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  1. #1
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    Best chain cleaner

    I needed to clean the chain on my 520. I tried the Bike shop Chain Gang thing without much luck. I couldn't get it to hook onto the chain the right way, or so I'm guessing. The chain kept getting jammed. next I tried the cleaning solution included with the chain gang, but without the fancy chainwasher thingie attached. Not much luck with that either. Finally, I gave up on the bike shop cleaner and got out the trusty old brake cleaner purchased at Pep Boys. 5 minutes later I had a clean chain. The gunk just fell off. The chain hasn't been this clean since it was new. For anyone needing to clean their chain, skip the purpose made bike shop cleaners and save yourself some money. Brake cleaner is cheaper and works better.
    I'm just trying to be the person my dog thinks I am.

  2. #2
    In Memory of One Cool Cat Blackberry's Avatar
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    What did you do? Just wipe it on with a rag?
    Dead last finish is better than did not finish and infinitely better than did not start.

  3. #3
    bicyclist LandLuger's Avatar
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    soda bottle full of gasoline

    shake for one minute

    hang to dry

    But who's got time to do that these days? I just run her through my poorformance chain cleaner filled with simple green and drop the bike to shake off the excess water.

  4. #4
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    yea...who has time to take the chain on and off. I wanna RIDE! I am intrigued by the brake cleaner....

  5. #5
    Mmmm, Blue Salsa.... BubbaDog's Avatar
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    Brake cleaner is probably based on a pretty strong solvent, not good for your paint job or your health. Doesn't matter if you spray, brush or wipe it on; all you're doing at best is taking off the gunk you can see rather than the gunk inside the links and bushings. Wiping only serves to put gunk from the outside surface into the places you can't see .

    Removal and agitation through multiple wash/rinse cycles works best for getting stuff both off and out. Simple Green or a terpene (orange peel)/solvent based organic cleaner works great for batch cleaning, I use an industrial terpene solvent called BioAct that kicks a*s on gunk. After a good cleaning and drying, I reapply my chain lube using a dropper on each link pivot with a light outer wipe at the end.

    Smooth, quiet and clean is the result ....

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  6. #6
    Senior Member Old Hammer Boy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BubbaDog
    Brake cleaner is probably based on a pretty strong solvent, not good for your paint job or your health. Doesn't matter if you spray, brush or wipe it on; all you're doing at best is taking off the gunk you can see rather than the gunk inside the links and bushings. Wiping only serves to put gunk from the outside surface into the places you can't see .

    Removal and agitation through multiple wash/rinse cycles works best for getting stuff both off and out. Simple Green or a terpene (orange peel)/solvent based organic cleaner works great for batch cleaning, I use an industrial terpene solvent called BioAct that kicks a*s on gunk. After a good cleaning and drying, I reapply my chain lube using a dropper on each link pivot with a light outer wipe at the end.

    Smooth, quiet and clean is the result ....

    B'Dog
    +1 on this method. I use a Gatorade plastic (wide mouth) drink bottle, and fish the chain out with an old spoke. If you want, you can use mineral spirits or kerosene, but gasoline and brake cleaner are a bad idea. If you are concerned about removing the chain, get a SRAM replacable link. The whole process takes about 10 minutes, and should be done about every 700-1000 regular road miles. It's worth the extended chain/cog/chain ring life. I like to use Dumond lube, but that's a whole "nother" subject!

  7. #7
    bicyclist LandLuger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Old Hammer Boy
    . . . but gasoline and brake cleaner are a bad idea.
    Why is that?

  8. #8
    I need more cowbell. Digital Gee's Avatar
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    How much is a brand new chain? I think I'll probably just replace the chain every couple thousand miles or so. I'm so lazy!
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  9. #9
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Digital Gee
    How much is a brand new chain? I think I'll probably just replace the chain every couple thousand miles or so. I'm so lazy!
    A dirty chain will wear out quicker. The dirt on it will also work on your cassette and chain rings like grinding paste. Then again a worn chain will also wear out sprockets so a clean chain will save money.

    On the cleaning of said chain- I use a chain cleaner with either a green cleaner in it or water with soap powder in it. Several wshes at each cleaning till the water is clean, and then lubricate to get rid of the water.

