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Lise
04-23-2006, 07:26 PM
What is the best way to keep the chain clean? Should I wipe it down after every ride? I have "Finishline Citrus Biosolvent" that I used to clean a really dirty chain on my old, found-in-the-alley bike. The chain on my Bianchi looks clean, but I'm sure it's picking up all kinds of dirt. I want to treat her with respect and keep her running smoothly. What do you knowledgeable ladies recommend I do?

Veronica
04-23-2006, 07:36 PM
I clean mine before a big ride, when it's making funny noises or not shifting properly.

V.

Lise
04-23-2006, 07:40 PM
How do you clean it?

(I've never ridden with a group or been part of a club--I guess you guys are it! So I pick up bits and pieces of bike knowledge here and there, and figure no question is too simple to bring here.)

Veronica
04-23-2006, 08:02 PM
I take the chain off, bring it into my bathroom sink and scrub it with an old toothbrush and a citrus degreaser. I go over it at least 4 times, top and bottom (the parts that actually touch the cogs) and then do the left and right sides, just to make it prettier.

V.

Lise
04-23-2006, 08:25 PM
She repeats slowly....take...the...chain...off....oooookay.....

I know I sound like a simpleton but....now how do I do that? Put it on the smallest cog, and then just lift it off? I'm not going to try tonight, too late, but soon. And it'll go back on and fit fine and I'll feel like I'm a genius and should write Zen and the Art of Bicycle Maintenaince, right? :p

ladyjai
04-23-2006, 08:38 PM
i bought a chain cleaning tool from the shop.

I've heard recommendations of 200 miles. I'm running at more along the lines of 400-800. rain brings things to an immediate head, though.

here's how I do it:
better if one has a stand, but I have flipped my bike upside down. Using the tool makes it easier, and i direct the hose (medium flow) at the rear cog and "output" area of the tool. the water picks out the grease and degreaser and pretty soon the chain is nice and shiny. then i remove the rear wheel and spray the cogs and using a clean towel edge I insert it and pull it to the right (the set turns) for a partial turn, then to the left (it stays) and continue the process, respraying (simple green in my case) as needed. Usually only one circle is needed to get the gunk off between each ring. Then i hit the rings up front. If you only get it off the chain, you only get half the problem cleaned up.

I return the wheel, run the chain through a few spins against a dry towel, and reapply oil according to directions.

i hope this made somewhat of sense.

Veronica
04-23-2006, 08:38 PM
I have a master link so my chain does come off pretty easily. Before I switched chains I would need to use a chain breaking tool. You can clean it while it's on your bike. I just prefer to do it inside where I can use warm water to rinse it. Of course it gets dried thoroughly and chain lube. I think we use Pedros Ice Wax.

V.

IndyGal
04-23-2006, 08:56 PM
In order to take off the chain, you have to use a special tool to break one of the links. Some folks install a special link called a "master link" which comes apart easily to make chain removal simpler. I don't usually take my chain off for cleaning. I sometimes clean it on the bike using my chain cleaner "thingy". It's a plastic device with brushes inside that attaches to your chain.You put cleaning solution in it and run the chain through it. It works pretty well, but it's kind of a hassle. More often I'll just spray it with Simple Green and scrub it with a stiff brush. I then rinse it off using my garden hose, but not too much water pressure! Just a trickle. Turn cranks a few times to get the water off and let dry before applying lube. Chain cleaning can be messy, so make sure you have newspapers underneath.

Grog
04-23-2006, 09:41 PM
I started with the "thingie" but found out I'd rather just use a brush (similar to the one on the left on this http://www.mec.ca/Products/product_detail.jsp?PRODUCT%3C%3Eprd_id=845524442618875&FOLDER%3C%3Efolder_id=2534374302694071&bmUID=1145853259798) and degreaser (Finish Line EcoTech) it's just fine. I spray the whole drivetrain (chain, derailleur, cogs, ...) with the degreaser (it has a straw to aim in the right spots). I let it sit for a while, and in the meantime I wash the rest of the bike (front wheel, frame, handlebars, top tube, etc...) with hot soapy water. I also inspect the tires and whatever can be inspected.

