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  1. #1
    So say we all.
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    Chain cleaning: nifty tool or vat of cleaner?

    Searched through the threads and haven't found this topic yet.

    I'm a huge newbie when it comes to bike mech -- to the point that, to my shame, I've had yet to clean/lube the chain! The threads point to the park tool site that has a nifty chain cleaner (they call it a CM-5). Anybody use one of these, or does everybody pop the chain off and soak in a vat of stuff?

    I'm using this thread for reference: General maintenance for mountain bike used for commuting

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    la vache fantôme phantomcow2's Avatar
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    Well if you dont have a SRAM powerlink (golden colored masterlink) i would go ahead and buy that machine, i've heard it doesnt clean as well as a soaking and can be messy but it works. If you've got a powerlink i would just soak it, its cheaper and it works better.

  3. #3
    Senior Member MudPie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RedHairedScot
    Searched through the threads and haven't found this topic yet.

    ... Anybody use one of these, or does everybody pop the chain off and soak in a vat of stuff?

    Thanks!
    I've never used a chain cleaning system. They look messy to use.

    I believe the only way to give a thorough cleaning is by removing the chain, soaking it and rinsing it well. Personally, I use Simple Green (low cost, somewhat environmentally friendly compared to petroleum based solvents). While it is soaking, I'll also brush it and agitate the chain while in the solution. I follow that with multiple rinsings with hot tap water. The hot tap water heats the chain and helps it dry off.

    I like to lube it before I install it on the bike. Sometimes, I'll place the clean, dry chain into a sandwich bag, squirt in some lube (my personal fav is Progold, a "dry" lube) and shake the bag around. Sometimes, I lay the chain out and place a drop of lube at all pivot points.

    Also, I use a SRAM chain, which has a tool-less, reuseable "Powerlink". The chain can be disassembled in a matter of seconds using your fingers. Assembly takes half the time.

  4. #4
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    I soak the chain into a pan of hot, soapy water (dishwashing liquid), use a used tooth brush for the stubborn gunk, and rinse in HOT water. As MudPie says, a hot chain dries faster.

  5. #5
    Retrogrouch in Training bostontrevor's Avatar
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    Your removable link may not be a different color (if you have one at all). My KMCs have removable links but you have to look for the retaining clip to know which one to attack.

    Anyhow, I'm a big fan of the bottle-o-cleaner method. I like Finish Line citrus degreaser. It's biogradeable and acts as an emulsifier, so I feed in the chain (a Gatorade bottle has a nice wide mouth for this), dump in a little bit of degreaser, shake it all over to coat the chain, then pour in a bunch of water which activates the emulsifiers and really gets the grease moving. Shake it a bunch more, dump the water. Repeate the water step until it comes out clean. Hang dry, put back on the bike, and lube.

  6. #6
    Recovering Retro-grouch CRUM's Avatar
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    Grunge Brush
    Keep it 'tween the ditches

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  7. #7
    Senior Member mtbikerinpa's Avatar
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    Since I rarely have a shop around when I have time (like vacations or races) I carry a big spray can of Brakleen. Pop the chain off(Sram of course) rinse it all off with that stuff(be ware it is a little volatile) if you wish to collect the junk have a cup or pan or whatever but it evaporates so fast its hardly a concern. Let it sit a few mins(thats all it takes to air dry) then do whatever you wish for relube.
    Aviation Mechanic, Bike racer, Fitness Equipment Restorer

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  8. #8
    So say we all.
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    Thanks!

    I'm just amazed at how much random maintenance crud is associated with my new road bike. Today something in the rear assembly just started clicking! I only hear it when I'm not pedaling, just freewheeling, clicks once for every chain link that comes off the rear gear. When I pedal backwards it sounds like I've just cast a fishing line.

    It's a good thing cycling is fun . . .

  9. #9
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    so cleaning the chain amounts to cleaner, tooth brush, and hot water. What is the recommended lubricant? Regards, Henry

  10. #10
    la vache fantôme phantomcow2's Avatar
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    lol yea i dont road bike i have an mtb bike but i must say it is a lot of maintenance. I do find with high quality components its less maintenance.

