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Wet vs. Dry lube and chain cleaning

Old 02-05-11, 02:14 AM
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fishymamba
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Wet vs. Dry lube and chain cleaning

Hi everybody!

I was looking over my bike today and I noticed that my chain was VERY dirty. There was sand, dirt, and oil everywhere. I want to clean my chain and lubricate it so it lasts a long time. My first question is:

Are chain cleaners such as this good to clean chains/cassette? https://www.amazon.com/Finish-Line-Qu...6951658&sr=8-2
Or is it better to just use a tooth brush and some cleaner(I have been using a orange based cleaner lately and it is very good at removing grease)
I always try to clean a chain, but nothing can get in between the links.

My second question is:
What kind of lube is good for a chain? wet or dry?
I have seen a lot of kinds of chain lubricants online and I have no idea what to get.
I normally use a chain lube I bought at a hardware store for $5(A huge spray type bottle), but the lube is very thin and gets very dirty.
I want a chain lube that does not attract dirt.
Is there a lube that you guys recommend that does not attract dirt and you don't have to clean the chain and re apply it after every ride?

EDIT: I just wanted to let you guys know that I live in SoCal and I almost always ride in dry conditions.

Last edited by fishymamba; 02-05-11 at 06:22 PM.
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Old 02-05-11, 08:27 AM
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The sermons shall begin.
I remove my chains and clean them in an ultrasonic cleaner with 1/2 Simplegreen and water. I rinse them well, dry them. and oil with 4parts mineral spirits and one part chainsaw bar oil.
The chain on my 7sp. tourer has 8640 miles on it and shows little wear.

https://www.sheldonbrown.com/brandt/chain-care.html
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Old 02-05-11, 08:56 AM
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Here we go again. My routine is pretty much like davidad with positive results in both on and off road applications. There will be as many oppinions on this subject as there are products - both commercially available and home brewed. Do a search and you will find loads of info. read through it all and fom your own plan.
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Old 02-05-11, 09:24 AM
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This should do it... https://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...ight=rotella+T
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Old 02-05-11, 09:48 AM
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I'm not a fan of the on-the-bike chain cleaning tools, which I feel do a better job washing grit into the chain than out. If you have a reusable master link (Sram, KMC, etc) remove the chain and wash it in an old coffee can. If you prefer to leave it on the bike, you're probably better off cleaning it by running it through a rag either dry, or dampened with mineral spirits.

For clenaing solvent, I prefer naphtha or mineral spirits to water, detergent or citrus products, because strong chemicals in water can attack the steel, whereas petroleum solvents won't. While solvents will evaporate dry within 24 hours at room temperature, water won't so if you use water dry the chain with a hair drier, baking it in an oven, or if you're in Winter country putting it on your furnace for a while.

As for best lube, I withhold comment, since my bias is obvious in the product I sell. Chain lubes are a matter of trade offs, wet lubes usually last longer, and are better in the rain, dry and wax lubes attract less dust, need more frequent applications, and don't survive rain. Use whatever suits your conditions and preferences, but use it consistent with how it works.
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Old 02-05-11, 10:25 AM
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Actually I'm a big fan of chain cleaning tools, they work and they work good. In fact removing a chain and dumping it in solvent may be doing more harm then good, since your removing all the factory lube and washing external grit into the internal parts! And on top of all of that I haven't found a chain to last any longer if I cleaned the chain by soaking it in solvent or using a chain cleaning machine! I like the Finish Line Cleaning Machine. But to each their own, if you feel better by doing more work then take the chain off and clean and reinstall, otherwise just use a machine.

Lube wise I really liked the Finish Line Ceramic, but last spring I started using the Chain-L lube on two of my bikes that I put new chains on and so far I like it better. And wax based lubes I have no use for, it doesn't last long and it's not a lubricant thus it doesn't protect the chain whatsoever, and it doesn't prevent rust. I've always said, if wax was a great lubricant then chain manufactures would use it...but they don't.

