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  1. #1
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    Beginners Chain Cleaning Questions

    Hey everyone,

    I've been on 3 rides already (my bike is a 2002 Trek 4500) totaling about 6-8 hours, and I'm going on another ~2 hr. ride tomorrow, and I feel that it's time I cleaned my chain. It's accumulating some pretty heavy black gunk. I'd like to ask some basic questions now....

    1. I've searched previous posts on the forums, but I cannot seem to find whether the majority of people take their chain off to clean it or not, do you rotate the chain around and clean it or do you take it completely off? If so, I don't have a chain tool. Are they all made the same or are there better models? And is this ALL I need to remove the chain and reinstall it?

    2. I see some posts where people simply state that they apply some sort of degreaser to the chain, then they apply the lubricant. Should there be any sort of rinsing between these 2 steps?

    3. Are the "chain scrubbers" worth the money?? Or are they less efficient than a good hand scrubbing or whatever the alternate is...

    4. Is there a "best" chain lubricant and a "best" chain degreaser, and if so then what are they?

    As you can see, beginner questions, but I'd appreciate any answers or opinions!!
    Last edited by Ge|atinousFury; 01-21-03 at 05:28 PM.

  2. #2
    Dances with Rocks Dirtgrinder's Avatar
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    For the most part I just clean mine on the bike with degreaser and a toothbrush. A few times a year I'll take it off and put it in a container with degreaser and shake it up and let it soak a while. I use a degreaser/cleaner called Bio-T but it's not bike specific. Any degreaser will work. You should rinse it and dry it before applying any lube. I personally don't think the chain cleaning tools are worth it, but that's just my opinion. You might want to look into replacing your with a SRAM chain when it needs it. They have a power-link which can be removed without tools.
    If everything seems under control, you're just not going fast enough...

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  3. #3
    member Yo MikeOK's Avatar
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    If you don't have a chain tool, get one. It would ruin your whole day to break a chain a jillion miles from home and have to walk back. Get some sram master links, they are way faster and work on shimano's too. You'll still need a chain tool to break the chain though.

    Chain cleaners are great, but it's pretty easy to clean it on the bike with a brush and can of wd40, followed by something like tri-flow that will stay after it dries. Don't get too worked up about it even if it's dirty, you can catch chains on sale for $10 or so and keeping a new chain on keeps your more expensive cogs happier.

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    Thanks for the info Dirtgrinder. I'll remember to look for SRAM chains when replacement time comes around..........hey, come to think of it......when exactly is "chain replacement time"?? When it starts to rust or stretch or what?

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    Originally posted by MikeOK
    If you don't have a chain tool, get one.
    Do you have a specific chain tool that you prefer (quality brand, model, etc.)?

  6. #6
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  7. #7
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    I had been looking at that exact one earlier today lol.......I'll go ahead and do some searching on the forums and find out what other essential tools I may need and get them all at once so I won't have to pay seperate shipping costs later on.

  8. #8
    Dances with Rocks Dirtgrinder's Avatar
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    Here is a link to some good chain info. At the bottom of the page he explains how to measure your chain for wear.
    http://www.sheldonbrown.com/chains.html
    If everything seems under control, you're just not going fast enough...

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  9. #9
    member Yo MikeOK's Avatar
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    The dudes have pretty well covered it. The chain tool that Klein linked you to is a good one. An alternative to that is to get a good combo tool. I carry the Topeak Alien, it has a chain tool plus several other doo-dads that have saved my tail a few times, plus it's tiny and fits in a pack well. Crank Brothers makes one too, it also has the chain tool plus the #25 torx for disc brake bolts. My son carries one but I still like my alien better. My solution to the torx bolts- go down to the hardware store and buy 6 bolts the same size and get them with good old fashioned allen heads and use them instead. Why didn't they do that in the first place??

    Look around and you can find a good combo pack tool for under $20.

  10. #10
    xc AND road WoodyUpstate's Avatar
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    The on-bike chain cleaners work pretty well - I use the Park Tools version. I've used a citrus degreaser, but it's pretty pricey. I went down to x-mart and found a gallon of degreaser (purple something) for about $4. Kerosene works well too.

    Suggestion #2: Go to the local dollar store and buy a spray bottle and fill it with your favorite degreaser (again, purple stuff works fine) and liberally coat your drivetrain and chain. Let it sit a few minutes. Now take a bucket of warm water with Dawn dishwashing liquid and clean your bike top to bottom. Use a separate toilet cleaning brush to scrub the chain and drivetrain. Rinse gently with a hose. Your bike, chain and drivetrain should sparkle nicely.

    Allow chain to dry before using your favorite lube. There are many opinions on the Forums on this subject. You may want to do a search to read previous threads.

    A chain tool is a necessity, and learning how to break a chain and reconnect it should be one of the first things you learn - after repairing a flat tire. However, IMO the reconnecting pins on Shimano chains are the weak links, so I don't like to break chains once they're on. Which brings me to SRAM chains with PowerLinks. They make chain removal easy and tool free.

