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how do you clean/lube your chain?(30 posts)

how do you clean/lube your chain?raboboy
Oct 16, 2001 6:44 AM
Just checking to see what each of you are doing for chain maintainence. I need to get better at this and am looking for some opinions/options on cleaning/lubing products & method. Also, how do you get in the nooks & crannies of the gears?

Thanks in advance.
re: how do you clean/lube your chain?morey
Oct 16, 2001 6:51 AM
I soak my chain in mineral oil, use tooth brush to clean, wipe with clean rag, then dry. I still use paraffin to lube. It is very clean and works. Never had any problem.
Gears because I use Paraffin are easy to clean with free wheel brush.
nooks and crannies?mr_spin
Oct 16, 2001 6:58 AM
Park tools makes a pretty good stiff brush for cleaning gears. The GSC-1, which you can buy anywhere for about $4. That's what I use. I also use the brush on the chain, the cogs, and on the derailleur points and pivots and such. On my mountain bike, sometimes the mud and crap builds up between the gears and you have to dig it out, which is another reason to have the Park brush. The handle end is designed to fit between the gears and do just that.

There are certainly equivalent brushes out there not made by Park tools, but the Park brush is only a couple of bucks and has the useful handle. Nevertheless, I'm sure someone here will tell you how to make one out of an old broom handle, some straw and a couple of rubber bands.
Just changed.....Len J
Oct 16, 2001 7:14 AM
to the Park Chain cleaner. It has a Magnet in the bottom to attract small metal particles and it has brushes that not only clean the rollers but also the outside of the chain. I used it for the first time Friday & couldn't believe the difference. It looked like I had a new chain.

I also use the park cleaning solvent, twice and then wipe down, let dry & then lube.

dude, i heard/read just the opposite...Js Haiku Shop
Oct 16, 2001 7:55 AM
about those chain cleaner thingies, including that you should be following the zinn method of:

wipe down chain with dry cloth
apply lube
wipe off excess lube with dry cloth
let sit
wipe off excess lube before ride
wipe off excess lube after ride

unfortunately (for me? for the chain? for zinn?), i've not adhered to that process/schedule, and--as a result--have gunky r.der pulleys and cr@p in my cassette...constantly!

the stuff i heard about your cleaner is that it's not the preferred method (preferred being a chain that is maintained right not requiring cleaning as such). for those with sufficient time and motivation toward cleaning and maintenance, this may be so. however, as i have quite a high value on ride time and somewhat lesser value on maintenance time, i feel your park chain cleaner might be my next purchase. thanks for the heads-up!!!

perfunctory haiku: (not actually perfunctory, but i sure do like that word)

thick, rich, my coffee
didn't well stir in sugar
cup bottom like chain

LenJ solution
lengthy manual cleaning?
no--use the park tool!

LenJ just gave gift
jeffreyh pleased to accept
more minutes to ride
No problem.....Len J
Oct 16, 2001 8:02 AM
I clean my chain about once every 2 weeks, Takes about 10 minutes total with relube. Clean Cassette & Chains about once a month, takes about 20 minutes.

I do both while watching a game on TV. Kill 2 with 1.

Hope it wasn't the 'Skins....nmMB1
Oct 16, 2001 8:13 AM
Hell no...Len J
Oct 16, 2001 8:50 AM
grew up in Philadelphia. Got green in my blood. Go Eagles.

re: how do you clean/lube your chain?pmf1
Oct 16, 2001 7:20 AM
I never remove a chain unless I'm changing it. To clean it, I use a toothbrush and citrus cleaner I buy from Home Depot for $7 per gallon. Pour some in a can and dip the brush in and scrub. If things are really a mess, I'll use mineral spirits, but thats not often. Scrub the chain rings as well. For the cassette, take the rear wheel off and use a Park cassette brush and citrus cleaner. These thing work really well and last forever.
ditto: home depot citrus, toothbrush, plus old rags. nmJs Haiku Shop
Oct 16, 2001 7:41 AM
re:Much the same.dzrider
Oct 16, 2001 7:58 AM
I don't think specific solvents make that much difference. I use the Park Brush everywhere on the drive train and run a rag between cassette cogs. I also pay lots of attention to getting the derailleur pulleys clean. I've started letting the chain dry overnight before lubing it and it seems like it stays cleaner.
About once a month I wash each bike.MB1
Oct 16, 2001 7:51 AM
First spray everything with Simple Green let it sit for a few minutes then hose off. Sometimes repeat for the gears and chain.

Lube mostly with White Lightning unless we are riding in rain or snow a lot-then Phil oil. Everytime I lube the chain I wipe the chain and gears off.

