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Tuning Road Bike for the upcoming season(9 posts)

Tuning Road Bike for the upcoming seasonStuartHB
Mar 13, 2003 9:41 AM
I would like to tune my bike up for the new season.
Before lubricating all my gears, I would like to clean
the chain. What is the best way to clean a chain.
I see products where you keep the chain on and other
products where you take the chain off and soak it in
a solution.

Any suggestions,
re: Tuning Road Bike for the upcoming seasonCaseysdad
Mar 13, 2003 11:37 AM
Both methods can produce perfectly satisfactory results.

Any bike shop should sell a simple, inexpensive chain cleaner tool. This is essentially a gadget that holds a small amount of chain cleaning solution (which the bike shop will also sell for a few dollars) and has a number of rotating brushes. This whole assembly clamps over your chain - while the chain still on your bike - and you simply spin your pedals backward for a minute or two. This draws your chain through the brushes and solvent, leaving it fairly clean.

Method two works well if you have a convenient way of removing your chain from the bike. This usually requires having a chain tool that enables you to remove a chain pin to "break" your chain and pull it off the cogs/chainrings. (Naturally, this presupposes that you can then re-connect the chain once it's back on your bike.) Once you get the chain off, you can often achieve good results by simply immersing your chain in a bath of chain cleaning solution and swirling it around gently. (I've sometimes used an empty 2- or 3-liter bottle for this.) Once you get most of the old lube and dirt off, you'll want to go over the chain with a soft brush or cloth in order to free any stubborn dirt from the joints and cracks. Then give it a good rinse and dry it off thoroughly with a soft cloth.

Very important: Once the chain is clean and (if applicable) back on the bike, be sure to re-lube it with the chain lube of your choice. If you don't you'll risk rusting (the chain, that is) and shortening the life of both your chain and gears. Talk to somebody at your bike shop to determine the right kind of lube for the conditions that you'll be riding in. There are lots of options, so you shouldn't have trouble finding a suitable one. Just be sure to wipe off any excess lube once you've re-lubed and spun your chain for a while to work the lube into the moving parts. Excess lube will just pick up dirt and force you to re-clean your chain sooner.

While you're at it, this is a goot time to check your chain for stretching. Again, your bike shop will be able to explain how to do this.

The whole process is fairly simple and should become one of the standard components of your regular bike maintenance routine. If you do, you'll be rewarded with smoother shifting, less chain skipping, longer drivetrain life and fewer unwanted shifts. To top it off, it can be kind of an enjoyable process. Good luck!
best $14 you could spend...JS Haiku Shop
Mar 13, 2003 11:43 AM
When was the last time you cleaned it?jhr
Mar 13, 2003 12:05 PM
I am guessing that since you are asking for advice about cleaning a chain, that you have never cleaned a chain before. If your chain has more than 1000 miles on it and has never been cleaned to your knowledge, you would do best to throw it away and put on a new chain. If you run Shimano 9sp, I suggest a Sram PC (59,69,89,99 all are good) chain with the powerlink.

Once installed you should remove it and clean it every 250 to 1000 miles (depending on where/when etc. you ride)(always clean the chain after riding in the rain). I do this by removing the chain and scrubbing it with a large and small stiff bristle brush using a mixture of orange blast and dawn dishwashing liquid. Rinse thoroughly with water, pat dry, hang until completely dry, reinstall on the bike, lube with lube of choice and you are ready to go. With the power link the whole business take 5 minutes (not including drying time).

I have owned several "on the bike" chain cleaners and none have worked as well as the process I just described. The solvents cost more, they all leak onto the floor, and they slime your chain rings.

By the way you don't really lubricate the gears do you? You should lube the chain, pivot points on the rear and ft. derailers, cables and the pully wheels, but do not squirt lube directly onto the gears (ie cassette). That would make a mess, and would serve no purpose.

re: Tuning Road Bike for the upcoming seasonlonebikeroftheapocalypse
Mar 13, 2003 12:23 PM
I usually borrow a small sonic tank from work that we use for degreasing parts. I think they sell these for cleaning jewelry at places like walmart, if I couldn't borrow on I'd definitely buy one. I'll break the chain remove the chainrings and cassette and sonic everything in simple green and water for about an hour once a year. Everything comes out like brand new. Make sure you get all the water out of the chain, alcohol works good. Reinstall everything and use your favorite lube. I'm partial to the SRAM chains with the quick disconnect link. No tool installation and removal.
You have the best "handle" of anyone on this board.eyebob
Mar 13, 2003 1:56 PM
I've meant to tell you that for a while. Just love it.


PS Maybe I'll start a thread entitled "Who has the best "handle" on this board?"
Thanks. Totally off subject.lonebikeroftheapocalypse
Mar 14, 2003 6:45 AM
Its from Raising Arizona. I love the bounty hunter character Leonard Smalls. In a dream sequence H.I. refers to him as the lone biker of the apocalypse. That and the fact that I don't know anyone who will even venture out of their subdivision on their bicycle so I end up doing about 99% of my riding alone. It just seemed to fit.
No need to clean chain!Kerry
Mar 13, 2003 5:41 PM
Assuming we're talking road riding, use the following technique for successful ProLink application and use:
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. However, no lube is "perfect." A brite shiny chain that is clean to the touch but is well lubed and gives long mileage is still not possible. IMO, ProLink is the best compromise.
Use Self-cleaning lube (pedros). Solvents weaken the chain.teamsloppy
Mar 13, 2003 11:09 PM
Use a self cleaing lube like White Lightning or Pedro's Ice. Wipe the chain with a rag, then apply Pedro's or White Lightning. Spin the chain. Wipe. Repeat. Apply. Repeat until as clean as desired.

The "chain cleaners" you mentioned are really "lube strippers" and will lead to more frequent chain breaks and noisier chains. The solvents penetrate deep in the chain links and strip any lubricants. The lubrincants are larger molecules and can't penetrate the small spaces as easily; leaving unlubricated interior chain pins and lubed exterior. Cleaning a chain with a solvent is like running and starting an automobile engine with no oil.

Like others mentioned, you don't lube the cogs or chain rings (the gears). You wipe them clean with a rag or two ( probably sticking the edge of the rag between two cogs and rubbing up and down or rotating the cassette or chain ring).