So there you have the start to a good war on theory and thought.
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Old 02-05-11, 11:12 AM
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Whats that? You want a clean chain AND you want it to last a long tine?

Originally Posted by fishymamba View Post
Hi everybody!

I was looking over my bike today and I noticed that my chain was VERY dirty. There was sand, dirt, and oil everywhere. I want to clean my chain and lubricate it so it lasts a long time. My first question is:

Are chain cleaners such as this good to clean chains/cassette? https://www2.rasterwerks.com/game/phosphor/beta2.asp
Or is it better to just use a tooth brush and some cleaner(I have been using a orange based cleaner lately and it is very good at removing grease)
I always try to clean a chain, but nothing can get in between the links.

My second question is:
What kind of lube is good for a chain? wet or dry?
I have seen a lot of kinds of chain lubricants online and I have no idea what to get.
I normally use a chain lube I bought at a hardware store for $5(A huge spray type bottle), but the lube is very thin and gets very dirty.
I want a chain lube that does not attract dirt.
Is there a lube that you guys recommend that does not attract dirt and you don't have to clean the chain and re apply it after every ride?

EDIT: I just wanted to let you guys know that I live in SoCal and I almost always ride in dry conditions.
Chains aren`t just found on bicycles. They`re also commonly used in the automotive, aerospace and motorcycle and manufacturing industries. Its actually pretty common for chains in some applications to last over 100,000 miles without problems. The thing is - those chains run in an oil bath which isn`t exactly practical for bicycles.

This thread has been an interesting read. There are some die hard chain cleaners here and thats nice to see! Frequent cleaning and lubrication is as close as you`ll get to an oil bath! The idea that any chain can go 1,000 km between lubes, on the other hand, is something I personally just can` t take seriously.

Guess I`m using a combination of many of the techniques already posted. Don`t have an ultrasonic myself but have been looking at one - great idea! I do use a Park Tool chain scrubber for regular maintenaince, a cleaning brush with brass bristles for heavy duty cleaning and bottles of solvent to clean or soak. Lubrification is either SAE90 marine gear oil or Castrol synthetic motor oil.

Yeah - there are lots of bicycle specific lubes out there, but in my experience they`re targeting two groups of riders. (1) Riders that want something fast, convenient and that won`t get their hands dirty. (2) Professional riders that are in competition and want short term performance and aren`t concerned with long term durability (or long term chain life either for that matter).

So personally I`ll pass on the nano-technology and PFFT addatives and just get my hands dirty on a regular basis. My own chains get lubed and wiped down every second time I`m out for a ride. Some people might find that a little obcessive.

And since a bike chain can cost anywhere from $20 to $120, and some people are going to leave there bikes on the balcony all winter anyway, the other question that follows `What does it take to make a chain last forever?` would be .... `Is it really worth the effort? Sometimes the answer is ....`NO!`
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Old 02-05-11, 11:34 AM
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Thanks for the info guys! Have any of you fried the Finish Line Dry Teflon lube? It is cheap and the reviews I see online are good.https://www.amazon.com/Finish-Line-Bi...6927149&sr=8-6
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Old 02-05-11, 12:09 PM
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I am using the two chain rotation system. One chain on the bike while the other sits in a jar with mineral spirit.

For lube I currently use Boeshield T9 liquid bottle, it seems to hold longer than White Lightning.
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Old 02-05-11, 01:20 PM
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Originally Posted by fishymamba View Post
Thanks for the info guys! Have any of you fried the Finish Line Dry Teflon lube? It is cheap and the reviews I see online are good.https://www.amazon.com/Finish-Line-Bi...6927149&sr=8-6
I never fried Finish Line Teflon but I have tried it and I liked it. It was among the top 3 lubes I ever used and I've tried almost all of them. Like I said earlier I think my new favorite lube is going to be Chain-L do a google search on it and read about, it's also gotten rave reviews and the only lube ever to receive 5 stars from different sources. I'm still not real up on Chain-L until I get some long term chain life using it, I only started using it this spring, it will probably take 3 years or so before I really determine if it's good. But so far so good, it keeps the chain very clean and rarely do I have to clean the chain with solvent in fact I haven't since April and on one of the chains that's 1,800 miles; just wipe with a cloth after every ride and ride again.

