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Cleaning a bike chain ?

Old 06-11-20, 08:40 AM
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venomx
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Cleaning a bike chain ?

Howís the best way ? I use WD40 occasionally and it really helps when they get dry but Iíve never cleaned the chain before ?
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Old 06-11-20, 09:02 AM
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Best way is whatever way suits you. Otherwise you are just doing what someone told you.

For the last four years the only thing I've done for the chain on my Paramount with 11 speed 105 5800 is to take an old rag soaked with whatever light or somewhat light lube I find first in my very disorganized, crowded garage. WD-40, CRC, 10w40 motor oil. I just rub the rag on the chain until the outside is clean.

After it's clean, I'll drip or wet another rag with what ever lube I'm using for chains at the moment and wipe that on. Turn the crank for a while after that and then wipe the excess.

I don't clean mine often though. Just when it get gunked up enough that it makes a big mess on my right calf. But the same chain has been on there for all those years and it doesn't show any wear or stretch for the more than several thousands of miles it's been. I don't put a lot of muscle into my pedaling or do chain stands which I think is a factor in those that have short chain life.

If you happen to have the chain off the bike, then drop it in some mineral spirits. Move it around, and voila, it's clean. Okay, maybe you need to rub the gunk in some parts with a brush or rag. <grin>. Then dry it off with a clean rag. Maybe blow it off with compressed air and re-lube it. If you have a lot of your lube, then drop it in the lube. If not, drip the lube on. Then wipe off excess. Lube has little use on the outside except to make more gunk. Though some chains in some climates might get surface rust more.

And if you use mineral spirits. Save the used stuff. Quite a bit of the gunk will settle out and you can pour off the top clean fluid and re-use it. If not dirty, just re-use it all.
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Old 06-11-20, 09:13 AM
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After a muddy or dusty ride (think fresh gravel road), use the Sheldon Brown method Iride mentioned. Take the chain off, drop it in a jar filled half way with mineral spirits, shake vigorously, take the chain out and let it dry. Chains with quick links are pretty easy to use this method on; Shimano chains are a bit of a hassle, needing a chain tool and spare pin.

For most of my road riding, I can just add new lube (from the inside of the chain), spin, and wipe it down. Then repeat the wipe down after the next couple of rides. That's usually enough to keep the gunk down, and I just wait until the chain gets noisy to re-lube.
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Old 06-11-20, 09:13 AM
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Originally Posted by venomx View Post
Howís the best way ? I use WD40 occasionally and it really helps when they get dry but Iíve never cleaned the chain before ?
It sounds like you're looking for the basics of keeping your chain clean and lubed, and not how to completely strip it down to bare metal.

If I'm guessing right, you can use the WD-40 as a cleaner. It does a decent job of washing away grime. Just spray it on, wrap a rag around the chain and spin your pedals backwards. Do that a few times, or until it's pretty clean.

The important thing is to use some kind of chain lube after that. WD-40 is not a good lube. Although it has some light oils, it's better used as a solvent.

Fortunately, chain lubes have been discussed a time or two on this forum if you need help choosing one.

If I guessed the intent of your question wrong, and you want to get it down to bare metal, you need to remove the chain, put it in a jar of mineral spirits, shake it up, wipe it down, and repeat until the mineral spirits stay clear. Then you can do that jar thing again with 90 percent rubbing alcohol. Let it dry. Now it will be ready for waxing, which is usually the only reason people get their chains this clean.
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Old 06-11-20, 10:12 AM
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https://www.sheldonbrown.com/brandt/chain-care.html
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Old 06-11-20, 10:14 AM
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I use one of the Park Tool thingies with a detergent base. I also use Squirt wax lube on my chains now. It doesn't take much to get the chain clean when using wax. But even when I used a teflon dry lube I would do this and it would get clean. I'd rinse with water, run it through a dry rag, let it air dry too and then reapply lube. The nice thing about using a wax based lube is that it doesn't get very dirty in the first place. The dirt may stick to the wax but it then falls off together. My trainer mat is always covered with waxy crud in the fall when I first start riding indoors.
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Old 06-11-20, 11:06 AM
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I have bought this to clean my chain...
https://www.wiggle.co.uk/muc-off-cha...400ml-aerosol/

once itís cleaned, how do I lubricate it ? Or will that do the job ?

i usually use WD40 and it makes my bike ride like itís new again
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Old 06-11-20, 12:18 PM
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Guys, really?
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Old 06-11-20, 02:03 PM
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Originally Posted by venomx View Post
I have bought this to clean my chain...
https://www.wiggle.co.uk/muc-off-cha...400ml-aerosol/
From the product description: "It breaks down oil, grease and grim, leaving the chain containment free."
I'd worry about a product if the folks who wrote the advert, or reviewed it before publication, didn't know the difference between "containment" and "contaminant"!
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Old 06-11-20, 06:44 PM
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Originally Posted by venomx View Post
Howís the best way ? I use WD40 occasionally and it really helps when they get dry but Iíve never cleaned the chain before ?
Appropriate for every chain cleaning thread...




