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Chain Maintenance

  • 01-02-2023 1:38pm
    Moderators, Politics Moderators Posts: 37,100 Mod ✭✭✭✭

    Just wondering, how do you all look after your chains?

    When cleaning, what do you use? How do you dry the chain to prevent any surface rust?

    What lube do you use and how much do you use?

    I tend to use Muc-Off ceramic dry lube usually but in really crappy weather I'll use their wet lube. I tend to apply a drop for every second roller before turning the crank to help spread the lube to the adjacent rollers.

    When washing the bike, I've found myself avoiding the likes of washing up liquid and using something like the Muc-Off bike cleaner. For all I know, this is just like Fairy liquid with a higher price! However, I tend not to use these cleaners on a chain, instead using a chain degreaser e.g. this from Halfords.

    After washing, I wipe the chain dry with some old non-fluffy clothing but I can't help feeling that there might be a better method. I do have a chain washing tool which I occasionally use but the need to make sure it is completely dry brings me back to my feeling that there must be a better way. More often, I'll clean light crap off by spraying the cassette & chain with a load of GT85 and using a cleaning brush.

    Just curious what approach you all follow, I guess.



  • Registered Users Posts: 7,669 ✭✭✭cletus

    I'll give this one a shot, considering I only did it yesterday.

    Normally I use a degreaser on the chain, but just generic degreaser from Lidl, or if I've been to Mr. Price recently, then Elbow Grease. Rinse it with soapy water, dry it off and relube. I use Muc Off dry lube, the one Aldi and Lidl sell on special offer. I used wet lube once, never again.

    If I take the chain off (a rare enough occurrence), then I'd pour some of the same degreaser into a container (roses box from Christmas is ideal), pop the chain in and agitate with a stuff brush.

    Rinse off the chain with water, and dry it. I have an air compressor, so I use the air gun to blow out water from between the links.

    Put the chain back on and relube

  • Registered Users Posts: 5,738 ✭✭✭fat bloke

    The last while I was using the Parktool chain cleaning gizmo and Parktool's own chain cleaner solution. It's awesome. You'd eat your dinner off the chain afterwards. I recently ran out of solution and I got a bottle of Morgan Blue, which I'd heard a lot about over the years, and it too is awesome. Spray on, agitate a bit, leave, wash off. Amazing how much crud it shifts.

    Afterwards I whizz the chain through an aul t-shirt or cloth to dry it, then I lash on a load of light penetrating spray 3in1 style oil, with the presumption that that drives the water out. - Might do that a couple of times, and crank it through a cloth again each time to remove excess oil and water. Then I'll apply a wet/dry lube as appropriate.

    As with all such things. Little and often is the best way rather than letting layers of crud build up. Having said that, I washed my Brompton for the first time in months and months of daily usage and I had let the chain and sprockets get awfully crusty, but the morgan blue brought it up minty fresh and snickering away nicely again.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,480 ✭✭✭hesker

    I don’t use any water based cleaner.

    Put in a closed container with something like diesel or home heating oil and give it a good shake. Leave to sit for a while. Take out and wipe clean with a rag.

    Repeat with a second container of clean diesel.

    Take out and wipe again and leave to dry for a few hours.

    Lubricate with Morgan blue dry wax.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,077 ✭✭✭Paddigol

    I clean my drivetrain pretty regularly so tend to go very easy on the oil/ lubrication. I try to use something that's relatively gentle to avoid a) a guilty conscience and b) running the risk of destroying bearings (although don't know if it makes much difference) - I'm using Decathlon's plant based cleaner (Plant-Based Bike Drivetrain Degreaser - Decathlon) and have to say, combined with the Fenwicks chain cleaning sponge (Chain Cleaning Sponge | Fenwicks Bike) it's as good as any product I've used. The Fenwicks yoke is also better than any of the hand-held plastic chain cleaning devices I've had. Quick, simple and cheap.

    I'll run the chain through a dry cloth after cleaning and rinsing, and then apply a conservative amount of WD40. Allow that to work its way in overnight and then apply a dry lube to the chain.

    I find the whole process very therapeutic and nothing beats the sound of a clean, lubricated drivetrain.

    As @fat bloke says, little and often is best.

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,669 ✭✭✭cletus

    WD-40 will work to displace moisture all right, but I prefer GT-85 (it's all about the smell 😀)

    How often would you do that hesker?

