Breaking a chain to clean it off bike


New Member
Jun 4, 2002
This is related to a topic below of cleaning the chain.<br /><br />Every so often I like to give the chain a better clean than I can on the bike with my chain cleaner, so I break the chain to take it off the bike, put it in an empty plastic bottle with kerosene, shake it around until the kero is black with grease. Empty the bottle, and then repeat with new Kerosene 2 or 3 times, or until the kero comes out clean after a good shake. Sometimes if the chain is really dirty I'll let it soak in the kero for a few hours before doing this.<br /><br />Then the last time I fill the bottle with hot water and liquid dishwasher to clean ll the kero off the chain. Then I take the chain out, dry it off with a rag, then leave the chain out to air dry overnight.<br /><br />I put the chain back on and join it up with the special Shimano joining pin, and lube with Pedros Extra Dry.<br /><br />My question is: how many times can I break a chain, and then re-join it with a shimano joining pin? Should I always break and join the chain at the same pin? Or should I do opposite sides of the chain, or pins next to each other? Keeping in mind each time I am using a new joining pin, I'm not re-using pins.
I have read that &quot;no more than 3 times&quot; you can break the chain. (in different places of course)<br /><br />I think that every time your break the chain it looses strength and smoothness.<br /><br />You must replace the chain when it is stretched and/or there is noticeable play in the links. If you ride hard then the chain will become &quot;old&quot; before the 4th time.<br /><br />I would not recomend to break the chain just for cleaning every time. There are different methods posted on this forum for cleaning chains, use one of them and keep your chain clean.<br /><br />Just when you feel that the chain have been used a lot and needs a makeup do the &quot;deep cleaning&quot;.<br /><br />I use always the best chain I can afford. That saves a lot of money at the end. Campagnolo uses a record chain the groupos they have. <br /><br />I use a dura-ace chain to keep my ultegra drivetrain longer.<br /><br />BR<br /><br />froque
Thanks for the info!<br /><br />I clean it usually every week on the bike using a Pedros box chain cleaner. I only break the chain and clean it off the bike every so often when its getting a bit too dirty (maybe every 6 weeks at the least - so not very often).<br /><br />I dont usually have a chain on for more than 6 months (HG93). I was just wondering how many links could be broken and re-pinned (with the special joining pin) before it needs to be replaced.
to be clear.<br /><br />break the chain in different places, try to distribute the places all around the chain, and use only one side to put the pins.<br /><br />I also take care that during the life time of my chain I &quot;turn&quot; it, that means that the side that was in contact with the cogs will face up. I can't say if that is good practice, but I do it.<br /><br /><br />BR<br /><br />froque.<br /><br />
In the years I've been using Shimano chains I have never used the joining pins. I always use rejoin with the pin that was in the chain. I've never broken a Shimano chain and the chains I have seen break on other peoples bikes were joined with the special pins.
I'm not trying to gloat, just saying if joined correctly you shouldn't have any worries.
You should always use a new pin. Also you can try using the replaceable links made now for this purpose.

Also try cleaning while on the bike. Best to use one of the Pedro's or Parks chain cleaning machines with your prefered solution. This way the mess is less.

You made me remember my days in Spain where everyone used diesel to clean chains and all on the bike. About a year later paint jobs were looking rather unattractive ;)
If you use SRAM chains, they have the "Power Link" which you can take off as often as you want and re-connect the chain. I take the chain off to clean it and put it back on clean as a whistle. I've used PC99R and PC89. I have PC89 on my mountain bike and never had it break once. I push heavy gears and it never broke once. A friend of mine uses it on his single speed without any problems. Good chains.
another vote for the SRAM chain. I use the PC89R with the hollow links and pins. Works great easy to take off and clean with the gold link.
Breaking your chain to clean it is bad form to say the least. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link which is the one you pushed in when you installed your chain. Break the chain in the same spot, and you will weaken plate considerably. Break it in different spots and you will introduce as many "weak" links.

Clean your chain on the bike. Cut the hub out of an old rear wheel. Put some cogs and a skewer on it. Put your bike on a stand, throw the hub in the dropouts. Wet everything down and then use degreaser or light machine oil like WD-40 to saturate the chain. Turn the cranks ocasionally to work it in.

