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Finished cleaning mine and SWMBO's bikes and got to re-lubing the chain. Had dried the chain of and it was coming up spotless, added lube (Pedro's something or other) left it to cure/dry/set/evaporate/whatever for an hour or so then wiped the excess off....

Black as coal came the rag.

Hmmm...

Is it just a case of keep cleaning until it doesn't (ie is the lube just lifting the crap out of the depths of the links) or am I just not cleaning it properly (using Parks Chain cleaner thingy) to start with (in that case why was the rag clean after washing?!).

Cheers  1

30 comments

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Zermattjohn [272 posts] 2 months ago
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I'd expect it's the first option, that the new lube is cleaning the bits of the chain you didn't get done. If you've left it all winter (and it's been a long one) there's likely to be a lot of crap in there. What did you use when cleaning it? Did you pre-treat the chain or go straight ahead with soapy water? I'd recommend applying a degreaser to the chain first (and the cassette, jockey wheels and chainset), leaving that on for 5 mins or so, then hitting it with soap + water. The degreaser will get in to the chain links and pins better than water can. This vid might be helpful:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9V5nG9ut3rs

 

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StraelGuy [1440 posts] 2 months ago
1 like

Chain off via split link. Into click-top plastic container with a good slosh of white spirit. Drain. Repeat. Dry chain on radiator. Re-lube. Job done.

 

Lube will always come out black after use because of the microscopic particles of worn metal in it so there's no point pursuing an absolutely clean chain as it'll never happen.

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ChrisB200SX [769 posts] 2 months ago
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StraelGuy wrote:

Chain off via split link. Into click-top plastic container with a good slosh of white spirit. Drain. Repeat. Dry chain on radiator. Re-lube. Job done.

 

Lube will always come out black after use because of the microscopic particles of worn metal in it so there's no point pursuing an absolutely clean chain as it'll never happen.

^this, although, I use paraffin as a degreaser then rinse it off with methylated spirits. Also, I use an ultrasonic cleaner, which seems to work.

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matthewn5 [1201 posts] 2 months ago
1 like
StraelGuy wrote:

Chain off via split link. Into click-top plastic container with a good slosh of white spirit. Drain. Repeat. Dry chain on radiator. Re-lube. Job done.

Hmmm, ruined a good chain doing that. Best not overclean in my experience, only forces dirt further into the crevices. Wet lube/sewing machine oil and a rag. You need the deep-down proprietary lube to stay put.

But chain cleaning is one of the most divisive subjects out, so happy to differ!

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ktache [823 posts] 2 months ago
2 likes

Wipe the chain, wipe, wipe and wipe some more, wipe the jockeys, then the chain, floss the cassette, wipe the chain, wipe the chainrings, then floss with the hem of  the t shirt that you are wiping the chain with, then wipe the chain again.  Only then do I use the Park scrubber with the finish line old style citrus, then with hot water with washing up liquid , the 2 rinses with clean hot water.  Dry with a very clean t shirt, wait and dry some more, and again.  Lube, leave, wipe and repeat.

That's the Sram chains anyhow, the KMCs I'm using say no to the solvent and scrubber so even more wiping.

It's not that I'm obsessive or anything...

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jterrier [199 posts] 2 months ago
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If you are doing all that you are doing it wrong... As in, you are doing too much. Its pointless. Just give the chain a bit of a clean and get the excess off, but dont clean it so much that you actually strip all the lube out of the rollers. What's the point. If you want a real bling chain, get a new one. They are only a few quid.

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hawkinspeter [1983 posts] 2 months ago
6 likes

When a job's worth doing well, follow Sheldon Brown's advice: http://www.sheldonbrown.com/chainclean.html

 

 

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henryb [41 posts] 2 months ago
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Cleaning a Chain Cleaner

Perhaps this should be a separate thread, but does anyone have any tips for cleaning their chain cleaner? My Park Tools chain cleaner, after some years of use, is pretty manky, with the brushes largely gummed up with black gunk from the chain. All I use in it is a cheap "Halford's Citrus Degreaser" - should I try washing it through with white spirit or something, or will this dissolve the plastic bristles on the brushes?

Any tips?

thanks,

 

HB

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davel [2390 posts] 2 months ago
1 like
jterrier wrote:

If you are doing all that you are doing it wrong... As in, you are doing too much. Its pointless. Just give the chain a bit of a clean and get the excess off, but dont clean it so much that you actually strip all the lube out of the rollers. What's the point. If you want a real bling chain, get a new one. They are only a few quid.

