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Chain care on tour

Old 12-25-15, 03:53 AM
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Chain care on tour

I know everyone has what works for them. But what would everyone's opinion be on a 4000km (2500mi) tour, with a chain swap at the halfway point, the drivetrain will be 11speed Ultegra Di2, all on sealed roads(might be just a couple of km on dirt)

If this was you how would you care for the chain? how often would you lube? would you go the 2000km (1250mi) without doing any chain maintenance? would I then need to swap the cassette out aswell?

My last big tour was one a 9 speed chain, I lubed every 2-3 days, but may of used to much, since black greasey crap made everything dirty, and I would like to have a cleaner trip this time around.
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Old 12-25-15, 05:07 AM
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Originally Posted by azza_333 View Post
I know everyone has what works for them. But what would everyone's opinion be on a 4000km (2500mi) tour, with a chain swap at the halfway point, the drivetrain will be 11speed Ultegra Di2, all on sealed roads(might be just a couple of km on dirt)

If this was you how would you care for the chain? how often would you lube? would you go the 2000km (1250mi) without doing any chain maintenance? would I then need to swap the cassette out aswell?

My last big tour was one a 9 speed chain, I lubed every 2-3 days, but may of used to much, since black greasey crap made everything dirty, and I would like to have a cleaner trip this time around.
Why would you replace the chain, much less the cassette after 1250 miles? I use tri-flow lube every couple days. A drop on each link, then rub it off throughly with a rag. I do that while on tour or not. The chain stays pretty clean.

1250 is too far to ride without lubing the drive train. Especially if there's much wet weather, but probably regardless. If I go too long then I start hearing and feeling an increasingly clanky grindy inefficient ride with difficult shifting.
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Old 12-25-15, 05:38 AM
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Originally Posted by azza_333 View Post
...If this was you how would you care for the chain? how often would you lube? would you go the 2000km (1250mi) without doing any chain maintenance? would I then need to swap the cassette out aswell?
is this one of those super ultralight crazy ass questions?
really? gonna skip chain maintenance to save an ounce?
that's just (insert expletive) insane.

expect to lube the chain every 250-300km or so.
figger out how much you need for one application.
multiply by x, transfer necessary amount to a small
eye dropper.

clean your chain before you lube it. use a rag to rub
off as much the grease and grit as possible. i suppose
you can use a rag you find roadside....wouldn't want to
carry another half ounce of cloth.

apply half a drop to each link, then work it into the bushings.
and then use that old rag to wipe off any extra. you really
don't need lube on the outside of the chain.

your chain will last the entire tour, possibly longer.
your cassette?....another couple chains.
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Old 12-25-15, 05:46 AM
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I wipe, lube, wipe and top air up every morning... just part of the morning ritual.
4000 kms, no need to replace chain or cassette.
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Old 12-25-15, 05:54 AM
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Originally Posted by saddlesores View Post
is this one of those super ultralight crazy ass questions?
really? gonna skip chain maintenance to save an ounce?
that's just (insert expletive) insane.

expect to lube the chain every 250-300km or so.
figger out how much you need for one application.
multiply by x, transfer necessary amount to a small
eye dropper.

clean your chain before you lube it. use a rag to rub
off as much the grease and grit as possible. i suppose
you can use a rag you find roadside....wouldn't want to
carry another half ounce of cloth.

apply half a drop to each link, then work it into the bushings.
and then use that old rag to wipe off any extra. you really
don't need lube on the outside of the chain.

your chain will last the entire tour, possibly longer.
your cassette?....another couple chains.
Its not a crazy UL thing, its more I was thinking if I could get away with 2000km or 1000km with out cleaning or lubing the chain, I could just stop at a bike shop, and they could scrub and degrease the chain properly. On tour every few days I wipe down, relube, and the wipe off the excess, but that still leaves the chain a gritty black mess.
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Old 12-25-15, 06:12 AM
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Maybe try a thinner lube if it's not raining a lot. Apply it daily and wipe off well.
On a long tour, however much I clean and wipe, my bike will end up pretty grimy... to match me!

Oh and try to keep sand out of your drivechain

Last edited by imi; 12-25-15 at 06:16 AM.
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Old 12-25-15, 07:08 AM
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I like to lube my chain roughly every 300 miles. If its wet or I'm near the coast, that increases in frequency.

I second using some sort of rag to wipe down the chain.

