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How to clean a chain after a ride?

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How to clean a chain after a ride?

Old 05-21-10, 07:58 AM
  #1  
lattes
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How to clean a chain after a ride?

So should I be putting some oil on a rag and cleaning or just using a dry rag or ???

Also, how often should I do an intense cleaning?

What is the best lube to use?

How often do you clean your chain? I know after a 100k ride I should clean it for sure, but what about a 20k? 50k?

Any other advice?

Any help is greatly appreciated.

thanks
lattes
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Old 05-21-10, 08:42 AM
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BLUMEANIE
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I don't clean my chain often usually when it looks dirty or after a dusty ride. I always dry then lube after a wet ride.

To clean. Generous amount of WD40 in a rag. Dry rag. TriFlo in a rag. It should shine with oil but not be wet.
My mtn bikes or muddy bikes get hosed off first.
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Old 05-21-10, 10:46 AM
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I avoid riding in the rain at home and mostly ride on pavement. Thus, my method might not be appropriate for other situations and riders.

For home use, I have one of those little gizmos that have a bunch of brushes on wheels inside and you can pour liquid into it. The one I have is a cheap copy of the one made by Park. I use a very thin light oil, Marvel Mystery Oil. Put the gizmo on the chain and turn the pedals backwards for a minute or so with oil in it. Take it off and pour the used oil into a clear plastic bottle. This leaves a very wet chain that I then wipe off with a couple paper towels by backpedaling the crank and running the chain through the towels. It is still a dust magnet, but when I ride on pavement it does not pick up THAT much dust. Done in 5 minutes.

The oil is red in color. A week later after the particulates have settled in the bottle, I decant (carefully pour) the used oil into another bottle for reuse later leaving the particulates behind in the first bottle, it takes a week for the oil to turn red showing that the particulates have settled after being black when in comes out of the gizmo. Another 5 minutes.

When I ride past a brick wall or some other feature that reflects sound well, if my drive train is noisy while pedaling it tells me to lube the chain before the next ride. In dusty conditions, I might not get 100 miles but I often get several hundred miles between lubes.

Last summer I toured several hundred miles on a rails to trails route, the chain was so dirty when I got home that I had to change the oil in the gizmo once to get the chain clean.

More opinions here:
https://www.bikeforums.net/showthread.php?644314-THe-pro-s-chain-lube

Last edited by LHT in Madison; 05-21-10 at 10:50 AM. Reason: corrected link
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Old 05-21-10, 11:13 AM
  #4  
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My preference has always been to get a quick release link (the second type in that video) to allow for easy, tool-free removal of the chain. Toss the chain in a big container (I used an old Nalgene bottle for a long time) with some cheap orange cleaner and hot water and shake profusely for a minute or two. Maybe repeat a few times. Let it settle, remove the chain, wipe clean, and let dry. Reinstall on the bike and then lube up.
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Old 05-21-10, 12:13 PM
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Wow, well looks like I have some work to do to figure out my best bet
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Old 05-21-10, 12:24 PM
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Originally Posted by BLUMEANIE View Post
I don't clean my chain often usually when it looks dirty or after a dusty ride. I always dry then lube after a wet ride.

To clean. Generous amount of WD40 in a rag. Dry rag. TriFlo in a rag. It should shine with oil but not be wet.
My mtn bikes or muddy bikes get hosed off first.
+ 1 for the cleaning method. If the chain is lubed there is no point in drying. I ride rain or shine, clean and lube couple times a year.
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Old 05-21-10, 12:44 PM
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I use a motor fuel as a solvent. I put my chain in an old Gatorade bottle, fill it half full with my solvent, and shake it a few times while cleaning the rest of the bike with soapy water. This method leaves my chain squeeky clean.

I rinse the bike with gentle flowing water, before blow drying.

I blow dry everything with my compressor, and relube all moving parts. Brake pivots, derailleurs, controllers, pedals, and brake levers. Usually one drop on every moving part. I put one drop of oil on every roller of the chain. I also wipe brake pads and rims with alcohol, to degrease them.