Dan
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Old 06-12-20, 05:19 PM
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If I have to take my chain off for some reason, I clean it in my ultrasonic cleaner with a solution of simple green detergent, then dry and relube. But ... I rarely have to take my chain off so my practice is to keep my chain clean by wiping it thoroughly once a week or so. Wiping does not remove lube where it counts, but instead removes excess lube so it doesn't attract grit and grime. If I feel that relubing is necessary I wipe first then relube (I use Chain-L) then wipe again after it has had a chance to work in. Anyhow, my bottom line is that cleaning before relubing makes me feel good, but has no effect on the performance or durability of the chain.
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Old 06-12-20, 09:03 PM
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I use Dupont Chain and Sprocket Cleaner, then Dupont Chain Lube (dry wax/Teflon(R) based product - spray it on and let it dry). Works great so far.
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Old 06-13-20, 05:19 AM
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How to clean a chain? Remove the chain, carefully dip it once in the trash can. Apply a new chain. I know it's a little snarky, but that's what I do. I never use solvent to clean a chain . Cleaning a chain with solvent removes all of the lubricant deep inside the chain, especially the Factory Lube which is the best. This is my chain cleaning regimen. After every ride, I take a rag in my left hand, grab the Bottom Rung of the chain and with my right hand turn the pedals backwards to wipe off the gunk on the chain. Then every few rides I don't know 3/5 10 rides, after I finish my ride, I wipe the chain down as above, then I apply lots of lubricant but I don't wipe it off. then leave the cleaning rag on the Chain so I can't ride off on the bike. The next time I go to ride, I wipe off the excess using the above technique. I also check the chain for wear, and well below the wear limit I replace it

Last edited by San Rensho; 06-13-20 at 05:34 AM. Reason: For some reason, ****ering the chain with oil is is some horrible violation. Like saying, use a mill bastard file to file down the excess.
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Old 06-13-20, 06:25 AM
  #14  
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I use some sort of metal degreaser to use in workshops, a bit the same like a brake cleaner, first. Then mineral spirits, when completely clean I use compressed air to get everything from between the links.
Use a plastic box to put the chain in and shake it until all grime has come out.

Afterwards rewax with Squirt dry lube and let sit until dried, then I reapply and let dry again before going for a ride.
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Old 06-13-20, 06:58 AM
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Did anyone ever try applying car shampoo or dish washing liquid directly to the chain before washing the bike? - Seems to me many of the "forum approved" chain cleaning methods are endless faff. I tried applying paint thinner directly with a brush before washing the bike, Worked just fine. If you really like a clean chain, place it in a pickle jar with paint thinner or similar solvent and shake it about for a few minutes. - That is a sure fire method.
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Old 06-13-20, 07:00 AM
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Found a great video

i have my degreaser and wet & dry lubricant oil and Iíll be cleaning it tomorrow
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Old 06-13-20, 08:13 AM
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I use DEP degreaser in a Park Tool Chaincleaner, wait until the chain is dry, then lube it with DuPont Teflon Dry ChainSaver
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Old 06-13-20, 08:14 AM
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My degreaser is a spray , can I spray some into a bucket of hot water and then dip a paint brush into it then apply to the chain ?
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Old 06-18-20, 10:06 AM
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People say to wipe away excess oil after lubricating
surely this would end up in some of the oil coming out ?
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Old 06-18-20, 10:11 AM
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Originally Posted by venomx View Post
People say to wipe away excess oil after lubricating
surely this would end up in some of the oil coming out ?
When wiping, the lube only comes off the outside parts, which is good because it then doesn't collect grit. On the friction points, where it counts, the lube is retained by capillary attraction. An exception is wax, which is not really a lube, because it does not penetrate well to the parts that need lube.
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Old 06-18-20, 10:17 AM
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Chain Cleaner

I've used simple green, park chain cleaner, and automotive brake cleaner. My best results are with removing the chain, using the ultrasonic cleaner with Krud Kutter Degreaser. I rinse the chain and dry it then soak the chain in chain wax in a plastic zip lock bag. Place the chain back on the bike and spin the gears with a microfiber against the chain to take any excess off. For new chains I use the same method as they have a heavy and very sticky lube. I clean it well so the wax will stick.
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Old 06-18-20, 11:13 AM
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Originally Posted by Moe Zhoost View Post
On the friction points, where it counts, the lube is retained by capillary attraction.
Capillary action is only going to get you so far. Gravity will take over eventually. Any oil in the gaps of the chain will drain out over time. The metal surface has an affinity for polar substances but doesnít have an affinity for nonpolar substances. The oil wonít really stay there and will drain off the metal over time. This is why you have to constantly wipe the outside of oil lubricated chains. If it chain stops needing wiping, the oil is probably gone.

