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Chain Cleaner Tool

Old 07-12-16, 01:44 PM
  #1  
drmfunky
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Chain Cleaner Tool

I commute to work daily and always use a rag to clean off my bike and chain but am interested in picking up one of those nifty looking chain cleaning tools for when I do a deep clean/apply new lube.

Anyone here use one or have recommendations for a good one? Also, does anyone hate them and suggest avoiding them?
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Old 07-12-16, 01:55 PM
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There have been plenty of discussions on the subject. You can probably find plenty in the bike mechanics forum. Some like them, some don't. Some prefer to just drop a chain into jar of mineral spirits or other type of cleaner, or using something high-tech like an ultrasonic cleaner.

Personally I've heard of some of those cleaner devices, even the Park Tools one, deteriorating and falling apart after awhile.
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Old 07-12-16, 02:06 PM
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When it comes to cleaning a chain, my take is that if you're going to do it, you should do it well. The Park Tool-style on-bike cleaner gets points for articulating the chain inside the solvent to work the grit out of it, but in the meantime, it can splatter that solvent elsewhere.


I prefer to take the chain off when I do, so that I can also wipe accumulated grit off the chainrings and cassette.
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Old 07-12-16, 02:07 PM
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I recommend to not bother with the spinny thing. I have one, and while I did not throw it out while cleaning the garage this weekend, I just take my chain off, soak it in degreaser, scrub it all over with a cloth while sudsy, clean that all off with water, and relube after reinstalling (make sure the degreaser is fully removed before relubing).

edit: And, as TS said above, can then clean the chainrings, cassette, derailer pulleys... for the most part I can clean those thoroughly with a dry paper towel, no need for solvent at all.
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Old 07-12-16, 02:11 PM
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chain cleaners blow...hard.

save your money.
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Old 07-12-16, 02:23 PM
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If you get it grubby often, an ultrasonic cleaner might be worth it for you.
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Old 07-12-16, 02:37 PM
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I bought one last year. looks like it would work doesn't it? not so much tho, but I think it's the fluid that bites. I kept mine and now I'm thinking about cleaning my chain again. I don't ride much so once a year is fine but I have to do the family's bikes too. I forget what better fluid to use is, maybe simple green? chain cleaning on the bike is tricky cuz the wheel and tire is right there. I bought a thing to take the place of the wheel, I just remembered! using the "thing" I should be able to run the cleaner and any other sloppy rag without soiling the rear wheel and tire. it's best to have a bike stand. I jury rigged all kinds of setups over the years but always seem to strain my back and make a mess. whatever you do - do it outside. even if you take the chain off you're gonna wanna clean the rest of the drivetrain and that's messy too

here's the thing (now I have to find it!)
Pedro's Chain Keeper Bicycle Chain Tool

https://www.amazon.com/Pedros-Chain-...cle+Chain+Tool



Last edited by rumrunn6; 07-13-16 at 11:14 AM.
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Old 07-12-16, 02:45 PM
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I got this chain cleaner two or three years ago. I find it useful. It's messy, but not as messy as just brushing the chain in-place, which was my prior method. If you actually go to the trouble of removing the chain and scrubbing it that way, this will be less than ideal. It's just a matter of how OCD you are, I guess.
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Old 07-12-16, 05:22 PM
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Originally Posted by HardyWeinberg View Post
I recommend to not bother with the spinny thing. I have one, and while I did not throw it out while cleaning the garage this weekend, I just take my chain off, soak it in degreaser, scrub it all over with a cloth while sudsy, clean that all off with water, and relube after reinstalling (make sure the degreaser is fully removed before relubing).
+1, I have one it looks cool, but I stopped using it. My chain maintenance routine is to keep two chains in rotation, swapping every 6 mo. Each swap is like this:
  • Take off current chain, put on other chain (quicklinks)
  • Drop old chain in plastic jar with diluted simple green. Shake a lot. Soak for 24hrs maybe.
  • Pull chain out, rinse with water, wipe with paper towel, bake at 200deg for half an hour to force all water out.
  • Neatly coil chain into flat disc, place in 1qt ziplock bag with a drizzling of Chain-L, store flat.
  • Whenever I happen to open that cupboard and notice the chain (monthly?) flip it over so the pooled Chain-L can continue to redistribute and penetrate.
  • After 6mo, give the bagged chain a quick paper towel wipe, and swap it in, repeat.
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Old 07-12-16, 06:00 PM
  #10  
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I haven't tried it yet, I've just used the rag approach in the past . But elsewhere in this forum , others have talked about just placing the chain in a wide mouth jar of mineral spirits . Seems pretty easy to me , and effective .
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Old 07-12-16, 06:48 PM
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Chain cleaner hatred must end.