But the Finish Line Teflon Dry + and the Finish Line Ceramic lubes are all the best I've ever used on road bikes. And the Finish Line Cross Country is the best I've ever used for my MTB's.

Here's the Chain-L link: https://chain-l.com/ Also read reviews on RBR.
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Old 02-05-11, 02:18 PM
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Never use a dry lube, only wet lubes and wipe down your chain after every ride. I like Pedro's SynLube the best, then BoShield T-9, ProLink. I've also used synthetic motor oil. I clean my chain in left over gasoline though it's flammable and be careful. I think chain cleaners work well, also an automotive spray engine degreaser works well.
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Old 02-05-11, 02:28 PM
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Originally Posted by fishymamba View Post
Thanks for the info guys! Have any of you fried the Finish Line Dry Teflon lube? It is cheap and the reviews I see online are good.https://www.amazon.com/Finish-Line-Bi...6927149&sr=8-6
Yep, I've used it and it's worthless..... Chain-L is the best I've used in 40 years. If you want a really clean chain, I've had good luck with Dumonde Tech (Lite).
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Old 02-05-11, 05:10 PM
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Originally Posted by fishymamba View Post
Hi everybody!

I was looking over my bike today and I noticed that my chain was VERY dirty. There was sand, dirt, and oil everywhere. I want to clean my chain and lubricate it so it lasts a long time. My first question is:

Are chain cleaners such as this good to clean chains/cassette? https://www2.rasterwerks.com/game/phosphor/beta2.asp
Or is it better to just use a tooth brush and some cleaner(I have been using a orange based cleaner lately and it is very good at removing grease)
I always try to clean a chain, but nothing can get in between the links.
First: your link doesn't go to a chain cleaner but to a game site.

I'm not a fan of the on bike chain cleaners. I have one and I think I used it twice. It's just too messy. They also don't seem to be very efficient. Mineral spirits in a jar works much better and is really much cleaner. About a cup of mineral spirits should do a dozen or more chains.

Just drop the chain into the liquid, shake and pull the chain out. Done. (Wear gloves)

The added benefit is that the chain is squeaky clean inside and out.

Originally Posted by fishymamba View Post
My second question is:
What kind of lube is good for a chain? wet or dry?
I have seen a lot of kinds of chain lubricants online and I have no idea what to get.
I normally use a chain lube I bought at a hardware store for $5(A huge spray type bottle), but the lube is very thin and gets very dirty.
I want a chain lube that does not attract dirt.
Is there a lube that you guys recommend that does not attract dirt and you don't have to clean the chain and re apply it after every ride?

EDIT: I just wanted to let you guys know that I live in SoCal and I almost always ride in dry conditions.
SoCal and dry conditions are made for dry lubricants. Dry conditions are even somewhat detrimental for using wet lubricants, as you've already seen. Heavy wet lubricants don't really help in dry conditions because all they do is serve as a vehicle for dirt and grit to get stuck to the chain and grid the chain to powder. If you've noticed, your chain is black. The oils used for lubrication are a amber color or colorless. The 'black' comes from a combination of dirt and iron particles that get mixed in the oil as the chain is ground up.

Dry lubricants don't attract grit so the grinding process isn't as severe. The downside of dry lubricants is that they don't keep water out of the chain as well but, if your exposure to water is limited...as it is in SoCal...that's not too much of a problem.

There are a number of dry lubricants that make life easier for those of us who live where it is dry. I've used White Lightning exclusively for about 15 years. I get plenty of wear out of my chain and I don't have to put it on every day or every week or even every month, contrary to some reports I get around 6 to 8 weeks between application which works out to 600 to 800 miles. Not bad considering that I can actually touch my chain without leaving black icky marks all over.

