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  1. #1
    Senior Member referee54's Avatar
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    When do you clean your chain?

    I was just wondering about the schedule you employ to clean your chains---is it hours, rides, dirty rides, miles, etc? How often do you clean your chain and re-apply lube?

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  2. #2
    Senior Member AaronJohnTurner's Avatar
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    I clean and lube mine every week to two weeks when I wash and lube the rest of the bike. I also do it when theres a good deal of dirt/mud on it.

  3. #3
    Senior Member AdelaaR's Avatar
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    I clean it when it's dirty.
    Question is: "what is dirty?"

    Whenever i can no longer see the blinky metal, I clean it and re-lube it ... this is about once a week guess.
    Last edited by AdelaaR; 07-22-10 at 04:14 PM.

  4. #4
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    I use a wax based chain lube which cleans and lubricates. I 'clean and lubricate' my chain when it starts to squeak.

  5. #5
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    It IS a fxn of dirty miles for me! No schedule otherwise...
    ...just hate to see rust on a chain.

  6. #6
    Senior Member xoxoxoxoLive's Avatar
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    No exact time.

    When the rear derailleur starts building up sludge, seems to catch everything first.

  7. #7
    aka Phil Jungels Wanderer's Avatar
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    I clean mine (and the rest of the powertrain,) whenever it starts to shift funny, or late, or slowly, or less precisely, - or, whenever it starts to make noise. That point can be anywhere from a week, to a couple months (the chain would still get a reoiling at least once a month. I ride 30-40 miles daily.

    p.s. The rest of the bike usually gets a good washing at the same time - before relubing, and reassembling, everything. After relubing, try to wipe almost all of the fresh lubrication off with a dry/oily rag.

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  8. #8
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    Run your finger back and forth along the top of the chain. The rollers should roll easily and smoothly. If not, it's time to clean/lube the chain. bk

  9. #9
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    When it doesn't shift well. Anywhere from 100 to 500 miles.

  10. #10
    Member BottleLeaf's Avatar
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    I usually clean my chain along with my entire drivetrain about once every other week. Unless I've really stacked on a lot of miles that week, or I've ridden in/after the rain. In that case I'll do it about once a week.

  11. #11
    Senior Member xoxoxoxoLive's Avatar
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    How to clean your chain....

    This may sound a little crazy, but works perfect and is fast, and does a better job !
    These kind of post conflict with the tools required to do the job correctly, no tools
    required. I use the generic brand of brake cleaner from the local auto parts store.
    They range from 2 dollars to 5 dollars, catch them on sale. Spray on your chain,
    ( avoiding anything and everything but the chain. ) The grim comes off like nothing,
    no towels needed, etc...Chain will be like brand new. Then reapply preferred chain
    lube. Each can is good for about 4 cleanings, depending on how much grim is there.
    Sorry, you do not need the tool for chain cleaning, and this does a better job faster.
    Just trying to help. Richard

  12. #12
    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    Brake cleaning fluid is nasty and toxic... if you use it in aerosol form you can inhale it.

    For this reason I restrict the use of aerosols in my shop and wear nitrile gloves as you get exposed to a lot of nasty stuff... grease, oil, solvents, and even aluminium can be bad as when you polish a lot of parts there is a lot of aluminium dust which is also toxic.

    For normal folks this might not be a problem but I am exposed to this on a daily basis.

    I re-lube my chain when it needs it... I can tell when the chain is not running as smoothly as it should, shifting degrades because the chain is not rolling as well, and if it squeaks I know I have really neglected a chain.

    My home brew seems to be good for 300-400 km unless I have to deal with a lot of wet riding and is 1 part motor oil and 3 parts mineral spirits... I am getting 4000 km / 2500 miles out of multi speed chains and will get better life (6000km) out of single speed chains because they are never subjected to lateral forces like multi speed chains are.

    I use the homebrew as a one step cleaner and lubricant in that I apply it and wipe my chain down until it is dry and shiny... it flushes out a lot of grime and when the solvent evaporates it leaves oil where it is needed, (inside the chain).

    If I have been riding in the rain I will lube and wipe down my chain as the solvent dissipates any moisture and this is what really kills chains.

    Any lubricant left on the outside of the chain is only good to attract dirt.

  13. #13
    Senior Member xoxoxoxoLive's Avatar
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    I use it outside.

    Brake cleaning fluid is nasty and toxic... if you use it in aerosol form you can inhale it.