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Old 07-12-16, 06:54 PM
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I cleaned my chain for the first time the other day, did it the same way I clean the chain for my chainsaw in a folgers coffee can with an inch of kerosene in it. Kerosene took all the crap off and it doesn't cause corrosion. Been cleaning my Stihl's chain this way for years.
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Old 07-12-16, 07:01 PM
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I finally broke down and got a chain cleaning tool last week -- the White Lightning, only $10. Kicking myself for not doing it sooner. Much easier and more effective than hand scrubbing with brushes. I do this outdoors anyway, so the leaking and sloshing doesn't bother me. Supposedly other tools slosh less.

Main advantage to the White Lightning is the relatively small fluid reservoir. Very little waste. But don't believe the 30-second single-pass hype, unless you clean and relube every ride. I need about three passes of 60 seconds each. But it does work.

I homebrew my degreaser from Stanley degreaser, alcohol, Oxyclean spray and water. But just about any degreaser would work.

If the White Lightning breaks I'll replace it with a tool that also includes side scrubbing brushes. The White Lightning gets inside the links well, but it lacks side scrubbers.
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Old 07-12-16, 07:27 PM
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I have used the Park Chain cleaner for several years now. I just had to buy a new one because I dropped and cracked the first. I think it is very effective and use it once a month with Zep Citrus degreaser. I'm very pleased no matter what anybody else thinks of it.

Marc
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Old 07-12-16, 08:08 PM
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Actually, what was really surprising to me in how well it work is the Rock N Roll Gold chain lube. Put it on the chain, spin it forwards for 10 seconds, then backwards for 10 seconds and all the crud floats to the top and you wipe it off. Repeat. Works just a well or better than the chain cleaner gizmos.

I used those chain cleaners for years - what a mess. The things get just so gross and cleaning them is worse than cleaning the chain. I threw all mine out.

J.
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Old 07-12-16, 09:51 PM
  #16  
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I haven't had any trouble cleaning out the White Lightning chain cleaning tool afterward. I just use a clean dose of the same degreasing mixture. Shake it up, dunk it in the bucket of hot soapy water I already use for outdoor bike cleanup sessions. Done. There's a slight smudgy residue left over inside the cleaning tool, but it doesn't matter.
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Old 07-13-16, 04:09 AM
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I used to be part of the clean chain crowd, and was disappointed that my chains lasted only 1500 to 2000 miles. Everyone said it was because I was a commuter. During that era, nobody ever complimented me on how clean my chain was.

Now I use a rag dampened (not wetted or even moistened, dampened) with odorless mineral spirits (get it at a hardware store). I clean it before lubing, then a day or two afterwards. I don't mess with it in between. I now get 3000 to 3500 miles out of a chain on the commuters. This includes daily commuting in an Upstate NY winter--snow, slush, salt, twice daily.

I'm closing in on 4000 miles with my fair-weather bike and I still can't get the 0.75% side of the chain checker in.

Nobody's ever complained when my chain hasn't looked showroom new.

My conclusion is that overzealous chain cleaning either flushes grit into the chain or flushes out the lube (or both) leading to premature chain wear.

As for lube, try Chain-L from our own @FBinNY . His $12 bottle lasts me two to three years at 2000 to 2500 miles per bike, in my three bike fleet. Unlike the "clean" chain lubes, it stays where you put it, even through the wet, and the aforementioned Upstate NY winters.