    Saying all that- A chain doesn't last me a year in any case, so perhaps Cleaning doesn't work.
    How long was I in the army? Five foot seven.


    Spike Milligan

  10. #10
    OM boy cyclezen's Avatar
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    Been usin Kerosene for decades. I remove the chain (really so easy now that the new chains mostly have master links), drop it into one of those plastic drink containers with a lid (guess you could use a suitable tupperware container also), pop on the lid, let stand for some period of time in hours or daze and then agitate (the chain, not the wife), remove, wipe and hang on the 'spare chain' nail in my garage, where it awaits the next use. Chains are like pony express ponies, you ride them hard and put em away wet...
    Meanwhile, I take my 2nd chain, which has gone thru a prior cleaning and has also been tested for stretch, pop it on the machine, anoint with my favorite lubbing unction and go for a bimble.
    Having a 2nd chain significantly broadens the universe.

  11. #11
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    Back when I was young and foolish (as opposed to old and foolish) I used gasoline to clean my chain and other greasy parts - my Dad didn't stock any other solvents in our garage. Now I'm the dad, so no excuses - plus gas costs too much As I recall, back then the recommended method of re-lubing the chain was to give it an overnight bath in motor oil to really penetrate into the chain. This was before the invention of mountain bikes, so maybe dirt was less of a factor. Do dry chain lubes last longer between cleanings?

  12. #12
    Senior Member gear's Avatar
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    I use citrus based solvents to clean the chain (usually after about fifteen rides). Sometimes I use a chain cleaner tool, sometimes I just use a brush and a hose (no high preasure). I find that dry wax makes a great lubricant (pedros) that lasts longer than oil based lubricants. Riding in the rain means a chain cleaning afterwards to remove the dirt from the road.

  13. #13
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    We all have our methods. Here is mine, I use WD40. I spray it on the chain holding a paper towel underneath to catch the over spray. I start at the master link and go around the chain twice. The first time around loosens up all the gunk, the force of the spray on the second time around pushes all the gunk onto the paper towel. I then wipe off all the excess and try to get it as dry as possible. Let it stand for awhile and then lube the chain with a drop on each link. Let that stand and then wipe off excess.

  14. #14
    Let's do a Century jppe's Avatar
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    I'm now a SRAM chain user with the powerlink. Just pop off the chain, toss it in a wide mouth gatorade bottle with simple green. Shake and let it sit for a while. Take it out. Let her dry, reinstall, relube and good to go........

  15. #15
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    I subscribe to the shake and clean method using a gatorade bottle with orange cleaner in it.

    Before the shake and clean, I put some smooth, no grit handcleaner on a clean cotton rag and soak it into the rag. I wipe the chain with the cotton rag before cleaning it and that gets a lot of grease/junk off the chain without ever pushing gunk into the linkage. Then, I use the rag to clean in between the cogs.

  16. #16
    In Memory of One Cool Cat Blackberry's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Digital Gee
    How much is a brand new chain? I think I'll probably just replace the chain every couple thousand miles or so. I'm so lazy!
    This may make you feel better: I have an old mountain bike I bought maybe 18 years ago. It's my beater/service bike. I clean the chain maybe once every year or two. It still has the original chain. It still goes.
    Dead last finish is better than did not finish and infinitely better than did not start.

  17. #17
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    Just FWIW, I haven't taken a chain off except to replace it since White Lightning came along. I'm using ProLink now, but it works about the same: Wipe down with a rag to get off the big crud, lube the chain while rotating the crank backward, then wipe again. It comes out clean on the outside and lubed where it counts and it takes about three minutes.
    I used to remove the chain, soak it, brush it, hang it to dry, reinstall and relube, but I really don't think you NEED to clean chains anymore the way you did back in the old days, when the lubricant held every piece of dirt that blew by..

  18. #18
    In Memory of One Cool Cat Blackberry's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=Velo Dog]Just FWIW, I haven't taken a chain off except to replace it since White Lightning came along. I'm using ProLink now, but it works about the same: Wipe down with a rag to get off the big crud, lube the chain while rotating the crank backward, then wipe again. It comes out clean on the outside and lubed where it counts and it takes about three minutes.
    QUOTE]

    This is pretty much the method Lennard Zinn recommends in his book.
    Dead last finish is better than did not finish and infinitely better than did not start.

