Cleaning chains



Pendejo

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Apr 8, 2006
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I was curious as to how most of you clean your chains. I spray mine directly with a hose, and use a brush and cloth. I lube it after it dries. If there are better ways (without removing the chain), please advise.
 

PeterF

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Sep 13, 2004
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Pendejo said:
I was curious as to how most of you clean your chains. I spray mine directly with a hose, and use a brush and cloth. I lube it after it dries. If there are better ways (without removing the chain), please advise.
I use a connex link, so I'm a removal and soak in degreaser guy but.. Last year I bought some degreaser from Performance. It was a spray on type and it would form a nice gel coating on the chain. I would let it sit for an hour or so and rinse with a hose. It worked very well, but be careful not to spray it into hubs or bb.
 

Insight Driver

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Jun 26, 2003
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I use the Park chain cleaner and fill it with mineral spirits. I also use a toothbrush on the chain where the Park brushes didn't get to. Once I'm satisfied the chain is clean I'll wipe it dry. I let it dry in the sun. When I can run a white rag over the chain and it comes out clean, I know I have a dry chain. I then use Dumonde Tech lube (just because I got a free bottle of it). I lube the chain well, then wipe it with a clean towel. A towel will not get the oil out of the links where it needs to be, just off the surface of the plates where it doesn't want to be.

How often you clean your chain depends on how fast it gets gunked up. Keeping the chain clean can allow your drivetrain to last much longer than if you used a gritty, grimy chain until it wore all your cogs out.
 

jandbzpapa

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Nov 26, 2004
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i'm not sure why you don't want to remove chain. Get a SRAM it comes off and on soooo easy. Then I put the chain in a liter pop bottle with cleaning solution shake and let dry...very easy and works well :D
 

Insight Driver

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Jun 26, 2003
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jandbzpapa said:
i'm not sure why you don't want to remove chain. Get a SRAM it comes off and on soooo easy. Then I put the chain in a liter pop bottle with cleaning solution shake and let dry...very easy and works well :D
Because I'm cleaning the whole drivetrain with the same mineral spirits I put in the chain cleaner tool. If I took the chain off that would turn cleaning into two seperate operations. I don't see where any time would be saved, really.
 

Eastway82

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Apr 12, 2006
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Insight Driver said:
Because I'm cleaning the whole drivetrain with the same mineral spirits I put in the chain cleaner tool. If I took the chain off that would turn cleaning into two seperate operations. I don't see where any time would be saved, really.

Plus, Campagnolo chains are rivetted, so removing them every week's not really an option...
 

JohnO

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Jul 5, 2003
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I've had a removeable link on my Campy 10 chain for three years - no problems. Branford Bike sells them.

Use an ultrasonic cleaner for my chains, I had it for another hobby and found it works very well. The road bike chain really doesn't get much dirt, but you should see the piles of crud that get left behind when the mtb chain gets an hour in the cleaner. I bought my cleaner on ebay for $50, not much more than the Park cleaner sells for.

Only real thing to remember with the ultrasonic cleaners is that they strip out all of the lubricant as well, so a thorough relube is in order after a cleaning.
 

TooTall999

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Jun 9, 2003
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I use a connex link on my Rohloff chain on my road bike...then the pop bottle and mineral spirits to clean...let it dry and carefully lube with Amsoil synthetic bar and chain oil...wipe off the excess and you're good to go...
Same goes for my mountain bike
 

RickF

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Jul 27, 2005
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I use a slightly different twist of the pop bottle method. I use two parts mineral spirits to one part Mobile 1 synthetic motor oil to clean and lubricate in one step. After I remove the chain from the bottle, I cap the bottle and leave it undisturbed until the next time I clean the chain. All of the gunk that was removed from the chain settles on the bottom. The next time I clean the chain, I carefully decant the clear mineral spirits/oil mixture into a second bottle, and leave the gunk in the first bottle. I clean the chain in the second bottle, remove the chain, and dump the now dirty solution back into the original bottle and re-cap the bottle. I wipe the excess off of the chain with a clean rag, and reinstall the chain.

At some point, there will be so much gunk in the bottle that I will send the sludge and the first bottle to the toxic waste dump and add fresh mineral spirits/Mobile 1 to the second bottle to bring it back to one-half full. At that point, the "second" bottle becomes the new "first" bottle, and I will start a new "second" bottle.

I have not used this method long enough to say how well it works over the long run, but so far, the chain is clean and operates flawlessly.
 

capwater

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Sep 15, 2003
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Redneck chain cleaner: gasoline and cutoff Budweiser tall boy can always works for me.
 

