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How do you clean/lube your chain?

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9/8/2020 12:38 AM

Just wanted to see what you guys prefer to do when prepping your chain? I’ve been hitting mine with brake cleaner and a toothbrush, then using a DuPont spray wax with Teflon. Seems to work okay without attracting too much dirt and dust, but curious to see what others do

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9/8/2020 3:21 AM

Brake cleaner might be too aggressive for my taste. I hit my chain with a regular household degreaser that I put in a muc off bottle so that it sprays out like a foam instead of an actual liquid and in my experience this works way better and uses less liquid. Then after that has been sitting for a few minutes I brush it down with a chain cleaning brush with some long bristles to really get in there. Afterwards I clean the derailleur rollers and cassette and if the chain is really dirty repeat it once more just for the heck of it. I then wash it down with the hose and dry it with a rag. I also let the bike sit in the sun for maybe 30mins to 1h to really dry out the chain before putting on the lube which is always a dry lube even in the winter when it’s muddy because it’s way easier to clean the drivetrain that way. Then wipe off the excess after a few minutes and you’re good. But I’m a little overkill I think.

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9/8/2020 2:31 PM

Shower cap over rear disc/caliper

Spray cassette with degreaser (cheap automotive stuff in aerosol)

Whip the park tool cyclone chain cleaner on with some more degreaser

whirr that bad boy around 20 odd times, rinse off with water.

For lube I really like the White Lightning "clean ride" wax.

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9/8/2020 7:04 PM

Rinse with a hose after every ride, hit it with Rock N Roll Gold the next morning (or before the next ride) and wipe with a rag (Blue when it's wet/sloppy).

Remove cassette and chain and soak overnight in mineral spirits every 2-3 months, scrub well with a dish brush, rinse with water and let dry. Lube with Rock N Roll once dry.

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9/9/2020 1:26 AM

Dave Rome at Cycling Tips has done a bunch of really interesting articles on this topic for road bikes, that basically go from leaning with a rag and re-greasing to using an ultra sonic cleaner and hot dip wax. Link: https://cyclingtips.com/2018/05/chain-cleaning-and-maintenance-how-to/

My personal choice is the below, copy/pasted from the article linked above:

"As long as your chain isn’t terribly dirty to begin with, washing it on the bike can yield excellent results. Requiring both degreaser and water, this is best done outdoors.

Remove the rear wheel.
Take off the rear wheel and install a chain keeper in its place. This will allow more thorough cassette cleaning, while also limiting how much degreaser gets into your hub bearings and on braking surfaces.
Use a brush and degreaser to remove the gunk from the chainrings and derailleur pulley wheels.
Brush degreaser onto the chain, backpedaling the chain through the brush at various angles.
Brush degreaser onto the cassette sprockets; a larger brush will speed up the process.
Rinse off the cassette, chain, chainrings, and derailleur pulleys with a low-pressure stream of water. Avoid squirting water directly into any bearings.
Dry everything with a clean rag, and then set the bike aside to air dry further. Alternatively, use compressed air to speed up the process.
Remove chain keeper, reinstall rear wheel, and apply your lube of choice.
Apartment Tip: Use a self-service car wash if your bike is really grubby. It’s a washer on demand, with fluids collected and recycled.

Alternative: Use a chain cleaning device instead of brushing degreaser on the chain. These use a number of rotating brushes that automatically scrub the chain’s inner links, outer links, and rollers. You can also use these to better contain the mess of washing, or as a final rinse by replacing the degreaser with water.
"

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9/9/2020 7:21 AM

Dawn dish soap and a park chain cleaner and clean your rotors or unfortunate shore birds at the same time. Rudes mechanics tip

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9/9/2020 9:49 AM

I just use a household plastic-bristled brush and the suds from my bike wash. I scrub by holding the brush on top of the chain where it leaves the cassette and pedal forward so the chain comes through the brush (bike on a stand, obviously.)
Then I dry my bike in the sun and spritz the chain with a motorcycle chain lube. That stuff is too heavy and definitely overkill for a bicycle chain, so I wipe a lot of excess off for a while.

