removing chain to clean

Discussion in 'Cycling Equipment' started by Straitsfan, Jul 28, 2014.

  1. Straitsfan

    Straitsfan New Member

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    Have a cannondale M400. I clean it once every week or two weeks with simple green; works real well, but when I clean the chain all the dirty fluid, etc drips on to the rear fork and wheel rim. I was thinking about removing the chain and soaking it, and reduce the overall mess; but is it a good idea to remove the chain when I do this (will it wear it out the master link, etc) or better to leave it on and just deal with the mess? I can buy a chain tool from my local bike shop. Just wondering.
     
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  2. alfeng

    alfeng Well-Known Member

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    FWIW. Regardless of ANYTHING else, you should OWN a chain tool ... BTW. Why don't you just remove the rear wheel from your bike + cover the rear stay when you clean the chain?
     
  3. Straitsfan

    Straitsfan New Member

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    DOH! I guess I could do that. [​IMG] But I thought also that maybe it could get cleaner if it were off. I get nervous about removing the rear just because it might throw the gears out of whack or something like that. I just thought that if I only removed the chain it would save time and require less disassembly as well.


    But back to my original questions -- is it a good idea to take the remove the chain that often?
     
  4. AyeYo

    AyeYo Member

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    I don't remove chains to clean because it's totally impractical and a bad idea with Shimano press fit pin style chains. Dirty crap all over the bike is an easy fix. Just clean the chain and cassette first, then wash the bike last.

    This also makes the job much easier and does a great job cleaning the chain without removing it:

    http://www.parktool.com/product/chain-gang-cleaning-system-CG-2-2
     
  5. Aushiker

    Aushiker New Member

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    This is my approach as well. I have detailed here in a blog post. Andrew
     
  6. ambal

    ambal Active Member

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    I wouldn't be breaking a shimano chain and trusting it again anytime soon. Most of the time you can clean them pretty well with a rag, some degreaser by simply spinning the pedals backwards. I've done it this way for about 25 years and always have an awesome clean chain.

    Its usually clean enough to eat off. [​IMG]
     
  7. CAMPYBOB

    CAMPYBOB Well-Known Member

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    Add me to the Park Tool chain cleaner user list.

    It's fast, easy to use and my chain is spotless and shiny (temporarily at least for a few miles!) when I'm done.

    After the chain/cassette/crankset cleaning and wiping down I then detail clean the rest of the bike. The last step is re-lubricating the drive train.
     
  8. AyeYo

    AyeYo Member

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    Why do you say that? You have to break even a new chain to size it for the bike on the initial install. I wouldn't break it to remove just to clean, because eventually the entire chain will be link pins, but a chain pinned in a few places should be no less reliable than a new chain.
     
  9. dhk2

    dhk2 Active Member

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    I'd say never remove a chain to soak it in solvent. In fact, I think most chain cleaning is just a waste of time, and done for cosmetic reasons. Why would cleaning the oil off the outside of a chain have anything to do with how well it shifts or how long it lasts? Wiping down with a rag after the ride will remove any excessive oil or gunk from the sideplates, but it's not really hurting anything there. To me, a chain that looks "as clean as new" needs oil: a chain that's gleaming and black with fresh oil is a healthy chain.

    After riding in a rain shower or in dusty conditions I have had grit get into the sideplates of the chain. I've found that wiping the chain with a rag, then re-oiling the chain (one drop per bushing) will flush the grit out. Doesn't happen instantly, but in the first few minutes as the bike is ridden.

    But everyone is different. If someone really enjoys the look of a clean chain and drivetrain and bike, go ahead and clean it. Just be aware that degreasers can be corrosive. If you decide to use them, rinse and dry everywhere thoroughly......there are lots of places on the bike where steel fasteners are threaded into alloy parts.
     
  10. AyeYo

    AyeYo Member

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    The problem is that that black stuff all over the chain isn't oil, it's dirt/sand/grim/crap caked in oil. That stuff wears out the chain and cassette. The oil isn't just there to make stuff slippery, it also keeps stuff clean by suspending all that crap. If you don't wash it off, it builds up and causes excess wear and ruins the lubricating properties of the oil - that's where the negative impact on shifting comes in. It's like never doing an oil change on your car and saying that as long as there's oil in it you're good to go.
     
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  11. dhk2

    dhk2 Active Member

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    Agree the oil will "suspend all that crap". But rather than "wash it off", I just relube and let the fresh Prolink flush out the old oil and any gunk suspended with it. Then after the first ride or two with fresh oil, if the chain looks especially black, I'll wipe it down with a rag.

    But I don't ride on dirt or sandy roads, and avoid rain. I did notice that riding in NM and CO a few years ago the chain was really gritty when I got back. After a week of riding out West, I did pull out the little chain-cleaner machine and citrus degreaser to quickly flush out all the grit that was in the sideplates making noise. Maybe if I rode in those conditions all the time I'd resort to cleaning rather than just re-oiling.

    Comparing this to your car could be a good analogy, but only if you were willing to flush some oil and add fresh every week like I do my bike chain. What if you were to drain out say a cup of your motor oil weekly, and replace it with a cup of fresh oil? I'll bet you'd never have to change oil and your engine would be fine. You'd go through 12 quarts of oil a year, and might strip the drain plug, but I bet it would keep the oil fresh and clean. Of course it's a lot easier to just drain the oil on an annual or 10,000 mile basis, or whatever interval the manual says.

    Hey, I don't expect to change anyone's sacred rituals. But I've found that my chain seems to last as long or longer than my riding buddies without all the cleaning. I don't have any problems with shifting or noise, and get about 5000 miles on the chain before the 0.75% wear mark (I keep records). Actually I should do an experiment starting with a new chain, cleaning it with the chain machine and citrus degreaser before each relube, and see if that extends the life of the chain at all. But that sounds like too much work: I'd probably give up after a month or two......and revert to my old slovenly habits. Besides, I need some use for the more-or-less steady output of holy underwear I generate.
     
  12. mpre53

    mpre53 Well-Known Member

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    Another vote for the Park Tool chain cleaner. I fill it to the line with odorless mineral spirits. Put the chain on the small/small gear combo, and back pedal the chain through several times. I do it on the bike rack on my wife's car. Wipe it down, then I pull the back wheel, remove the cassette, and clean that. Clean the jockey pulleys on the derailleur, too. Put everything back together, fresh chain lube, let it sit 10-15 minutes while a crack open a beer. Maybe 2 beers. Then wipe off the excess lube.

    I know what Sheldon Brown said about the proper way to clean a chain, link by link. Who has the time for that? [​IMG]
     
  13. Froze

    Froze Well-Known Member

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    No reason to remove the chain, the Park chain cleaning machine does a great job of cleaning the chain. If the chain is too dirty and your using the Park machine you may have to clean out the dirty solvent and clean the machine and refill and re-clean the chain a second time.

    If you decide to use one of these machines, I hate to sound like Mr Obvious, but do not clean the chain over the carpet in your living room! Go to your garage and spread some absorbent cloths down and do it there. Also take your time spinning the crank, if you go to fast it will fly off the chain and onto whatever is in a 2 foot or so area of your bike including onto your bike.
     
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