John M

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Jun 21, 2005
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capwater said:
Redneck chain cleaner: gasoline and cutoff Budweiser tall boy can always works for me.

just watch out when lighting your Marlboros
 

bkaapcke

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May 3, 2006
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I spray some brakekleen into a ulility towel and grip the chain with it while rotating the crank. Repeat 3 times. Then I use ream 'n' kleen pipe cleaners to get between the links. Once around the chain. Then twice more with brakekleen and once with a dry towel. Clean the Idler wheels and gears as needed. Relube and go. Time spent: 10 minutes, and water never touched the chain. Didn't use much brakekleen either. bk
 

Mpc350

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Mar 14, 2006
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I've heard on a couple of occasions that a totally unlubricated chain will last as long as a well maintained chain. (not that I practice that advice) I used to do a lot of motorcycle riding, and there was the same rumor that a chain weather it is lubricated or not will get you around 20K miles.

I clean my chain every 3 or 4 rides with a chain cleaning tool (similar to the park one...I got it at supergo for like $7) using simple green as a degreaser. it works as well as mineral spirits and you can dump it without killing off the environment. Only took the chain off and used the 2liter bottle method a couple of times and wasnt that impressed. I'm not that worried about the small amount of grit that resides between the pins, really, it's not contacting the cogs or idler pulleys, and the sliding between the plates gets lubricated well. After "the treatment" I hose it off (simple green is water soluable) and let it dry in the sun for a couple of hours then lube it with Tri-Flow.

Works well for me. A chain is a consumable and I try not to go too hog wild over keeping it pristine. I wouldnt mind making my cogset and chainrings last a while, though.

Another thing I heard from the "BikeTalk" podcasts (anyone listen to those?) is that you should replace your chain every 6 months. I feel that's a little overkill. A decent chain is around $25. A decent cogset is around $30. And a new chainring is around $25. I cant see spending that kind of money replacing a chain often, to save parts that aren't that much more expensive. OK you people with Dura-Ace, or Record maybe can worry about it.

Ok, I ramble.
 

robbielg

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Mar 27, 2005
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Pendejo said:
I was curious as to how most of you clean your chains. I spray mine directly with a hose, and use a brush and cloth. I lube it after it dries. If there are better ways (without removing the chain), please advise.
All i need is a can of lube and a towel.

i spray mine directly with spray lubricant, then wipe with a towel. this cleans and lubricates the chain in one step. If you do this often you wont need to use degreaser or soap and water. Its best to start with a shiny new chain.

Ive found that a towel works better than a brush or cloth for me.

If I have the time i remove the rear wheel and fit a dummy axle(piece of pvc pipe attached to the rear dropouts in place of the rear hub with the quick release axle) for the chain to go over. then i place the bike on its rear stand and i can lubricate as much as i want without the oil making a mess on my cogs, and seeping into its internals and dissolving the grease.
 

chris927

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Jun 8, 2006
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capwater said:
Redneck chain cleaner: gasoline and cutoff Budweiser tall boy can always works for me.
I'm with capwater. Gasoline is cheap (used to be anyway) and reuseable. SRAM Powerlink for easy chain removal.
 

CUBE

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Jan 3, 2006
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i take off the chain, put it in a jar with some morgan blue biodegreaser. shake a few times and let it be for a day.

then I take it out and remove the remaining grease with a towel. Then I rins the chain with water. If I am in a hurry I let the chain dry in the oven (40 degrees celcius). Then relube.....good to go.
 

nmc01

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Jun 13, 2006
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definetly recomend a chain link. only costs about $10 and is very easy to take the chain on and off + makes a huge difference as to how much better you can clean the chain. i just dunk mine in a bottle of kerosine and shake it for a while then clean it in dishwashing liquid. looks brand new every time!
 

Roach11

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Jul 24, 2005
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I use WD40 and a paintbrush, just "paint" the chain and components and watch them become spotless. Rinse, let dry and re-lube. :rolleyes:
 

Dietmar

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Jun 9, 2006
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Mpc350 said:
Another thing I heard from the "BikeTalk" podcasts (anyone listen to those?) is that you should replace your chain every 6 months. I feel that's a little overkill.
I agree. In fact, that doesn't make any sense at all. Clearly, how often you need to replace your chain depends on how much you ride, first and foremost. Another big factor is how meticulously you keep your chain clean and lubricated, and whether or not you ride in the rain, or even off-road. I know of cases of people riding road bikes, in dry weather only, cleaning and lubricating the chain every couple of hundred miles, getting something like 10,000 miles (no, that's not a typo) out of a Shimano Dura-Ace chain. I know others who replace that chain every 2,000 miles or so.