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9/9/2020 10:37 AM

this varies widely based on how dry your climate is. my strategy probably doesn't work for somebody who lives in the PNWet. that said: modern chains come pre-impregnated with grease. you will never get lube back into the places that grease is once it is washed out. so, in order to preserve that grease, I only really lube the rollers, and i really only wipe the chain with a cloth to get dirt off, with maybe a little solvent sprayed only on the cloth to get dirt to break free easier. I have gotten much better chain life since i switched to this from aggressively de-greasing my chains.

Additionally, i find that synthetic lubes work worlds better than conventional ones. conventional lubes have to try to combine the lubricity of an oil, with the chain protection of a wax, using various combinations of those elements. Synthetics can use engineered formulas that can combine both properties into one substance, which, IMO, works better than conventional lubes ever can.

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9/9/2020 11:21 AM
Edited Date/Time: 9/9/2020 11:21 AM

groghunter wrote:

this varies widely based on how dry your climate is. my strategy probably doesn't work for somebody who lives in the PNWet. that said: modern chains come pre-impregnated with grease. you will never get lube back into the places that grease is once it is washed out. so, in order to preserve that grease, I only really lube the rollers, and i really only wipe the chain with a cloth to get dirt off, with maybe a little solvent sprayed only on the cloth to get dirt to break free easier. I have gotten much better chain life since i switched to this from aggressively de-greasing my chains.

Additionally, i find that synthetic lubes work worlds better than conventional ones. conventional lubes have to try to combine the lubricity of an oil, with the chain protection of a wax, using various combinations of those elements. Synthetics can use engineered formulas that can combine both properties into one substance, which, IMO, works better than conventional lubes ever can.

This is what I do as well, never run the chain through a cleaner or soak it in solvent. Wipe clean and lube. I'm a fan of Dumonde Tech lube.

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9/9/2020 11:21 AM
Edited Date/Time: 9/9/2020 11:23 AM

dolface wrote:

Rinse with a hose after every ride, hit it with Rock N Roll Gold the next morning (or before the next ride) and wipe with a rag (Blue when it's wet/sloppy).

Remove cassette and chain and soak overnight in mineral spirits every 2-3 months, scrub well with a dish brush, rinse with water and let dry. Lube with Rock N Roll once dry.

Talk about overkill for CA.

I wipe down the chain with a rag every week or so, some toothbrush action if there is more greasy crap on the plates. Dry lube applied to the rollers link by link so you're not wasting oil/ putting more stuff on the chain that will attract more dust. Wait for the solution of the dry lube to dry and then wipe the outside to remove any excess. Degreaser gets used maybe ever other month.

Also a quick wipe down/ scrub of the derailleur pulleys since those seem to love to collect dust/oil

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9/9/2020 11:26 AM

I don't ever clean mine and they seem to last a pretty long time. Just lube it every ride with tri-flow or similar, check with pedros checker and ride. The eagle gx chains last a really long time for me, and I pack them tight with mud 10 months of the year.

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9/9/2020 11:39 AM

NorCalNomad wrote:

Talk about overkill for CA.

I wipe down the chain with a rag every week or so, some toothbrush action if there is more greasy crap on the plates. Dry lube applied to the rollers link by link so you're not wasting oil/ putting more stuff on the chain that will attract more dust. Wait for the solution of the dry lube to dry and then wipe the outside to remove any excess. Degreaser gets used maybe ever other month.

Also a quick wipe down/ scrub of the derailleur pulleys since those seem to love to collect dust/oil

Probably, but I can't stand it when my chain makes any noise so I'm gonna keep doing it smile

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9/9/2020 12:25 PM

Squirt lube after every second ride or so. Never clean it. Stuff is awesome. No gunk buildup.

