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  1. #1
    rhm
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    Is there a chain lube that won't stain my clothes?

    I commute in my work clothes. Not fancy, but I try not to look too terrible. I guess you could call it 'office casual' with emphasis on the casual part.

    Every morning I ride 7 miles on my folding bike, fold it up, carry it down the stairs in the train station and up the stairs on the train (double decker). Repeat in inverse when I get to the city, ride another few miles, then wheel the bike into my office.

    Then in the evening I do the same thing, the other way around, not much different but the train station is very crowded, especially on the stairs/escalator from the station lobby down to the platform.

    Of course I try not to get bike lubricant on my clothes. But it happens, no way around it. So what I want is something that will work okay as a lubricant and will wash out really well. I don't mind if it's not a great lubricant, as long as it prevents rust etc. I don't mind replacing my chain more frequently; a chain is cheaper than a pair of pants.

    Suggestions?

  2. #2
    Very, very Senior Member JPprivate's Avatar
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  3. #3
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    I hate to say it, but can you get a chain case for your bike?

  4. #4
    Senior Member MNBikeguy's Avatar
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    ProLink advertises a lube that won't stain. Kinda pricy.

    "Progold's MFR technology reduces friction and wear by about 50%. This revolutionary cycle lubricant works in a unique way to offer longer chain life, easier pedalling, smoother shifting and a quieter drive train. It has excellent penetration, inhibits oxidation and corrosion and works to shed contamination. It's also environmentally green and non-staining.

    "I thought of that while riding my bike."
    - Albert Einstein on the theory of relativity

  5. #5
    GATC
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    water is a good lube if it never dries out

  6. #6
    rhm
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    Quote Originally Posted by daijoubu2k8 View Post
    I hate to say it, but can you get a chain case for your bike?
    I tried. I had a chainglider for a while, and it was pretty terrible. I'd heard it doesn't make much noise and doesn't slow you down much and it keeps the chain clean and so on; all of which proved to be untrue. Aside from that, it fit the bike poorly (it's designed for longer bikes) and it interfered with the fold (made the folded package a little bigger). I'd be happy to try something else, but I don't know of anything worth trying; again, suggestions are welcome.

    Quote Originally Posted by HardyWeinberg View Post
    water is a good lube if it never dries out
    Yeah, huh! Better than dish soap?

  7. #7
    Senior Member canyoneagle's Avatar
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    Wear different clothes for the ride and change at the office?
    7 miles is enough to warrant changing, IMO. I'd be a sweaty mess in my work clothes even at a light riding pace.

    In my experience there is no such thing as a chain that will not mark your skin/clothing once dirt/grit begins its inevitable migration to even the cleanest chain.
    Last edited by canyoneagle; 02-28-11 at 09:45 AM.
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  8. #8
    rhm
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    Quote Originally Posted by canyoneagle View Post
    Wear different clothes for the ride and change at the office?
    7 miles is enough to warrant changing, IMO. I'd be a sweaty mess in my work clothes even at a light riding pace.
    Ironically, no one cares how I look once I get to the office, but the train ride is a lot more pleasant if I look relatively professional. And when I go home, I go straight to a dining hall for dinner; there isn't time to go home and change first. I'm definitely sweaty when I get there, but that's not a problem.

  9. #9
    Senior Member canyoneagle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rhm View Post
    Ironically, no one cares how I look once I get to the office, but the train ride is a lot more pleasant if I look relatively professional. And when I go home, I go straight to a dining hall for dinner; there isn't time to go home and change first. I'm definitely sweaty when I get there, but that's not a problem.
    Lucky b$stard I wish I could do the same!
    Currently one bike: Singular Gryphon do-it all bike with Nuvinci N360
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  10. #10
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    Chain lube will ALWAYS pick up road dust. If you get lube that won't stain, it will still grind dirt/mud into your pant legs upon rubbing. Fashion/buy a gaiter for the chain side leg if you don't want a guard on the bike.