You could definitely get away with using bike shops for this in a country with lots of bike shops. Not like a slightly dry chain is critical or anything. I never carry much with me because I know any walmart, target, bike shop etc. has bike lube I can use.
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Old 12-25-15, 07:15 AM
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I think cyclists tend to kill their chains with kindness. I avoid soaking in solvents or using detergents as much as I can. My opinion is that they help grit get deep into the chain. I find that lubing fairly frequently, applying, spinning the pedals a minute, and wiping the chain off is all that is needed. In most conditions doing that with Boeshield T9 keeps my chain shiny, clean, and running smooth. I am sure other lubes can work as well, I know that friends who use Pro Link ProGold get similar results. I have usually gotten 10K miles or so on a chain and definitely never needed to change chains during my tours unless I started the tour on a well worn chain. On the TA (4300 miles) I maintained the chains that way on the three bikes in our group and the chains all lasted for the trip and quite a bit longer after.

Two ounces of lube in a motel shampoo bottle will probably last me for a coast to coast (US) tour and isn't going to substantially impact my base gear weight.
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Old 12-25-15, 08:23 AM
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It depends on the condition of your chain and cassette when you start, and how often do you normally have to change them? My wife and I have totally different schedules on replacing drive train components, for instance. Her chains routinely last 10,000 miles, and I can remember only replacing one worn cassette on a bike she's owned in the last 35 years. I replace chains every 5000 miles or so, very seldom (if ever) less than that, and my cassettes last maybe three times that. I keep a spare cassette at home.

On a 1200 mile tour, I'd start with a new chain and cassette, carry an ounce or two of lube, use it when needed depending on weather, keep the chain as clean as you can (where I ride there's often a discarded towel or tee shirt to be found along the road, especially near a recreational boating area), and it'll probably be good for another 1200 mile tour or three.
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Old 12-25-15, 08:36 AM
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Lubing is the easy part...I'd carry a small bottle of lube and use every few days depending on road conditions. Cleaning the chain prior to lubing is the hard part. I'd carry a small bottle of WD40, several pair of latex gloves and some paper towels. I'd wear a pair of gloves and use some paper toweling to first wipe off as much gunk as possible that is on the chain. Then I'd drip the WD onto the chain and spin the chain to work it in. Followed by wiping the gunk off. Finally I'd drip the lube onto the chain, spin chain and give it ten minutes of so to soak in...I'd also drip a drop or two onto the derailleurs pivot points...then wipe the excess off and be ready to go. I'd do that at the end of each week if needed. Perhaps after a day of riding in the rain as well...at least to wipe off the excess and lube the chain.

Carrying this bit of cleaning/lubing kit will not add much to the total weight but will contribute to a much better/quieter shifting experience.

I'd not change the cassette or change during this time...but I would carry a chain tool "just in case".
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Old 12-25-15, 08:42 AM
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Originally Posted by azza_333 View Post
I know everyone has what works for them. But what would everyone's opinion be on a 4000km (2500mi) tour, with a chain swap at the halfway point, the drivetrain will be 11speed Ultegra Di2, all on sealed roads(might be just a couple of km on dirt)

If this was you how would you care for the chain? how often would you lube? would you go the 2000km (1250mi) without doing any chain maintenance? would I then need to swap the cassette out aswell?

My last big tour was one a 9 speed chain, I lubed every 2-3 days, but may of used to much, since black greasey crap made everything dirty, and I would like to have a cleaner trip this time around.
I went 3450 miles using Chain L on my touring bike with No Maintenance...

You only NEED 1/2 Drop on each link..Don't over do it.

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Old 12-25-15, 08:54 AM
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Last year on our 6,000 mile cross country trip I would stop at a bike shop and they allowed me to do some maintenance on our bikes. I would do a complete drive train cleaning. Maybe overkill but for us it worked. Would buy cleaning products from them and buy them coffee !
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Old 12-25-15, 09:10 AM
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I see no point in cleaning the chain. I lube frequently and use a light enough lube that the chain gets cleaned in the process. Also if you have a black mess then your lube is too thick or you're not rubbing the excess away as much as you think you are. It's not just a little wipe-down.
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Old 12-25-15, 09:31 AM
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Originally Posted by 10 Wheels View Post
I went 3450 miles using Chain L on my touring bike with No Maintenance...

