleaning is that good enough is good enough. It's easy to get carried away. Clean as best you can with one of those chain cleaning things and then replace the chain whenever it needs it.

    If you really like cleanliness, use something like White Lightning, but only if you are prepared to give it a quick lube after rain or after any longish ride.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Longfemur View Post
    It used to be dead easy to break apart a chain in order to give it a soak, but you can't really do that very easily with chains today.
    Still is. Powerlinks work well in that regard.

    Failing that, there is one other way, though it's not for your weekly chain cleaning. Just detach the cage from your RD and remove the unbroken chain. It's not that hard, and it's the only decent way to get the jockey wheels clean anyway.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Underbridge View Post
    Still is. Powerlinks work well in that regard.

    Failing that, there is one other way, though it's not for your weekly chain cleaning. Just detach the cage from your RD and remove the unbroken chain. It's not that hard, and it's the only decent way to get the jockey wheels clean anyway.
    You forgot about the FD cage and the rear triangle of the frame. Not many frames come apart.

  24. #24
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    The problem with these cleaners isn't the cleaners themselves, or the mess they make of the bike, it's the total methodology of cleaning this way.

    Whether you use mineral spirits or water & detergent, the cleaning process is as likely to carry fine silt into the chain as out. This can be resolved with multiple passes changing the liquid, until it stays clear.

    That still leaves a second, more important problem. The solvent remains inside your chain, and takes an extremely long time to evaporate because there's almost no surface to evaporate from. That means that any lube you add will either remain on the outside, or be severely diluted and compromised by the solution. Therefore unless you use a hair drier, or otherwise dry the inside of the chain, you'll be riding on cleaning solution as chain lube.

    My recommendation is skip these gadgets, and clean your chain dry, by wiping or brushing dirt off, and then only as necessary. If you need more, try some cleaner on a rag and damp wipe the chain clean, and lastly if you want a thorough wash and have a removable link, pull the chain and give it a few cycles in a coffee can or plastic soda bottle, followed by a thorough hot drying before re-lubing.

    Lastly- and consider this a highly biased opinion, try using a lube that lasts long enough, and stays reasonably clean to avoid this process altogether.
    Last edited by FBinNY; 06-10-09 at 09:33 AM.
    FB
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    An ounce of diagnosis is worth a pound of cure.

    “Never argue with an idiot. He will only bring you down to his level and beat you with experience.”, George Carlin

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  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveSSS View Post
    You forgot about the FD cage and the rear triangle of the frame. Not many frames come apart.
    I assume that any decent home mechanic has a hacksaw and a TIG welder.

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