I am thinking about trying something new though-letting Miss M do it.
Alcohol??John Evans
Oct 16, 2001 9:25 AM
Has anyone tried denatured alcohol as a cleaner/solvent? Would it work with the Park Chain cleaner?
Oct 16, 2001 9:42 AM
Alcohol would work. but is it flammable. The flames of alcohol fumes are almost impossible to see.
Alcohol??John Evans
Oct 16, 2001 9:53 AM
Quit smoking 5 years ago, and I promise not to use it on my bike while I?m deep frying a turkey. I might use some on my insides though, Guinness makes a great brain cleaner/lube.
Oct 16, 2001 10:03 AM
Why not use a good, single malt, scotch. Great chain cleaner, excellent lube for me!
Oban 14John Evans
Oct 16, 2001 10:19 AM
Oban 14, It's works great for me but sometimes my brain's so lubed it slips away for a while.
Guinness cleaner/lube... I never have enough left over! -NMTig
Oct 16, 2001 10:12 AM
Oct 16, 2001 10:18 AM
Why not use a good, single malt, scotch. Great chain cleaner, excellent lube for me!
No clean, only lubeKerry Irons
Oct 16, 2001 5:22 PM
Assuming we're talking road riding, use the following technique:

1 - Wipe the chain, cogs, pulleys, and chainrings clean with a rag.
2 - Sluice on ProLink while pedaling (forward is better) so that the chain starts to drip lube. Aim the lube between the side plates and between the bushings and the side plates.
3 - run through all the gears several times, front and back.
4 - wipe the chain, cogs, pulleys, and chainrings clean with a rag.
5 - repeat 2-4 if the chain was really dirty

If you do this every 300 miles or so, you will not get any significant gunky buildup, and you won't have to clean the chain.
I am sick of people asking this again and again LONGWoof the dog
Oct 16, 2001 5:29 PM
okay. Firstly, I am the king of bike cleanliness because I clean my bike very well. Before each ride I clean the chain and lube my pedals. I try not to ride in the rain. With racing season its kinda different because you don't care about rain and your bike getting rusty. With the training months its all different and I hate rain or any kind of water on my bike. After each rainy (not sprinkly!!!) ride I practically take my bike apart. It takes a while. I've become a king of bike maintanance, but no, I don't do it for free for other people. We haven't even started on my meticulous cleaning of frame, rims, washing tires, etc. etc. etc.
In order to have a very clean chain you use two things: BioDegreaser (Pedro's) and ProLink. Most people don't know how to use ProLink because they are poor bike maintainers, no question about it. Boy, you should see a gunked up chain of one of my friends. The point is, it does not take a lot of time to maintain your chain with practically no stretch whatsoever. After many thousands of miles my chain has no stretch.
So, your chain is dirty. Take your chain off. Its handy to have a powerlink, or you are stuck with those special pins and a pain to stick them in. It feels uneasy to ride them damn pins too. So, take your chain off and stick it in a small flat plastic container. Spray/pour Simple Green on it so that it covers the chain almost completely. Wear gloves (or don't wear gloves, life is too short, you won't die) and use an old toothbrush to go over every link. Sides are important as well as the little rollers. You gotta move each link around to get most of the dirt buildup off. So, after spending 20 minutes doing this, you are done. It would be helpful to wash your chain in a new portion of biodegreaser. The point of this procedure is to get the chain very clean so that you would rarely have to do this again. Don't use turpentie, paint thinner (both contain mineral spirits), alcohol or any other stuff. Don't even use regular soap. All of the above make gunk stick to the metal, while Biodegreaser makes it all come up. Dry the chain very well. If you want to look rediculous in front of your family you can even use Q-tips to clean the inside of each link that you couldn't get with your brush. Next step is to clean the cogs well. Take your wheel off, take the cassette off, wash every cog with the brush in a similar way. It usually doesn't take that long to take the cassette off really. You can leave chainrings on and just clean them as best as you can, but don't use the brush because spots will be all over your bike frame :-) So, put everything back together except for the chain itself. You need to soak this dry chain in prolink. Just let is soak the longer the better on a plastic bag with Prolink all over it. Play with the chain in your hands to let it move through the rollers. Let it sit a bit, then wipe the hell out of it with the rag. You will still see black stuff from the inside of the rollers, but its fine. Now, put your chain back together on the bike. Next step is to put plenty of ProLink on it and go for a little spin, preferrably inside so that you wouldn't catch all the dust from that truck. That way all your cogs will lubricate as well. Now, the key is to wipe the excess off the chain as well as visible extra lube off the cogs and chainrings. Use a rag and go over the chain rubbing it pretty hard (sounds kinky, doesn't it?) You don't want any prolink on the sides of the chain. It does no good there other than attracting dirt. Now you have an almost dry chain with prolink lube inside the rollers in each link.
To maintain this cleanliness you need to sacrifice a little bit more prolink than people say they use here. Before every ride you need to really wipe the hell out of that chain with a dry rag. Don't use soap or degreasers on the rag. Just plain old rag. The point is to prevent a build up of dirt from many rides. If you do this before (or after) every ride, your chain will shine. Just wipe the hell out of it and then add some prolink (not too much) and go through the gears. Yes, you will see some black stuff. You can wipe it off again if you want, but thats only a minimal amount. If you keep at it, your chain will stay almost completely clean and smooth. The key is to add some prolink after wiping to make sure your chain is not too dry. But don't add too much either - I don't know how many more times do I need to stress this! People think that prolink sucks because they add it to their gunked up chain that was never clean to begin with. Prolink contains lube carrier that evaporates leaving the actual lubricant inside. I don't know the names of these compounds, but I know that if you add prolink to a dirty chain, you will have a mess. Their loss, my gain - I get to buy more of this awesome lube to pimp my bike in front of envious eyes of everyone else.
GREGG, PLEASE PUT A LINK TO THIS BOOK OF MINE ON THE SITE SO THAT I WOULDN'T HAVE TO TYPE IT ALL OVER FOR EVERY UN-CONVERTED. I THINK ITS A GOOD IDEA TO PUT UP SOMETHING LIKE THIS (WHICH MANY WOULD HAVE TO AGREE ON) FOR EVERYONE WITH THIS SAME QUESTION. Why not compile all the relevant threads on chain lube into one giant one. All we'd have to say is: go there and read your a$$ off. This has been going on for at least two years now, starting with cyclingforum's posts. People just keep asking this over and over.

