How often do you clean your chain?
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  1. #1

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    How often do you clean your chain?

    I was wondering how often you clean your chain? I have taken the advice of others on this board to make my own lube, 75% mineral spirits 25% synthetic motor oil, and although I love this lube it just makes everything black in a hurry. I cleaned and lubed on Sunday and went for a 50 mile ride and when I came back it is pitch black again. Any thoughts?

  2. #2
    Man, I need a shower !
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    I use the same home concoction with the same results. I don't worry too much about it, although it is much easier than normal to get the dreaded chainring mark on yourself. I reapply liberally every 3-5 rides and work into each link/roller with my fingers, which seems to release any grime that has built up. Before each ride I just take a rag/paper towel and wipe off the grimy stuff. I'm interested in seeing how others address this.

  3. #3
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    After each ride...

    I wipe down my chain and rollers after each ride using a home brew solution (3-1). I apply a light coat of the home brew on a paper shop towel and run my chain backwards through the towel about 10-15 times. This is the method that Lennard Zinn uses. I never pull my chain off, it never really gets dirty.

    Lately I started using a silicone spray lube and use in the same method as above. My chain comes out squeaky clean and looks like it just came out of the package. The verdict is still out as to how this will work, with the home brew my chains last a long time, and I'm still on my original Campy Chorus cassette (14K).

    Keeping you driveline clean is a way to prolong your equipment. Riding conditions play a big role. I think how often you clean your chain is more important as to what you use to clean it. The home brew method is cheap and you can make a whole batch that will last about a year.

  4. #4
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    I clean my chain after riding in the rain or every 500-600 miles, which ever comes first. I don't use homebrew. Instead, I use PsychoLube. Chain stays clean and quiet, never squeaks and, frankly, I could probably ride even more miles before cleaning. But that just doesn't seem right.



    Quote Originally Posted by bikefreax
    I was wondering how often you clean your chain? I have taken the advice of others on this board to make my own lube, 75% mineral spirits 25% synthetic motor oil, and although I love this lube it just makes everything black in a hurry. I cleaned and lubed on Sunday and went for a 50 mile ride and when I came back it is pitch black again. Any thoughts?
    It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the most responsive to change.

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  5. #5

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    Wipe down chain, cassette, and chain rings with a towel after every ride. Lube whenever it's needed - usually 2-3 rides and every ride when the weather is bad.

  6. #6

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    I wipe down my chain and rings after every ride. Lube the chain after every 100km. If the chain feels gritty, then I go through a full cleaning process and then relube.

  7. #7
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    Wipe it regularly, relube as needed.

    I wipe off the chain, gears and pullies every 100 miles or so. If it looks dry or dirty I clean it more thoroughly with air tool oil using the lube generously, brush, and wipe off excess method.
    We have nothing to lube but our chains.

  8. #8

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    Every 2 weeks...

    ...I do a complete cleaning with Simple Green degreaser in a chain cleaning machine (Finish Line brand).Works great and only takes 5 minutes.I wipe chain down after every ride to remove any debris.Relube about every 3 rides; depending on the miles maybe more often.Keep the rings and casette wiped off to.Seems to work well this way Last chain I got 5k miles on before I replaced .I use Prolink lube which I like alot.I also like Triflow.
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  9. #9
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    Here's the procedure to never clean your chain

    Assuming we're talking road riding, use the following technique for successful ProLink or homebrew lube (1 part motor oil to 3-4 parts odorless mineral spirits) application and use:

    1 - wipe the chain, cogs, pulleys, and chainrings clean with a rag.
    2 - drip on lube while pedaling (forward is better) so that the chain just starts to drip lube. Aim the lube between the side plates and between the bushings and the side plates.
    3 - run through all the gears several times, front and back.
    4 - wipe the chain, cogs, pulleys, and chainrings clean with a rag.
    5 - repeat 2-4 if the chain was really dirty

    If you do this every 300 miles or so, you will not get any significant gunky buildup, and you won't have to clean the chain. However, no lube is "perfect." A brite shiny chain that is clean to the touch but is well lubed and gives long mileage is still not possible. IMO, ProLink is the best compromise.

    Ways to make chains last a long time:

    1. Keep the chain clean and well-lubed. It's the gunk on the chain that acts as a grinding compound and destroys the chain. I use ProLink, with the standard procedure, every 300-350 miles. This also means a quick re-lube if you get caught in the rain. IME, wax lubes do not meet this requirement.