[ The Ecotech degreaser is stronger than the citrus stuff. But you can make citrus stuff by boiling the zest of 1 orange in 2 cups of water for 30 minutes. You also get some vit C from the orange if you eat it. :) ]

Then I brush off the junk with the blue brush, holding the chain with a rag and brushing through, dipping the brush in the soapy water once in a while to rinse. Of course I also brush off the cogs etc. Repeat until clean (only once is enough when I am disciplined enough to do this every 500 km in the Summer, so about twice a month). Rinse all with soapy water and then with clear water. Finish with wiping off grease that may have sprayed on the rear triangle, and inspecting rear tire/brakes.

I then re-apply lube, let sit for a few hours, and wipe it off with another rag to remove excess.

The whole process takes about 20 minutes of quality-time with my bike, and makes me very proud. :)

(I find the chain-clearner-thingie tends to smear grease everywhere instead of washing it off. It tends to stay on the bristles. But I had a cheapo brand, maybe the ParkTool type is better. Anyway just the brush works fine.)

Tater
04-24-2006, 08:52 AM
My chain cleaning is pretty much the same as Grog's. I just wanted to echo the putting of newspaper or towels under the bike if one is cleaning the chain with it still on the bike...grease spots in the carpet are not fun to get off! :eek:

Grog
04-24-2006, 09:22 AM
My chain cleaning is pretty much the same as Grog's. I just wanted to echo the putting of newspaper or towels under the bike if one is cleaning the chain with it still on the bike...grease spots in the carpet are not fun to get off! :eek:

Oh! I just do this outside on a sunny day!

oldbikah
04-24-2006, 11:17 AM
One handy thing I learned from my bike mechanic son is to take an old t-shirt or similar thing and tear off strips about 1-2 inches wide and about 12 inches long. (easier to use than a big rag or towel). Then slip the strip in between the rings on the cassette, and pulling back and forth gets out an amazing amount of stuff. Doing this occasionally makes it much less necesary to to the liquid cleaner thing very often. At that point, spraying the rags a little also helps. All this is easiest on a bike stand!
In really nasty cases, removing the chain and soaking in a big old coffee can before brushing is a lot nicer than doing it in dishpans or sinks!

yellow
04-24-2006, 12:03 PM
Lise, the Park Tool website (http://www.parktool.com/)has really good info on bike maintenance. I use it all the time. They have a tutorial on how to clean your bike.

We also got the Park Tool Big Blue Book of Bicycle Repair. I just looked and it has a whole chapter on cleaning!

I use oldbikah's trick too, 'cept I usually take the wheel off so I don't have other things in the way. It's a really good way to clean the casette.

SadieKate
04-24-2006, 12:18 PM
Routine cleaning is outside. Spray down the drive train with Simple Green or something similar and then wash with soap (Lemon Joy) and water - NO PRESSURE and do not aim directly at openings.

Deep cleaning is done with the Park chain cleaner thingie and Park chain cleaner or the Pedro's equivalent. These cleaners is not as environmentally friendly as Simple Green but do a far better job.

Park Tool's website is great for directions and recommended tools. Ditto what yellow said.

All this is best done in your driveway on a sunny day with a friend. One washes bikes and one fixes and serves the Gin and Tonics, perferably Bombay Sapphire.

Tater
04-24-2006, 12:21 PM
Oh! I just do this outside on a sunny day!

That's a good idea!

(I was just commenting on my klutzy-ness!)

SpinSis
04-24-2006, 01:03 PM
This thread was a perfect read, given that I spent yesterday afternoon cleaning my bike! I am envious of everyone who has access to hose. I live in an apartment building so my bike shop is: an old sheet on the kitchen floor, bike on bike stand, Simple Green, old toothbrushes, and old cotton underwear or t-shirts for rags. The water I use is whatever is in my rag as I wipe things down. I end up having to bleach the sink when I"m done!

It must be a Maine thing, because I learned OldBikah's trick about running rags through the cassette from my dad (in Maine). Works pretty well.

Also appreciated the tip on the chain--I've looked and looked and looked for the "secret link" but I must not have one. Now I willl have to invest in the chain-breaking-tool-thingie! Also need to buy the bike chain cleaning device!

My goal is mainly to remove as much noticable debris, and if I'm lucky end up with a shiny chain and cassette! I tend to do my cleaning once a month when I am riding regularly (4-5x week x20 miles/ride)

Another tip: don't splurge on a manicure the day before you clean your bike. So much for treating my little stubby nails to color!

