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  1. #1
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    Cleaning Chain Technique

    I know some of these issues have been discussed, so I'll try to make this as politics free as possible.

    I have a Trek 7.3FX, and I've now put 100 and some change miles on it. I looked at the drivetrain the other day and the thing is FILTHY. Still nice and lubed (the factory stuff), but there's dirt and grit everywhere. I realized wiping it off with a paper towel with some WD-40 wasn't going to cut it...

    This is the chain that comes with the 7.3FX. I didn't see anything in the way of a masterlink to take the chain off. There's one pin that's darker then the rest, but I'm not sure what that is.

    Is the easiest thing to do in this situation to buy one of those Chain Cleaner tools (Nashbar, Finish Line....) and put some mineral spirits, citrus degreaser, or some dish soap and water and run my chain through that?

    Is it worth the effort to try to install a master link on a chain to do the dip-in-solvent-and-shake-bottle method?

    Also, I'm assuming I should get a brush and clean some of the dirt off the cogs/cassette teeth/in between the wedges of the casette too....

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Galveston County Texas 10 Wheels's Avatar
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    [SIZE=1][B]What I like about Texas[/B]
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  3. #3
    Ovdabak, OR DArthurBrown's Avatar
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    Never, ever, use WD-40. It will dry out your chain. Use a light lubricant like Tri-Flow. In general, chains get dirty but their function isn't compromised. I force myself to wait until the chain is bone dry from use before applying the next layer of lube, because frequent cleaning and lubing can actually make your drivetrain more gungy over time.

  4. #4
    Travelling hopefully chasm54's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DArthurBrown View Post
    I force myself to wait until the chain is bone dry from use before applying the next layer of lube, because frequent cleaning and lubing can actually make your drivetrain more gungy over time.
    No it can't. if you properly clean the chain frequently, it will be less "gungy" than if you don't. Frequent lubing without proper cleaning, which lots of people are lazy enough to do, is likely to have the result you describe.
    There have been many days when I haven't felt like riding, but there has never been a day when I was sorry I rode.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by DArthurBrown View Post
    Never, ever, use WD-40. It will dry out your chain. Use a light lubricant like Tri-Flow. In general, chains get dirty but their function isn't compromised. I force myself to wait until the chain is bone dry from use before applying the next layer of lube, because frequent cleaning and lubing can actually make your drivetrain more gungy over time.

    Yeah, thanks! I had a friend who just always cleaned his chains with WD-40...din't have desired results. The metal against metal of his bike made me cringe. I have a bottle of Finish Line Wet I use. Seems like the weather here in the summer is 'wet' or 'too hot to bother to ride'

  6. #6
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    The Finishline or the newer Park chain cleaning tools do a good job. You do not need to remove a chain to clean it. I load my cleaning machines with mineral spirits. It is compatible with all oil based chain lubes. I use the machine about every 500 miles. I clean my chains with a rag and re-lube with one or two drops of home brew on each link about every 100 miles. I never fail to get at least 5000 miles out of a chain before elongation reaches 1/16 inches per foot.

  7. #7
    Quirky Grifter LesterOfPuppets's Avatar
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    I clean my chain on bike with a pressure washer. Make sure you don't spray anywhere near the BB, rear hub, or any other bearings.
    1980ish Free Spirit Sunbird fixed * 1996 Mongoose IBOC Zero-G * 1997 KHS Comp * 1990-ish Scapin * Lemond Buenos Aires Triple

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by DArthurBrown View Post
    Never, ever, use WD-40. It will dry out your chain. Use a light lubricant like Tri-Flow.
    Is it ok to use WD-40 to clean the chain?

    I understand WD-40 isn't a lubricant. But, I thought it was an excellent cleaner.

    I spray my chain with WD-40 on the bike (into a rag, rubbing the chain). Then remove the chain and soak in kerosene for 30 minutes (with occasional agitation). Wipe dry. Air dry for an hour. Install and lube.

    I just just use the WD-40 to get the major dirt off and minimize the dirt going into the kerosene (which I reuse).

  9. #9
    Galveston County Texas 10 Wheels's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by az2008 View Post
    Is it ok to use WD-40 to clean the chain?

    I understand WD-40 isn't a lubricant. But, I thought it was an excellent cleaner.