This.

I've had one chain snap on me, ever, when I was trying to ride up some massive, sweeping steps in way too high a gear. It was a PITA, but kicking my bike, then kicking me, then whipping on a new link took me (I'm no mechanic) about 15 mins.

And in all the time I've saved via not splitting out the individual links, bathing them in unicorn milk and anointing them in myrrh, I invented the modern electric car and got North and South Korea talking again (and some other stuff).

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Yorkshire wallet [2046 posts] 2 months ago
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Last time I tried to clean a chain I used one of the Muc Off products and all it seemed to do was make a slightly cleaner but still dirty mess, Fenwicks didn't do much better.  

For pure laziness I either just don't bother cleaning or do what I saw on GCN once and just spray it liberally with WD40 or similar and wipe it down with a rag. I've lost all my bike pride as it's got scratches all over the extremities and my wife's dad used my bike as a joinery stand one day and scuffed the  hell out various bits of it. It's actually quite liberating to not care that much anymore.

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rjfrussell [480 posts] 2 months ago
1 like

enthusiastic rubbing with a wd40 impregnated rag, and then a dribble of lube seems to work ok.  I think the key is to do it regularly.  one winter i got very enthusiastic and gave the chain a quick clean literally after every ride-  difference between that and my usual slatternly approach was amazing. 

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TheScotsman [36 posts] 2 months ago
1 like

Here's my routine (usually done once a week, or after any wet, mucky ride):

  1. Clean the chain with baby wipes - they remove crud, oil and grease like it wasn't there.
  2. Lube chain.
  3. Wipe chain with an old rag to remove excess lube.

 

Job done!

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BBB [479 posts] 2 months ago
2 likes

Procedure for cleaning a parrafin waxed chain (which never gets very dirty to begin with)

Agigate it for 30 seconds under very hot running water. No mess and no chemicals involved.

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JimD666 [74 posts] 2 months ago
0 likes

Cheers all, I'm not exactly a neat freak but getting chain oil on the inside calf after just washing it was getting annoying  1

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ktache [823 posts] 2 months ago
0 likes
henryb wrote:

Cleaning a Chain Cleaner

Perhaps this should be a separate thread, but does anyone have any tips for cleaning their chain cleaner? My Park Tools chain cleaner, after some years of use, is pretty manky, with the brushes largely gummed up with black gunk from the chain. All I use in it is a cheap "Halford's Citrus Degreaser" - should I try washing it through with white spirit or something, or will this dissolve the plastic bristles on the brushes?

Any tips?

thanks,

 

HB

You can buy fresh brushes and sponges.  When I have used the scrubber I give the brushes a good squirt of foaming washing up spray (Method, now Waitroses own but the fairy stuff seems good too) let it sit for a while then fill with hot water, soak, then rinse well.  Makes the brushes last longer.

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madcarew [741 posts] 2 months ago
2 likes
ktache wrote:

Wipe the chain, wipe, wipe and wipe some more, wipe the jockeys, then the chain, floss the cassette, wipe the chain, wipe the chainrings, then floss with the hem of  the t shirt that you are wiping the chain with, then wipe the chain again.  Only then do I use the Park scrubber with the finish line old style citrus, then with hot water with washing up liquid , the 2 rinses with clean hot water.  Dry with a very clean t shirt, wait and dry some more, and again.  Lube, leave, wipe and repeat.

That's the Sram chains anyhow, the KMCs I'm using say no to the solvent and scrubber so even more wiping.

It's not that I'm obsessive or anything...

Said with a Yoda or Mr Miyagi accent, this is gold; and the best life advice you'll ever get  1

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madcarew [741 posts] 2 months ago
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If your chain is relatively new (+/- 1000 km) then just wipe the outside with a rag bathed in some cleaner of some type, then add a little new oil. Your rag will never come away clean, but you won't be washing all the shop grease out from between the rollers. There's porbably fair debate as to whether there's any point cleaning it at this stage.

If you've left it some time then take the chain & cassette off (It's not a good idea to use degreasers etc on the bike, as it can get in to your hub body and derailleur pivots etc) and bathe in (an oil) solvent of some type. It really doesn't matter what type. Personally I use diesel because it leaves an oily film after the solvents have evaporated. Rinse and repeat a couple of times.