Originally Posted by Lawrence08648 View Post
Never use a dry lube, only wet lubes and wipe down your chain after every ride. I like Pedro's SynLube the best, then BoShield T-9, ProLink. I've also used synthetic motor oil. I clean my chain in left over gasoline though it's flammable and be careful. I think chain cleaners work well, also an automotive spray engine degreaser works well.
First...and I mean this as kindly as I can...using gasoline as a degreaser is just dumb! There are far better, far less dangerous and far less toxic materials out there to use. Gasoline has a flash point of -40F which means that you can ignite it easily just about anywhere south of the Bozeman, MT/Greenbay, WS line.

Mineral spirits is far less toxic, far less flammable and does just as good a job without any of the hazards. Its flashpoint is 70F to around 120F, depending on the grade.

On to the lubricants. Boeshield T-9 is a dry lubricant, just like White Lightning. From their website

Solvent Base flushes out old lubricants.
Penetrates deeply to thoroughly coat inner pins and rollers.
Dries to a clean Paraffin Wax film so it will not pick up dirt.
which is almost exactly the claims made by White Lightning.

Using home brew oil mixtures or just plain motor oil may work in New Jersey where you have to deal with much more water but it's hardly the choice for lubrication in the dry western US. As I've pointed out above, it's detrimental to chain life here. You have to deal with rust...we have to deal with dust. Rhymes but not the same stuff
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Old 02-05-11, 05:15 PM
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Yup! Not only tried it - still have a bit.

Originally Posted by fishymamba View Post
Thanks for the info guys! Have any of you fried the Finish Line Dry Teflon lube? It is cheap and the reviews I see online are good.https://www.amazon.com/Finish-Line-Bi...6927149&sr=8-6
Tried it on chains and wasn`t overly impressed. It`s called `dry` but it actually goes on wet and is fairly viscous. It`s supposed to set up dry. I use it on tuneups with cables with no teflon liner.

I`m afraid this falls under what I refer to as `botique` products where a premium is paid for packaging, inventory management, and marketing. Ever notice that when something is repackaged in a smaller, more convenient size that the price is almost the same as a larger size?

Just for fun - a litre of Castrol SYNTEC 75W90 gear oil is only $10.

Another thing I`d like to mention is that those chain scrubbers have a magnet the bottom and its function is to extract any ferrous particles that end up in suspension in the cleaning solvent. Thats the main reason I`d recommend them over a coke bottle - unless you get ambitious and glue a magnet onthe bottom outside of the bottle.

I did check out the reviews on the L lubricant and its apparently a mix of light mineral oil and high viscosity gear oil. Sounds OK to me but I`m not even close to being convinced anyone can go 1,000 between applications without showing evidence of wear. The reviews pretty much backed up a few of my other earlier comments as well. A couple users agreed that it worked better but didn`t plan on continuing to use it because it was messy to apply and didn`t smell pretty.

Sometimes a sense of humor helps!
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Old 02-05-11, 07:23 PM
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Chain cleaning machines are not messy if you know how to use one. You have to spin the chain slowly through the machine, if you do it fast than yes it can be quite messy.
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Old 02-05-11, 09:18 PM
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Finally, a good discussion on chain lubrication. First one since 2010 if I remember correctly. I was worried that the bike forum was going to be boring in 2011.
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Old 02-05-11, 09:33 PM
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I use Prolink, wipe the chain after every ride and re-apply the Prolink about every 100 miles. The chain stays very clean
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Old 02-05-11, 09:40 PM
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If you ride in the wet or mixed conditions, use a wet chain lube. If you ride in dry conditions the lubricant needn't be so "sticky" so use a wax or light/"dry" lubricant.