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9/9/2020 2:20 PM
Edited Date/Time: 9/10/2020 2:46 AM

Full degrease at new. Wax chain in a rice cooker with paraffin wax then lube with squirt every 4 or so rides until I can be bothered waxing again. The wax gets deep into the chain where the external application of squirt isn't very good at getting.

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9/9/2020 11:33 PM
Edited Date/Time: 9/9/2020 11:35 PM

jezken wrote:

Full degrease at new. Wax chain in a rice cooker with paraffin wax then lube with squirt every 4 or so rides until I can be bothered waxing again. The wax gets deep into the chain where the external application of squirt isn't very good at getting.

I recently just started doing this too but with a 1:10 ratio of teflon powder to paraffin. No need to use liquid chain lube after. Works great and lasts a long time even in the muddiest conditions. I'm surprised not many people do this. It's cheap and makes the drivetrain last ages longer.

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9/9/2020 11:49 PM

jezken wrote:

Full degrease at new. Wax chain in a rice cooker with paraffin wax then lube with squirt every 4 or so rides until I can be bothered waxing again. The wax gets deep into the chain where the external application of squirt isn't very good at getting.

_Lan wrote:

I recently just started doing this too but with a 1:10 ratio of teflon powder to paraffin. No need to use liquid chain lube after. Works great and lasts a long time even in the muddiest conditions. I'm surprised not many people do this. It's cheap and makes the drivetrain last ages longer.

@_Lan Nice one! I found the rice cooker on the side of the road so it was very economical. Parrafin wax is like $20AUD/kg. I also do it my road bike and it lasts a good 2-300kms without touching it and is supppppeeerr smooth.

I initially wasn't using the liquid chain lube on my MTB but just added it when it's close to requiring a fresh wax to stretch out interval. I have considered adding teflon but didn't want to add any more "forever" chemicals than needed. Did you try with and without? Notice any difference?

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9/9/2020 11:58 PM
Edited Date/Time: 9/9/2020 11:59 PM

jezken wrote:

Full degrease at new. Wax chain in a rice cooker with paraffin wax then lube with squirt every 4 or so rides until I can be bothered waxing again. The wax gets deep into the chain where the external application of squirt isn't very good at getting.

_Lan wrote:

I recently just started doing this too but with a 1:10 ratio of teflon powder to paraffin. No need to use liquid chain lube after. Works great and lasts a long time even in the muddiest conditions. I'm surprised not many people do this. It's cheap and makes the drivetrain last ages longer.

jezken wrote:

@_Lan Nice one! I found the rice cooker on the side of the road so it was very economical. Parrafin wax is like $20AUD/kg. I also do it my road bike and it lasts a good 2-300kms without touching it and is supppppeeerr smooth.

I initially wasn't using the liquid chain lube on my MTB but just added it when it's close to requiring a fresh wax to stretch out interval. I have considered adding teflon but didn't want to add any more "forever" chemicals than needed. Did you try with and without? Notice any difference?

I didn't try just paraffin so I can't compare. I came upon the concept watching oz cycling's videos on youtube.

Well, they say teflon is inert and the little amount that gets left in the environment from our biking probably doesn't compare to other contaminants like hydrocarbons or carbon fiber.

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9/10/2020 5:07 AM

I've followed the SickBiker setup and i'ts really golden for me.

Clean thoroughly, like take the chain out and cassete and thinner the thing until squeaky clean.
After I use Motul offroad chain lube (spray) and let it soak. The cassete gets a treatment with WD40, just a spray on a rag and the rag on the cassete.
The other day I pick the chain and apply the same wd40 on the outer links, removing the excess of lube and leaving a smidge of WD40. Before installing everything back in the bike, I use a clean rag to wipe everything down.

Since then, I've done this once a month. The good part is that it seems to be always clean (golden chain!) When it's muddy, a hose clears the mud away, and since the lube is not wax, it stay longer where it's important.