  11. #11
    Senior Member cellery's Avatar
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    I've just invested in many pairs of black pants.
    I like food.

  12. #12
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    I lube my chain with wax - not a lube like white lightning, but a blend of parafin and beeswax. I use a procedure similar to what is described here. It works great here in california where we don't have much weather - it may not work as well in places with ice and snow. I have to redo the waxing about every 400-500 miles.

    The chain stays very clean, and does not pick up near as much road gunk. It does not transfer oil and stuff to my pants. It probably is not as good of a lube as something like tri-flow, but it is clean.

  13. #13
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    +1- Posts #7, #10 & #3, in that order.

    H

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    A chainguard is probably your best bet, though it will almost certainly interfere with the fold. I expect you can find one that doesn't affect much else, though.

    Generally, dry lubes shed dirt rather than making it stick around and make a big mess on the chain. White lightning seems to have the best rep amongst dry lubes. However, this is just an improvement, not a solution, and will unfortunately wash off in the rain.

    Otherwise I don't think anything short of a belt drive is going to solve your problem, and I don't believe you can convert a bike to belts unless the frame is built for it.

    Personally, I just use a pant clip to keep my pants from straying into the chain when possible, and accept that from time to time, I still get chainring bites.

  15. #15
    Senior Member no motor?'s Avatar
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    http://www.webbikeworld.com/t2/motor...chain-lube.htm I can still get dirty when I use this, but I have to try a lot harder than when I was using oil based lubes. My bikes a lot cleaner since I switched to using it, and the chain stays clean a lot longer.

  16. #16
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    Ive seen travel chainguards like oversized shower caps, nylon fabric with an elasticated hem that slips over the whole chain during transit.

  17. #17
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    WAX . . .
    Have been using the canning wax method (parrafin) since the 1970s.
    Works great, is clean and extremely economical (re-usable!).
    Used it on our singles tandems for the past 300,000+ miles.
    Works as good, if not better, than those fancy priced lubes.

  18. #18
    Senior Member canyoneagle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by neil View Post

    Otherwise I don't think anything short of a belt drive is going to solve your problem, and I don't believe you can convert a bike to belts unless the frame is built for it.

    Personally
    Thumbs up on belt drive. I haven't so much as wiped mine down this winter, and have ridden in some pretty slushy/salty/nasty stuff. I swear the belt is impregnated with teflon or something-it stays very clean.
    I tested by running a white cotton t-shirt down the belt and the shirt had minimal dirt on it, which was dry and dusty, not greasy and oily.

    You can convert steel and Ti frames to belt drive pretty easily with basic brazing equipment: http://www.paragonmachineworks.com/s...-10731011.aspx
    Such a conversion isn't cheap, however, when considering the fact that you'd need a new front and rear "pulley" ($200+ for both) and a belt ($50-70) plus the cost of the frame splitter ($35) and brazing costs / paint touch up.
    AND, if you're currently running standard derailleurs, you'd be stuck with SS with belt drive or an IGH conversion.

    You'd have a sweet setup, for sure, but it would cost you.
    Last edited by canyoneagle; 02-28-11 at 11:00 AM.
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  19. #19
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    a Gaiter over your right trouser leg, and/or keeping the chain spotlessly clean ,

    Paraffin-wax is a remove the chain and soak it in hot wax kind of situation, stove top, double boiler..
    has many adherents..


    a wipe down frequently to take off any dirt gathering on the outside plates may help.

    +1 on the black pants, I have some Charity shop ones that I got altered to taper the legs
    and added ankle zips to make a trouser swap quick and easy.

    My Brompton folds the front wheel over the chain, so I never get close to it.
    as I carry it on my right , the bikes left side.
    Last edited by fietsbob; 02-28-11 at 06:41 PM.

  20. #20
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    I have a pant I use for wet weather that I can slide over my regular pants. I think they're considered a running/active wear pant. I don't really remember. They were cheap at big box store. That might work. They are easy to slip on and off quickly.