    I spray my chain with WD-40 on the bike (into a rag, rubbing the chain). Then remove the chain and soak in kerosene for 30 minutes (with occasional agitation). Wipe dry. Air dry for an hour. Install and lube.

    I just just use the WD-40 to get the major dirt off and minimize the dirt going into the kerosene (which I reuse).
    I used WD-40 on a tour. Three washing on the bike. Let it dry then lubed with White Lightning. Worked Great.
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  10. #10
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    Actually, WD-40 has at least 20% oil so it will not dry out your chain. The oil is light in weight and won't produce very good chain life. Just to prove a point, I did a chain wear test, using nothing but WD-40 as my chain lube with an 11 speed chain. I got more elongation (after 1500 miles) than I had with my homebrew lube, so I stopped the test at that point.

    The only problem with using to clean a chain is it's fairly expensive and once you have that light oil in there, you probably won't be able to get your regular lube into the chain until after the first ride.

  11. #11
    just pokin' along desertdork's Avatar
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    If you wish to have the option of removing the chain to soak it, stop by the dealer where you bought your bike and have them install a masterlink. They might only charge you the cost of the link, ~$5. Cleaning with the Park chain scrubber is effective, but (IME) it's a bit messy and a bit more involved. It's nice to have options. Also, a toothbrush dipped in mineral spirits or inexpensive orange cleaner will quickly clean your cassette and chainrings. No need to rinse if you use mineral spirits.

  12. #12
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    Mission semi-accomplished. Got one of the Park Tool cleaners and a bottle of citrus degreaser. Didn't read the directions to move the chain to the smallest cog. Lots of cursing involved as citrus degreaser was spilling and I somehow managed to get the chain wedged in between the largest chainring and the deraiuler. Trying not to do $100 worth of damage cleaning my chain....hopefully I didn't splash degreaser anywhere where it wasn't supposed to go.

    Cleaned the cogs, cleaned the chainring/cassette off nicely. Added Finish Line Wet...drop on every roller. Needless to say, my drivetrain is as clean as a surgical instrument. There was actually some pretty heavy scratching on the inside of the front derailleur. Might've been from my time as a n00b and doing the cross-chaining thing. Hard to tell whether the cleaning/re-lubing made a difference. After 100 miles, I could tell my drivetrain wasn't as silent as it used to be...and it seems with wet lube and the general dirty conditions of the bike paths around here...the drivetrain was FILTHY.

  13. #13
    cab horn
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    I find it hilarious that people are wasting so much effort into chain cleaning, a chain that is worth $10-$30 wholesale (10/11s systems). Just wipe it down with a rag, lube sparingly and ride your ****ing bike. Christ.
    Mes compaingnons cui j'amoie et cui j'aim,... Me di, chanson.

  14. #14
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    Simple Green 50/50 H20 in one of the plastic clip on chain cleaners. Simple Green removes grease and oil better than solvents, engine degreaser or citrus degreaser. Diluted 10:1 it will clean all of the road gunk and oil spray off your frame. It is the only thing that really gets a muddy mountain bike clean.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by wheelgrabber View Post
    Simple Green 50/50 H20 in one of the plastic clip on chain cleaners. Simple Green removes grease and oil better than solvents, engine degreaser or citrus degreaser. Diluted 10:1 it will clean all of the road gunk and oil spray off your frame. It is the only thing that really gets a muddy mountain bike clean.
    Thanks I'll have to try the simple green. I know on the Park chain tool package it mentions some of that dish detergent stuff too. Seems like dilluted simple green is the gold standard though for cheap degreasers.

    Quote Originally Posted by operator View Post
    I find it hilarious that people are wasting so much effort into chain cleaning, a chain that is worth $10-$30 wholesale (10/11s systems). Just wipe it down with a rag, lube sparingly and ride your ****ing bike. Christ.
    I chuckled a bit when I read this. You Aussies get straight to the point, eh? But yeah, I see your point. I've ridden an older road bike...it was a decent bike alledgedly back in the 70's, but it hadn't been maintained at all....no chain cleaning, no lubing, no adjustments...I thought the chain was going to fly off during shifting. The Trek 7.3FX feels like you're riding on clouds. This is the first non-$50-at-a-garage sale bike I've ridden, so I want to keep it running like clockwork.

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