This way is way more involving, but I do this once a month, so to me it's easyer.

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9/10/2020 5:49 AM

Waxed all the way. I've been doing it for years. No mucking about between rides. Runs clean and smoothly with an application every 700km or so. Longer on my gravel bike that covers the most distance. Paraffin, teflon, and mos2 like most recipes call for. Its worked perfectly.

Btw 10:1 wax to teflon is way in excess of what's needed. I use significantly less (although i cant remember my ratios atm) and have never had an issue. Whilst that concentration isn't going to be doing harm, it is reducing the effective yield of your ingredients.

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9/12/2020 9:59 AM

Falcon wrote:

I just use a household plastic-bristled brush and the suds from my bike wash. I scrub by holding the brush on top of the chain where it leaves the cassette and pedal forward so the chain comes through the brush (bike on a stand, obviously.)
Then I dry my bike in the sun and spritz the chain with a motorcycle chain lube. That stuff is too heavy and definitely overkill for a bicycle chain, so I wipe a lot of excess off for a while.

When did it become normal to actually wash (w/ soap) ones bike? This seems so unnecessary.

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9/12/2020 10:07 AM

Skerby wrote:

I don't ever clean mine and they seem to last a pretty long time. Just lube it every ride with tri-flow or similar, check with pedros checker and ride. The eagle gx chains last a really long time for me, and I pack them tight with mud 10 months of the year.

I call BS. No chain “packed w/ mud for 10 mos out of the year” will work well if you just keep adding lube without cleaning. The lube pulls dirt into friction parts, wearing them down, accelerating wear. You either don’t ride much, your chains are stretched, your dirt is made of marshmallows and unicorns, or SRAM are somehow rewarding you. Your “method” for cleaning chains should not be a part of this thread.

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9/12/2020 10:19 AM

PNW.
Full clean w/ degreaser in an actual chain cleaner. Numerous water rinses until squeaky clean. Then air compressor dry, followed by Dumonde Tech to rollers. Cycle chain to spread lube to inner parts. Wipe off excess.
Interim: wipe off dirt/gunk w/ rag, reapply lube. I don’t do this more than “in a pinch” to limit dirt in chain causing actually harm. Helps when chain starts to make noise if no time to do full clean.
After mud rides, hose clean while cycling chain. Rag wipe clean. Compressor dry while wiping. Relube rollers.

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9/12/2020 10:49 AM

Just found a slow cooker by the side of the road and picked up some paraffin, going to give that method a try!

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9/12/2020 10:52 AM

I don't clean mine that often, because I ride in pretty dry conditions for the most part. I will usually just hit every pin with a couple of drops of lube, then take a rag and run it over the chain to wick up the excess. When I do clean it, I'll do it with Simple Green.

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9/12/2020 2:16 PM

dolface wrote:

Just found a slow cooker by the side of the road and picked up some paraffin, going to give that method a try!

Sweet! Make sure you degrease it well. A couple of rounds of a hard solvent. This will make sure the wax gets in and adheres.

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9/13/2020 5:41 PM
Edited Date/Time: 9/14/2020 6:15 AM

Darth_Sloth wrote:

Dave Rome at Cycling Tips has done a bunch of really interesting articles on this topic for road bikes, that basically go from leaning with a rag and re-greasing to using an ultra sonic cleaner and hot dip wax. Link: https://cyclingtips.com/2018/05/chain-cleaning-and-maintenance-how-to/

My personal choice is the below, copy/pasted from the article linked above:

"As long as your chain isn’t terribly dirty to begin with, washing it on the bike can yield excellent results. Requiring both degreaser and water, this is best done outdoors.