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  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Arts Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 47,449 CMod ✭✭✭✭magicbastarder

    i do similar to hesker, but usually petrol or white spirits. on the chain from the winter bike, you'd often see sand in the bottom of the container. maybe twice a year per chain?

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,480 ✭✭✭hesker

    Not half as often as I should 😀

    I have a few bikes and rotate them so only do the above when I start to feel embarrassed about the level of gunk. In between it’s clean off with a rag, couple of run throughs with a chain cleaner tool and wipe dry. Then apply the wax. I only recently switched to wax in a bottle and so far so good.

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,049 ✭✭✭Bambaata

    I use Rock n Roll Gold and Extreme lube. It cleans and lubes the chain. So after washing the bike or if the chain has been wet i dry it off with a rag, liberally apply, spin a few times and dry off. Great stuff for both cleaning and lubing!

  • Registered Users Posts: 11,694 ✭✭✭✭tomasrojo

    This seems preposterous, and I think it maybe only is adequate because my bikes either have a chain case or long mudflaps, but I just run the chain through a baby wipe (the non-plastic type) a few times, dry it with kitchen paper, and then apply a Finish Line lube of some kind. It seems to work just fine. I get a long time out of chains (change based on the 12" measurement rivet to rivet), and have the original chain rings and sprockets on the three bikes I typically use.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,588 ✭✭✭Large bottle small glass

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  • Registered Users Posts: 245 ✭✭Takca

    I use "Morgan Blue Chain Cleaner", I apply it to the chain with a small paint brush.

    I try not to be too liberal as its pretty good a dissolving grease fast and I'm pretty sure it would quickly damage any bearings it gets near. Once that's done I rinse, dry with a rag and then apply lube to chain while spinning the crank so a bit hits each link.

    I do this when ever the chain looks like it has too much gunk on it (probably not often enough). Between cleans I reapply lube as I feel its needed

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,588 ✭✭✭Large bottle small glass

    BTW you are probably running single speed chains which for lots of reasons (especially if in a bath and used with a front flap) are much more resilient to wear.

    I lube the chain on my fixed bike about once a year. Haven't even measured for wear in about 3 years, works away the finest

  • Registered Users Posts: 13,999 ✭✭✭✭ednwireland

    same as my seven speed . wouldn't dare not have a regular cleaning regime on my 10,11,12 speeds.

  • Registered Users Posts: 11,694 ✭✭✭✭tomasrojo

    Two single-speed chains, one eight-speed chain.

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,704 ✭✭✭G1032

    This looks interesting. Never heard of it before. A quick Google would suggest it's expensive. Where do you buy it?

  • Registered Users Posts: 12,863 ✭✭✭✭crosstownk

    I use a Park Tool chain cleaning thingy. I use an engine degreaser from the local motor factors - only €25 for 5 litres - lasts years and the chain comes up like brand new. I lube every roller as it's very unlikely that enough will transfer from one roller to another and make it's way down between the roller and the pin. Once every so often I'll remove the cassette and clean with the engine degreaser. The only thing with engine degreaser is that you need to be vigilant about keeping it away from anywhere that houses a bearing as it will remove grease almost instantly.

    I wash the bike with a bit of Fairy Liquid in a basin of warm water using cheap SuperValu sponges that cost less than €1 for five. I use cheap dish cloths for harder to reach areas. I've set of bike specific brushes for removing crud from in between rim brake calipers and for cleaning the cassette.

    I generally clean a bike once a week so I find using bike specific cleaners/degreasers to be very expensive - MucOff 750ml degreaser is €25 - same price as 5 litres of engine degreaser. Thankfully I can safely dispose of the degreaser in work.

    EDIT: The local motor factor is also a good place to buy a bag of rags - pieces of clothing cut to cloth/rag sizes. There'll be a couple of hundred in a bag for a reasonable price.

  • Registered Users Posts: 24,907 ✭✭✭✭Wishbone Ash

    Place chain in half liter plastic milk carton, quarter fill with kerosene and shake vigorously. Remove and dry off excess with rag.

    (I can't understand why people would use water to clean a chain).

    EDIT - should have said 1 liter carton (not half liter)

    Post edited by Wishbone Ash on

  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Arts Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 47,449 CMod ✭✭✭✭magicbastarder

    half liter plastic milk carton

    i find the 2L plastic bottles white spirits come in to be the job - the mouth is just about wide enough to get the chain back out.

