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Prepping a new chain(17 posts)

Prepping a new chainstinkfoot247
Apr 25, 2003 7:39 PM
I'm sorry if this was posted recently. I'm sure it was but I couldn't find it in the search. Just got a new dura ace chain after old one broke due to stupidity. anyway. I was reading something about getting the sticky stuff off with solvent or something and washing with soap. I would be a happy biker if I had any input on the following:
1. Opinions on using heavy solvents(mineral spirits,ect.) on dirty chain. I hear it weakens the chain, but what if you just soaked it in lube or oil... the chain that is
2. Best procedure to prep a chain.
3. Simple green. I've read great reviews, but is there any caution I should take.
4. Any body want to trade goldfish pics(mine has a mustache and cross dresses)
Ok pleazzzzzze gimme some input
Simple answerNessism
Apr 25, 2003 8:09 PM
Just install the chain and ride. The "sticky stuff" lubes the chain very nicely. After it starts to gather grit, just wipe it down with a WD40 soaked rag. Keep it simple and don't remove all the lube inside the chain by using a solvent.

Apr 26, 2003 2:49 AM
I find the thick, gooey, sticky stuff that Shimano coat their chains very annoying. If left on, it does cake up the entire drivetrain. I believe it is meant for storage (Campy chains come much more lightly coated), not neccessarily to be used as a lube.
Anyways, if you want to get rid of it, drop it in a mineral spirit filled jar (pasta sauce, preferably Italian) and shake a little. You'll see when it's done , because, as always, S#!* floats. Lube liberally, possibly two or three times, wipe, install, ride and wipe again.
To clarifyNessism
Apr 26, 2003 7:53 AM
I use WD40 on the outside of the chain to clean off the gunk after it gets dirty. The chain will have to be lubricated after cleaning. For that purpose, I like to use some form of oil based chain lube.

My guess is that 99% of all chains made are installed straight out of the box at some bike factory. Shimano knows this full well and specs the factory coating/lube to take this into consideration. I'm not sure what they use on the chain, but I do know that these chains runs dead silent on the drivetrain which is a good indication that the chain is well lubed.

re: Prepping a new chainBarnyard
Apr 26, 2003 1:14 AM
This winter I rode from Sandiego to West Palm Florida (over 3750 miles in 57 days). I was stripping my chains and using wax. Finally after wearing out several chains I decided to leave the coating on the chain and it felt like DYNOMITE! Wax is just a poor excuse of a chain lube for finiky farts. Stripping a chain and applying wax just limits the performace you get out of the chain from the start. Leave the coating on, and when it gathers dirt, take a rag, put a little bit of tri flow, T9, or something on it and spin your chain backwards through it. Wipe the chain thoroughly. Finally, try not to use much of anything on your chain. The more you put on, the more time you got to spend wiping it off.
re: Prepping a new chainIronbutt
Apr 26, 2003 4:29 AM
As a mechanical sort, I take what many would consider an extreme approach. Since the vast majority of wear in the chain assembly is caused by foreign material abrading the surfaces, anything that attracts and retains this material is not good for the chain. So, my method is to clean the chain thoroughly in an ultrasonic parts cleaner, then lubricate with a good high pressure lubricant that is also a good corrosion fighter. My current choice is Boeshield T-9, but I almost always have something going on in the lab that may change this. Briefly, though, cleanliness is next to Godliness and lubricant that does not retain road grit is best.
Don't clean the chainKerry
Apr 26, 2003 5:23 AM
However, don't leave the Cosmolene (or equivalent) on there either. The stuff is not a great lube and certainly is a dirt magnet. The problem with cleaning the chain is that you are removing all the lube, and then have to worry about non-lubed surfaces inside the chain. As a long time ProLink advocate, I'd recommend the procedure below as a way to DISPLACE the gunk with a good lube package.

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. Also, you'll only need one 4 oz. bottle of ProLink for every 5-10K miles. 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.
Too many opinions - too few facts.Spoke Wrench
Apr 26, 2003 7:17 AM
Has anybody ever done a real research study on this subject? I'd think that one of the chain makers or maybe one of the chain lube companies would have done one. Years ago Bicycling Magazine used to test stuff like this but get real!

My first question is: "What have chain manufacturers coated their chains with at the factory?" It sounds to me like a lot of people have assumptions about that, but nobody seems to really know for sure.

I also question how it is applied. If I ran a chain factory, I'd submerge the chains in some kind of lube inside of a pressure chamber in order to force the lube into all of the inner workings. If that's true, it looks to me like a sonic cleaner would clean the factory lube out but topical lubeing methods wouldn't replace it as well as the factory application.

It's obvious to me that the black crud that we all clean off of our chains has to be something other than chain lube because all of the lubes I've seen are light tan to white in color. So cleaning, at least the outside parts must, at some point, be a good thing to do. The value of purging whatever the factory put inside the new chain isn't so clear to me.

