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  1. #1
    Senior Member smurray's Avatar
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    What to do about a rusty chain?

    I bought my first mountain bike about a month ago, both for recreational use as well as to use as a commuter across my college campus. Well over the past few weeks we've had some pretty nasty weather, and even though I've done my best to wipe down the bike after riding it, the chain has become really rusty. I'm pretty sure that's the only part that is actually rusting, but it is getting nasty rust gunk all over the cogs and other parts of the drivetrain. Is there anything I can do to repair this other than buy a new chain? And also, what can I do to prevent this from happening again? I'm not overly concerned about having to buy a new chain if that's what needs to be done, but I don't want to risk damaging other more expensive parts of the bike.

  2. #2
    Tail End Charlie Ritehsedad's Avatar
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    When it gets wet, clean and lube it.
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    Senior Member smurray's Avatar
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    should I buy a specific tool to do this, or can it be done with stuff I already have laying around?

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    Biscuit Boy Cosmoline's Avatar
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    There are special chain cleaners, but I've had good luck just drying it and wiping it down with CLP by hand.

    Ultimately, though, most chains in rough climates will get rusty. Eventually you just get a new chain.
    ''On a bicycle you're not insulated. You're in contact with the landscape and all manner of people you'd never meet if you were in a car. A fat man on a bicycle is nobody's enemy.''

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    Senior Member smurray's Avatar
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    am I at risk of ruining other components as well? While it looks like the chain is the only thing showing visible signs of rust, are there other, more expensive parts that could be rusting as well that I'm just not noticing?

  6. #6
    Senior Member rbrsddn's Avatar
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    It's propably just surface rust. Not a problem. Just keep it lubed after wet rides.

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    I spray my chains with WD40 after wet rides. WD stands for water displacement and that is what it does. After the WD40 dries, i then relube.

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    Senior Member mlh122's Avatar
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    how do you get rid of surface rust? just scrub the heck out of it with a wire brush or steel wool?

  9. #9
    Senior Member divineAndbright's Avatar
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    Unless your chain is seriously correded the surface rust should simply dissapear after you've relubed and wiped the excess lube away. It does for me, but maybe thats cause I use motor oil in winter.

    A good cleaning tip I found on sheldons site is to remove the chain and drop it into a 2l cola bottle filled with undiluted heavy duty degreaser and give it a good soaking/shaking in there and fish it out with a bicycle spoke, wipe it dry and re-lube. You'll want a chain with a master link of course, but I seriously wouldnt bother in winter time cause it just doesn't seem worthwhile.

  10. #10
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    In the winter when the chain is really goopy I do the cheap lazy mathod of dropping it in a coffee can with water and dish soap. Sunlight soap is good, soak for a while shake well and wipe clean. WD40 and lube it up. Works well so far. But then it's a cheap chain that I bought just for winter.
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  11. #11
    Senior Member smurray's Avatar
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    Was at the mall today and stopped in the local sporting goods shop and picked up a Park Tool chain cleaner. Now what I need to know is what kind of liquid cleaner should I use with the tool. Should I buy a special kind of cleaner, or will soap and water suffice. Also, after cleaning the chain should I relube it with something? If so, what's the best way to go about that?

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    When you spray on WD40, protect the rims and bearing seals with some rags, wd40 will penetrate and dissolve grease and make things slippery.
    Add a drop of chain lube to each link. You place the drop on the upper surface of the lower run so it will work its way inside the link. Surface rust is no big deal, it will wear off with use.

  13. #13
    Biscuit Boy Cosmoline's Avatar
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    I hate WD40. I don't know why people use it instead of proper light oil.
    ''On a bicycle you're not insulated. You're in contact with the landscape and all manner of people you'd never meet if you were in a car. A fat man on a bicycle is nobody's enemy.''

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  14. #14
    Listen to me powers2b's Avatar
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    wipe, lube, wipe, lub....repeat.
    How often you lube the chain is infinitely more important that what you lube it with.
    New chains are about $5 at sprawlmart change early and often (once a year for me).
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  15. #15
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    +1 Cosmo, WD gets sticky and ends up gumming things up.
    For really wet conditions ( I'm here in an Alaskan temperate rain forest), I just keep lubing the chain, every ride, and wipe off the excess. I have used several waxy-type products, like White lightning (which I do use when I travel to drier climes) but typiclly I just use Tri-flow. It's dirty in the sense of making nasty marks on clothes, but, as long as I wipe off the excess, it doesn't throw of much black stuff and does keep the drivetrain happy. And, it doesn't seem to get gummy the way WD-40 does.

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    Quote Originally Posted by findingemo
    I bought my first mountain bike about a month ago, both for recreational use as well as to use as a commuter across my college campus. Well over the past few weeks we've had some pretty nasty weather, and even though I've done my best to wipe down the bike after riding it, the chain has become really rusty. I'm pretty sure that's the only part that is actually rusting, but it is getting nasty rust gunk all over the cogs and other parts of the drivetrain. Is there anything I can do to repair this other than buy a new chain? And also, what can I do to prevent this from happening again? I'm not overly concerned about having to buy a new chain if that's what needs to be done, but I don't want to risk damaging other more expensive parts of the bike.

    Based on your description it sounds like your chain is rusting a little faster than normal. The most important thing to do after a ride is to get the mud out of it and all the sprockets. You need to pressure wash it with the hose and a fine nozzle even if freezing if you can. Hot water is best if possible. And then take it inside to dry. After dry, lube the chain. If your conditions are bad you need to do this after every days ride.

    If rust is gumming up in the cassette then you really need to do a good cleaning. Also, a higher grade aftermarket chain may rust less since they are made out of better metal alloys that rust more slowly.

    Mud is far worst than water for creating rust because water on a clean bike will dry off in short order if it's somewhere dry and warm. But mud and grease is a deadly combination because it traps water at the metal surface and can't easily dry off. Make sure that when you lube the chain you wipe all the excess lube off from the outside of the chain. It helps to keep a large rag bag of old shirts around to wipe the chain clean after lubing it. Only the inside of the rollers need lube. Any lube on the outside of the chain just attracts more mud and dirt.
    Last edited by Hezz; 02-26-07 at 09:45 PM.

  17. #17
    your god hates me Bob Ross's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cosmoline
    I hate WD40.
    I love WD40. It does a variety of things well that no other single product out there does, is easily available at any corner drugstore, bodega, or WalMart, comes in a variety of sizes & dispensers, and is reasonably affordable.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cosmoline
    I don't know why people use it instead of proper light oil.
    Well, if they're using it for an application where they *should* be using a proper light oil, it's because they're ignorant. If they're using it for one of the many applications for which WD40 is optimized, it's because they're enlightened.

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