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How to properly maintain/lube the chain and cassette

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Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

How to properly maintain/lube the chain and cassette

Old 08-29-11, 03:15 PM
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aboss3
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How to properly maintain/lube the chain and cassette

I was wondering how I can properly maintain the chain and cassette. I've never done it before, as my previous bike came in with lifetime tuneup from Performance. Now I bought the lube and degreaser, and after cleaning and re-lubing it, it's kind of turned out to be very smooth.
I have no idea how often this should be performed?
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Old 08-29-11, 03:42 PM
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I lube my chain every 60-100 miles. I clean the chain by wiping it down with a rag. Takes about two minutes, one if I am in a hurry.
I've never degreased a chain. If you wipe it down often it the dirt does not build up.

Periodically (about every 1000 miles) I remove the cassette and clean each cog, and clean off the chainrings.
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Old 08-29-11, 03:47 PM
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there are a lot of DIY videos on youtube on this.

get one of these
https://www.amazon.com/Park-Tool-CG-2.../dp/B000WG6RVS

along with some lube, degreaser spray, and some old rags.
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Old 08-29-11, 04:20 PM
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I do this once a month:

1. Remove chain.
2. Insert into old water bottle.
3. Add 1/2 cup degreaser of choice.
4. Make like James Bonds bartender.
5. Empty bottle.
6. Repeat until clear.
7. Wipe down cassette with rag covered with some dehreaser.
8. Dry off chain.
9. Add lube to chain. Wipe off excess.
10. Put back on bike.

Takes less than 5 minutes and is whisper quite again.
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Old 08-29-11, 04:27 PM
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Frequency depends on how much you ride, what conditions you ride in, and what lube you use. Living in Los Angeles, you probably don't need to do it very often. Back when I was riding a fair amount, I'd wipe and relube the chain with Pro Link weekly (and after any rainy ride), and I would remove the cassette and soak it in a mild degreaser every 1 to 2 months (depending on conditions)


Originally Posted by ericm979 View Post
I lube my chain every 60-100 miles.
For some people, that would be almost every ride!
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Old 08-29-11, 04:31 PM
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I wipe the chain once a week or so with shop towels and re-lube. If the chain gets wet or too much gunk on it I spray the shop towel with WD40 first before wiping the chain down followed by a lube. I measure chain stretch once every couple of weeks and only remove the chain when it's time to replace it.

Cleaning with degreasers is primarily for appearance and doesn't appear to improve chain longevity.
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Old 08-29-11, 04:48 PM
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Originally Posted by gregf83 View Post
I wipe the chain once a week or so with shop towels and re-lube. If the chain gets wet or too much gunk on it I spray the shop towel with WD40 first before wiping the chain down followed by a lube. I measure chain stretch once every couple of weeks and only remove the chain when it's time to replace it.
+1 however I check for wear maybe once every month or two.
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Old 08-29-11, 04:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Northwestrider View Post
+1 however I check for wear maybe once every month or two.
OK, I lied. I actually checked it at 3300k and didn't see any stretch and again around 5000km with still no significant change.
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Old 08-29-11, 06:35 PM
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Don't degrease more than is needed, because that removes lube as well as the dirt and even after you re-lube it, there may be dry areas for a while. If you're only riding in dry conditions simply lubing frequently with a light oil will remove most of the surface dirt.

When you lube, use plenty of it; let it soak in and then wipe off the excess to it doesn't splash everywhere and attract dirt.

The light lubes (called "dry" lubes) need applying more frequently - at least every week is ideal. More frequently if you can be bothered.
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Old 08-29-11, 06:43 PM
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I think you guys are overdoing it.

I lube chain every month, which is approx every 600 miles.

Squirt lube (I use prolink) liberally. Turn cranks for a couple minutes, then wipe down with a rag.

I generally only clean cassette when I change chains, which is every 4K miles or so.
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Old 08-29-11, 07:09 PM
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Originally Posted by datlas View Post
I think you guys are overdoing it.

I lube chain every month, which is approx every 600 miles.

Squirt lube (I use prolink) liberally. Turn cranks for a couple minutes, then wipe down with a rag.

