Proper chain cleaning



dr427

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Aug 10, 2010
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I have really enjoyed Rock n Roll lube for this past season. I have only tried the Extreme so far. Rock"N"Roll Lubrication - Products - Bicycle Lube

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billydonn

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Jul 19, 2008
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You are all sadly misguided in this matter. Fresh, warm bacon fat is the only proper chain lube! This MUST be applied with the fat between 110 and 123 degrees F and from the front of the chain to the back with a clean mascara brush.... or you will have chronic chain reflux and cassette whurr.

Do not even think about using beef or chicken fat. It must be pork. I have found that maple cured bacon is the best for maximal chain longevity. Wipe off the excess fat with the fur of a freshly squashed possum, preferably roadkill.
 

6fhscjess

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Aug 7, 2003
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gman0482 said:
I use Tri-Flow, and I put a small drop into every ring. Then I spin the the pedals around a bunch of times quickly, and then hold a rag to the bottom of the chain while slowly spinning the pedals to get any extra dripping lube off.

Is that ok or bad ?

Wipe off the whole chain after not just the bottom. You don't need any lube on the outside of the chain. Also wipe off the chain after each ride.
I used Pro-Link for a long time and was very pleased with it but recently I switched to Chain L #5 and so far I like it even better.
 

64Paramount

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Jul 25, 2009
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6fhscjess said:
Wipe off the whole chain after not just the bottom. You don't need any lube on the outside of the chain. Also wipe off the chain after each ride.
I used Pro-Link for a long time and was very pleased with it but recently I switched to Chain L #5 and so far I like it even better.

What do you like better about Chain L #5 over ProLink?

I've just been using ProLink for a few weeks and I like it because it does not seem to attract dirt like some lubes I have used, but I do have to re-lube the chain every week and other lubes I have used in the past did not require such a frequent application.

Not that lubing the chain every week is such a bad thing, it doesn't take long and I do tend to inspect my bike a little closer when I have it on the stand doing the lube.
 

dhk2

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Aug 8, 2006
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I like Prolink as well. I tend to relube about every 100-150 miles or so, which is usually about a week. The chain starts sounding a little noisy when the bike is on the stand; that's when I relube. A buddy here only relubes every 300-400 miles with Prolink and his chains seem to hold up fine.

I don't know what optimal lube schedule is, but even using it weekly, my 4 oz bottle of Prolink lasts over a year (one drop per bushing). It's cheap enough that I figure more often is better....plus, I like to see that black oil on the outside of the chain and cassette :)
 

robby123456

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Sep 9, 2009
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Gatorade bottle - filled with water/simple green put chain inside...
shake,shake, let sit overnite, shake some more, rinse & dry
put chain back on & lube wipe down go ride ! Tip: It does not have to sit overnight ...try mineral spirits instead of simple green
 

BHOFM

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Aug 8, 2010
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Mineral sprites, blow dry, 3n1 oil! Weekly!

You can put a piece of cardboard between the chain and the bike when you blow
it off, to keep the bike from getting really black!!
 

dhk2

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Aug 8, 2006
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BHOFM said:
Mineral sprites, blow dry, 3n1 oil! Weekly!

You can put a piece of cardboard between the chain and the bike when you blow
it off, to keep the bike from getting really black!!
Personally, I think that's a bad combination. Solvents aren't recommended by Shimano (at least the last HG-93 chain I bought stated that), plus the blow dry is likely to force dirt into the chain where you don't want it.

All this cleaning really isn't needed. I know we all have our rituals, but IMO constant heavy cleaning can detract from chain life and performance.
 

billydonn

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Jul 19, 2008
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dhk2 said:
Personally, I think that's a bad combination. Solvents aren't recommended by Shimano (at least the last HG-93 chain I bought stated that), plus the blow dry is likely to force dirt into the chain where you don't want it.

All this cleaning really isn't needed. I know we all have our rituals, but IMO constant heavy cleaning can detract from chain life and performance.