If you want to clean the chain install a power-link or quick-link, buy a jug of mineral spirits from the paint store/section, remove the chain and agitate it and some mineral spirits in a small bottle then remove the chain and let dry in a warm area for at least 6 hours. Reinstall, apply the lubricant generously, wipe off excess.
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Old 02-05-11, 11:15 PM
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I looked at a few books at a book store today and they all said to not soak the chain in solvents because it removes the lubricatant from in between the rollers which is impossible to replace(besides using hot wax). I think I will buy the chain cleaner just to see how it works. I also ordered the Finish Line dry teflon tube just because it was cheap. I am gonna see how it works and if I like it I will keep on using it, if I don't then I will try the Chain-L lube. Thanks for all the help guys!

I also wanted to know how you guys clean your cogs? 2 months ago I took them off and cleaned them completely, but that took a long time and caused a big mess. How do you guys clean them? Thanks!
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Old 02-06-11, 12:07 AM
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Originally Posted by Lawrence08648 View Post
Never use a dry lube, only wet lubes and wipe down your chain after every ride. I like Pedro's SynLube the best, then BoShield T-9, ProLink. I've also used synthetic motor oil. I clean my chain in left over gasoline though it's flammable and be careful. I think chain cleaners work well, also an automotive spray engine degreaser works well.
Originally Posted by fishymamba View Post
I looked at a few books at a book store today and they all said to not soak the chain in solvents because it removes the lubricatant from in between the rollers which is impossible to replace(besides using hot wax). I think I will buy the chain cleaner just to see how it works. I also ordered the Finish Line dry teflon tube just because it was cheap. I am gonna see how it works and if I like it I will keep on using it, if I don't then I will try the Chain-L lube. Thanks for all the help guys!

I also wanted to know how you guys clean your cogs? 2 months ago I took them off and cleaned them completely, but that took a long time and caused a big mess. How do you guys clean them? Thanks!
Sorry but they are all wrong. The material that is used for the original...and according to many, perfect... chain lubricant was placed there using a solvent that penetrated the chain and then evaporated to leave the lubricant behind. That's just how most dry lubricants work. Wet lubes are usually thinned with some solvent too. The wet lubricants are less viscous than the original (and perfect) lubricant.

I clean my chains before use for the very reason you want to...to avoid attracting grit that will grind the chain to bits. The original (and perfect) lubricant is too sticky to avoid picking up visible chunks of dirt. If you can see the grit, there's smaller grit that is grinding away at the inside of the chain.

The original lubricant is only going to last a few hundred miles anyway. At some point, you are going to have to add lubrication. As soon as you add that lubricant...if it is going to get into the insides of the chain...you are going to carry stuff from the outside further into the chain. You are also going to replace the original lubricant with something else. The original lubricant isn't going to be so original nor so perfect anymore. And all you've gained (possibly) a few hundred miles. You've not gained that if you carry crap deeper into the chain.
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Old 02-06-11, 12:15 AM
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Originally Posted by fishymamba View Post
I looked at a few books at a book store today and they all said to not soak the chain in solvents because it removes the lubricatant from in between the rollers which is impossible to replace(besides using hot wax). I think I will buy the chain cleaner just to see how it works. I also ordered the Finish Line dry teflon tube just because it was cheap. I am gonna see how it works and if I like it I will keep on using it, if I don't then I will try the Chain-L lube. Thanks for all the help guys!

I also wanted to know how you guys clean your cogs? 2 months ago I took them off and cleaned them completely, but that took a long time and caused a big mess. How do you guys clean them? Thanks!
I'd clean them if they were caked in mud and grime.
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Old 02-06-11, 12:25 AM
  #22  
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
Sorry but they are all wrong. The material that is used for the original...and according to many, perfect... chain lubricant was placed there using a solvent that penetrated the chain and then evaporated to leave the lubricant behind. That's just how most dry lubricants work. Wet lubes are usually thinned with some solvent too. The wet lubricants are less viscous than the original (and perfect) lubricant.

I clean my chains before use for the very reason you want to...to avoid attracting grit that will grind the chain to bits. The original (and perfect) lubricant is too sticky to avoid picking up visible chunks of dirt. If you can see the grit, there's smaller grit that is grinding away at the inside of the chain.