    2. Spin a high cadence. Those who stomp stress the chain far more.

    3. Ride in the big ring when you have a choice. Keeping the chain on the larger cogs greatly reduces stress and there is less chain angle in the 53/18 than in the 39/13.

    4. Ride in non-dusty regions. The grinding paste that forms on the chain is a combination of lube and dirt. If your local climate is dusty, this problem will be far worse and your chain will wear that much faster.

    5. Buy good quality. IME an SRAM 99 series chain lasts about 60% as long as a Campy Record 9. Cassette cogs and chain wheels wear at different rates too, and this influences chain wear.

    6. New chain = new cassette cogs. Many will argue for frequent chain replacement to save their cogs, but the cogs still wear, even with a new chain. The partially worn cogs will cause faster chain wear. The math on chain/cassette replacement (for me) looks like this. Campy 9 speed chain, $25, Chorus 9 cassette $60. Total miles, 10K. Cost per 100 miles = $0.85. The math for people who say to replace the chain every 2500 miles to avoid wearing the cogs too fast: DA chain $24, DA cassette, $75. Assuming ZERO cassette wear (bad assumption), cost per 100 miles = $.96.

  10. #10
    pmf
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikefreax
    I was wondering how often you clean your chain? I have taken the advice of others on this board to make my own lube, 75% mineral spirits 25% synthetic motor oil, and although I love this lube it just makes everything black in a hurry. I cleaned and lubed on Sunday and went for a 50 mile ride and when I came back it is pitch black again. Any thoughts?
    Thats precisely why I quit using home brew chain lube. Its a wet lube that really attracts grime. I much prefer Finish Line dry lube. Works well without attacting dirt. Use the drip bottle, not the spray. Drip in between each barrel in the chain.

    When I clean the drive train (about every 200-300 miles), I use orange cleaner (Zepp brand) from Home depot. You can get a gallon of the stuff for $8. I use it straight out of the bottle with an old tooth brush to scrub the chain clean. The whole process take 10-15 minutes.

  11. #11

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    Every 100 miles .....

    I clean my entire bike approx every 100 miles, including the drive-train.

    This is my approach for the chain/drive-train:

    ==> Start: Dirty Drive-Train

    1) Rag/brush with a citrus degreaser on the chain, cassete and chainrings (using care not to drip into hubs or BB). Then
    2) Run the chain through a 'Finish Line' chain cleaner with full strength Citrus Cleaner.
    3) Wash it all down with water and rag dry.

    == > Now the drive-train is clean and dry

    4) Lube the chain with ProLink and do it link-by-link on each barrel.
    5) Run the chain 15-20 revolutions and through all gears.
    6) Run the chain through a rag to wipe off excess external lube so nothing drips..

    ==> Now the drive-train is clean, dry and has fresh lube.

    This approach has kept my drive train looking like new for 2,000+ miles.

    Unfortunately, I'm still a nubie so I'm not sure what affect this has had on wear or even it's a wise approach. However, it's kept the drive-train clean enough that my wife allows the bike in the house .

  12. #12

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    Home brew may be hazardous to your health

    I'm not a toxicologist, but I think there are some on this board so I hope they will correct me if I am wrong. But, if I understand the warning labels correctly, mineral spirits are not something you want to be exposed to--you don't want to drink it, you don't want to inhale it, and you don't want to get it on your skin.

    Here are some of the low hanging google fruit I found:

    http://householdproducts.nlm.nih.gov...s&id=16009016\

    http://www.kinetronics.com/online-st...CSMSDSData.pdf

    http://www.nature.nps.gov/hazardssaf...c/minspiri.pdf

    I use Pro Link, and have no complaints except that it costs a lot. (Especially since I like to clean my chain with a bio-degreaser, then marinate it in Pro Link over night.) Pro Link as nothing in the way of warnings on its label. I don't know what it is, but I am assuming it isn't as hazardous to your health as mineral spirits (per the above links).

  13. #13
    Eddy 53:11
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    I wipe my chain down w/a clean terrycloth rag and a little "dab" of jet fuel after every ride.
    Lube w/a little Prolink each time or as needed. After a couple hundred miles, then a full cleaning.
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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dinosaur
    I wipe down my chain and rollers after each ride using a home brew solution (3-1). I apply a light coat of the home brew on a paper shop towel and run my chain backwards through the towel about 10-15 times. This is the method that Lennard Zinn uses. I never pull my chain off, it never really gets dirty.

    Lately I started using a silicone spray lube and use in the same method as above. My chain comes out squeaky clean and looks like it just came out of the package. The verdict is still out as to how this will work, with the home brew my chains last a long time, and I'm still on my original Campy Chorus cassette (14K).

