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  1. #1
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    Hiding the rust on my bicycle chain

    I am going to sell my bike in a couple of months. It is in good condition, except that there is rust on the chain. I want to get a good price for the bike and I don't want potential buyers to be scared off by the rust. I cant afford to buy a new chain or rust remover kit because that would cost more than what I would get for the bike. I was thinking of painting over it with a cheap acrylic spray to hide the rust, but am concerned that the paint may not hold because of the lube, or may clog the links. Any suggestions?

  2. #2
    Senior Member zandoval's Avatar
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    Don't really know how to take this...

    is it a good chain or not???
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    What do you mean by "good chain"? It has worked well for the last two years. It is a Titan Glacier mountain bike - one of the low end ones - if that helps.

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    Looked up your bike, it is a low end dept store quality bike. You would probably be lucky to get 100 dollars for it used. If the chain is good, just lube it with some chain lube and call it good. If it is not a good chain, then just replace it. YOu can get cheap replacement chains for your bike at Wal Mart for around 6.99 or 8.99 or something.
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    So, instead of replacing a likely $8 part, you want to HIDE the rust?

    No. either leave it like it is, or spend $8 to sell it. I don't think youll get the money out of it to make it worth replacing, so just sell it as is. Its not a name brand or anything...
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  6. #6
    2 Fat 2 Furious contango's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Askill View Post
    What do you mean by "good chain"? It has worked well for the last two years. It is a Titan Glacier mountain bike - one of the low end ones - if that helps.
    If the chain has a special link that lets you take it off easily, give it a good scrub with some washing up liquid and a very stiff brush. That will get the worst of the surface rust off. If it's a low end bike I doubt it will have a chain that lets you do that sort of thing.

    So your options are to either try and scrub the chain while it's on the bike, or buy the cheapest suitable chain you can find, or let the buyer deal with the fact it's a used low end bike and it's not going to be pristine. If you were buying a bike for $4000 you'd expect it to look nice when you went to see it, you'd want to see the seller had looked after it, and that it didn't look like it had been left to rot in a dark corner. If you were buying a bike for $50 you'd naturally have much lower expectations.

    If, as bobotech mentioned, you'd optimistically hope to get $100 for the bike then you get to decide whether to pay a few bucks so you can truthfully point out that the chain is brand new, or you can slap some lubricant on it and show the buyer how smoothly the train runs and that they don't need to worry about a bit of surface rust.

    If you replace the chain be aware that if the cassette/freewheel is worn you might find the chain skips (this would depend on how worn they both are), so for a cheap bike you might be better off just scrubbing the chain as best you can to get the worst of it off, oiling it, and hoping your buyer isn't expecting $4000 quality in a $100 bike.
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  7. #7
    "LOGIC!" lopek77's Avatar
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    Wow...another good find from Craigslist ;-)
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  8. #8
    Lover of Old Chrome Moly Myosmith's Avatar
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    I am going to sell my bike in a couple of months. It is in good condition, except that there is rust on the chain. I want to get a good price for the bike and I don't want potential buyers to be scared off by the rust. I cant afford to buy a new chain or rust remover kit because that would cost more than what I would get for the bike. I was thinking of painting over it with a cheap acrylic spray to hide the rust, but am concerned that the paint may not hold because of the lube, or may clog the links. Any suggestions?
    I looked at that bike on Amazon and it retails for about $260. Used in "good condition" it should bring $75-125. Cheap spray paint = $2.50 and destroy value of bike. Quart of mineral spirits and bottle of chain lube (which you should have anyway so you don't get rust problems) = $10 and will clean and preserve any bike chains you have for quite some time to come. New basic chain from big box store or online = $10. Good usable chain from a bike co-op (if you have one in your area) $2 or an hour of volunteer labor and they'll help you shorten it if needed and put it on.

    First off, your chances of getting spray paint to stick to the chain and look at all decent are nil. Second, it will likely interfere with the normal movement of the chain. Third, anyone who sees a bicycle for sale with a chain that has been spray painted should run like hell.

    Just take the chain off and soak it in mineral spirits for an hour, then give it a scrub with a stiff bristled brush and wipe clean with a paper towel. Give it a lube with any decent lube designed for bike chains and wipe again. Chain should look fine and perform adequately unless it is completely worn out.

    If you are really on the cheap and easy, just soak the chain down on the bike with a heavy spray of WD40 and let it sit for a while, then rub as much of the resulting crud off with an rough rag or stiff brush as possible and lube with any chain lube. Ride it enough to run through the gears and then wipe off the excess. This will loosen up the chain, remove scaly rust and darken any remaining rust so it doesn't stick out like a sore thumb. This isn't the proper way to treat a bike chain, but it will get a neglected chain on a low end bike back into functional condition while ridding it of obvious rust problems.

    If all else fails, drop the price a few bucks and point the buyer toward the nearest WalMart.
    Last edited by Myosmith; 02-28-14 at 06:44 AM.
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  9. #9
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    DO NOT paint the chain. Get a rag and soak it in oil and use it to scrub the chain. That should remove the worst of the surface rust and hide most of the rest.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Kopsis's Avatar
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    Leave it rusty. If a buyer points it out, offer to knock $10 off your asking price to cover the cost of a replacement. Shows you're being a "reasonable" negotiator and increases their confidence that you're a good person to do business with.

  11. #11
    babylon by bike Standalone's Avatar
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    Don't misrepresent the bike.... cleaning and oiling the chain, though, is not misrepresenting it unless the chain is very seriously rusty.

    Like, if it looks like this bike:



    Yeah, don't try and hide that...
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  12. #12
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    There was a guy selling used bikes on the side of the road in NH. I stopped to check them out, and noticed that he'd spray painted rusty areas with silver spray paint. To me that was worse than just leaving it, as the new owner would now have to remove the paint and the rust.

  13. #13
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    Thank you all for your feedback. I have decided to just scrub off the rust and oil the chain. As you pointed out, a new chain is actually quite cheap(although they were ridiculously expensive at the bike store near me), and I should get a reasonable price for the bike as it is.

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