  11. #11
    NCAA - DUAL CHAMPIONS! a2psyklnut's Avatar
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    Let me throw in some tips I've found over my many years as a bike nut:

    That chain tool Klein suggested, get it! I've used dozens over the years, the ones on mini tools are a pain to use and there is little leverage. The Park one is small enough to carry with you in your Camelback or in your saddle bag and is big enough to give you plenty of leverage when breaking a chain (link).

    Buy one of these: Power Link this is what everyone is talking about. You can take apart your chain in a matter of seconds. I've been using these on all my bikes for years without it ever coming apart unintentionally.

    Get one of these too:Cog Brush

    I've used the "on the bike" chain cleaners and they work o.k., they seem to make more of a mess than clean the chain.

    What I do: I remove the chain, drop it in a 2 litre bottle with about 3" full of degreaser (I use a citrus degreaser, but any will work), put the cap back on the bottle and shake like crazy. Let it sit while I clean my cogs and chainrings with the Park brush and degreaser, rinse with water. I then go back and shake the chain again like crazy. I fish the chain out, rinse it with clean water and let it hang to dry overnight, or blast it with my compressed air nozzle if I'm in a hurry. When dry, I reinstall it and apply a drop of lube to each roller. Yup, takes a few minutes, but I just start at the power link, and backpedal the chain as I'm dabbing each roller with a drop or two making sure it gets good penetration. I then backpedal for a minute or two to get the lube to fully coat the rollers. I then put a rag in my hand, grab the chain in front of the derailleur and backpedal to wipe off any excess.

    As far as lubes. I like White Lightning (But NOT their Race Day), I like Finish Line's Krytech, and I'm currently using Pedro's Syn lube. Of the three, I'm liking the Pedro's the best! Here's a link:Syn Lube

    L8R
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  12. #12
    Duct tape won't fix that slotibartfast's Avatar
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    To clean my chain quickly while it's still on the bike, I like to use Simple Green. It's pretty cheap and works great. I dilute it in half and use a rag and a toothbrush to clean off the chain and cogs. Then, I just wipe it off with a clean rag, apply Pro Link (my favorite lube), and go for a ride. It's amazing what a clean chain will do for your attitude. I got a Park Tool cleaning kit for Christmas. Can't wait for the snow to melt so I can try it out.
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  13. #13
    Kev
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    I read a bit ago, someone stated that they used carb cleaner to clean their chain. Last weekend I was cleaning my chain, and I had a can of it in my garage, and it worked extremely well chain was nice and shiny. Is their any harm that this could do to my chain? And it's cheap.. I think I spent $1.50 on that can of carb cleaner when I bought it.


    After carb cleaner (just in case anything in it could damage my chain) I put it in a big jar with orange degreaser and let it sit for 15 min.. then shaked it.. then rinsed it off with water and let it dry to make sure I got every bit of dirt off.

  14. #14
    Footballus vita est iamlucky13's Avatar
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    I like to use Simple Green. It's pretty cheap and works great. I dilute it in half
    I thought it was interesting when I started selling tools and paint at Sears. We use simple green to clean paint spills. It's a pretty useful cleaner/degreaser, but diluting it is pretty essential, because it seems to be too sticky if you don't.
    Great tips guys.

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  15. #15
    I drink your MILKSHAKE Raiyn's Avatar
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    I use a Cyclo Rivoli chain tool

    As far as cleaning the chain I tend to leave the chain on the bike and use a combo of a product called "Awesome Orange" and elbow grease. I've found that pot scrubber brushes with their stiff bristles work the best to really cut through the gunk. Above all if your going the scrub brush route or the toothbrush route Don't use your girlfriend's it just won't end well. Buy a cheap brush at the dollar store and save yourself a headache.

  16. #16
    Senior Member Jim311's Avatar
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    Originally posted by slotibartfast
    To clean my chain quickly while it's still on the bike, I like to use Simple Green. It's pretty cheap and works great. I dilute it in half and use a rag and a toothbrush to clean off the chain and cogs. Then, I just wipe it off with a clean rag, apply Pro Link (my favorite lube), and go for a ride. It's amazing what a clean chain will do for your attitude. I got a Park Tool cleaning kit for Christmas. Can't wait for the snow to melt so I can try it out.

    I use Simple Green too. It's cheap, easy to find in any store, and works great. I clean and lube my chain after almost every ride. I use Simple Green, scrub the chain with a stiff bristled brush, rinse, dry the chain, and then apply the lube. The lube really doesn't matter, but I use a cross country lube a mechanic at a shop recommended to me.. it's not greasy at all.. so it doesn't pick up nearly as much dirt as other lubes. DO NOT use a lube that isn't recommended for you bike.. especially not WD40.
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  17. #17
    DEADBEEF khuon's Avatar
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    Like many people here, I also use Simple Green. It's cheap and biodregradable. You can literally get gallons of it for $10 at Costco. I have a SRAM chain with the PowerLink and just take it off my bike, drop it into a tuperware container with the Simple Green and shake vigorously. Then I let it sit for a bit while I clean the rest of the bike. When it comes time to reinstall the chain, I shake it up again, dry it off and pop it back on. Then I apply some Dumonde chain lube on each link while backpedalling using the PowerLink to tell me that I've gone through the whole chain.

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