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Remove chain to clean

Old 06-17-15, 08:14 PM
  #1  
GlennR
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Remove chain to clean

I clean my bike and chain once a week, maybe 100-150 miles. I now have over 1500 miles on it and honestly it's never completely clean. Should I open the "powerlink" to remove it to soak it in a degreaser so its fresh for the next 1500 miles?

Or am I being too "anal".

BTW.. drivetrain is Sram Red 22.
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Old 06-17-15, 08:23 PM
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You should be aware that this is a religious issue with many different denominations from the ignore it til it wears out to the hot paraffin wax dippers.
I prefer the on bike cleaning with such as the Park chain cleaner, simple green straight, then 50% in water a couple of times then repeated water
til it remains clear. Let dry, a wash with rubbing alcohol will accelerate drying in cold weather and lube of choice (also a religious matter with the
church of two wheels). Some power links (especially 11 spd) are meant for one time use so removing the chain every few months will cost you
$2-5 just for the power link.
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Old 06-17-15, 08:23 PM
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A lot of people will say that soaking it in degreaser strips the chain, and that it's hard to replace the lube where the rollers meet the bushings. Whether or not that's true I can't say. Shimano doesn't want you to remove the chain, and it's probably why they still provide the pin, as opposed to a quick link, just to make it more difficult to do so. I'm not sure about SRAM or KMC's opinions.However, I've always had the mind that by the time I've got 1500 miles on my chain, the weather + me washing the bike + lubing the chain with solvent base lubes has already removed the original lube that was there from the factory. I usually try to keep the chain on the bike as long as possible, but by the time 1500-2000 miles roll around, I'll start taking it off for a soak in mineral spirits, scrub, and a heavy relube after drying. I'll do this about every 500 miles with regular lubes and wipedowns in between until I either find a good deal on a new chain, or ~4000 miles happen. I check wear with a ruler, and I've never worn a chain out yet. I could probably run them longer, but they're cheap enough, so why bother?
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Old 06-17-15, 08:35 PM
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Originally Posted by KBentley57 View Post
Shimano doesn't want you to remove the chain,
I haven't heard this before--what's the rationale?
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Old 06-17-15, 08:37 PM
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You are going to get two different answers, some will say yes and others, like me, will say no...so take your pick.

Personally I no longer see the need to take a chain apart and clean it like I use for many years, but that was before I discovered those chain cleaning machines. I particularly like the Park Cyclone the best, it even has a small magnet on the bottom to remove metallic particles. It's easy to use, simply pour in some Park solvent, or use Purple Power Cleaner Degreaser found at automotive places which will save you a ton of money over the Park stuff, Clamp the device onto your chain as per the instructions, spin the chain backwards SLOWLY for about 20 times, remove the cleaning machine, spray some of the stuff onto a cog brush and scrub the cogs, then rinse the chain with water. After it dries I follow up with White Lightning Bike Chain Cleaner spray, this stuff will get off whatever is left and dries fast. The reason I do it this way instead of just using the spray by itself is because I'm cheap, and one can of spray is $10 as is one small bottle of Park Solvent. So by cleaning the chain first with the Purple Power it's far cheaper than I only have to use a small amount of the White Lightning to finish it off.

Purple Power is like $3.45 for 1 40 ounce bottle vs $9 for 1 16 ounce bottle of Park Solvent, both are biodegradable but I don't think the Park stuff works as well as the Purple stuff and it leaves a slime behind that has to be washed off anyways, plus you can use the Purple stuff for a lot of other stuff you can't use the Park for.

Like I said, this is how I do now, I've done it differently over the years, it doesn't mean it's the best way, lots of people use different methods and they all work probably about the same, so you have to decide what fits your personality. But I haven't taken apart a chain in years and have had no issues with premature chain wear from grit I missed by not taking the chain off and soaking it in my solvent basin.

By the way, do spin the chain slowly through any cleaning machine or else it will splatter all over the bike, walls, floor, wife, dog, and do someplace where if dirty solvent gets on something your wife won't be screaming at you and throwing your bikes in the trash.
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Old 06-17-15, 08:41 PM
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@ClarkinHawaiiI'm not sure. It's just what it says in their chain doc. I'd say it has something more to do with a fear of people not reconnecting the chain properly. Maybe they've ran 10000 chains using both methods, and found on-the-bike cleaning and lubing to actually last longer. Dunno.
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Old 06-17-15, 08:45 PM
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Originally Posted by KBentley57 View Post
@ClarkinHawaiiI'm not sure. It's just what it says in their chain doc. I'd say it has something more to do with a fear of people not reconnecting the chain properly. Maybe they've ran 10000 chains using both methods, and found on-the-bike cleaning and lubing to actually last longer. Dunno.
Thank you.
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Old 06-17-15, 09:01 PM
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Before I put a new chain on my bike I make sure the chainrings and cogs are totally, completely clean and dry.