    Keeping you driveline clean is a way to prolong your equipment. Riding conditions play a big role. I think how often you clean your chain is more important as to what you use to clean it. The home brew method is cheap and you can make a whole batch that will last about a year.
    This might be a silly question, but how does applying lube with a paper towel get the lube in between the plates and rollers? (I think those are the right terms) From what Iíve read you only want lube inside the chain between the plates and roller not on the outside. If you place the lube on a towel and then run the chain thru it, arenít you just wiping in on to the outside of the chain?

  15. #15

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    I'm wondering why there shouldn't be at least a little lube on the cogs. Wouldn't that reduce friction when shifting, or is there enough on the chain to take care of that?

  16. #16

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    White Lightning

    I clean my chain with orange peels cleaner in a park chain cleaner,then I use a brush on the cassette and chain by spinning crank,spray everything down with water,wash whole bike,wipe it dry and apply white lighting chain wax.chain always looks new.
    Pain is weakness leaving the body.

  17. #17

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    Agree with Kerry, except...

    I use Slick Willy Slick-N-Dry instead of ProLink. I found that it lasts longer in the wet, is as clean or cleaner (No gunk build up), and lasts about 300 to 400 miles between applications in dry, ideal conditions. Same procedure as below except I use only a very generous drop for each link. Allow the lube to "dry" for 10minutes, wipe off excess with dry rag, and away you go.

    For really wet sloppy weather, SW Slush Armor is the bomb. Clean and lasts a boat load of miles even in the wet, muddy conditions. I usually can get 3 or 4 very wet rides from one application before relube.

    GC

    Quote Originally Posted by Kerry Irons
    Assuming we're talking road riding, use the following technique for successful ProLink or homebrew lube (1 part motor oil to 3-4 parts odorless mineral spirits) application and use:

    1 - wipe the chain, cogs, pulleys, and chainrings clean with a rag.
    2 - drip on lube while pedaling (forward is better) so that the chain just starts to drip lube. Aim the lube between the side plates and between the bushings and the side plates.
    3 - run through all the gears several times, front and back.
    4 - wipe the chain, cogs, pulleys, and chainrings clean with a rag.
    5 - repeat 2-4 if the chain was really dirty

    If you do this every 300 miles or so, you will not get any significant gunky buildup, and you won't have to clean the chain. However, no lube is "perfect." A brite shiny chain that is clean to the touch but is well lubed and gives long mileage is still not possible. IMO, ProLink is the best compromise.

    Ways to make chains last a long time:

    1. Keep the chain clean and well-lubed. It's the gunk on the chain that acts as a grinding compound and destroys the chain. I use ProLink, with the standard procedure, every 300-350 miles. This also means a quick re-lube if you get caught in the rain. IME, wax lubes do not meet this requirement.

    2. Spin a high cadence. Those who stomp stress the chain far more.

    3. Ride in the big ring when you have a choice. Keeping the chain on the larger cogs greatly reduces stress and there is less chain angle in the 53/18 than in the 39/13.

    4. Ride in non-dusty regions. The grinding paste that forms on the chain is a combination of lube and dirt. If your local climate is dusty, this problem will be far worse and your chain will wear that much faster.

    5. Buy good quality. IME an SRAM 99 series chain lasts about 60% as long as a Campy Record 9. Cassette cogs and chain wheels wear at different rates too, and this influences chain wear.

    6. New chain = new cassette cogs. Many will argue for frequent chain replacement to save their cogs, but the cogs still wear, even with a new chain. The partially worn cogs will cause faster chain wear. The math on chain/cassette replacement (for me) looks like this. Campy 9 speed chain, $25, Chorus 9 cassette $60. Total miles, 10K. Cost per 100 miles = $0.85. The math for people who say to replace the chain every 2500 miles to avoid wearing the cogs too fast: DA chain $24, DA cassette, $75. Assuming ZERO cassette wear (bad assumption), cost per 100 miles = $.96.

  18. #18
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    home brew application...

    You'e right that lubing the internals of the chain is far more important than the outside. Keeping the outside wiped down helps keep the exterior dirt from being washed into the chain.