  19. #19
    I need more cowbell. Digital Gee's Avatar
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    What's White Lightning? Isn't that moonshine?
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  20. #20
    Semper Fidelis
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    use a degreaser orange plus, a tooth brush, and a rag.
    Scrub the chain with the tooth brush, break up the big clot type grit, then I spray with the degreaser scrub with the toothbrush again, wipei t let it dry then do the same process again to remove extra grit, lube ectera.
    After it dries for a while I re-lube and itsready.
    I change the chain twice a year. never a problem
    "Advantages Must Be Pressed, Disadvantages Must Be Overcome"

  21. #21
    Senior Member dagna's Avatar
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    For those wondering what White Lightning is:

    http://www.performancebike.com/shop/...tegory_ID=4213

  22. #22
    genec genec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Old Hammer Boy
    +1 on this method. I use a Gatorade plastic (wide mouth) drink bottle, and fish the chain out with an old spoke. If you want, you can use mineral spirits or kerosene, but gasoline and brake cleaner are a bad idea. If you are concerned about removing the chain, get a SRAM replacable link. The whole process takes about 10 minutes, and should be done about every 700-1000 regular road miles. It's worth the extended chain/cog/chain ring life. I like to use Dumond lube, but that's a whole "nother" subject!
    This is the method I use... but what about the rest of the drive train... I hate putting a clean chain back on a dirty drivetrain.

    The only way to clean the drive train, especially the chain rings seems to be to take it all apart and hit it with solvent filled brushes...

    Anybody have a better way? Even those chain cleaner machines will not get the gunk off of the cogs, derailer and chain rings.

  23. #23
    bicyclist LandLuger's Avatar
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    Why is kerosine better than gasoline? Neither is significantly harsher than the other. However, gasoline can be filtered through an old coffee filter into the lawnmower and put to good use. What happens to the kerosine you guys are using?

    I don't have the time to break the chain, and I won't use powerlinks again (old story for another post).

    Like others have said, cleaning the chain on the bike is effective enough. I've got thousands upon thousands of miles on a couple of my bikes and no measureable chain stretch so I must be doing something correct.

  24. #24
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    I subscribe to the remove it, shake it up in a couple of bottles, one solvent: paint thinner is cheap, kerosene is cheap, and both work; then shake it in a bottle of organic cleaner (citrus, orange, green, etc.), sometimes in 2 different bottles, each cleaner--THEN rinse it in piping hot water--I mean really hot, then shake the chain out and dry it with a rag (use gloves! it's hot!).

    During the final hot water rinse, I always see more dirt come out. The hot water evaporates before rust can form and it dries immediately--within a minute or so. When I relube I can see the lube just soak into the links--it will look brand new. The chain can be installed dry, then re-lubed on the bike (look Ma! clean hands!), or soaked in lube then installed.

    With the bottles I can cap them for storage then use them next time. And when the solvents are too dirty to use--usually multiple cleanings later--I take them to the county dump where I can recycle them. No mess, no fuss, no contamination.

    I used to use aerosol solvents, but between the overspray and putting dirty, greasy paper and rags into the trash, it all now kinda bothers me. Not that I'm a tree hugger or anything, just concerned as I get older.

    JiO
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  25. #25
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    I used to get serious chain wear in my sport of Karting many years ago and we used to take a brand new chain and clean it in an electronis bath that really cleaned the chain completely. Then it was boiled in a special wax grease to get the grease right the way through the chain. This was common practice and chains used to last me about 4 hours into a 6 hour race. Then we went Duplex chain. --This is a double chain and required special duplex engine sprockets to be made and ran two rear sprockets.

    Then there was the grease for the race- A mixture of Water pump grease, Hypoy gearbox oil and copperslip. That was messy and the chain would just about last an hour without running dry.
    On the bike I still clean the chain after every ride- oil it liberraly and the chain retains the oil for about 1 hour. After that- unless you carry a bottle of oil with you- you run on a dry chain and that ruins chains quicker than a dirty one.
    How long was I in the army? Five foot seven.


    Spike Milligan

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