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How To :: Clean a Chain PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Jimmy Schrage   
Thursday, 08 October 2009 17:24

How To :: Clean a Chain

The purpose of this is to show cleaning and lubing of the chain. It is recommended that this be done every 500 miles. But if you ride in a particularly wet or dirty environment, you may need to do this more often.
Tools needed:

  • chain cleaner (this can come in various forms)
  • rag
  • brush (optional)
  • chain lube (this can come in various forms)
  • rear stand (optional)

In case you haven't noticed, chains will be one of the parts of your bike that will get very dirty. If uncleaned, that dirt will eventually penetrate your chain's o-rings and wear your chain prematurely.

Place the bike on a rear stand. If you do not have a rear stand, you'll have to clean and lube the chain in sections by rolling the bike forward or backward.
Clean the chain with the chain cleaner of your choice. Here are some popular chain cleaners:

  • kerosene - usually obtained at most paint or hardware stores
  • Simple Green
  • WD-40*
  • Motorex 411 Chain Cleaner
  • Motul Chain Clean

webBikeWorld did a comparison of kerosene, Motorex, and Motul (clicky-clicky).


* A note about WD-40: Many have used WD-40 and have had no problems. Personally, I do not recommend WD-40 because its an excellent solvent. Chains have lubricant trapped within the o-rings. The solvent properties of WD-40 penetrate o-rings and dissolve the lubricant in the o-rings. I've seen my o-rings fall apart fairly quickly using this product to clean my chain. In an extreme situation, WD-40 has been known to destroy bearings (clicky-clicky, source).
Apply the chain cleaner to the chain. Some chain cleaners will remove dirt with the spray application. Others will require dirt to be removed with a rag after spray application.



Some people also use some kind of brush to further remove dirt such as a toothbrush or a Grunge Brush. If you use a brush, do NOT use one with metal bristles as those will easily destroy your o-rings.
Its important to clean the chain because if you don't, chain lube will stick to the dirt on the chain rather than the chain itself. Not only will the chain not get the lubrication it needs but it will also easily fling off as the wheel rotates.


Now that your chain is clean, its now time to lube. There are many chain lubes on the market. Some popular ones are:

** A note about SAE-80/90 gear oil. This is the chain lube that is recommended in your owner's manual. This will work great but it applies onto the chain wet (as compared to the other examples listed above). This has two drawbacks, 1) it will fling easily and 2) it will be a magnet for dirt and dust.
[optional] At this point, some will ride the bike for a short distance to heat the chain. This allows the chain lube to stick to the chain easier.
Apply chain lube to your chain on the rollers that make contact with the sprockets.



You're done. Get out and ride.

Last Updated on Thursday, 08 October 2009 17:35
 







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