For reference, these are cheapest 10-speed chains I can find, the KMC DX-10.

Last edited by tsl; 07-13-16 at 04:17 AM.
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Old 07-13-16, 05:37 AM
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Originally Posted by DiabloScott View Post
Chain cleaner hatred must end.





This is a "not-in-service" hub/cassette used only for drive train maintenance? That's a really clever idea.


However, if you de-spoke and your wheel each time you clean the chain...well, maybe not efficient enough for most of us...


Seriously, I've found that the chain cleaners are perfect for mountain bike applications, where the chain picks up sand/dirt/mud/grit regularly and must be cleaned just to keep the drive train working. Especially when on the road and doing end-of-day service on a multi day ride. Something you can reasonably do in a hotel parking lot, for example. Although I don't cyclocross, there might be an application there, too, depending on one's maintenance habits.


For a road bike, it doesn't really make sense. I've settled into a routine of lube and wipe for the chain every few weeks on each bike. My chains seem to last long enough, although I don't keep records. I can't be bothered to analyze any data concerning my bike riding...
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Old 07-13-16, 05:42 AM
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Originally Posted by tsl View Post
Nobody's ever complained when my chain hasn't looked showroom new.


^ secretly wishes that he had received compliments on formerly clean chains.
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Old 07-13-16, 08:09 AM
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Originally Posted by drmfunky View Post
I commute to work daily and always use a rag to clean off my bike and chain but am interested in picking up one of those nifty looking chain cleaning tools for when I do a deep clean/apply new lube.

Anyone here use one or have recommendations for a good one? Also, does anyone hate them and suggest avoiding them?
There aren't any "good ones". They are all incredibly messy and, as Partrick GSR94 points out, usually fall apart after a while, especially when used with something like mineral spirits. Even the solvent present in Simple Green is bad for the plastic that is commonly used to make them.

If you do a search, you'll find that I'm not a proponent of running dirty oily chains to begin with. I'm also not a proponent of constantly cleaning my chain nor of using a product that requires constant cleaning. My chains get cleaned once at installation and I never clean them again. I use a dry lube...White Lightning Clean Ride...and I use a lot less of it than the manufacturer recommends. I get the same mileage out of my chains and drivetrains as other people get and I spend a lot less time cleaning. What's not to like?

These have been posted before but the bear repeating. These were taken in the middle of winter...our winters involve intense snowstorms but are relatively dry in between...but the chain and drivetrain hadn't been cleaned before the picture.




And these pictures are of other bikes that had not been cleaned before the picture




This picture shows what happens when I actually touch the chain. Notice that I can actually touch the chain without having to go through a rigorous decontamination procedure.



There is a better way.
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Old 07-13-16, 10:11 AM
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Originally Posted by Phil_gretz View Post
This is a "not-in-service" hub/cassette used only for drive train maintenance? That's a really clever idea.

Yeah - I don't even remember where that thing came from I've had it so long... works great and doesn't splatter my nice wheels, and easy to clean up the frame after.

Also serves as a spacer when I use my airplane travelcase.

I just like having a clean chain - I don't think I'm extending my mileage or anything, and I don't like breaking it apart to clean - chain cleaner hatred must end.

Last edited by DiabloScott; 07-13-16 at 12:14 PM.
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Old 07-13-16, 04:22 PM
  #22  
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I'm surprise no one has posted this yet, but Sheldon Brown is pretty much the authority on this. Here is his chain cleaning method. The ShelBroCo Bicycle Chain Cleaning System
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Old 07-13-16, 04:47 PM
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Good point, I usually look for an opportunity to drop that link into chain cleaning threads, I dropped the ball this time!
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Old 07-13-16, 05:26 PM
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Originally Posted by DiabloScott View Post
So the Park junk ate your spokes off? I'm sticking with a jar of acetone.
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Old 07-13-16, 08:41 PM
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Originally Posted by KD5NRH View Post
So the Park junk ate your spokes off? I'm sticking with a jar of acetone.
No, those are the new invisible spokes. I hear they are as light as air!
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