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How to Clean a Bike Chain

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How to Clean a Bike Chain

Cleaning a bike chain isn’t just for visual aesthetics, in a way, a clean chain can keep your bike running smoothly and performance back to its original factory condition, helping riders perform better self. In addition, regular and correct cleaning of the bicycle chain can avoid the adhesion of stubborn oil stains in time, thereby prolonging the service life of the bicycle chain.

cleaning bike chain

Bicycle chain wear is caused by the friction between the grit and the chain. If you want to reduce the wear and tear of the bicycle, it is necessary to clean the chain in time. This operation can save you a lot of money on replacing chains, sprockets, and chainrings.

Experiments by independent test houses have confirmed that a dirty chainstay can drastically reduce a bike’s performance. Depending on how “dirty” the chain is, the wear and tear on the chain may vary. But on average, a rider with a dirty chain at 250 watts adds about 3 to 5 watts of power loss, for a total of about 1 to 2 percent. Friction on the chain also increases when the chain is not properly cleaned and lubricated. Typically a clean and well-lubricated chain only draws about 7 watts of power on the road, but when the chain gets dirty, an extra 3 watts is lost. The additional power loss will increase with the degree of dirtiness of the chain, and in extreme cases may even have a loss of 12 watts.

It’s a well-known fact that the quickest way to clean a chain is to replace it. If the chain wears too much, it’s pointless to waste time on it. As soon as the chains show signs of contamination and wear, we should remove the old chains from the bike and properly wash them with cleaning equipment.


Should I remove the bike’s chain for cleaning?

How to choose lubricating oil and chain cleaning machine?

And 6-step method for lazy cleaning of bicycle chains.

dirty ebike chain

Should I remove the bike’s chain for cleaning?

There seems to be a big disagreement among the majority of riders as to whether the chain should be removed for cleaning.

It used to be a common practice for riders to clean a chain by removing it from the bike and shaking it in a can of detergent, but this is not so common anymore. With more and more gear ratios, the transmission parts become more and more precise, and the simple and rough cleaning method before is no longer suitable for the current bicycle chain.

Removing and installing chain

The durability of the 7-speed, 8-speed, and 9-speed chain velcro can usually support two or three times of disassembly and assembly. The 10-speed, 11-speed, and 12-speed chains are usually used for a one-time use of the magic buckle, and repeated disassembly and use will wear out, which may be dangerous. All major manufacturers recommend using a brand new velcro each time the chain is installed.

Chain washer selection

Ultrasonic cleaner for bicycle chains

The most effective way to clean the chain is to remove it and put it in the ultrasonic cleaner. It only takes five minutes to remove the stubborn stains, and the effect is very obvious. If you want to speed up the process of using an ultrasonic cleaner, you can assisted cleaning the bicycle chain with a stiff brush, followed by a second cleaning with an ultrasonic cleaner, rinse with clean water when done, and air dry. After the whole operation, you will get a brand new chain. However, it should be noted that the chain cannot be soaked in the cleaning agent for a long time when cleaning, because the metal part of the chain may be corroded by the cleaning agent and cause surface cracks.

If you don’t have an ultrasonic cleaner, scrubbing the chain can achieve almost the same effect, and a clean chain can make you ride faster.

chain washer

Domestic and foreign brands such as Park Tool, Muc-off, and Sailing all produce chain washers for purchase. Experience has shown that they are all very similar in function, with only slight differences in quality. This type of product is very convenient for riders who ride long distances and riders who are running around.

For the average biker, a regular dishwasher brush, old toothbrush or even a toilet brush can be used to clean the bike chain. But never brush the chain with a steel wool ball, as this will most likely damage your chain.

Whether you’re cleaning the chain with a stiff brush, a rag or an ultrasonic machine, decontamination is best done outdoors so you don’t mess up your home. It is recommended not to use harmful solvents containing diesel, benzene, gasoline or acetone, and products that are safe and harmless to the environment should be selected.