Hang up to drip dry (wiping is kind of pointless as it leaves solvent in all the important places, which then degrades your freshly applied oil) put back on bike and apply copious amounts of new oil (the thicker the better really). Then wipe off the excess until your rag does come away (nearly) clean. This is how I treat a race chain, because it looks really good and is silky smooth.

However, on chains that get really dirty a lot, I think this is all kind of pointless, so I just spray with WD40) and ride.  In wet weather I won't wipe off the excess, in dry weather I will.

What is really really important though, now in the days of fixed pins in the chains, put your chain back on the same way round as you took it off so the pins continue to wear on the same side, or your chain is far more likely to snap.

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sergius [548 posts] 2 months ago
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Use wax based lubes instead of oil... I degrease a new chain thoroughly first and then just use wax.

 

You merely need to rub off the old wax every couple of week (~5 minutes) and liberally re-apply.  No black chains in sight.

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mike the bike [1080 posts] 2 months ago
1 like

 

Ever ready to reduce the amount of work I do, I religiously follow KMC's instructions for chain maintenance.  As the world's biggest chain maker they should know a thing or two and they recommend we never use a bath or solvents.  It will remove lube from inside the rollers, they say, and there is no way to reliably replace it.  I believe them, and only partly because I am lazy.

So, in common with several others here, I wipe and wipe again then add a drop of wax-based lube to each roller and it seems to work. 

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NorthEastJimmy [123 posts] 2 months ago
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The biggest difference to my chain cleaning routine is to use a tampico brush (natural horse hair).  The dirty oil comes off the brush after every dip into hot water and will last a long time.  This means your not applying dirt back onto the chain with each scrub.  Saves using lots of different rags too! 

Also a chain keeper wheel so you can take the rear wheel off and still be able to turn the chain around as if the cassette was still there.  These two things mean I can get a much cleaner chain for much less effort.

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risoto [72 posts] 2 months ago
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I always felt I doubted the endless cleaning of the drivetrain you see recommended on youtube (eg GCN). Then I needed to replace a chain for the first time in probably 25 years - I started riding again a couple of years ago.

New to me was master links and KMC chains. I researched them and they don't recommend using any kind of degreaser. Just a rag to clean and lube. I have not doubt that some degreaser will be left inside the chain defying the purpose of applying the fresh lube. The pro peloton mechanics do it every day but I bet they change the chains quite often and probaly several times during a grand tour for example. I am not sure that is relevant for non-pros or recreational riders.

Degreasing your chain a couple of times a week is a lot of work, a very messy work also. With my new chain, I put some bio degreaser on a rag to clean the sides of the chain. Then a nail brush to 'clean' the rollers without any liquid, just to get the dirt off them. Then I lube with the fantastic oil I just started using: Dynamic. It has won several tests. My drivechain has never felt as smoth. In my experince Muc off is more like a Rip off (as are other highly 'promoted' oils).

Even tried WD40 - it's fantastic and so easy. Just spray it on holding a rag beneath the chain while turn it backwards. Let it sit for couple of minutes and then use the oiled rag to wipe the chain clean.

I am still undecided between Dynamic and WD-40. Next test will to wipe the chain clean with WD-40 and apply the Dynamic lube. I feel the chain runs smoother with Dynamic while WD-40 isn't bad at all.

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Mungecrundle [973 posts] 2 months ago
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You can only properly clean a chain by taking it off. Invest in some quick links (not really necessary to use a new one every time in my experience) and a quick link tool and the job is a doddle.

Wipe the chain thoroughly with an old rag then marinade on the stove in some cheap engine oil, or even cooking oil. Do not allow to burn / catch fire! It only needs to be warm and using the stove annoys the Mrs but using the new kitchen pans is pushing your luck, again in my experience.

Scrub the chain with an old toothbrush in the warm oil. Remove chain, wipe the surface. Seal in a plastic bag until the day before you want to use the bike again. Meanwhile consider removing and disassembling the cassette and derailleur for a proper clean.

Refit everything the day before you use the bike again, wipe again and apply chain lubricant of choice. I now use Wurth motorcycle chain wax.

Do not ever use white spirit, petrol, engine degreaser or even WD40, they simply dissolve lubricant out of the links where it is needed.

Lastly, just replace a winter used chain in the Spring, they don't cost much.

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MariaMartinez [16 posts] 1 month ago
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1/  super lazy way (time required 30secs)

simply spray on WD40 and wipe with rag and repeat. WD40 is oil and degreaser combination which rates ok in Friction Facts test and great if you are lazy like me. Downside is you have to do this almost every ride. 