    I came up with this when doing a complete overhaul on my daughters bike, front crank
    bearings, chain cleaning, and rear bearings. Had a can around from doing the brakes on my car. I was so surprised to see how easy it removed every thing with out even having to
    wipe it down. Only use this method, (outside with a catch pan under your chain ), but it
    is fast and easy, and does a perfect job. Richard

  14. #14
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    Quit doing that Richard and quit recommending it.
    There are much better, earth friendly methods. Try 65's motor oil/mineral spirits mixture or my favorite store bought product, White Lightning. Or you can remove your chain and put it in paraffin in a double boiler (be careful). All less expensive methods of cleaning your bike chain than brake cleaner in aerosol can that is good for 4 cleaning and with these methods you are lubing your chain at the same time. Plus you won't be polluting as much.

    I use wax based lube because it's cleaner and lasts longer, but it doesn't reduce friction as much as oil based lubes like 65's mix.

  15. #15
    Senior Member xoxoxoxoLive's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=qmsdc15;11207165]Quit doing that Richard and quit recommending it.
    There are much better, earth friendly methods. Try 65's motor oil/mineral spirits mixture or my favorite store bought product, White Lightning. Or you can remove your chain and put it in paraffin in a double boiler (be careful). All less expensive methods of cleaning your bike chain than brake cleaner in aerosol can that is good for 4 cleaning and with these methods you are lubing your chain at the same time. Plus you won't be polluting as much.


    I new that post might get a few bad reviews, but I am very earth friendly as a spend
    a lot of time outdoors, hiking, camping, canoeing, and biking. Always bring along a extra
    trash bag and pick up other peoples trash along the way, ( can not stand to see it in the woods ),
    and your right about the environment thing. Richard

  16. #16
    Senior Member scoatw's Avatar
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  17. #17
    Senior Member meanwhile's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by qmsdc15 View Post
    Quit doing that Richard and quit recommending it.
    There are much better, earth friendly methods. Try 65's motor oil/mineral spirits mixture or my favorite store bought product, White Lightning. Or you can remove your chain and put it in paraffin in a double boiler (be careful). All less expensive methods of cleaning your bike chain than brake cleaner in aerosol can that is good for 4 cleaning and with these methods you are lubing your chain at the same time. Plus you won't be polluting as much.

    I use wax based lube because it's cleaner and lasts longer, but it doesn't reduce friction as much as oil based lubes like 65's mix.
    If you want effective and earth friendly then buy citrus degreaser in commercial size bottles (5L and up) off ebay. It's the same thing as Pedro's Chain Cleaner but 1/10 the price. It's re-usable (put it in a bottle and weight for the dirt to collect, then decant the degreaser) and bio-degraveable.

  18. #18
    Senior Member meanwhile's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by scoatw View Post

    I don't get these systems. The chain gets superficially cleaned, but the derailer - usually the dirtiest part of the powertrain -and cassette are left untouched. Getting these clean is at least as important as cleaning the chain. And they'll reinfect the chain in minutes after you start riding.

    Put a Powerlink in the chain so it is easy to remove. Take it off. Put in a tupperware with some degreaser; shake; rinse; wipe; repeat; dry. Clean exposed cassette and derailer, snap chain back on bike. It's a little more effort - not much more - but you get an entirely clean powertrain.
    Last edited by meanwhile; 08-01-10 at 11:50 AM.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by meanwhile View Post
    If you want effective and earth friendly then buy citrus degreaser in commercial size bottles (5L and up) off ebay. It's the same thing as Pedro's Chain Cleaner but 1/10 the price. It's re-usable (put it in a bottle and weight for the dirt to collect, then decant the degreaser) and bio-degraveable.
    I use citrus degreaser for other tasks but I don't grease or degrease my chain.

    Wax base lube attracts very little dirt. I don't get the nasty build up in cassette or derailleur since I switched from oil based lubes years ago. My cogs are shiny and I ride everyday, all weather, and I don't clean the cogs regularly.

    Thanks Richard for taking that advice well.

  20. #20
    Senior Member meanwhile's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by qmsdc15 View Post
    I use citrus degreaser for other tasks but I don't grease or degrease my chain.
    I don't think the high tech chain lube I use is grease in any traditional sense. The degreaser is just a cleaning agent.