And don't you go 'round and censor my novel either, Gregg!!! ;-)

Gone crazy on typing
Woof the dawg.
P.S. No, I don't work for Prolink or Pedro's companies.
life's too short to obsess over a lousy chainDaveG
Oct 16, 2001 5:49 PM
Woof, while I respect the many hours you spend cleaning your chain till it shines, I just want to ride my bike. Chains cost $20. In a world of $800 wheelsets and disposable $1500 framesets why sweat squeezing an extra 500 miles out of a lousy $20 chain? I don't know what the performance hit is between one of your sterilized chains versus my almost-clean chain is but I can't tell the difference. If we pass on the road, feel free to make fun of my dirty chain. After the ride I'll take a nap while you scrub and clean. For what its worth, I use the "homebrew" lube of 3 parts mineral spirits and 1 part Mobil One. Works fine and saves money so I can buy new chains.
dude manWoof the dog
Oct 16, 2001 9:51 PM
It just looks big on paper, it doesn't take that much time. Throw the chain in biodegreaser, mix, dry, slap it back on and lube. Periodically wipe it well and add prolink: the more often, the less tattoos on your calf. Thats it! Yes, I did exaggerate in places. Its not what I always do. Excuses excuses...........

And about the homebrew: Its much easier to get a bottle that will last me a while than mess with mixing stuff. I currently don't have a car, so running all over town is a pain. But you guys already duked it out in the other thread, didn't you.

Woof, the chain degreaser.
Whoa, good deal but sounds like a lot of work. Might try it. nmMB1
Oct 17, 2001 5:50 AM
I am sick of people asking this again and again LONG.
Oct 18, 2001 1:13 PM
Woofy,choose your post then choose add to favorites. Now you have a link to this post for future reference.
Once a year...speed-chump
Oct 16, 2001 6:16 PM
I replace the entire drive train. Seriously, $200 is a
drop in the bucket of an annual cycling budget when you
think about it, especially if it's an expense you budget

I drip Rem-Oil (NON-PC WARNING) gun oil on the rollers and wipe the
chain down THOUROUGHLY every week or so to keep it all reasonably
clean and lubricated. Once a year, I take off the chain, rings, and
cassette, and place them in the trash can. I NEVER change the chain,
only the whole drive train. I guess some may see this as wasteful,
or whatever. The benefit is that I just never have to worry about
it. I resign myself to one fixed cost per year, and 1 minute per
week of drivetrain maintenance. The calmness that comes from accepting that a drive train is disposable is well worth the expense.
It'll never last forever, and what is your time really worth?
There are much better things to do than agonize over bike cleanliness.
(riding bikes comes to mind)

Is the effort and time required to keep everything operating-room
clean REALLY worth your time? For me, it's not.

Anyhow, that's my take on chain maintenance. Others may (violently)

"If you can't add years to your life, add life to your years"

Does anybody know where that comes from? I saw it once,
and can't remember the source.
What is that in miles? nmMB1
Oct 17, 2001 6:17 AM
What is that in miles? nmmorey
Oct 18, 2001 12:16 PM
About 200-300/year!!!!!!!
Oct 17, 2001 6:54 AM
Remove your chain (either via a chainbreaker or quick-link). Drop the chain into an empty plastic soda bottle and add enough mineral turps to cover the chain. Put on the cap and shake vigorously. Then rest the bottle upside-down for a few minutes - till you see the residue settle. Loosen the cap and drain the gunk/residue. Add more turps and repeat till the turps shows little/no residue. Remove chain (cut open bottle) and hang it up to dry. After drying, refit and lube with an oil-based lube (not wax-based). If you want to use a wax lube, use detergent for the last few shakes/drains, rinse and dry as usual. This is a monthly clean - or every 1000km. Otherwise just wipe and lube every 500km. Its as quick and clean as any other method and works like hell!
squirt Triflow on and wipe off - that's it nmDog
Oct 18, 2001 12:34 PM