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??? re: On-the-chain chain cleaners(23 posts)

??? re: On-the-chain chain cleanersJerryA
Dec 11, 2001 9:02 AM
I'm asking about those on-the-chain chain cleaners, the ones that have brushes and hold solvent where you crank the pedals to run the chain through. Do these work well? What are the pros & cons? Are these a good tool, worth putting on the Christmas list? If so, which brand?
Finish LineMe Dot Org
Dec 11, 2001 9:17 AM
I've used Finish Line's chain cleaner for about a year now and I like it. It comes with a little plastic piece that is supposed to fit over the derailleur cage. Lose it, it just makes your life harder.

Don't fill the cleaner solution over the recommended line, otherwise you'll splash fluid out when you turn your crank.

Finish line's cleaner comes with a lifetime guarantee. The brushes on mine started to get a little funky and they sent me new ones at no charge.

Easier than scrubbing by hand with a brush.
Work well enough for ME, but maybe not THAT well...cory
Dec 11, 2001 9:18 AM
The two I've used, Pedro's and Bibox, do a good job of making the chain LOOK clean. I'm always a little suspicious of what's left inside, but they shift fine, don't seem to wear out fast and don't get gunk on my leg. And I'm long past the point where I'm going to take off the chain, soak it and scrub it with a toothbrush like I used to.
I've used two...BiknBen
Dec 11, 2001 9:29 AM
Finish-Line and Park cleaners both work fine. I would expect to get the floor messy. Even if you don't overfill the resevoir, the fluid comes out on the chain and eventually drips.

Don't expect the chain to be perfectly clean. I typically use the cleaner once, dump it out, refill it with new degreaser, and do it again. The fluid is just as dirty the second time. There seems to be an endless amount of dirt in my chain.

It's worthy of putting on the X-Mas list.
I'd echo this experience...Me Dot Org
Dec 11, 2001 1:04 PM
You need to drain and refill the cleaner at least once, sometimes twice if the chain is really dirty.

I keep a rag with me when I use the chain cleaner. When I stop spinning the crank, I quickly unclip the chain cleaner and spin the crank once or twice while holding the rag over the chain. Helps with the drip problem.
Silly Toysgrzy
Dec 11, 2001 9:42 AM
Tried several - none of them are worth a damn.

My approach is to "white tornado" the whole bike on the stand with a bevy of brushes and a bucket of water and citrus based degreaser. When done blast it all dry with an air hose. If you just want to do a quickie use an SRAM Power Link and drop the cahin into a coffee can of you favorite solution.

The concept of cleaning the chain on the bike and not expecting the solvent to get all over the place is niave.

As an added bonus, when you're done, you can then knock the cleaner unit over and spill all the grime on your floor.
reminds meDog
Dec 11, 2001 10:46 AM
I once diligently changed the oil in my KZ550. Didn't spill a drop. Finished up, hopped on the bike, and ran right over the oil drain pan. You wouldn't believe the mess.

Now that there is a powerlink for Campy 10, the removal is much easier, and cheaper. I didn't hesitate to use a crummy Park chain cleaner when it cost $12 to remove and replace a chain.

Dec 11, 2001 12:07 PM
$12 to remove and reinstal a chain - you MUST be kidding! Oh wait a minute, you're talking Campy....never mind! ;-b
effect on bearings?the_gormandizer
Dec 11, 2001 12:28 PM

Some people say that a method such as your "white tornado" approach may cause the bearing lubrication to be affected. Do you think this is a concern? Do you at least take your wheels off first?
effect on bearings?grzy
Dec 11, 2001 3:52 PM
Not a worry. Ask yourself how do the pros clean bikes? With a Q-tip, hanky, and a tooth brush? Nope. How does instruct how to do it based on the writeups from a couple professional wrenches? Brushes a spounge and some citrus based degreaser. Check it out (it's good advice) - finally after years of folk lore someone has documented a quick and efficient process based on what works. The key is using the citrus based degreaser, a nice sponge and a good selection of brushes. I can clean a bike spotless in about 20 minutes. Anything longer and you're wasting your time. Being a mechanical engineer I'm well aware of the lack of lubrication and it's affect on bearing life as well as corrosion.

Ultimately you're not blasting the hose straight into the bearings. In any event your wheel bearings should have some sort of labrynth seal - otherwise you have a big problem if you ride in the rain. In fact many of the hihg-end wheel sets use sealed precison bearings designed to go in much harsher environments. Then there's the "Phil waterproof grease". It's really not a concern - well maybe the anal types are concerned, but they're into aligning moilecules anyway. Also realize that things like brakes and deraileurs are way more vulnerable than a set of wheels. Hell, the things are usually stuffed with grime so what are you avoiding - cleaning it out? The key is to well lubricate things when you're done - White Lightning doesn't count. Road bikes are child's play compared to what a typical MTB goes through.

I do take my wheels off, but that's so I can get a better angle on scrubbing them as well as the nether regions of the frame. Nothing escapes my attention.
effect on bearings? - UltegraDog
Dec 11, 2001 4:02 PM
"...your wheel bearings should have some sort of labrynth seal"

When I had Ultegra hubs, it seemed like I could practically see the bearings (the balls themselves) through the "seal." The grease ran out every high speed descent. I assume water and degreaser could get in very easily. Sound right?

