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Chain Maintenance

Old 08-06-14, 02:40 PM
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thelagger1
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Chain Maintenance

Cleaning the chain with kerosene or biodegradable degreaser? I read somewhere that Kerosene is pretty effective and is a standard for some formula one mechanics.

I cleaned my chain by running a toothbrush and a damp rag with dishwasher detergent over it... got most not all the gunk out, might consider using a brush with harder bristles next time. Applied Dri Slide for the finishing touch. This was my first time doing maintenance on the chain. How long should I be good for?
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Old 08-06-14, 04:37 PM
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Not very long. That kind of process more likely made the chain look better on the outside but had little or negative effect on the actual working parts. If you are not going to fully clean it it's best just to lube and then wipe off excess.
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Old 08-06-14, 05:02 PM
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Originally Posted by thelagger1 View Post
Cleaning the chain with kerosene or biodegradable degreaser? I read somewhere that Kerosene is pretty effective and is a standard for some formula one mechanics.
One of the perverse laws of nature is that the more volatile, flammable and toxic the degreaser, the better it works. White gas (camp fuel) is an outstanding degreaser. Unfortunately, it can blow you up - real good. Water-based degreasers are useless, including anything 'green'.

A good compromise is paint thinner or varsol.

But in the end, don't fuss too much about chains, as they are throw-away consumables. 2,-3,000 miles per chain. 4 per year. Buy cheap. Replace often.
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Old 08-06-14, 05:24 PM
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I use Odorless Mineral Spirits on mine. I get grit from limestone paths that act as a grinding paste, so I need to clean and lube with pro link gold after almost every ride. Seems to do a good job with little damage. I have over 3k mi on my newest chain now with no signs of stretch or wear under these conditions - I think that is pretty good.
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Old 08-06-14, 08:30 PM
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Originally Posted by cny-bikeman View Post
Not very long. That kind of process more likely made the chain look better on the outside but had little or negative effect on the actual working parts. If you are not going to fully clean it it's best just to lube and then wipe off excess.
This is my experience as well. I never do any more than wipe the outside with a rag sprayed with degreaser and relube.

Most of the chain lubes I have used recommend you relube when the chain starts to "sound dry" which has worked well for me. That can be anywhere from 25 miles to 300 miles depending on the lube you use as well as the conditions you are riding in.
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Old 08-06-14, 09:01 PM
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I have about 700 miles on the chain on a new bike I bought in May. I have not lubed it yet and it does not sound dry, at least no squeaks that I can hear. I did buy some chain lube today and plan to lube it this weekend. It looks dry but then the lube is inside the rollers if it still have some original lube left. How long do properly cared chains normally last on road use only?
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Old 08-06-14, 09:37 PM
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I always smile a bit when people mention only oiling and wiping off a chain. Either they in a dry and dust free location (and maybe only ride indoors) or they don't care that the road grime will get ground into finer particles, all trapped inside the link plates and rollers. This grinding into smaller particles will reduce the noise a chain makes. The periodic lubing and wiping off the outside will keep the chain from squeaking and make the outside look nice. All the time the fine particles are still acting as a grinding compound.

But the action is inside. Kind of like a guy who works out and has a nice tan. No telling what his arteries, lungs or colon are like. Unlike our body we CAN flush out the insides of a chain.

What one uses to do so is less the issue. That one does flush out the chain's insides IS the issue. The choice of solvent is driven by the situation and access to stuff. I know a few who use Kerosene in a few soda bottles. They insert and shake the chain in bottle one, then bottle two and so forth until the kerosene is not getting dirty, maybe bottle four or five. The grime settles out and they then drain off the clean kerosene to recycle as much as possible.
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Old 08-06-14, 09:42 PM
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Chain life varies so much from one bike to another that it is almost ludicrous to try to predict. Some of the variables are-
Riding style, how smoothly you shift, how hard you climb.
Maintenance, how often you clean and lube, how often you check for wear.
Chain quality, some last longer than others.
Environment, wet, dry, dusty, silt and sand cause more wear than clay or limestone dust which is actually softer than the chain.
Number of speeds, generally a wider chain on a bike with fewer cogs will last longer than a modern 10 or 11-speed system.
I ride 9-speed and 10-speed road bikes and can get 4000 - 5000 miles on my chains before they have stretched enough to damage the cogs. I do all maintenance with the chains on the bikes.

Last edited by Al1943; 08-06-14 at 09:49 PM.
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Old 08-07-14, 01:23 AM
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Originally Posted by Al1943 View Post
Chain life varies so much from one bike to another that it is almost ludicrous to try to predict. Some of the variables are-
Riding style, how smoothly you shift, how hard you climb.
Maintenance, how often you clean and lube, how often you check for wear.
Chain quality, some last longer than others.
Environment, wet, dry, dusty, silt and sand cause more wear than clay or limestone dust which is actually softer than the chain.
Number of speeds, generally a wider chain on a bike with fewer cogs will last longer than a modern 10 or 11-speed system.
I ride 9-speed and 10-speed road bikes and can get 4000 - 5000 miles on my chains before they have stretched enough to damage the cogs. I do all maintenance with the chains on the bikes.
Interesting, this!

I just found out that while I *thought* my Ultegra 6800 chain had a missing link, it actually doesn't!!

When I couldn't find it, somebody pointed out to me one dark link pin & said, "Nope, that's where it was joined!"

So, while I'd otherwise like to take it off (and I may still do it & add a missing link for convenience) I do want to otherwise take care of this puppy because 11-speed chains are NOT CHEAP!!!

Curious if you care to relay your method of cleaning??
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Old 08-07-14, 05:58 AM
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Originally Posted by GeneO View Post
. . . to clean and lube with pro link gold after almost every ride. Seems to do a good job with little damage. I have over 3k mi on my newest chain now with no signs of stretch or wear under these conditions - I think that is pretty good.
Pro-link works great for me for lubing and keeping it pretty much clean and grit-free. Twice a year I take the chain off and do the Kerosene in a coffee can trick, blow it dry with the compressor and re-lube with the pro-link. Chains seem to last much longer, too.
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Old 08-07-14, 03:30 PM
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Al1943
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Originally Posted by loimpact View Post
Interesting, this!

I just found out that while I *thought* my Ultegra 6800 chain had a missing link, it actually doesn't!!

When I couldn't find it, somebody pointed out to me one dark link pin & said, "Nope, that's where it was joined!"

So, while I'd otherwise like to take it off (and I may still do it & add a missing link for convenience) I do want to otherwise take care of this puppy because 11-speed chains are NOT CHEAP!!!

Curious if you care to relay your method of cleaning??
I don't do anything special. Occasionally I use a Park chain cleaner machine with mineral spirits. And once every 200 to 300 miles I put a drop or two of home brew on each link. I wrap a folded paper shop towel (the blue kind from the W-M automotive section) around the chain and turn the cranks to clean off the excess crud. I let the bike set overnight before riding. Home brew is 20 - 25% Mobil One Synthetic motor oil and 75 - 80% mineral spirits (the real kind, not the "green" stuff).
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