I think that it's interesting that there are so many mutually exclusionary theories about cleaning and lubeing brand new chains. Everybody seems to have their own set of facts and reasons. I just can't sort out which ones are real.
heres the deal........stik__boy
Apr 26, 2003 7:09 AM
im a motorcyclist, bicyclist, and work for a company that distributes chain....(industrial use chain...). although
no "expert" i consider myself pretty well versed in "chainology" wife also works at trek and i have consulted with people there, as this is a pretty serious issue---------- cHAIN GUNK!!!! so here it goes:

a) the lube its packed in is not meant as permanent lubrication- merely storage.
b) mineral spirits or similar solvents will not weaken a chain. spirits in a bottle shaken well with said chain is the best way to remove packing lube.
c) wait for chain to dry well.
d) apply your lube.... right now im using some stuff called "rock n roll" so far on my mtb bike---- they make a road and mtb bike formula- and it works VERY well.
(NOT promoting any products...)
e) use NOTHING like wd-40 or any likeness... as these products attract dust. dust/dirt is bad for moving parts, lubricated or not.....

there ya go. of coarse any lube will attract some particles, so ..... and just for the record i've never tried any dry lubes.

also- for any of you motorcyclist, the same formula would not apply, as any spirits could ruin the o-rings in a chain that has them.
Agree wholeheartedlyGregory Taylor
Apr 26, 2003 9:55 AM
Chains from SRAM and Shimano that I am familiar with are shipped in cosmoline - it is a rust preventative grease, not really a lubricant. Interestingly, neither SRAM nor Shimano say in their service/installation instructions that you should clean the chain before using it. (I checked on their websites).

At least one lube - Pro-link - specifically says for user to clean a new chain before using their product. The teflon/super-sauce in Pro Link won't bond to the metal properly if it is covered in grease. "Uncle Al", the mechanic at, also recommends that you clean the chain before putting it in service. This makes sense to me...

Ditto on recommending Rock-N-Roll lube. Curlybike turned me on to this stuff, and it seems to work well. Very clean and seems to last a good long time.
Apr 26, 2003 5:04 PM
I wipe as much of the packing stuff off as I can, then throw the chain in an Vlassic pickle jar filled about 1/4 way with mineral spirits.
I then take the chain out and set it aside. I drain the solvent into another pickle jar, using folded up cheesecloth to filter out the contaminants. I then re-soak the chain the the jar.
After this, I remove the chain, wipe it dry with a cloth, and install it on the bike. Make sure you are dealing with clean chainrings and cogs. It makes no sense to spend all the time cleaning the chain and then running it through mucky cogs.
After I lube the clean chain, I dispose of the used solvent by drinking it really quickly while holding my nose.
Mechanical Engineer speaks:Alexx
Apr 26, 2003 10:45 AM
Firstly, that waxy stuff on the chain is called COSMOLENE, and it is there to protect the metal from damage and corrosion in transit and storage. It is NOT a lubricant.

Next, WD-40 is a solvent, NOT a lubricant. Don't even consider using it to lube a chain-the stuff just runs off, leaving your chain unprotected.

Simple Green has DETERGENTS in it, which likewise makes it a poor choice for cleaning the chain. Bits of detergent remain on the chain, and it attacks the lubricant when you put that on, making a gooey mess.

What you need to do is this: use a chain solvent to clean the cosmo off (citrus solvent, or something like mineral spirits works best), then, after rinsing (citrus solvent), lube with your favorite lubricant. Citrus works best for wax lubes, and mineral spirits works best for petoleum lubricants.
Citrus solvent?Matno
Apr 26, 2003 1:21 PM
I've used 3 different kinds on my Shimano chain. Probably 6 or 7 times, including total soaking/overnight submersion. I've been riding the stupid thing for a year now (okay, I didn't ride during the winter) and I STILL can't get the stupid Cosmolene crap off of it. Very annoying. That stuff isn't a lube or a protectant. It's a GLUE! After every ride there are particles big enough to see from 5 feet away all over my chain! It still feels sticky on the outside. I just bought a Powerlink, so I'm going to take that bugger off and give it a good soak in some acetone or something...

As for WD-40, there's no way that stuff "just runs off." If it did, it wouldn't make your chain so dirty! :^) (Not that I use it as a lube on my bike, but it DOES work for squeaky door hinges...)
Mechanical Engineer speaks:stinkfoot247
Apr 26, 2003 1:33 PM
Ok. Do the companies lube the chain at all. Cuz some of the other folks say you can weaken the chain by eating the lube up in hard-to-lube places. does this have any truth?
Alex engineerstinkfoot247
Apr 26, 2003 1:38 PM
Can you email me at
I have some question regarding mechanical engineers cuz thats what I'm pursuing. Thank you.
another mechanical engineer's viewpoint...C-40
Apr 27, 2003 2:02 PM
WD-40 is more than just a solvent. It has a lubricant and will work fine to remove the cosmolene. Mineral spirits will work also. Wouldn't waste my time with a citrus degreaser that you have to rinse off and use something to remove the water (like WD-40).

Personally, I've used "clean and lube" the 4/1 mix of mineral spirits and synthetic motor oil on my chains for the last 4 years. A new chain needs nothing but a quick dousing with "clean and lube" and wiped off with a dry paper towel to start. Reapply the lube every ride and by the second or third ride, the chain will be perfectly clean and lubed. After that, the lube interval is up to the user. I apply every other ride. Probably overdoing it, but it keeps the chain real clean and yields great chain life.
RBR still fraught with idealismBarnyard
Apr 27, 2003 6:55 AM
and guys who are very finicky about their bikes. But then again my rain bike is a colnago dream. Hey, it's aluminum, and not much is going to rust on it. I know the chain and drive train are not going to last forever, but most of those parts will last me long enough.