I then wipe the lube dry with an old rag, saving it to wipe the chain last.

This leaves a very light coat of oil on the chain, with the interior (and the rollers) of the chain well lubricated.

In between thorough cleanings, (if the chain is noisy, or shifting slow) I drop a single drop of oil on each chain roller, and brake pivot, and deraileur joint, and wipe them like normal.

Be very aware, motor fuel is flammable, as with most solvents, and should be used outside with proper ventillation, with no source of ignition present - that means no smoking, too.
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Old 05-21-10, 03:34 PM
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Once a week (I commute on my tourer) I spray the drivetrain down with Simple Green and spin the cranks while holding a toothbrush against each side of the chain. Spray gently with water from the hose and all the crap comes right off. Let dry, spin the chain through a dry towel to get any leftover water, and use a wet lube. Spin through dry towel again to get the excess lube.
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Old 05-21-10, 03:44 PM
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Originally Posted by lattes View Post
So should I be putting some oil on a rag and cleaning or just using a dry rag or ???

Also, how often should I do an intense cleaning?

What is the best lube to use?

How often do you clean your chain? I know after a 100k ride I should clean it for sure, but what about a 20k? 50k?

Any other advice?

Any help is greatly appreciated.

thanks
lattes
The answer is to clean it when it needs it. If you use oily lubricants and ride in dirty conditions, you'll need to clean that grit out before it has a chance to turn into lapping compound. If, on the other hand, you use a dry lube or wax lube, you'll only need to use solvents the first time you put the chain on the bike (to remove the factory glop) and then apply after riding in the rain or when the chain makes noise. I don't clean and lubricate the chain after 100 km or even 500 km. I just do it whenever which is usually around 6 weeks or so here at home.

Wax lubes make more sense on tours as well. Your chain is clean and you don't have to worry about making a mess of yourself or the surround countryside if you have to work on the bike. If you stay in a hotel (an occasional luxury) you don't have to worry about messing up the hotel's linens, either.

Cleaning weekly? Or after every ride? I got better things to do.
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Old 05-21-10, 08:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Wanderer View Post
I use a motor fuel as a solvent. I put my chain in an old Gatorade bottle, fill it half full with my solvent, and shake it a few times while cleaning the rest of the bike with soapy water. This method leaves my chain squeeky clean.

I rinse the bike with gentle flowing water, before blow drying.

I blow dry everything with my compressor, and relube all moving parts. Brake pivots, derailleurs, controllers, pedals, and brake levers. Usually one drop on every moving part. I put one drop of oil on every roller of the chain. I also wipe brake pads and rims with alcohol, to degrease them.

I then wipe the lube dry with an old rag, saving it to wipe the chain last.

This leaves a very light coat of oil on the chain, with the interior (and the rollers) of the chain well lubricated.

In between thorough cleanings, (if the chain is noisy, or shifting slow) I drop a single drop of oil on each chain roller, and brake pivot, and deraileur joint, and wipe them like normal.

Be very aware, motor fuel is flammable, as with most solvents, and should be used outside with proper ventillation, with no source of ignition present - that means no smoking, too.
Legitimate question... what do you do with the adulterated motor fuel?

Indeed, gasoline is the most dangerous thing you can use. It's not the liquid, but the vapour that makes it explosive, and those vapours will be all around you when you open the bottle and pull out the chain. I prefer to use diesel, which has a much lower flash point, and I understand its toxicity is much lower. I use two rinsings in the solvent because the first one ends up with so much crud in it.

The single greatest error I think people make is overlubing their chain. As you point out, one small drop per roller is all that is required.

I use ordinary motor oil, and have stayed in numerous hotels, hostels, and cabins, and haven't left any traces on any linen... it could be argued that wax is more likely to drop off a chain than an oil-based lubricant that has been judiciously applied. But YMMV.
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Old 05-22-10, 01:57 PM
  #11  
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Here's all you need to know about chain cleaning. Do this once a week and your chain will last forever.
https://sheldonbrown.com/chainclean.html
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