  11. #11
    Senior Member mtbikerinpa's Avatar
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    Amen to that, and thank goodness for hydraulic brakes.
    Aviation Mechanic, Bike racer, Fitness Equipment Restorer

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  12. #12
    Chairman of the Bored catatonic's Avatar
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    I remove and soak my chain a few times a year, but other than that I use a cloth and turn the cranks, running the chain in the oil-lubed cloth. At the least it gets a pretty good amount of hte grit, as well as the largest pieces, out.

  13. #13
    Senior Member skydive69's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RedHairedScot
    Searched through the threads and haven't found this topic yet.

    I'm a huge newbie when it comes to bike mech -- to the point that, to my shame, I've had yet to clean/lube the chain! The threads point to the park tool site that has a nifty chain cleaner (they call it a CM-5). Anybody use one of these, or does everybody pop the chain off and soak in a vat of stuff?

    I'm using this thread for reference: General maintenance for mountain bike used for commuting

    Thanks!
    I hope you have a cheapo bike! I don't clean and lube my chain more than a couple times a week!
    www.brokennecktobrokenrecords.com

  14. #14
    Senior Member mtbikerinpa's Avatar
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    To answer the headline question:
    What mechanic wouldn't if able, buy a new tool?
    Aviation Mechanic, Bike racer, Fitness Equipment Restorer

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  15. #15
    Senior Member MudPie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RedHairedScot
    ... Anybody use one of these, or does everybody pop the chain off and soak in a vat of stuff?
    ...Thanks!
    Also, let me add that for weekly maintenance (after every 2 or 3 rides), I run a dry brush over the chain, chainrings, cogs and pulleys. Since I use a "dry" lubricant (I prefer Progold), the majority of crap on my chain can be knocked off with a stiff brush. Then, I apply the lube to each pivot. The whole process probably takes 7 minutes. I ride mountain and typically in dry conditions (except for this past week in Southern CA).

    I'm a firm believer in a quiet, smooth chain.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by HCHENNINGS
    What is the recommended lubricant? Regards, Henry
    You would think that one product would rise above the rest considering the info and opinions available on the 'net, but it doesn't seem to be. I use Tri-Flow just because it comes in a drip bottle and I find that spray cans for chain lube are messy and wasteful even with a hose tip. So much for my scientific approach, eh? I'm sure there are some old-skoolers out there that still heat paraffin or linseed oil in a double boiler to soak their chain in.
    Last edited by Hal Hardy; 01-01-05 at 10:24 PM.

  17. #17
    So say we all.
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    Ok, gonna totally clean and lube the chain tomorrow and clean the cogs, but yuck! My chain's a Shimano CN-HG53, which means I have to use one of their wacky replacement links. If there is a bike shop open here tomorrow (yay Mississippi), hopefully they'll stock one of these.

    Thanks all!

  18. #18
    Senior Member mtbikerinpa's Avatar
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    Don't remove it unless you have to. It adds a liability every time you pop a shimano so far as im concerned. They say the links are fine but nothing is as solid as a master link(like a Powerlink) or a virgin unpunched link. Cases like that ill just use a heavy drip of a self cleaner lube like White lightning or Krytech, then follow it with something else. The cleaning comes in the use of a clean rag to wipe as you go. IF you really want to be thorough, albeit a little more messy, take a can of Brakleen(brake parts cleaner) and it has a straw like wd 40. Spray the links as you go and have a big towel or rag behind it to catch the junk and overspray. The stuff dries like it was never there, then use your lube of choice.
    Aviation Mechanic, Bike racer, Fitness Equipment Restorer

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  19. #19
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    I've cleaned chains for years without a chain cleaning tool until two years ago when I decided to buy the Finish Line Cleaning Machine; and now I doubt if I will ever have the need to remove another chain!...well at least not on the road bike.

    When I use to remove the chain I really did not like doing it because it was time consuming so I would wait until the chain had about 1,000 to 1,200 miles on it before I would give good cleaning job. Now with the Finish Line tool I clean the chain every time I relube which is about every 150 miles, thus the chain stays cleaner with the more frequent cleanings, and it only takes maybe 10 minutes.

