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Old 07-15-17, 10:00 PM   #1
azza_333
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Factory chain lube removal

So I am wise enough to know that the factory chain lube is the best the chain will ever have (given it gets its lube preassembly), but the factory lube is very sticky/thick, so factory lubes tend to collect grit and grim like no tomorrow. On my tour next month I want to try and keep the bike/drivetrain as clean as possible.

Would I be risking stripping the lube from the internals of the chain, if I use a cloth sprayed generously with chain degreaser, and rub down all 4 side of the chain?
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Old 07-15-17, 10:06 PM   #2
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As long as "generously" isn't too generous.

There's no need to soak the rag in solvent. just dampening it is enough to dissolve and wipe off the surfaces. Of you use too much you risk the solvent migrating between the plates, and working it's way in.

That isn't as bad as you might imagine, as long as you don't go nuts, and are using a solvent like naphtha or petroleum based OMS (not the so-called "green" analog) which evaporate dry.

Once you're done wiping the plates, put the bike in a warm ventilated place, and the solvent will evaporate leaving the oil where it was.
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Old 07-16-17, 02:51 AM   #3
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I fitted KMC chains to our rando bikes before departing in early June for Canada. Machka's started to squeak after just 200km of riding. Mine has lasted a bit longer -- now about 600km it is starting to make that irritating little squeak every pedal stroke.

It seems that KMC isn't using as good a lube as Sheldon would have had us believe back when he wrote those articles.

In future, I will be doing what others have already been doing -- dunking the new chain in mineral spirits and cleaning it well before putting it on the bike and lubing with Tri-Flow.

And, if what I read is true, and that Shimano and other chains are produced in the same factories as KMC, then it follows that the same treatment should be applied to other chains.
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Old 07-16-17, 07:08 AM   #4
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I still think that the factory chain lube is best, thus in this regard I disagree with Rowan.

Putting some solvent on your cloth or paper towel before you wipe the chain should not be a problem as long as it can't drip off the toweling. You would still have some lube in the internals where it counts. That would not be as bad as spraying the chain directly as that could penetrate the lube that you want to keep.

I am an engineer by training, I do not like squeaking sounds. Others might not even notice sounds that bother me. But I use sound as my method of knowing when I need to add chain lube. On my last trip I decided to start keeping my chain lube in my handlebar bag so it is handy for those days where it is starting to squeak 50 km before my destination at the end of day. I only added lube once or twice in two weeks, but one day the squeaking sound was getting pretty obnoxious but my lube was in the bottom of a pannier.
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Old 07-16-17, 07:26 AM   #5
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doesnt make sense to risk using a solvent that could get into the inner bits if overdone, but thats easily managed.
I have always just used a simple strong cloth wipe to get rid of the excess very sticky factory stuff, and subsequent wipes if there is still too much.
Short of riding in gravel and dirt right away, the factory stuff hasnt been an issue for me, and basic , strong cloth wipes keep the exterior of the chain free of the sticky excess.

I then just follow with my regular lubing, and in any case, even if one uses a very thick lube (such as Chain-L or whatever) keeping the exterior reasonably clean is easy to do, as FB pointed out.
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Old 07-16-17, 09:46 AM   #6
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So I am wise enough to know that the factory chain lube is the best the chain will ever have (given it gets its lube preassembly), but the factory lube is very sticky/thick, so factory lubes tend to collect grit and grim like no tomorrow. On my tour next month I want to try and keep the bike/drivetrain as clean as possible.

Would I be risking stripping the lube from the internals of the chain, if I use a cloth sprayed generously with chain degreaser, and rub down all 4 side of the chain?
I always remove the factory lube, just for the reason you stated. I generally put the new chain into a small jar (we always have a lot peanut butter jars, but a plastic soda bottle will also work) with a small amount of degreaser, and give it a good shaking. I then do the same thing with hot soapy water, dish detergent, and shake again. The last step is a good rinse under hot water, and hang to dry. If I am in a hurry I use a hair drier to speed up the drying.

IME I get good chain life and the chains are easier to keep clean. I always put a new chain on before any long tour, which for us is annually.
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Old 07-16-17, 09:59 AM   #7
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As Shimano stated, the factory lubrication is just grease to prevent corrosion while shipping, just lube as dry chain and wipe off the excess.
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Old 07-16-17, 10:01 AM   #8
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As Shimano stated, the factory lubrication is just grease to prevent corrosion while shipping, just lube as dry chain and wipe off the excess.
Last shimano chain (HG-701) I bought was just coated in machine oil and not heavy grease...unlike every KMC or Campag chain I've bought.
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Old 07-16-17, 10:17 AM   #9
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As Shimano stated, the factory lubrication is just grease to prevent corrosion while shipping, just lube as dry chain and wipe off the excess.
Curious. Can you cite where Shimano said any such thing?
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Old 07-16-17, 02:22 PM   #10
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Curious. Can you cite where Shimano said any such thing?
It was on the B2B site. Check them out.
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Old 07-16-17, 02:48 PM   #11
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It was on the B2B site. Check them out.
Most of us don't have Shimano business accounts, and therefore no access to the site. maybe you can copy and paste the passage.