I generally only clean cassette when I change chains, which is every 4K miles or so.
A lot of people here do 600 miles in a single week :wink:
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Old 08-29-11, 07:56 PM
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The key is to wipe off dirt and grime. I only degrease the cassette. I take an old shoelace, apply degreaser and floss the cassette. Then I wipe off chain and reapply (Prolink) You'll know when to do it.
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Old 08-30-11, 05:59 PM
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Good Bike Forum advice I will pass on

To get the longest life out of your cassette run it with three chains. Mark them chain1, chain2 and chain3. Put on chain1 and switch to chain2 after 1000 miles. Since the chain has been removed, thoroughly clean your entire drive train, cassette, sproket, chain and derailleurs. Use a PowerLink to make this maintenance an easy task. Change to chain3 and clean drive train after another 1000 miles. You can keep chain3 on for 2000 miles. Continue this routine in this sequence - 1,2,3,3,2,1,1,2,3,3. By doing this you will slow down the wear on your cassette. The worst thing you can do to a cassette is run it with a stretched out chain because the elongated links will wear the cassette teeth more quickly. By using this technique your chains will stretch over time at the same pace matching the wear of the cassette. Does this make sense?

I was told by my LBS I needed to replace my chain after only 3800 miles of use. When I took my ride back to the shop for chain skip I was told I needed to replace the cassette as well. With my replacement cassette I started this regiment and it shows little signs of wear after 10,000 miles. I expect to get another 5K worth of service if not double this number, YMMV.

I lube my chain approximately bi-weekly or when it starts to talk to me. I use ProLink - lube, wipe, lube, wipe, lube, let dry a few hours before riding.
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Old 08-30-11, 09:27 PM
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Originally Posted by lpolliard View Post
Good Bike Forum advice I will pass on

To get the longest life out of your cassette run it with three chains. Mark them chain1, chain2 and chain3. Put on chain1 and switch to chain2 after 1000 miles. Since the chain has been removed, thoroughly clean your entire drive train, cassette, sproket, chain and derailleurs. Use a PowerLink to make this maintenance an easy task. Change to chain3 and clean drive train after another 1000 miles. You can keep chain3 on for 2000 miles. Continue this routine in this sequence - 1,2,3,3,2,1,1,2,3,3. By doing this you will slow down the wear on your cassette. The worst thing you can do to a cassette is run it with a stretched out chain because the elongated links will wear the cassette teeth more quickly. By using this technique your chains will stretch over time at the same pace matching the wear of the cassette. Does this make sense?

I was told by my LBS I needed to replace my chain after only 3800 miles of use. When I took my ride back to the shop for chain skip I was told I needed to replace the cassette as well. With my replacement cassette I started this regiment and it shows little signs of wear after 10,000 miles. I expect to get another 5K worth of service if not double this number, YMMV.

I lube my chain approximately bi-weekly or when it starts to talk to me. I use ProLink - lube, wipe, lube, wipe, lube, let dry a few hours before riding.
This is really funny.
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Old 08-30-11, 10:30 PM
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Wow, I must be the only OCD one on here...

I'm almost embarrassed to say that after each ride I clean my chain with a cloth and some ProGold. I wipe all the dirt and grime off, then go through each link and clean/lube the plate faces. The cassette gets a relatively straightfoward cleaning every week or so, though I clean the teeth when doing the chain. Then I clean each tooth on both chainrings and pullies. I then get out the detailing brushes and clean the f/r derailleur mainly to remove fine bits of dirt, etc. Oh and this is on top of wiping the wheels/tires down with a wet cloth, inspecting them for any damage, and cleaning any dirt/grit/dust off the frame with Meguiars Ultimate Detail spray. It takes me about 20-30 minutes after each ride, even longer when I go out in the rain. Heaven help me if I ever get a nice mountain bike...

Um yeah, I need help... haha.

Last edited by Digitalfiend; 08-30-11 at 10:34 PM.
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Old 08-30-11, 10:43 PM
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I do like Datlas. Lube, wipe, ride, repeat. It's not rocket science and even the most expensive lube at the fancy-schmanciest bike shop is still pretty cheap in the grand scheme of things.
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Old 08-30-11, 10:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Digitalfiend View Post
Wow, I must be the only OCD one on here...

I'm almost embarrassed to say that after each ride I clean my chain with a cloth and some ProGold. I wipe all the dirt and grime off, then go through each link and clean/lube the plate faces. The cassette gets a relatively straightfoward cleaning every week or so, though I clean the teeth when doing the chain. Then I clean each tooth on both chainrings and pullies. I then get out the detailing brushes and clean the f/r derailleur mainly to remove fine bits of dirt, etc. Oh and this is on top of wiping the wheels/tires down with a wet cloth, inspecting them for any damage, and cleaning any dirt/grit/dust off the frame with Meguiars Ultimate Detail spray. It takes me about 20-30 minutes after each ride, even longer when I go out in the rain. Heaven help me if I ever get a nice mountain bike...

Um yeah, I need help... haha.
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Old 08-30-11, 11:08 PM
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I dry wipe down my chain after every ride. Usually after ever 100mi I oil it lightly, wipe down till the cloth is dry. I have the cassette bathed in an ultrasonic cleaner at the LBS... every time it is filled up with road crap else not.
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Old 08-30-11, 11:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Digitalfiend View Post
Wow, I must be the only OCD one on here...