I'm going to agree with that. In my experience, wiping with a rag soaked in WD-40 to remove surface grime, followed by occasional re-oiling with chain lube of your choice (and wipedown) is more likely to lead to chain longevity than regular deep cleaning. Clean cassette cogs occasionally as needed.
 

davereo

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Jun 17, 2010
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dhk2 said:
Personally, I think that's a bad combination. Solvents aren't recommended by Shimano (at least the last HG-93 chain I bought stated that), plus the blow dry is likely to force dirt into the chain where you don't want it.

All this cleaning really isn't needed. I know we all have our rituals, but IMO constant heavy cleaning can detract from chain life and performance.
Compressed air and solvents will destroy your chain. I took a chain into work and used the safety clean parts washer to clean it. I used the tank on the day it was serviced so the solvent was not contaminated. Also in my infinite wisdom gave it a good blow dry with compressed air. The end result was a chain that had so much fine grit inbeded into it that it felt like sand was in between every link. No amount of lubricant could restore the chain. I now only use a shop towel that has been moistened with degreaser to wipe the chain off. I use finish line pro road lubricant. I followed the manufactures recommended initial application and now relube my chain whenever the black gloss begins to turn flat black. Chain tattoo washes off.:cool:
 

64Paramount

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Jul 25, 2009
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dhk2 said:
I like Prolink as well. I tend to relube about every 100-150 miles or so, which is usually about a week. The chain starts sounding a little noisy when the bike is on the stand; that's when I relube. A buddy here only relubes every 300-400 miles with Prolink and his chains seem to hold up fine.

I don't know what optimal lube schedule is, but even using it weekly, my 4 oz bottle of Prolink lasts over a year (one drop per bushing). It's cheap enough that I figure more often is better....plus, I like to see that black oil on the outside of the chain and cassette :)

I've been riding about 165 miles per week lately and I actually start hearing the chain squeaking around 200 miles (that's just an estimate...I haven't actually measured it to be exact). So, I just decided to make it a once a week ritual to re-lube with Prolink. When I used Triflow w/teflon I normally only lubed once a month.

But, like you said....a bottle of Prolink lasts the whole season, so I don't mind lubing once a week. And I do pay more attention to other bike maintenance areas when I have it on the repair stand, so that's another positive aspect for me.
 

Evilbofh

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Nov 26, 2009
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This is my 2 cents on how to maintain a chain properly.

I simply have several chain..

Once every 2 or 3 week (or after a longer ride in the wet) I remove the chain from the bike and drop it in a can filled with 60% kerosine and 40% good synthetic motor oil and leave it there until I need it...

The kerosine cleans and the motor oil lubricates.

About a day or 2 before I can to replace the chain I remove the chain from the oil mixture and let it hang dry and then wipe the chain down to remove excessive oil. (that is why I actually have 3 chains I swap between so I always have a dry chain ready to use, i.e. one on the bike one in the can and one hanging waiting for duty..)

Before I put the clean chain on I clean the cassette and the cranks well to remove all old oil and dirt residue.

My chains last a lot longer than just once chain which is only cleaned and lubed without replacement and most important my cassettes and crank ring last a lot longer too saving lots of money..

A badly cleaned/lubed chain can cost you 5-20% of your energy and worn out cassette and ring will make shifting a problem. and just ludricating the chain without cleaning will just cause a build up of dirt on the chain which acts like sandpaper...
 

6fhscjess

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Aug 7, 2003
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64Paramount said:
What do you like better about Chain L #5 over ProLink?

I've just been using ProLink for a few weeks and I like it because it does not seem to attract dirt like some lubes I have used, but I do have to re-lube the chain every week and other lubes I have used in the past did not require such a frequent application.

Not that lubing the chain every week is such a bad thing, it doesn't take long and I do tend to inspect my bike a little closer when I have it on the stand doing the lube.