Before and after every ride I wipe it clean by wrapping my fist over the chain with a rag and then spin the pedals for a bit. If that doesn't do the trick I will hold the rag on the cogs and spin the crank. I also thoroughly wipe the chain rings, derailleur and pulleys. This keeps the chain very, very clean.

I oil the chain about every 100 to 150 miles and then wipe the chain again.

If I have ridden through any muck or rain I will use q-tips to get the inner surfaces of the chain.

My chain is not perfectly clean, but by comparison to 99.99% of other drive trains I encounter on group rides or at the shop, it is spotless.

Comments about my bike are generally something along the lines of "That's a pretty bike. D@mn! How do you keep your chain so clean?!"
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Old 06-17-15, 09:12 PM
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The ShelBroCo Bicycle Chain Cleaning System
The ShelBroCo Bicycle Chain Cleaning System
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File Type: jpg
chainclean01.jpg (41.0 KB, 18 views)
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Old 06-17-15, 09:19 PM
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Originally Posted by bici_mania View Post
Before and after every ride I wipe it clean by wrapping my fist over the chain with a rag and then spin the pedals for a bit.
If you wipe it clean after every ride, why do you need to wipe it again before the next ride?
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Old 06-17-15, 09:26 PM
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Originally Posted by ClarkinHawaii View Post
If you wipe it clean after every ride, why do you need to wipe it again before the next ride?

Everything in my garage will have a layer of dust within 12 hours.
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Old 06-17-15, 09:35 PM
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Originally Posted by oldnslow2 View Post
I clean my bike and chain once a week, maybe 100-150 miles. I now have over 1500 miles on it and honestly it's never completely clean. Should I open the "powerlink" to remove it to soak it in a degreaser so its fresh for the next 1500 miles?

Or am I being too "anal".

BTW.. drivetrain is Sram Red 22.
Just to connect the dots a little: even if you get the chain perfectly clean, as soon as you ride it will be dirty again. Or you could get the chain and everything perfectly clean then shrink-wrap the bike and park it in a cool dark place. You don't seem to ride much anyway so if you give up riding it completely it will stay clean.
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Old 06-17-15, 09:49 PM
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Originally Posted by AnkleWork View Post
Just to connect the dots a little: even if you get the chain perfectly clean, as soon as you ride it will be dirty again. Or you could get the chain and everything perfectly clean then shrink-wrap the bike and park it in a cool dark place. You don't seem to ride much anyway so if you give up riding it completely it will stay clean.
Foul. Unnecessary roughness.
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Old 06-17-15, 09:56 PM
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Look at it this way. The only way you'd be able to tell if the chain lubricant WASN'T doing its job was if it remained clean. Its job is to move abrasive particles away from the moving parts and in doing so it gets darker. So celebrate your "dirty" chain. The lubricant is working and everything is good. Now, find something else to fuss with.


Carry on...
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Old 06-17-15, 10:07 PM
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Originally Posted by cale View Post
Foul. Unnecessary roughness.
Just to show that riding and having a completely clean chain are mutually exclusive. The problem is over-constrained from the beginning.
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Old 06-17-15, 10:12 PM
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Originally Posted by ClarkinHawaii View Post
The ShelBroCo Bicycle Chain Cleaning System
The ShelBroCo Bicycle Chain Cleaning System
NINE posts before this showed up. What took you so long, Clark?
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Old 06-17-15, 10:17 PM
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Originally Posted by RoadTire View Post
NINE posts before this showed up. What took you so long, Clark?
Actually I hadn't thought about it in years, but post #8 above was so similar . . .
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Old 06-17-15, 10:29 PM
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Authors note 2015-06-18: my chain does not have bearings, instead it has roller-pin-bushing-plate interfaces.

I am recently converted to the religious experience of removing and washing my chain in 2 mineral spirit baths. But alas, I know I will stumble someday. Seems to me getting the really fine aluminum particles out of the roller-pin-bushing-plate interfaces should decrease bearing wear, translating to less wear on the cogs and chainrings.

Let's say my chain is about 1500 miles on it. Just guessing. Always very diligent to lube just about every other ride, and use a lot of lube to wash through the roller-pin-bushing-plate interfaces. When I did the first mineral spirit bath there was a lot of grit. After filtering that out with paper towels, then plugging up more than a couple coffee filters there was a lot of very fine (assume) aluminum and steel particles in the solution. Interesting experiment, won't do that again.