FWIW - here's what Shimano Tech, Nick Murdock had to say on the subject back in 2011. This is consistent with everything they've told me directly in conversation. I emphasized key passages so they stand out.

-----

Nick: So that brings us to lubrication. I mentioned that the chain wears because of friction as the chain moves to wrap around a gear. Well, that friction is reduced if there is lube on the chain. If there is dirt mixed in, the lube makes a bigger difference in reducing friction. If there is water mixed in, the lube helps displace the water. The grease that comes on a Shimano chain is applied at the factory to the individual pieces before the chain is assembled. The grease does a better job of reducing friction than aftermarket chain lubes and it lasts longer. The main reason we use liquid chain lube, whether it is one that stays liquid or a dry lube that has a solid lubricant in a liquid carrier (like a PTFE lube) is because we need to get the lube on a part that is not accessible without disassembling the chain. So the best thing to do when installing a new chain is to leave the factory grease on, not apply any other lube, ride until it wears out and then start applying liquid chain lube. In dusty conditions you can wipe off the outside of the new chain with a rag that is wet with a gentle degreaser to keep dirt from sticking to the grease. The factory grease also keeps the chain nice and quiet. After soaking a chain in degreaser and then lubing the chain with liquid lubricant the chain gets noticeably louder.

Shimano does not have an official recommended chain lube. They all seem to work pretty good. Different people have different preferences and different conditions require different lubes.

-----
However, things change over time, so anything is possible.
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Old 07-16-17, 04:57 PM   #12
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I always remove the factory lube, just for the reason you stated. I generally put the new chain into a small jar (we always have a lot peanut butter jars, but a plastic soda bottle will also work) with a small amount of degreaser, and give it a good shaking. I then do the same thing with hot soapy water, dish detergent, and shake again. The last step is a good rinse under hot water, and hang to dry. If I am in a hurry I use a hair drier to speed up the drying.

IME I get good chain life and the chains are easier to keep clean. I always put a new chain on before any long tour, which for us is annually.
well Doug, I guess this just confirms that I am a lazy son of a gun, sure partly I actually do think that cleaning the stuff out of the innards isnt a great idea, but mostly its just because I can't be bothered...

I have the impression that we get about the same life out of chains, which brings me back to my lazy side....;-)
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Old 07-16-17, 05:44 PM   #13
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well Doug, I guess this just confirms that I am a lazy son of a gun, sure partly I actually do think that cleaning the stuff out of the innards isnt a great idea, but mostly its just because I can't be bothered...

I have the impression that we get about the same life out of chains, which brings me back to my lazy side....;-)
Yeah, you are probably right about your conclusion; chain life, not being a lazy son of a gun. You probably have guessed by now that I'm anal about some things, and chains are one of them.

I did not see your post or I would have made sure that it did not sound like I was disagreeing with you. I thought I read all the posts, and not sure how I missed it. I blame it on age

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Old 07-16-17, 05:56 PM   #14
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Most of us don't have Shimano business accounts, and therefore no access to the site. maybe you can copy and paste the passage.

FWIW - here's what Shimano Tech, Nick Murdock had to say on the subject back in 2011. This is consistent with everything they've told me directly in conversation. I emphasized key passages so they stand out.

-----

Nick: So that brings us to lubrication. I mentioned that the chain wears because of friction as the chain moves to wrap around a gear. Well, that friction is reduced if there is lube on the chain. If there is dirt mixed in, the lube makes a bigger difference in reducing friction. If there is water mixed in, the lube helps displace the water. The grease that comes on a Shimano chain is applied at the factory to the individual pieces before the chain is assembled. The grease does a better job of reducing friction than aftermarket chain lubes and it lasts longer. The main reason we use liquid chain lube, whether it is one that stays liquid or a dry lube that has a solid lubricant in a liquid carrier (like a PTFE lube) is because we need to get the lube on a part that is not accessible without disassembling the chain. So the best thing to do when installing a new chain is to leave the factory grease on, not apply any other lube, ride until it wears out and then start applying liquid chain lube. In dusty conditions you can wipe off the outside of the new chain with a rag that is wet with a gentle degreaser to keep dirt from sticking to the grease. The factory grease also keeps the chain nice and quiet. After soaking a chain in degreaser and then lubing the chain with liquid lubricant the chain gets noticeably louder.

Shimano does not have an official recommended chain lube. They all seem to work pretty good. Different people have different preferences and different conditions require different lubes.

-----
However, things change over time, so anything is possible.

Yea something must have changed given that Shimano is shipping chains in oil rather than grease.*

*I'll bet money it is more to do with margins and oil being cheaper and easier to apply than grease...rather than anything ado about superior lubrication properties...
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Old 07-16-17, 06:20 PM   #15
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Yea something must have changed given that Shimano is shipping chains in oil rather than grease.*

*I'll bet money it is more to do with margins and oil being cheaper and easier to apply than grease...rather than anything ado about superior lubrication properties...
Believe me, cost has nothing to do with it, since it's only a tiny drop (no pun) in the bucket in terms of production coats.