I like prolink very much and it made my drivetrain a little more quiet but it does require more frequent application. So far with the ChainL it made the drivetrain more quiet and it requires less frequent application.
I have only been using it for about 3 weeks though with no additional application so time will tell if I stay with it or not. But so far so good.
 

dhk2

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Aug 8, 2006
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evilbofh, your chain ritual has to win the prize for the most time consuming and messiest one I've heard yet. Since I virtually never "clean" my chain, of course it sounds like a big waste of time, not to mention an environment disaster with all that solvent and oil. Maybe you ride in a very dirty or off-road conditions which necessitates all that constant cleaning.

When you say your chains, cassettes and rings last much longer than if you just had one chain and lubed it normally, it begs the obvious question....how long do they last and what criteria do you use for replacement?
 

billydonn

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Jul 19, 2008
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dhk2 said:
evilbofh, your chain ritual has to win the prize for the most time consuming and messiest one I've heard yet. Since I virtually never "clean" my chain, of course it sounds like a big waste of time, not to mention an environment disaster with all that solvent and oil. Maybe you ride in a very dirty or off-road conditions which necessitates all that constant cleaning.

When you say your chains, cassettes and rings last much longer than if you just had one chain and lubed it normally, it begs the obvious question....how long do they last and what criteria do you use for replacement?

Should we not expect three chains to last longer than one chain? But how much longer will his three chains last compared to three chains that are maintained normally and replaced before getting too stretched? The rotation idea does make some sense but in the long run things like cassettes just wear out and must be replaced. There's no escaping that.
 

Evilbofh

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Nov 26, 2009
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dhk2 said:
evilbofh, your chain ritual has to win the prize for the most time consuming and messiest one I've heard yet. Since I virtually never "clean" my chain, of course it sounds like a big waste of time, not to mention an environment disaster with all that solvent and oil. Maybe you ride in a very dirty or off-road conditions which necessitates all that constant cleaning.
Well the winters here are mixed rain and snow on a almost daily basis and the summers are just wet...
When you say your chains, cassettes and rings last much longer than if you just had one chain and lubed it normally, it begs the obvious question....how long do they last and what criteria do you use for replacement?

Well with my "ritual" I get about 8-10k km from my cassetes and crank rings and 3 chains which is about a year, without about 4-6K Kms if I am luck.. 3 chains are cheap compared to cassettes and rings..

If you live in dry clean climats then this is very overkill I agree but here in sweden it is almost a must, I am considering going over the in hub gears instead of deraillers to cut down on the maintenance. Shimano 8 speed alfine with STI shifters would be great....
 

dhk2

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Aug 8, 2006
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evilbofh, thanks for explaining. Your conditions there do sound much tougher on the drivetrain than what I encounter. I rarely ride in rain, but have found that the wet does have a way of getting crunchy grit on the chain. Just for comparison, I get 8-10k km on chains, and replace the cassette after two chains. Have replaced the chainrings once, at 30k km.

Also interesting, I rode with a guy last weekend who removes his chain about every 3 months to soak in automatic transmission fluid overnight. He says the ATF actually lasts for the entire period without additional lube.
 

BHOFM

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Aug 8, 2010
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The only proper way to clean a chain is to have the Pope clean it with Holy water
and then it has to be lubed with oil rendered from 13 humming birds by a witch
doctor and applied by three virgins who are then thrown in a volcano. This must
be done during a total eclipse of the sun. This must be done every thirteenth day.
 

alienator

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Jun 10, 2004
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BHOFM said:
The only proper way to clean a chain is to have the Pope clean it with Holy water
and then it has to be lubed with oil rendered from 13 humming birds by a witch
doctor and applied by three virgins who are then thrown in a volcano. This must
be done during a total eclipse of the sun. This must be done every thirteenth day.

I think that would soil the chain more than clean it. After all, the Pope was complicit in the tearing of little boys' backsides by priests.
 

hippie

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Sep 9, 2010
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I would think taking the chain off, & using a Ulta sonic parts washer with the proper fluid would clean the Chain the best.