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,669 ✭✭✭cletus

    Why not? It's used to clean lots of other things. It's a good solvent in and of itself, and once you remove water from the chain afterwards, there's no issue.

    I use clean water to rinse the chain after cleaning. I've used kerosene to clean car wheel bearings before, but I prefer to use a water based degreaser, so I'm not concerned about spilling it, storing it in containers, disposal etc.

    Post edited by cletus on

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,588 ✭✭✭Large bottle small glass

    I used that Extreme Rock n Roll for a few years, it was brilliant. Very clean, super durable etc. Best and most faff free product I ever used.

    Originally you couldn't get it shipped by air due to solvent in product but they changed formula; then it was worse than useless.

    Maybe I got the first batch and it's improved since. I'd say I bought it last in 2017/2018 or so

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  • Registered Users Posts: 24,907 ✭✭✭✭Wishbone Ash

    It may be used to clean lots of other things but usually not oily things. I'd hardly describe it as a solvent. Try cleaning a paint brush that has been used for hard gloss with water.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,480 ✭✭✭hesker

    Every solvent has its sphere of application and its properties can be modified by mixing with other materials such as a degreaser or other solvents. You wouldn’t use mineral spirits to remove water based paint from a paintbrush for example.

    If I didn’t have home heating oil to hand I’d probably use Cletus method. I’m only wondering about the disposal method which is worth checking up on.

    Edit: after a quick check it seems used degreaser should be collected and disposed of in a similar way to other household hazardous waste at a proper facility.

  • Registered Users Posts: 8,132 ✭✭✭07Lapierre

    I use this stuff...along with a brush and plenty of "Elbow Grease".

    On my commuter bike i clean it every week..only take a few minutes.

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,001 ✭✭✭DaveyDave

    My chain cleaning is as follows:

    Do it half as much as I should, spray on degreaser, agitate with my stiff cassette brush, rinse off, spray with bike cleaner, fill worn out chain cleaning tool with bike cleaner, run several more times with water. Dry with cloth, apply lube, crank pedals/gears a few times, dry excess.

    Only started using degreaser 4-5 years ago. It blew my mind that the grease literally rinsed off as it was being sprayed on. All those years of elbow grease when using standard bike cleaner on the drivetrain even with a chain cleaning tool...

  • Registered Users Posts: 9,103 ✭✭✭Macy0161

    Water seems to move some for me, even with a hose. I normally use one of those chain cleaner yolks, and then every few weeks a deeper clean with GT85. I also have that fenwicks sponge, although mine falling to bits at this stage. Old toothbrushes and/ or a lidl cleaning set. I use Dealz "no more dirty bikes" but I'd use washing up liquid if I didn't have it.

    Think my current wet lube is a zefal ceramic (and my dry lube). I'm probably not as fussy as I should be - they were probably the cheapest at the time!

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,669 ✭✭✭cletus

    Water is absolutely a solvent. But as I said, I use it mostly to remove the (water based) solvents I use to clean the chain. I use water based degreasers because I don't want to have to store up used kerosene/diesel/whatever in a container, then make a trip to the recycling centre to have to dispose of it.

    I suppose I'm just not sure why you can't understand people using water to clean a chain

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,077 ✭✭✭Paddigol

    Am I the only one who finds that as long as you keep your drivetrain clean, which lube/ oil you use and how much you apply is almost irrelevant? I couldn't bring myself (a non-racer) to spend big money on the fancy top-end lubes etc. The cynic in me thinks most of it is just marketing guff.

    Once you have a regular routine, it's a pretty quick and easy job to get chain and cassette sparkling. Yet to be convinced by the Wax Mafia (they haven't gone away you know)...

  • Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 23,873 Mod ✭✭✭✭CramCycle

    Wet Lube is a pain in the arse to be honest, it gunks up to much, I'd sooner throw fresh sunflower oil over it each time than use wet lube. I use dry lube, mixed wax or wax for my race bike although I haven't been arsed in a few months. I'd agree that the performance gains are so marginal that it is not worth it but the decrease in cleaning time and gunk in the system is. So it does matter but once you are not using wet lube, not that much. GT85 if you don't care about the cost or environment is great.

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,669 ✭✭✭cletus

    I've been thinking about this recently. GT85 claims environmentally friendly due to being CFC free, but I wonder if that's the only factor. Can anyone shed any further light?

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  • Registered Users Posts: 4,049 ✭✭✭Bambaata