The second bath of fresh mineral spirits came out pretty clear, telling me re-using the stuff to minimize waste, with 2 baths, is fine.
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Last edited by RoadTire; 06-18-15 at 11:36 AM. Reason: O2Giant - Editor Supreme has corrected my errant ways. :-)
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Old 06-17-15, 10:56 PM
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Have used the 'hot wax' method for 40 years.
It works and I get about 4,000 to 6,000 miles before re-waxing.
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Old 06-17-15, 11:40 PM
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Originally Posted by zonatandem View Post
Have used the 'hot wax' method for 40 years.
It works and I get about 4,000 to 6,000 miles before re-waxing.
It works because you are in Arizona.
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Old 06-18-15, 04:55 AM
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Originally Posted by RoadTire View Post
I am recently converted to the religious experience of removing and washing my chain in 2 mineral spirit baths. But alas, I know I will stumble someday. Seems to me getting the really fine aluminum particles out of the bearings should decrease bearing wear, translating to less wear on the cogs and chainrings.

Let's say my chain is about 1500 miles on it. Just guessing. Always very diligent to lube just about every other ride, and use a lot of lube to wash through the bearings. When I did the first mineral spirit bath there was a lot of grit. After filtering that out with paper towels, then plugging up more than a couple coffee filters there was a lot of very fine (assume) aluminum and steel particles in the solution. Interesting experiment, won't do that again.

The second bath of fresh mineral spirits came out pretty clear, telling me re-using the stuff to minimize waste, with 2 baths, is fine.
Your chain doesn't have bearings.
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Old 06-18-15, 05:22 AM
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Originally Posted by bici_mania View Post
If I have ridden through any muck or rain I will use q-tips to get the inner surfaces of the chain.
Hah! Tried that once. My Q-Tips would not fit inside the inner links of my nine-speed chain. Gave up on the idea.

For the OP, here's my reality: I have no convenient way to objectively measure how much or even whether a normal amount of grime contributes to chain wear. Cleaning is thus about aesthetics. The "every ride" thing is meaningless, because what does that mean if I run to the bagel shop for lunch, or pedal three blocks to the grocery story for coffee? When my chain is dirty and I am in the mood to spare a few moments, then I wipe it down. If it's a rainy day and the chain is a gunky disaster, then I might pull it from the bike and soak it for a few minutes.

The right thing just depends on your circumstances, I think. How often do you ride? Is a "ride" a major event or just a spin down the block for coffee? How much spare time do you have? Do your peers all have spotless drive trains? Are you inclined to put in the same effort as them? Etc.

I do try to keep my chain and drivetrain reasonably clean. I've no issues with soaking the chain when I'm in the mood to detail the bike. I don't always want to spend the time, so I just aim for "reasonably clean", whatever that means.

Last edited by JonathanGennick; 06-18-15 at 05:23 AM. Reason: Corrected some mispellings
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Old 06-18-15, 07:50 AM
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Originally Posted by zonatandem View Post
Have used the 'hot wax' method for 40 years.
It works and I get about 4,000 to 6,000 miles before re-waxing.
What? are they making wax different these days?

I use to hot wax my chains for about 5 years back in the 70's and never got anything close to your mileage, I think I averaged about 400 miles before towards the end of waxing I added Slick 50 later into the wax and that made the wax last longer to about 600 miles. But my experience, as well as those I knew from back then, that the chain life was only about 6,000 miles whereas when TriFlow came out we all started getting an average of 15,000 miles, though we had to clean and lube the chain every 200 miles, which even though we had to lube more often it was far less hassle then hot waxing and the chains lasted longer. And the drip wax in a bottle crap is just plain useless, that stuff only lasts about 70 miles on average, on long rides I had to carry a bottle with me so I could relube to keep the chain noise from lack of lube at bay and chain life was again shorter, but hey, the chain was clean.

Even Sheldon Brown speaks against waxing a chain...granted there are different opinions on that.

So after saying all of that, what kind of wax are you using nowadays? And do you add any other ingredient to the wax?
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Old 06-18-15, 11:38 AM
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Originally Posted by 02Giant View Post
Your chain doesn't have bearings.
Sometimes neither do I. Have to get my bearings before night rides, that's for sure. But more to the point, I have corrected my post to read, "roller-pin-bushing-plate interfaces." Hope that's ok.

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Old 06-18-15, 11:42 AM
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Originally Posted by ClarkinHawaii View Post
The ShelBroCo Bicycle Chain Cleaning System
The ShelBroCo Bicycle Chain Cleaning System
Definitely the way to go for the OCD cyclist.
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