Remove the rear wheel.
Take off the rear wheel and install a chain keeper in its place. This will allow more thorough cassette cleaning, while also limiting how much degreaser gets into your hub bearings and on braking surfaces.
Use a brush and degreaser to remove the gunk from the chainrings and derailleur pulley wheels.
Brush degreaser onto the chain, backpedaling the chain through the brush at various angles.
Brush degreaser onto the cassette sprockets; a larger brush will speed up the process.
Rinse off the cassette, chain, chainrings, and derailleur pulleys with a low-pressure stream of water. Avoid squirting water directly into any bearings.
Dry everything with a clean rag, and then set the bike aside to air dry further. Alternatively, use compressed air to speed up the process.
Remove chain keeper, reinstall rear wheel, and apply your lube of choice.
Apartment Tip: Use a self-service car wash if your bike is really grubby. It’s a washer on demand, with fluids collected and recycled.

Alternative: Use a chain cleaning device instead of brushing degreaser on the chain. These use a number of rotating brushes that automatically scrub the chain’s inner links, outer links, and rollers. You can also use these to better contain the mess of washing, or as a final rinse by replacing the degreaser with water.
"

I too went deep down the rabbit hole of Dave Rome/zero friction cycling/friction facts/chain waxing articles a few months ago. After some contemplation I waded into the “better chain maintenance” waters with a feedback sports chain keeper in order to keep the degreaser out of my cassette/hub/pulley wheels. After a little bit more contemplation I went all in. I ended up with some molten speed wax, a $10 dual pot slow cooker off Facebook marketplace, some Smoove lube, an unltrasonic cleaner, mineral spirits (degreaser), methylated spirits (degreaser remover), and a few new chains to rotate.

I have problems but bike gear/tools isn’t one.

I stripped and hot waxed 4 chains for two bikes about 5 weeks ago and am still using the first two now almost completely unserviced. I live in the US north east and it’s been a very dry summer so that probably factors in to the lack of maintenance.

My wife didn’t want me hot waxing her chains so I used the Smoove on her chains bikes and they have needed a bit more maintenance in that time. All the chains are super quiet and appear very clean. I definitely won’t be going back to oil based lubes at least not for summer/dry riding.

I have a bike that I leave with a friend in SoCal where my work’s home office is and I plan to hot wax the chain for that bike too (whenever traveling for work is a thing again). I doubt I will have to relube that bike more than once a year.

I would say the effort to prep the chain in the beginning seems to even out pretty quickly.

Edit: formatting

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9/13/2020 10:53 PM
Edited Date/Time: 9/13/2020 11:03 PM

An update: despite the strictest adherents (myself included) using ultrasonic cleaners in the wax prep cleaning process, they are not necessary at all. All you need is a couple of old pots, some cheap solvents, some teflon and paraffin (both sfa on ebay). For prewax degreasing, I used dish soap in a hot water (third) pot.

As everyone has mentioned the majority of effort involved is in the cleaning and degreasing of the chain and that's something everyone should be doing anyway. I'm sure a thorough off bike clean and deg would benefit conventional lube users too.

The wax method is so effective I use it on my garage door chain and mx bike. The latter allows me to use much cheaper plain chains than the o ring chains most guys run. I'm about to use wax on a moving roof project to ensure the chain drive never needs any maintenance in their lifetime.

I've also made up some ice cube molded blocks of wax lube that I use in heaps of places around the house and farm. You would be surprised how many places benefit from an application of a good quality dry lube.

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9/14/2020 11:59 AM

I wash my whole bike including drivetrain after every ride like this:
-Open Beer
-Drink a sip of beer
-Rinse bike with water
-Drink a sip of beer
-Spray Muc-Off on bike
-Drink a sip of beer
-Brush whole bike with brush
-Drink a sip of beer
-Rinse off bike with water
-Drink a sip of beer
-Bounce bike hard on gronud 4-5 times to get water off
-Drink a sip of beer
-Dry whole bike with old towel
-Drink a sip of beer
-Apply Rock"n"Roll Gold on chain
-Finish beer
-Dry off excess lube with rag
-Hang bike on it's place in my hallway.

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