    Wax base lube attracts very little dirt. I don't get the nasty build up in cassette or derailleur since I switched from oil based lubes years ago. My cogs are shiny and I ride everyday, all weather, and I don't clean the cogs regularly.
    Do you ride off road? What brands of wax are good?

  21. #21
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    Degreaser makes it easy to remove old lube and contaminants but what do you use to clean the degreaser off your chain? If you don't get it all off, won't it contaminate the new lube? Probably your procedure reduces friction in the chain to a greater degree than mine. I don't think wax is as slippery as oil, but I think it's good enough.

    My procedure is much easier and needs to be done less frequently. I offer it as an alternative that works OK and I believe uses less toxic chemicals and produces less waste than most other methods. For lazy people like me, who like clean drivetrain parts but don't like cleaning them.

    No chain removal. Similar to "hot scraping" method of cleaning ski bases, the new wax mixes with the old wax and dirt then it's wiped/scraped off. You need to apply and remove two or three times until the wax you are wiping or scraping off is clean at which point you know the wax in the chain or ski is clean.

    65's mixture is an interesting oil based version of this "clean and lube" concept.

    I've only tried three brands of wax lube, I liked Rock n' Roll and White Lightning brands. I've used paraffin many years ago, which probably is better than commercial wax lubes, but it involved removing chain and melting wax in a double boiler. A wax lube for those who prefer a labor intensive procedure.

    I don't ride off road much but the principle advantage of wax is it doesn't attract dirt as much as oil. Junk does get on the chain and cogs, but not nearly as much. I tend to clean my cogs when I replace a drive side spoke. I should clean cogs more often, but I'm not seeing the nasty build up I got when I used oil.
    Last edited by qmsdc15; 08-02-10 at 05:14 AM.

  22. #22
    Senior Member Terrierman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by meanwhile View Post
    I don't get these systems. The chain gets superficially cleaned, but the derailer - usually the dirtiest part of the powertrain -and cassette are left untouched. Getting these clean is at least as important as cleaning the chain. And they'll reinfect the chain in minutes after you start riding.

    Put a Powerlink in the chain so it is easy to remove. Take it off. Put in a tupperware with some degreaser; shake; rinse; wipe; repeat; dry. Clean exposed cassette and derailer, snap chain back on bike. It's a little more effort - not much more - but you get an entirely clean powertrain.
    That's what I do except the chain goes in a pint mason jar with about 1/4 cup of lawnmower gas. Lay the chain in the sun and let it totally dry before re-lubricating. I use the rock and roll wax based stuff and like it fine.
    It's all downhill from here. Except the parts that are uphill.

  23. #23
    Senior Member meanwhile's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by qmsdc15 View Post
    Degreaser makes it easy to remove old lube and contaminants but what do you use to clean the degreaser off your chain?
    Water. Clean chains thendry wonderfully well.

    If you don't get it all off, won't it contaminate the new lube? Probably your procedure reduces friction in the chain to a greater degree than mine. I don't think wax is as slippery as oil, but I think it's good enough.
    Oil is probably unslippery compared to a hightech chain lube. They're synthetic carriers for teflon molecules.


    I've only tried three brands of wax lube, I liked Rock n' Roll and White Lightning brands. I've used paraffin many years ago, which probably is better than commercial wax lubes, but it involved removing chain and melting wax in a double boiler. A wax lube for those who prefer a labor intensive procedure.
    I'm guessing that you're somewhere dry? I'd like to use wax, but it has a reputation for not surviving wet weather. Also White Lightning is supposed to good only for 50 miles of riding before it needs topping up?? http://www.mtbr.com/cat/accessories/...72_131crx.aspx

  24. #24
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    Maryland gets a decent amount of rain. More in winter than summer.

    I don't keep track of miles or time between applications, but I know I go a lot more than 50 miles. My guess is about 4 or 5 times that many miles. Less in winter, more in summer. I'm negligent with maintenance, there is a good chance I'm riding most of the time on a chain that needs topping off. I don't concern myself with it unless I hear squeaking or see rust.

    You might try a bottle of WL or a block of paraffin and let us know if it's any good. It seems to work well enough for me, but my standards are low.

    I wasn't really saying my method is best. I was just answering the question about when I clean my chain, then rambling on about how...

  25. #25
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    A friend told me she was out of chain lube so she used vegan "butter", not real butter of course! When I said oil I meant "wet" lubes vs. dry wax type. Of course you wouldn't use plain old oil. Although safflower is low in saturated fats and thus safe for the environment.

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