    I use a mixture of 3 to 6 parts mineral spirits to one part synthetic motor oil to "clean and lube" the chain. Apply the mixture heavily, to the lower section of chain between the rear derailleur and the crank. Catch the excess with a paper towel (folded to 8 layers thick) held under the chain. Wipe each section of the chain, before rotating the crank to the next section. When the entire chain has been lubed, spin the cranks several turns, wiping the chain with the wet towel. The wet towel can also be used to clean the cogs and chainrings. Follow up with a dry towel. The whole process takes less than 5 minutes. The lubing should be done long before riding, to allow time for the mineral spirits to evaporate (otherwise it will splatter all over the rear wheel). Lube as often as you want and there will be no buildup.

    I also never "clean" my chain. If neglected too long, just apply the homebrew twice.

  19. #19
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    DO NOT USE WAX BASED lubes on your chain, your chain will wear out faster with that stuff because the protection only last about 50 miles-not even one ride! There are a lot of good lubes out there even some of the lower cost stuff like TriFlow and Finish Line, is all far superior than the waxed base lubes.

    I use (not saying this stuff is the best but it works) Finish Line Teflon Dry and the Finish Line cleaning machine and cleaning fluid. I clean the chain and relube about every 200 miles. HOWEVER with the newer thinner chains I would be doing this after every ride, reason being is that the newer thinner chains do not last as long as the old wider style they had in the past for friction systems. I can get about 12,000 miles on the old wide style chains, but according to people on these types of forums that use STI and ERGO with the thinner chains get between 3,000 and 5,000 miles on a chain. And thats why I would clean and relube after every ride to extend the chain life.

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dinosaur
    I wipe down my chain and rollers after each ride using a home brew solution (3-1). I apply a light coat of the home brew on a paper shop towel and run my chain backwards through the towel about 10-15 times. This is the method that Lennard Zinn uses. I never pull my chain off, it never really gets dirty.
    Where did you hear or read about this method? I've read his book (at least the one on on mtn bike) and he discribes the old one drop per link, spin and wipe method in it.

  21. #21
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    Nonsense. Wax based lubes do not wear out chains faster, where did you hear that? As a matter of fact, an unlubed chain lasts the longest! Go figure.

  22. #22
    AJS
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    I do more or less what C-40 described with the synth oil/mineral spirits mix, and get great results.

    With the homemade lube, it's cheap enough that it can be applied very liberally, and it's very thin like water so I think it actually washes out any dirt or gunk. Once the spirits dry off, you're left with a very good lubricant that doesn't build up and require degreasing like wax lubes do.

    I repeat every 2 or 3 rides.

  23. #23
    Say "nuke-u-lar"
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    I've not tried this home brew stuff, I use

    Boeshield T-9 for both mountain and road for years with relatively good success. On the road bike I probably apply it every fourth or fifth ride (200 miles or so) unless it's wet out, then it's immediately after. I first wipe the chain down with a wire brush or shop rag, then use drip style bottle on the chain, run it for a bit then wipe down again. I haven't noticed any particular wear issues, other than the stuff will come off in wet weather (not something I ride the road bike in regularly anyway) and cause more frequent reapplication. I keep the cogs and rollers fairly clean with the brush and rag too.
    Suum quique.

  24. #24
    HANK
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    Smile I wipe

    down the chain and the bike, relube the chain (if needed) and derraileur pivot points, and inspect the bike and tires after every ride (30 + miles). Is that excessive? Maybe but I enjoy it and it gives me piece of mind for the next ride. It seems like the downtube and the back of the seatube pick up road dirt every ride so wiping down the frame with a damp cloth keeps the frame looking good as well.

  25. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by HANK
    down the chain and the bike, relube the chain (if needed) and derraileur pivot points, and inspect the bike and tires after every ride (30 + miles). Is that excessive? Maybe but I enjoy it and it gives me piece of mind for the next ride. It seems like the downtube and the back of the seatube pick up road dirt every ride so wiping down the frame with a damp cloth keeps the frame looking good as well.
    I'm with you... Maybe it's because of my MTB background, where you really NEED to lube every ride, but anything over 30-40 miles on the road and I reapply my lube. Right now I'm using Prolink gold (Icewax on the mtb) and it seems to be fine.

    Some say it's expensive, but at around $5-$6 per bottle, and I'm getting about $2k miles per bottle, I don't think it is that bad. FWIW, I use a chain cleaner with simple green every few rides, or when it looks like it needs it... Never tried the homebrew route, it just seems at the low cost of task-specific lube, there is no real reason to play roulette with my drivetrain. But if it works for you (anyone) then go for it.

    On thing not mentioned on this thread is that your location will determine your riding conditions, and different lubes might be appropriate for different conditions, so take it all with a grain of salt (but no salt in the drivetrain...)

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