So, to clear a few issues.

1- shipping in a waxy coating (like Cosmoline) ended years ago when the advent of container shipping eliminated the issue of sea water exposure and rust during transit.

2- the major makers use the same chain lube on their OEM and after market chains, and carefully select a product that will do the job without any other help, because they know that nobody is going to do much when building a new bike.

3- the biggest consideration in the product selection is preserving brand integrity and reputation for quality. They spend serious dough toward that end, and would not trade a few cents (if that) against earning a reputation for short chain life.

4- the above notwithstanding, they also make concessions to the market, and given the constant harping about sticky OEM lube, may move to a lighter product that doesn't create market resistance, even if it's not what their engineers might have preferred.

So, over the years, the choice of lube may have changed, but it was still driven by the need to do what it's supposed to do, namely ensure good chain performance and wear life.

I can't imagine a corporate stance that would imply "we use crap on our chains, and suggest you remove it and replace it with something better". Can you?

So, even though I produce an aftermarket chain lube, and have my preferences among what the various chain companies use OEM, I also know that it's serious stuff intended to properly lube the chain.

However, there's more to chain lube than chain life, and some may want to strip the OEM lube if they prefer a dry or wax lube that may not be compatible. But that's a personal choice based on various factors, not because the OEM stuff won't do the job.
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Old 07-17-17, 06:48 AM   #16
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Remember that chain lube is a religion, and we must all be tolerant of other's beliefs :-)

With that said I've left the factory coating on my chains in the past and found the stickiness to be a real pain when wiping down the chain after a ride, also I noticed that the links initially were so stiff they would sometimes "kink" on the slack side of the chain. Since I replaced chains over the winter I wonder if the low temperature of early rides may have contributed to the stiffness, if replaced them in the heat of the summer things may have been different. On my next new chain I'll probably also leave the factory lube on, but use a solvent dampened rag to clean the outside plates as other have mentioned.
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Old 07-17-17, 07:09 AM   #17
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And, if what I read is true, and that Shimano and other chains are produced in the same factories as KMC, then it follows that the same treatment should be applied to other chains.
Not necessarily.
The chains could be made by the same factory, but to different specs.
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Old 07-17-17, 07:14 AM   #18
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Remember that chain lube is a religion, and we must all be tolerant of other's beliefs :-)
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With that said, NFS is the best chain lube. FACT! If you are not using it you need to be saved!
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Old 07-17-17, 08:29 AM   #19
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Remember that chain lube is a religion, and we must all be tolerant of other's beliefs :-)

With that said I've left the factory coating on my chains in the past and found the stickiness to be a real pain when wiping down the chain after a ride, also I noticed that the links initially were so stiff they would sometimes "kink" on the slack side of the chain. Since I replaced chains over the winter I wonder if the low temperature of early rides may have contributed to the stiffness, if replaced them in the heat of the summer things may have been different. On my next new chain I'll probably also leave the factory lube on, but use a solvent dampened rag to clean the outside plates as other have mentioned.
This is the same exact problem I had with my 2 last KMC chains. They were very sticky and stiff and did not shift well out of the box. The last chain I replaced lasted about 3K miles and was VERY worn out, though still shifted fine. I have no reservations about stripping the factory-applied lube and soaking my chains in paint thinner as long as I get pretty generous with re-lubing afterwards (and wiping down the excess, of course).
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Old 07-17-17, 08:48 AM   #20
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Remember that chain lube is a religion, and we must all be tolerant of other's beliefs :-

I'm agnostic, I just use what I ever can drip out of the discarded motor oil containers from the trash cans at the nearest gas station.
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Old 07-17-17, 01:16 PM   #21
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Old 07-19-17, 01:35 PM   #22
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I like applying Chain-L over the factory lube and then wiping it down as well as possible. Makes for a very quiet and smooth chain that I don't have to worry about for at least 500 miles. In fact, RAGBRAI is coming up next week, and since I was debating swapping to another cassette for a little more range anyway, I may even take the opportunity to bust a fresh chain out of a box.
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Old 07-19-17, 01:46 PM   #23
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I like applying Chain-L over the factory lube and then wiping it down as well as possible. Makes for a very quiet and smooth chain that I don't have to worry about for at least 500 miles. In fact, RAGBRAI is coming up next week, and since I was debating swapping to another cassette for a little more range anyway, I may even take the opportunity to bust a fresh chain out of a box.
When you say more range, I assume you mean a bigger cassette. And a bigger cassette would mean needing more links, so a new chain might make sense.
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Old 07-19-17, 02:01 PM   #24
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When you say more range, I assume you mean a bigger cassette. And a bigger cassette would mean needing more links, so a new chain might make sense.
Oh yeah, I'm pretty religious about using a new chain when I switch to a new cassette. Only thing is, the old cassette and chains (I rotate two for each derailleur bike) weren't even close to being worn out!
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