If your bike has disc brakes, be careful not to splash oil on the brake discs when washing the chain. You can do this by removing the rear wheel and wrapping the brake caliper in a plastic bag while washing the chain.


Is the original lubricating oil on the chain better or the expensive chain oil better?

Before every bicycle race, even if the chain is very dirty, the chain should be lubricated for the efficiency of riding.

Choosing a high-efficiency chain oil is the easiest and cheapest way to reduce driveline friction.

Through experiments, it is found that there will be a maximum power loss difference of 5 watts between different brands and different types of chain oils. The oil on the original chain is not as good as the most advanced retail chain oil, but some cheap chain oils are not as good as the oil on the original chain. Chain oils from brands such as Squirt Chain Oil, Lilly Chain Oil, Rock-N-Roll Extreme, and Morgan Blue Rolls Pro all perform exceptionally well.

chain oil

Some chain oil brands claim that their products are epoch-making products that integrate lubrication and cleaning. However, it turns out that after long-distance riding for a long time, the efficacy of any chain oil is no different.

Should I choose to use a regular metal cleaner or a chain cleaner from a professional brand?

Either regular metal cleaners or chain cleaners from specialty brands will do the job well. In general, a metal cleaner available at the grocery or hardware store will do the trick.

Some riders believe that the cleaning ability of most chain cleaners on the market is too strong, so that the lubricant inside the chain is taken away when cleaning the chain, which will only shorten the use of bicycle chains. life. At least from the original 3000km or 4000km down to 2500km. However, studies have shown that it takes only a minute for chain oil to drip onto the surface of the chain to fully saturate the interior.

chain cleaners

There are plenty of cleaners at different prices and scents to choose from, so you can shop around, ask a mechanic or ask other riders for advice, and pick your favorite.

Lazy cleaning method of bicycle chain

1. Clean the flywheel

Shift so that the chain is on one end of the cassette, then brush with an appropriate amount of chain cleaner, brush all the gears clean, then move the chain to the cassette on the other end, then clean the remaining gears.

2. Clean the plate

After the flywheel is cleaned, the next step is to clean the large plate. When cleaning this part, you can take off the chain from the big plate and then proceed to the next cleaning. The next step is to apply a generous amount of chain cleaner to the brush, as you do with the cassette, and then scrub it clean.

Clean the plate

3. After cleaning dial the guide wheel

When cleaning the chain, please don’t forget to clean the rear derailleur pulley, this part is the most dirty place, it will only become more and more dirty as time goes on, so it needs to be thoroughly scrubbed and cleaned. . You can drop a drop of chain oil here once in a while, and a single lubrication will keep it running for a long time.

After cleaning dial the guide wheel

4. Clean the chain

Now is the time to clean your chain, if your bike is not a single disc system, hang the chain on the large disc, then scrub the chain with an appropriate amount of chain cleaner while turning the big disc until it is clean.

Clean the chain

5. Rinse gently with water

Once the bike’s drivetrain is fully cleaned, rinse it with water to remove any remaining grit. Avoid flushing with a high-pressure water jet, as this will likely damage the bike’s drivetrain.

Okay, with this set down your chain is clean now, but it’s not over yet, you need to wipe the chain off of any moisture or dry it with a hair dryer or blower to prevent it from rusting, and then Drizzle with new chain oil.

Rinse gently with water

6. Drop the chain oil on the chain

Drop chain oil on each link, let it sit for a few minutes to allow the chain oil to penetrate better, then wipe off the excess oil and you’re done.

Drop the chain oil on the chain

If you don’t want to spend too much time doing a deep cleaning of the entire process every time, you can wipe down and lubricate the chain on a regular basis. When lubricating, do not soak the chain in chain oil, but use the method of dripping chain oil to lubricate each connection of the chain. Although it takes more time, it also allows you to better inspect every part of the chain so that problems can be identified and resolved in a timely manner.

How to Clean a Bike Chain? Hope this article helps you.


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