Dec 12, 2001 9:26 AM
But if it's that easy for water and degreaser to get in what's keeping the dirt, grime and rain water out? The deal is that you can't sit there with the hose pointed at the bearings on full blast while looking at the sky. What really does the trick is paying attention to the water stream and using a brush and sponge to knock the grime loose, then follow with a rinse. I'll set the hose on a conical mist - so as not to blast the water into places it doesn't realy need to go. The Ultegra hubs aren't sealed that well, and if the little metal seal comes off, then yes, you'll be looking at the bearings. I wonder why you had grease coming out on every high speed descent - you either had way too much low viscosity/low temp. grease and/or the seals were missing. No reason why the grease should be running out like that - FWIW mine never did. the higher end wheels that many of us are using take advantage of sealed crtridge style precisoin bearings and they're fairly robust. You can extend all of this to other dearing areas like the BB and the HS, to name a few.
2 liter bottle12x23
Dec 11, 2001 10:22 AM
Use the Sram power link so you can break the chain, drop it in a 2 liter bottle about 1/3 full of mineral spirits and shake like he!!. Cheap and works much better than any 'cleaner tool' I've tried.
re: ??? re: On-the-chain chain cleanersmerckx56
Dec 11, 2001 2:05 PM
get a bucket and a toilet brush.
go to the grocery and get a thing of dawn or other dishwashing liquid. these are formulated to break down grease and grime. put a thin coating of detergent on the chain, sit for 5. use the aforementioned bucket full of hot water and dawn. scrub the drivetrain throuoghly with the toilet brush. rinse, repeat! why a toilet brush? the long handle keeps you out of the crapola thats coming off the chain and cogs. do this 2 times and your drivetrain will be clean!
this tip courtesy of steve snowling, former telekom(and many other pro teams)wrench. he did it to my rig in belgium and it worked great everytime! don't forget to re-lube!
re: ??? re: On-the-chain chain cleanersLen J
Dec 11, 2001 2:22 PM
Do most of my maintenance by setting up a repair stand in the kitchen, (We have a detached, unheated garage, don't ask), and I use the Park chain cleaner. It does a great job and yes I do change the degreaser twice for the best results. I also drape a rag over where the chain exits the cleaner & I put an old towel on the floor under the bike. This takes care of any mess. After I remove the cleaner I run the chain through a rag for several revolutions & clean the Der pulley wheels. I also take the back wheel off and rag clean the cassette (It usually has degreaser on it from the chain). The whole process , including relube takes maybe 10 minutes every 200 miles or so. Works wonderfully.

Every 200 miles???MB1
Dec 11, 2001 2:40 PM
That is way too often to clean a road bike chain. What are you using for lube 10-30? Use a dry lube, wipe the chain off every time you lube it and and a complete cleaning once a month ought to be plenty.

Of course your bikes are probably a lot cleaner than ours ;-)

BTW following your plan I would be cleaning a chain for me and the Mrs 160+ times a year-I don't think so!
I agreeDog
Dec 11, 2001 2:51 PM
I use Triflow, and I clean my chain maybe once a month or every 1000 miles or so. If you squirt oil on and run the chain around a few times while wrapping it with an old rag, that alone cleans it pretty well. I do this after almost every long ride, or at least once a week.

I've found that most problems with my bike come right after thorough cleaning. I've begun to only lightly spray with water, and then wipe down with Simple Green on a rag. I think too thorough cleaning removes lube from many places it should remain (shifters, derailleurs, bearings, chainring/crank interface, etc.).

Every 200 miles???gtx
Dec 11, 2001 8:19 PM
It really depends on the conditions you ride in. I clean my chain after every ride if I ride in the rain (which is most days during this time of year up here in the Pacific Northwest). I also do it after every ride on my mtb. Yeah, when I lived in CA I'd maybe get away with 3-400 miles on the road bike, or every other ride with the mtb. But a clean drivetrain means stuff lasts longer. I'm not talking about a remove the chain type clean. Just a run through the rag a few times, then relube and wipe off the excess. Also, dry lube is great but it doesn't work too well in many places.

You guys are logging 32,000 miles a year? Awesome!
Whats the harm?Len J
Dec 12, 2001 4:11 AM
I'll do it once a week when I'm riding heavy, once every two weeks when I'm riding lighter. The whole thing takes 10 minutes. What's the downside of doing it this often?

No downside at all.MB1
Dec 12, 2001 7:23 AM
I just don't feel the need to clean a chain more than once a month, unless we've been riding in the wet or dirt. I just wipe them off every time I lube which can be as often as every ride depending on the miles.
Dec 12, 2001 9:17 AM
This is my observation. When you clean a chain thoroughly, you remove all the lube in it (not just "on" it). Ever ride a cleaned but not lubed chain? Sounds like crap. It seems to me that even one good lube after cleaning isn't quite as good as after several lubes after several rides. Is it possible that it may take a few times, using the chain, and then relubing, to get it thoroughly lubed down in the rollers, etc? Might be my imagination, I suppose, but this seems to be the case.

Other issues, too. If you remove a chain with a pin tool every time, my bet is that it gets weaker and creates a higher probability of failure. On the bike or with a special link, not an issue.

Cleaning can be messy. If you clean on the bike, then you gotta clean up everything, especially the cassette, that the cleaner/gunk got all over.

But, in the big scheme of things, this isn't a big deal either way. Besides, I've found that frequent lubing and wiping keeps the chain pretty clean anyway.

wipe down vs. degreasinggtx
Dec 12, 2001 10:30 AM
I NEVER degrease my chain--even my mtb chain. Just frequent wipe down and relube. I think Campy even says something about how you shouldn't degrease their chains for the reasons Dog mentions. Just use the lightest lube allowed by the conditions you ride in, and don't let it get too messy to begin with.
Learn something new everyday....Len J
Dec 12, 2001 11:39 AM
and today is no exception.

I had always read that the tradeoff is between the effect on the metal of the grit left inside the links (by not degreasing & cleaning) vs the effect of removing the lube & (inadequatly) relubing (what you are referring to). Being aware of this, I have always applied lube once after I clean the chain & once just before the first ride, thus allowing the first lube to penetrate before riding.

Am I mistaken in my understanding of the tradeoffs?