Originally Posted by Moe Zhoost View Post
When wiping, the lube only comes off the outside parts, which is good because it then doesn't collect grit.
Yes, but... Wiping off the lubrication that drains out will help it stop from collecting grit but any grit it has collected because the oil is constantly draining off, will be pushed into the chain. The particles that grind up a chain are extremely small. The large grit that you can see really isnít a problem. But by wiping, you are forcing the smaller particles into the chain.


Originally Posted by Moe Zhoost View Post
An exception is wax, which is not really a lube, because it does not penetrate well to the parts that need lube.
Yes, wax is a lubricant. A lubricant is something that reduces friction. Wax reduces friction in the same manner as oils do. The only difference is the mobility. Wax penetrates just as well as oils do especially if the wax is contained in a solvent or if the wax is melted. If you were to just rub canning wax over the outside of the chain, then, no, the wax wonít do much. But melt it or dissolve it and it penetrates just fine.

But wax does lack the ability to flow back into the gaps once it has been displaced. Thatís both a plus and a minus. Wax doesnít flow so it canít flow back into the gaps but it also doesnít pump grit into the chain either. Water that gets in the chain can rust exposed metal which results in the need to relubricate.

Oil flows around in the chain all the time. When the bike is pedaled, the oil flows up and down depending on the orientation of the chain. But any grit that sticks to the outside flows into and out of the chain. Grit is the prime driver of chain wear. Oil based chains, by the way, arenít any better when it comes to water. The ability of the oil to flow just covers the problem that waxes expose. Water that is in contact with oil will phase separate with the water going to the bottom of the mixture. Water does have an affinity for metals and will undergo capillary action and move into the narrow spaces in the chain, displacing the oil. Corrosion is occurring but sound is just masked by the oil.

Both lubricants result in about the same chain life. Wax has more metal-to-metal wear. Oil has more grit wear. Wax is far cleaner, however.
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Old 06-18-20, 10:16 PM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
Capillary action is only going to get you so far. Gravity will take over eventually. Any oil in the gaps of the chain will drain out over time. The metal surface has an affinity for polar substances but doesnít have an affinity for nonpolar substances. The oil wonít really stay there and will drain off the metal over time. This is why you have to constantly wipe the outside of oil lubricated chains. If it chain stops needing wiping, the oil is probably gone.



Yes, but... Wiping off the lubrication that drains out will help it stop from collecting grit but any grit it has collected because the oil is constantly draining off, will be pushed into the chain. The particles that grind up a chain are extremely small. The large grit that you can see really isnít a problem. But by wiping, you are forcing the smaller particles into the chain.




Yes, wax is a lubricant. A lubricant is something that reduces friction. Wax reduces friction in the same manner as oils do. The only difference is the mobility. Wax penetrates just as well as oils do especially if the wax is contained in a solvent or if the wax is melted. If you were to just rub canning wax over the outside of the chain, then, no, the wax wonít do much. But melt it or dissolve it and it penetrates just fine.

But wax does lack the ability to flow back into the gaps once it has been displaced. Thatís both a plus and a minus. Wax doesnít flow so it canít flow back into the gaps but it also doesnít pump grit into the chain either. Water that gets in the chain can rust exposed metal which results in the need to relubricate.

Oil flows around in the chain all the time. When the bike is pedaled, the oil flows up and down depending on the orientation of the chain. But any grit that sticks to the outside flows into and out of the chain. Grit is the prime driver of chain wear. Oil based chains, by the way, arenít any better when it comes to water. The ability of the oil to flow just covers the problem that waxes expose. Water that is in contact with oil will phase separate with the water going to the bottom of the mixture. Water does have an affinity for metals and will undergo capillary action and move into the narrow spaces in the chain, displacing the oil. Corrosion is occurring but sound is just masked by the oil.

Both lubricants result in about the same chain life. Wax has more metal-to-metal wear. Oil has more grit wear. Wax is far cleaner, however.
I've been trying to make a similar point on another list. You've given me some food for thought... I like oil because I ride in an often-wet environment. Wax lubes get awfully squeaky here.
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Old 06-18-20, 10:25 PM
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Man...I need to do a video and a blog post on this topic. Been down this road for a while now in terms of what is required to keep my bike clean. My process has been getting simpler and simpler and the stuff I use cheaper and cheaper. Will post up a response later with more detail.
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Old 06-18-20, 10:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Jeff Wills View Post
I've been trying to make a similar point on another list. You've given me some food for thought... I like oil because I ride in an often-wet environment. Wax lubes get awfully squeaky here.
The reason for the squeak is still there. You just canít hear it. Sort of like turning up the radio.
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