Survey Inside: Its almost Spring. Here comes the 'How do I clean my drive-train..." threads. So, wha


New Member
Feb 16, 2012
In anticipation of threads that will be popping up asking how to clean a drive train, I wanted to see what the consensus is on the 'best' way to do it (Road bike only). It seems like every thread I have ever read argues to either:

  1. Only clean on bike with a toothbrush. rag, etc..., immediately re lube (Never use de-greaser)
  2. Remove drive train, let soak in a degreaser (Simple green, etc), then re-lube accordingly.
  3. Wipe with a degreaser for a surface cleaning, then re-lube accordingly.
  4. A combination of the above...

PS: I made a survey on survey monkey. feel free to vote, no sign in required:

So, What is the best method?

Many people advocate that placing your chain or other components in to a 32 oz bottle filled with simple green is a big no-no. By doing this, the lube that the manufacturer applied which is found nested in-between the components will be removed, which will shorten the life of the component.

Other say that only a simple wipe down of the chain with a rag, and using the old 'rag and credit card' trick between the cogs is sufficient, when coupled with a good lube and / protectant.

But what about those bikes that have tons of road grime on the chain and cogs? Is it time for a replacement?

I would like to know your recommendations. Is there any actual data that shows which is optimal? For god's sake, this is a bike chain, does it have to be this difficult? Are there more than one way to skin a cat? Perhaps all of these methods are fine...

And the survey:


Well-Known Member
Oct 3, 2006
Over the years I've used each of the methods you've listed and others like waxing the chain, overlubing and cleaning to flush out grit, the park chain cleaning tool with the rotary brushes and other approaches I can't even remember right now. But living in a wet sloppy climate in Seattle I keep it pretty simple these days. I lube my chain frequently, sometimes three or more times per week depending on how much it rains, if it's been real grimy and parts are caked with road grit I wipe as much of that off as I can but then I apply lube, spin the cranks for a minute or so then take a rag and thoroughly wipe down the chain, the derailleur pulleys, and the chainrings as best as I can access them on the bike. If it's been really nasty I pull off the rear wheel and floss the cogs and use a non oily rag to wipe down the brake tracks, rims, spokes and hubs.

The whole process including cleaning the bike itself and the brake blocks takes about ten to fifteen minutes unless I rode in the worst grimy conditions which is a light misty drizzle in a paceline where all the road grit gets kicked up but there's not enough actual rain to flush any of it off, yesterday was like that and the bike cleaning took almost an hour and led to a couple of new cable housings as my shift cable housings got grimed and shifting got sluggish.

No way I'm totally breaking down the chain every time I want to lube it or clean off some accumulated grime and with 10 speed chains they don't last long enough even if impeccably maintained to make the whole clean to a shine process worth the effort. I did a lot more of that with 6, 7, and 8 speed systems where you didn't need special connecting pins or connecting plates and chains lasted a long time if you maintained them carefully.

Is my method 'best'? Who knows, but it works for me and I get about a winter of near everyday riding in the rain and slop out of a 10 speed chain and a race season out of the chain on my race bike. Things shift just fine as long as I keep up with lubing especially after nasty weather riding and annual replacement of chains for the race, commute, or cyclocross bike seems reasonable though far more expensive than the old days when chains cost a lot less and lasted a lot longer. When I first moved to 10 speed systems I continued my older habits and did the whole remove and clean process on a regular basis but those chains didn't last any longer than the chains I just lube and clean right on the bike.



Well-Known Member
Jan 11, 2009
in the past petrol and nowadays park tool stuff, like a citrus cleaner, grease, lubricant