2/ Easy way (time required 5mins)

Use a chain cleaner whilst chain is on bike with degreaser (or alcohol or diesel if you dont have degreaser); then soapy water; (optionally repeat) and then allow to dry then lube of choice. If you don't have a chain cleaner, take off rear wheel and use a chain keeper whilst cleaning.

3/ Thorough way (time required 30mins)

Take chain off using quick link, agigate in degreaser (eg in old water bottle) and repeat 3x, rinse with clean alcohol or spirits then use soapy water (not washing up liquid!) then dry. Then lightly lube rollers (not to excess)

4/ Super-thorough way (time required 1hr)

Take chain off using quick link, bath in degreaser (eg in old water bottle) and repeat 3 or more times, rinse with cellulose thinner (briefly!) then clean alcohol then do ultrasonic bath with either alchohol or water  then dry. Then do immersion wax bath in wax heather which will do deep into links (molton speed wax is a fav but plain parafin wax is fine or some ready made tubs of chain wax from usa). ...this will keep the chain dirt resistant for about 500km and save about 5w over regular chain lube.

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CXR94Di2 [2110 posts] 1 month ago
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chain cleaning and re lube can be done in 10mins with the correct tool, an ultrasonic bath. drop removed chain in degreaser, ultrasonic clean whilst in degreaser will remove all oils and road contaminants. place chain in water, repeat ultrasonic clean. Clean with rag and spray chain with solvent evaporation grease/light oil. job done. Took longer to write.  1

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SpikeBike [96 posts] 1 month ago
2 likes

Quick method = take chain off, burn it, put new chain on

Long method = take chain off, burn it, Bury it, afix lolly stick crifix, put new chain on

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risoto [72 posts] 2 weeks ago
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Just found the perfect method and it's very 'clean' and 'green'. Purchased a tampico brush on Amazon. They are made from a Mexican plant, and that's the magic part. Dip the brush in hot soapy water, scrub the chain, chain rings and the cassette. Dip the brush in the water regularly. Then you see the magic: the oil comes off the brush. I am not joking. It really works. The whole drivechain looks like new. Then dry chain with a rag and lube it.

I do this about once a week, it takes a couple of minutes and you don't have dirty degreaser all over the place. During the week I wipe the chain quickly with baby wet napkins. [Billedresultat for tampico brush]

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don simon [2306 posts] 2 weeks ago
1 like
risoto wrote:

Just found the perfect method and it's very 'clean' and 'green'. Purchased a tampico brush on Amazon. They are made from a Mexican plant, and that's the magic part. Dip the brush in hot soapy water, scrub the chain, chain rings and the cassette. Dip the brush in the water regularly. Then you see the magic: the oil comes off the brush. I am not joking. It really works. The whole drivechain looks like new. Then dry chain with a rag and lube it.

I do this about once a week, it takes a couple of minutes and you don't have dirty degreaser all over the place. During the week I wipe the chain quickly with baby wet napkins. [Billedresultat for tampico brush]

Green, you say?

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SpikeBike [96 posts] 2 weeks ago
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risoto wrote:

Just found the perfect method and it's very 'clean' and 'green'. Purchased a tampico brush on Amazon. They are made from a Mexican plant, and that's the magic part. Dip the brush in hot soapy water, scrub the chain, chain rings and the cassette. Dip the brush in the water regularly. Then you see the magic: the oil comes off the brush. I am not joking. It really works. The whole drivechain looks like new. Then dry chain with a rag and lube it.

I do this about once a week, it takes a couple of minutes and you don't have dirty degreaser all over the place. During the week I wipe the chain quickly with baby wet napkins. [Billedresultat for tampico brush]

Baby wipes and green cannot be used in the same sentence. Having said that I do myself use one to clean carbon frame.

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pockstone [201 posts] 2 weeks ago
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[/quote] Baby wipes and green cannot be used in the same sentence. Having said that I do myself use one to clean carbon frame.[/quote]

Having seen the contents of nappies I've known and loved, I can assure you that 'green' and' baby wipe' CAN be used in the same sentence. 

Knowing what I now know about the silicon sealant dissolving powers of baby wipes, I wouldn't let them anywhere near my little treasures' btm.

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webcrest [7 posts] 2 weeks ago
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For road riding i hardly ever clean my bike, but i wipe and relube my chain almost every 2 rides. more if needed cleaning.