The original lubricant is only going to last a few hundred miles anyway. At some point, you are going to have to add lubrication. As soon as you add that lubricant...if it is going to get into the insides of the chain...you are going to carry stuff from the outside further into the chain. You are also going to replace the original lubricant with something else. The original lubricant isn't going to be so original nor so perfect anymore. And all you've gained (possibly) a few hundred miles. You've not gained that if you carry crap deeper into the chain.

Ok that does sound right. I will clean the chain with the chain cleaner and see if it cleans it completely. I will soak it if it does not clean well.
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Old 02-06-11, 12:30 AM
  #23  
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Originally Posted by electrik View Post
I'd clean them if they were caked in mud and grime.
Mine are just kind of oily and black. I want to clean them the same time I clean the chain, so the old lube and new lube don't mix together. Also to clean the crankset rings, shoud I take the whole thing off? Or should I just wipe the gears with a cloth?
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Old 02-06-11, 12:39 AM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by fishymamba View Post
Mine are just kind of oily and black. I want to clean them the same time I clean the chain, so the old lube and new lube don't mix together. Also to clean the crankset rings, shoud I take the whole thing off? Or should I just wipe the gears with a cloth?
Just take a terry rag, run it edge-wise through the cassette(chain should be off) and ratchet it backward then pull forward... I find you can get most grime off that way.
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Old 02-06-11, 06:36 AM
  #25  
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Reading is always good - but only if the source is reliable.

Originally Posted by fishymamba View Post
I looked at a few books at a book store today and they all said to not soak the chain in solvents because it removes the lubricatant from in between the rollers which is impossible to replace(besides using hot wax). I think I will buy the chain cleaner just to see how it works. I also ordered the Finish Line dry teflon tube just because it was cheap. I am gonna see how it works and if I like it I will keep on using it, if I don't then I will try the Chain-L lube. Thanks for all the help guys!

I also wanted to know how you guys clean your cogs? 2 months ago I took them off and cleaned them completely, but that took a long time and caused a big mess. How do you guys clean them? Thanks!
You haven`t specified the sources for that advice and it sounds pretty questionable to me. If you want a more complete understanding of chain, its construction, and how bushingless bicycle chain is different than some other configurations, I`ll suggest you do some additional research. The Tsubakimoto Chain Co published `The Complete Guide to Chain` a number of years ago in which it also describes the roller chain manufacturing process. Section 1.5.1 specifically covers bicycle chain and details bushingless chain as used on bicycles with derailleur systems.

EDIT: OK I've located it online https://chain-guide.com/toc.html

Just a couple things I like to point out: There are a very limited number of places on a bicycle chain that are subject to wear (corrosion aside). The outer plates are fixed on the pins and are never an issue. The inner plates (complete with lips that act as bushings) rotate on the pins and eventually wear a groove into the pins that is more pronounced on the load bearing side. The roller rides on the bushing area provided by the inner links and can eventually wear completely through that lip. Chains don`t actually `stretch` on bicycles - its actually the increased dimensional tolerances that result from the loss of bushing area and grooves in the pins that adds up to the measured `chain stretch` on a bicycle.

Contaminants are the issue. Quartz and feldspar are both harder than steel and are the cost common ingrediants in sand and environmental dust. Once added to your lubricant - you no longer have a lubicant - you have either a grinding compound or a lapping compound. The size of the particals just determines how fast they`ll eat at the components.

So ideally, you would want to get rid of as much of those contaminants as possible before relubing and since they`ll have worked their way into the old lubricant pretty uniformly, I can`t see how its possible to get rid of them without also getting rid of the old lubricant. As for cleaning components as well as chains, comercial degreasers will do the job and are normally used with a filter and pump system. They also pose less of a fire and health and environmental problem then gasoline.

Last edited by Burton; 02-06-11 at 12:18 PM. Reason: link to reference added
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