Once the chain is saturated, clean it with a stiff brush while turning the cranks. If the chain feels gritty when turning the cranks, clean it until it turns smooth. This grit will help to reduce your power output, so get it out!!! Wash the bike with soap and water, clean up the mess and lube the chain with a high-pressure chain lube. The lube will displace any moisture in the rollers as long as it penetrates everywhere. I usually lube the chain again a few hours later or the next day just to make sure. By the way, like some others, I never use the break away pin supplied by Shimano. I break the chain to the correct length and push in the open pin with excellent results.

Breaking your chain will weaken it every time you do it. Some might think I'm being paranoid about it, but it sucks getting hurt when you don't have to.

Don't take a chance on a bad crash the next time you are doing sprints by having your chain fail.

Good luck!!!
WD-40 is not a lubricant! WD = Water Dispersant.

Okay, I feel much better now. Aside from that, I agree completely with you J-MAT.

WD-40 IS a lubricant. I never said to lubricate the chain with WD-40, only degrease it. The formula is secret, but the ability for oil to displace water is well know. It undoughtably contains petroleum distillates. It is highly flammable. WD-40 is great, light duty lubricant!!!

Anyway, top off the chain with a good high-pressure chain lube. High pressure refers to the ability to withstand displacement when subjected to a high p.s.i environment, not a high-pressure aerosol can.

I have used Finish Line Cross Country for many years with excellent results. It's not as glamorous as some of the "high-tech" lubes out there, but is the longest lasting lube I have ever used, and protects better than film or teflon-based lubes.
Okay, just to be fair -

Water is a lubricant too, so is snow, alcohol, most acids, even sand can act as a lubricant, but nowhere on any WD-40 packaging is the word 'lubricant' used. In fact, the manufacturer even says it is not a lubricant, it is a water dispersant. I use it myself exactly as J-MAT does, I just disagree with his terminology, as it is ambiguous and is the reason why there are legions of people out there who use WD-40 SOLELY to 'lubricate' their chains.


Dude, put down the crack pipe for a few minutes and look at a can of WD-40!!!

On the back of the can I'm looking at, after the "directions" the manufacturer lists in bold yellow and blue the capabilities of WD-40. The very first category:

Moving parts such as:
Hinges - Wheels - Rollers - Chains - Gears

How you can say the manufacturer doesn't call this a lubricant???

As far as water, snow, alcohol, or sand being a "lubricant" I'd like to see a good example of that involving metal on metal protection.

Chemically, water is a solvent. The reaction between water and exposed metal is well known: Ferric oxide, otherwise known as rust. Drain the oil in your car and replace it with nitric, sulfuric, or hydrochloric acid and see what happens. Clean the grease off your wheel bearings with rubbing alcohol and then reinstall. Drain your transmission fluid and replace it with sand.

I don't think you would find any of these "lubricants" to be better that what you started with!!!

Some time triallists are paranoid about friction and replace the grease in their wheel bearings with light machine oil, like 3-1 or WD-40. WD-40 will keep a chain lubed for an hour or two of hard riding. I don't reccomend doing any of this, but some people do it.

The most common application for water dispersement using WD-40 is to displace water in flooded electrical components like ignitions, spark plugs, electric motors, etc. but obviously works on anything wet.

I have built, raced, and maintained cars, motorcycles, and bicycles for over 25 years, and have used WD-40 since I was old enough to turn a wrench. I can assure you it is a lubricant, it protects well, and performs well in many different applications considering its light film.

Don't use it for a chain lube though!!!
Hell, I use nothing but WD40, spray it on once a fortnight or so, including the derailuers, spary the day following a wet ride. Does a great job.

Once a month a small squirt in the cable guidses and the Rapid Fire shifters.

Work a treat, smooth silent shifting, quiet chain.
Thanks for the info jhw. I could never get WD-40 to last two weeks, but you have been able to do so. It works fantastic for cables. I love WD-40!!! Maybe they could send me a check for all the free plugs I've given them here!!!