    So do I like the cleaning tool? Yes, it's big time saver and the chain remains cleaner, and it's far less messer. Finish Line also sells a biodegradeable cleaner (a small bottle usually comes with the cleaning machine), that works very well. On MTB's if you get things to gunked up on a ride you have no choice but to remove the chain.

    Word of caution; according to other people I spoke to and on various forums, the other cleaning machines are fragile, and the Park maybe the worst due to the weird handle on the side breaks off; and the Finish Line was rated best at cleaning.

  20. #20
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    > Anybody use one of these, or does everybody pop the chain off and soak in a vat of stuff?

    I remove the chain. It's not a big deal (once you've been shown or RTFM), even for OEM chains.
    I'm lucky to have access to an ultrasonic cleaner. I remove the big chunks with a wire brush first of course!
    I DO use a different method for lubrication Paraffin.
    I bought a 1# brick of paraffin (available at any supermarket/dept store, look near the canning section) years ago.
    Clean the chain in the ultrasonic cleaner using your favorite solvent as the liquid.
    (BTW, you can buy WD-40 by the jug)
    Dry completely (compressed air helps).
    Wrap loosely in foil and bake in the oven to remove any trace of solvent.
    (If your wife/SO objects, use the grille)
    Melt the paraffin on the stove (melt, not ignite; if it smokes, turn down the heat).
    Drop (gently, no splashing) the clean chain into the paraffin.
    Swish around with tongs, making sure to bend the chain side-to-side.
    Remove from heat, let cool.
    When the paraffin hardens, chip out the chain from the paraffin.
    Use the wire brush again to remove any paraffin chunks/hunks.
    VOILA! your chain is dry lubricated, for my use (road touring) for the entire season.
    Hint: You have to get the wax really hot, just below smoking, to allow it to flow into the links.
    If it starts to smoke, back off on the heat.
    BTW, you can remelt the wax and pour it back in the same box just reinforce the corners to prevent leaks, and prop the box up so that the sides don't balloon out while the paraffin hardens.

    Works for me.
    It's probably not an OSHA approved method, but I never even singed my eyebrows.
    Last edited by morlok; 01-01-05 at 10:24 PM. Reason: speling
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  21. #21
    Halocon
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    i use a chain cleaning tool from performance bike. i got it for 10 bucks. it has 52 spinning brushes and i also got a bottle of their bio-degradable degreaser. it seems to work fine for me. i have a road bike.

  22. #22
    Senior Member
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    The best thing i found to clean the chain is a tooth brush and some white gas. My method is not to earth friendly but oh well.

  23. #23
    Senior Member Astra's Avatar
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    Morlok, You have WAAAAAY too much time on your hands . I clean vigorously in a tupperware container with Finishline citrus, rinse thoroughly in hot water, dry thoroughly on radiator, drip of Finishline Wet on each link.
    Oooooh yes, one day I will rid the world of showers and the bath shall come to dominate the cleansing habits of all the human race!

  24. #24
    I drink your MILKSHAKE Raiyn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by morlok
    > Anybody use one of these, or does everybody pop the chain off and soak in a vat of stuff?

    I remove the chain. It's not a big deal (once you've been shown or RTFM), even for OEM chains.
    I'm lucky to have access to an ultrasonic cleaner. I remove the big chunks with a wire brush first of course!
    An ultrasonic cleaner uh huh sure. What institution is crazy enough to allow this?

    Personally a Coke bottle with some degreaser and a toothbrush serves me quite well.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Raiyn
    An ultrasonic cleaner uh huh sure. What institution is crazy enough to allow this?
    My mom has one to clean jewelry. they do exist...if thats what you're wondering. though hers is only like 3-4 inches in diameter and a couple inches deep. not big enough to put a chain in.

    Anyway, FWIW, I use a chain cleaner, a park model. It works pretty well, and isn't much hassle. I've tried the soaking method, and I've found that method doesn't take off a lot of the crap that cakes onto the chain. I have to scrub a bunch to get it all off.

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