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    It seems like there arem't many good options. If it's your pants that are getting dirty, I'd suggest using a rubber band or rolling up the right leg so it doesn't get full of grease. if it's you shirt or whatever when you are actually carrying the bike, I'd suggest grabbing an old sweatshirt, raincoat/ long sleeve t-shirt or something like that to throw over your regular top for the time that you have to lift the bike. Once it's back on the ground, you can take it off & be on your way. Aside from the previously mentioned belt drive, there just aren't any really good options if the dirt is getting on you when you are lifting the bike.

  22. #22
    Senior Member MNBikeguy's Avatar
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    RHM - I'm assuming the issue is dirtying your clothes while carrying the folder, not riding it?
    The lube may be a complicated solution to a relatively simple problem - as someone suggested, simply put a barrier between you and the bike when toting it.
    "I thought of that while riding my bike."
    - Albert Einstein on the theory of relativity

  23. #23
    rhm
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    Quote Originally Posted by MNBikeguy View Post
    RHM - I'm assuming the issue is dirtying your clothes while carrying the folder, not riding it?
    Yes, absolutely correct.

    But it's more complicated than that. I've been riding to the train station for over ten years now, and for almost six I've been taking a folding bike on the train to ride in the city. Unless I elect to skip work that day, I ride in all all seasons and all weather, total about 3,000 miles of biking each year. I've been doing this long enough to know what works for me, and what doesn't work for me. Changing my clothes is a great option for some people, but not for me; I would be happy to explain why, but it really doesn't matter if the bottom line stays the same (viz: I ain't doin' it). Ditto for avoiding contact with the dirt on the bike: I've been trying that all my life. I've tried chain guards. I've tried bagging the bike. I can tell you what's wrong with each of these options, but the bottom line is it hasn't worked, and it's not going to start working now.

    Accidents happen. Once I got a stick in my spokes, I crashed and ruined my (new!) pants. Bummer, but life goes on. Every day I get dirt on me, clothes go in the washing machine and I go in the shower, life goes on. And all that mud and goose poop from the Delaware and Raritan Canal, and the inevitable grit of the NYC city streets, all that stuff washes out pretty well. But it's that diabolical mixture, chain lube plus whatever dirt gets on the chain, that sometimes doesn't wash out, that perplexes me. Let's face it, I'm going to get it on my clothes. I will continue to try to keep it off me, and it will continue to get on me. We can't change that.

    How I lube my chain, however, is something I can change. I'm going to try that Ceramic Wax mentioned above. I'm going to get a double boiler and try the paraffin thang. I thank you all, collectively, for those suggestions! And I'm still listening, if there are further ideas out there.

  24. #24
    Senior Member MNBikeguy's Avatar
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    Aha. That puts a better perspective on the problem.
    Good luck with those alternative lubes. Something out there is bound to work. Staining perfectly good clothes is frustrating and expensive.
    "I thought of that while riding my bike."
    - Albert Einstein on the theory of relativity

  25. #25
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    Maybe part of the answer here is to addess the problem at the end of the ride, i.e., in the laundry room. What have you tried as far as removing the stain from your clothes? While I can't attest to its effectiveness on chain lube, I have had some luck with spraying undiluted Simple Green on some greasy stains just prior to starting the laundry. You might want to try that. Also, I 've had luck with pre-treating stains with regular liquid laundry detergent, pouring it on the stain undilute, and letting the clothing item soak for a while (I keep a small, clean bucket for just soaking). My neighbor swears by using Dawn liquid dish detergent - she just spreads some directly on the stain and lets it set for a while and then launders as usual. You could try pre-soaking in Oxi-Clean (this does wonders on my kid's soccer clothes, but can effect the color of some material if left to soak too long).

    The success of these suggestions depends on the clothing material and the color-fastness of it. Try at your own risk - I'm not responsible if your favorite pants come out faded, spotted, or in any other condition that renders them unwearable!
    Last edited by Altair 4; 03-01-11 at 08:46 AM. Reason: it's all in the details!

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