I'm almost embarrassed to say that after each ride I clean my chain with a cloth and some ProGold. I wipe all the dirt and grime off, then go through each link and clean/lube the plate faces. The cassette gets a relatively straightfoward cleaning every week or so, though I clean the teeth when doing the chain. Then I clean each tooth on both chainrings and pullies. I then get out the detailing brushes and clean the f/r derailleur mainly to remove fine bits of dirt, etc. Oh and this is on top of wiping the wheels/tires down with a wet cloth, inspecting them for any damage, and cleaning any dirt/grit/dust off the frame with Meguiars Ultimate Detail spray. It takes me about 20-30 minutes after each ride, even longer when I go out in the rain. Heaven help me if I ever get a nice mountain bike...

Um yeah, I need help... haha.
I am only able to be away from the family to ride for so many hours per week. If I did what you just described, I'd only have enough time to maintain my bike!
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Old 08-30-11, 11:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Digitalfiend View Post
Wow, I must be the only OCD one on here...

snip...

Um yeah, I need help... haha.
No. What you need to do is go on longer and harder rides so you don't have the energy left to spend 30 minutes polishing your bike.
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Old 08-30-11, 11:44 PM
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I don't do anything ... until it starts to get dirty. As soon as I can see black on the cogs or chainrings, I'll remove the chain and soak it in mineral spirits in a jar. Shaken to remove the grime. I'll then remove the cluster, disassemble the cogs and soak them also in a pan filled with mineral spirits. Wipe them clean with a rag and reassemble the cluster. This is a good time to change the gearing if I'm so inclined. Finally, I'll remove the crank/chainrings, disassemble it and wipe it clean with a mineral spirit soaked rag. Put the whole thing back together again and pedal on a stand while I apply lube to the chain for several full chain revolutions. Pedal again with a rag on the chain to soak up any excess lube. Then I'm set to go with a new looking transmission. This gets done about once a month to six weeks at most.
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Old 08-30-11, 11:46 PM
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Originally Posted by lpolliard View Post
Good Bike Forum advice I will pass on

To get the longest life out of your cassette run it with three chains. Mark them chain1, chain2 and chain3. Put on chain1 and switch to chain2 after 1000 miles. Since the chain has been removed, thoroughly clean your entire drive train, cassette, sproket, chain and derailleurs. Use a PowerLink to make this maintenance an easy task. Change to chain3 and clean drive train after another 1000 miles. You can keep chain3 on for 2000 miles. Continue this routine in this sequence - 1,2,3,3,2,1,1,2,3,3. By doing this you will slow down the wear on your cassette. The worst thing you can do to a cassette is run it with a stretched out chain because the elongated links will wear the cassette teeth more quickly. By using this technique your chains will stretch over time at the same pace matching the wear of the cassette. Does this make sense?

I was told by my LBS I needed to replace my chain after only 3800 miles of use. When I took my ride back to the shop for chain skip I was told I needed to replace the cassette as well. With my replacement cassette I started this regiment and it shows little signs of wear after 10,000 miles. I expect to get another 5K worth of service if not double this number, YMMV.

I lube my chain approximately bi-weekly or when it starts to talk to me. I use ProLink - lube, wipe, lube, wipe, lube, let dry a few hours before riding.
This is very cool if it works like I think you are describing. Is the idea that as long as the chain stretch matches the cluster wear, several things happen:

1. The cluster wears more slowly because there is less stress on individual teeth as either the chain disengages and "pulls off" the last tooth on the top (old chain stretched more than cluster worn), or the chain jams the first tooth when engaging (new chain stretched less than cluster worn)?

2. The chain stretches more slowly because there is less stress on individual links during the engagement and disengagement described above?

3. The cluster can be worn much more without skipping as long as the chain is consistent with it? I mean, why couldn't you run a chain that was stretched 2 inches or more as long as the cluster teeth were aligned with it? (possible answer: front chain ring not worn the same?)

Is this practice well known, or did you come up with it?
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Old 08-30-11, 11:57 PM
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This is the most comprehensive article on chain cleaning ever, it was of course written by Sheldon Brown.

https://www.sheldonbrown.com/chainclean.html
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Old 08-30-11, 11:59 PM
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I usually just wipe the chain down and lube it every 150-200 miles.
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Old 08-31-11, 10:56 AM
  #25  
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Every 2 weeks I'll use rock-n-roll cleaner with the grunge brush. Grunge brush for the cassette then a rag. Then use the rag on the chain to get as much off as possible. Clean up any residual grease on the RD and chain stay.

Every month I'll run it through the park chain cleaner. GL
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