You only NEED 1/2 Drop on each link..Don't over do it.
I just ordered some, should be here soon. Do you apply the stuff one link at a time or just apply while spinning the chain?
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Old 12-25-15, 09:40 AM
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Originally Posted by jonc123 View Post
I just ordered some, should be here soon. Do you apply the stuff one link at a time or just apply while spinning the chain?
One link at as time...Spin the chain Slowly ( to work it In) then wipe the excess off.
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Old 12-25-15, 10:26 AM
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I just threw away the chain when the tour was done, had a fresh one to start the next adventure .. Oiled it occasionally..

wiped off the excess from the outside..
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Old 12-25-15, 11:24 AM
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You certainly won't get any consensus on the correct lube or interval but I think most will agree that wiping off the excess is good. FWIW, I use homebrew and wipe the chain until it's clean and shiny. I relube when it squeaks or if I get caught in the rain or if I get a wild hair. On my last 500 mi trip in Sept. I may have lubed the chain once, or maybe not. Again, clean off that excess. It's not doing any good on the exterior of the chain other than ******ing unsightly rust and it just needs a film for that.
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Old 12-25-15, 11:47 AM
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Originally Posted by azza_333 View Post
......and I would like to have a cleaner trip this time around.
Pull in like you're getting gas and use THEIR paper towels near the gas pump....makes chain lubing much cleaner. Then clean up in THEIR bathroom.....then buy a Slurpie as a sign of graditude....
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Old 12-25-15, 06:44 PM
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I would use a wax lube which will keep things cleaner. I like to do it once a week but if I am riding a bunch I might do it more. Wipe, lube and wipe again. Though wax lubes tend to keep grease and grime off so sometimes I might only wipe after relubing if lazy or in a time crunch.

I might swap chains if it worn but if the cassette is in decent order I would probably keep that through at least two chains. Though keep in mind the reason to replace both chain and cassette together is they tend to wear together and putting a new chain on can wear out the new one faster but it might be less of an issue on Di2 since shifting might be a little better so it won't wear so poorly as with mechanical.
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Old 12-25-15, 08:05 PM
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Originally Posted by 10 Wheels View Post
One link at as time...Spin the chain Slowly ( to work it In) then wipe the excess off.
Arrived in the mailbox today. Do you put a drop at the center of each roller and let it spread out to each side?

Pretty thick stuff!
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Old 12-25-15, 09:24 PM
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Originally Posted by azza_333 View Post
Its not a crazy UL thing, its more I was thinking if I could get away with 2000km or 1000km with out cleaning or lubing the chain, I could just stop at a bike shop, and they could scrub and degrease the chain properly. On tour every few days I wipe down, relube, and the wipe off the excess, but that still leaves the chain a gritty black mess.
I start a tour with a chain freshly dipped in a melted wax mix (paraffin, slick 50, teflon beads, graphite and molybdenum disulfide). After anywhere from 300-800 miles, it will start to squeak. At that point, I'll usually use a bit of conventional chain lube. However, sometimes I bring a small amount of my wax mix in a can that is large enough to hold at least half the chain and I'll redip the chain on the road on my small stove. While the additives make the wax black, it's a lot cleaner than other lubes and won't attract or hold grit from the road.

The first time I brought the wax with me to melt it on the road, my container can wasn't up to the job. It started to leak when the wax melted. It was hilarious and sent my wife into fits of laughter watching me deal with it
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Old 12-25-15, 09:27 PM
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Originally Posted by jonc123 View Post
Arrived in the mailbox today. Do you put a drop at the center of each roller and let it spread out to each side?

Pretty thick stuff!
1/2 a drop..slowly spin the chain to let it work in once you have lubed the links.
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Old 12-25-15, 09:30 PM
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What if I start with a new chain and cassette, and stopped at a bike shop at intervals ofAfter 800km, have drivechain/bike cleaned, and re-lubed.After another 650km, have drivetrain/bike cleaned, chain replaced(regardless if it needs it or not), and lubed.After another 950km, have drivetrain/bike cleaned, and relubed.After another 900km, End of the trip, will have bike cleaned, and boxed for flight back.
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Old 12-25-15, 10:53 PM
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Originally Posted by azza_333 View Post
What if I start with a new chain and cassette, and stopped at a bike shop at intervals ofAfter 800km, have drivechain/bike cleaned, and re-lubed.After another 650km, have drivetrain/bike cleaned, chain replaced(regardless if it needs it or not), and lubed.After another 950km, have drivetrain/bike cleaned, and relubed.After another 900km, End of the trip, will have bike cleaned, and boxed for flight back.
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Old 12-25-15, 11:02 PM
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Originally Posted by azza_333 View Post
What if I......
do you want other opinions or validation or what?

jinkies! just clean (wipe with rag, NOT degrease!) and lube the damn chain every 300km.

no, wait, never mind. lemme start over.....

hey, that's a GREAT idea! stop in the occasional bike shop to have your
chain lubed. thassawhutidado....
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