-s

Dianyla
04-24-2006, 01:28 PM
Hmmm, am I the only one who uses WD40 for routine chain cleaning? I've always done this, since I was a teen. I spray WD40 liberally on the chain and rear cassette while turning, brushing, and using a rag (and rag strips) to get into nooks and crannies until all the gunk is gone. Once most of the solvent has been mopped off and evaporated then I reapply lube.

If I were doing a full chain clean (taken off the bike, degreased, rinsed with water, and dried fully before re-lubing) I'd feel more comfortable using a degreaser and water. But I always worry about degreaser residues as well as water left behind causing corrosion and interfering with the chain lube. I figure using a petroleum solvent like WD40 is safer, the worst it will do is dilute your lube a little bit.

Question about the chain master link stuff - I want to get one of these but I seem to recall reading (on Sheldon Brown's site, maybe?) that you can't use a masterlink with Shimano chains. I heard that you have to break the chain and install a new connecting pin every time. Is this true?

oldbikah
04-24-2006, 02:06 PM
Agreed, great thread with some good ideas. I particularly like the Bombay Sapphire part, SadieKate.

DirtDiva
04-24-2006, 02:28 PM
Me too. I'd make SK a G&T anytime she felt like cleaning my bike. :D

SadieKate
04-24-2006, 02:31 PM
Okey-dokey, tlkiwi. You bring your bike to me, I'll clean it. When should I plan on your arrival? :D

DirtDiva
04-24-2006, 02:37 PM
Hmm. Dunno how long it'll take me, but I can guarantee that she'll be good and dirty after riding through the Atlantic and across the US. :p Hope you've got a big G&T glass. :D

SadieKate
04-24-2006, 02:54 PM
I can prolly find one by the time you get here.

snowbear
04-24-2006, 03:46 PM
Hmmm, am I the only one who uses WD40 for routine chain cleaning?
Nope! My family does the very same thing.

Grog
04-24-2006, 04:20 PM
Some bike mechanics have advised me against WD-40. I think the reason was that it's more likely to damage the plastic parts of your derailleur, and also your tires and other parts of the bike.

Lise
04-24-2006, 08:53 PM
Ladies, thanks so much for the great suggestions. I bookmarked the Park Tool site. I'm just off a 24 hour call shift, and can barely see, much less think straight, but that never stopped me from coming to read the answers about bike cleaning! I'll clean her outside, in a little concrete area we have out back of my apt building. I shudder to think of the mess I'd make indoors. Although, the basement...anywys, to bed. Thanks.

Dianyla
04-24-2006, 10:09 PM
Some bike mechanics have advised me against WD-40. I think the reason was that it's more likely to damage the plastic parts of your derailleur, and also your tires and other parts of the bike.
Oh, I usually put some newspaper or cardboard to prevent overspray, and do a full wipedown of any areas that may have gotten hit. WD40 shouldn't affect plastic, but it will degrade rubber or anything petroleum based.

Geonz
04-26-2006, 09:23 AM
http://sunandski.com/page.cfm?PageID=98 "how to wash your bike"
and the "commuting" articles at http://www.bfw.org/articles/index.php include some good stuff about washing... I'm going to get better at washing my bike, honest... starting tomorrow!:D

li10up
04-26-2006, 11:02 AM
http://performancebike.resultspage.com/search?p=Q&ts=custom&w=chain+cleanerHere is a link to some chain cleaners. I'm sure you can get one at your local bike shop. I'm not recommending any particular brand...just wanted to give you an idea what they look like. Basically you just attach it to the chain, fill it with cleaner/degreaser, spin the cranks and little brushes clean the chain. It will drip greasy gunk so be sure do do it in the grass or put down paper. Spray your cogset and use a toothbrush or small brush to clean. Rinse with no pressure hose. Wipe everything dry and then lube. Wipe off extra lube. Chain should basically be dry so it doesn't attract dirt.

li10up
04-26-2006, 11:07 AM
This thread was a perfect read, given that I spent yesterday afternoon cleaning my bike! I am envious of everyone who has access to hose. I live in an apartment building so my bike shop is: an old sheet on the kitchen floor, bike on bike stand, Simple Green, old toothbrushes, and old cotton underwear or t-shirts for rags. The water I use is whatever is in my rag as I wipe things down. I end up having to bleach the sink when I"m done! -s
How about filling up a couple of buckets with water, taking it to a common area of the apartment building and washing it down there? That might work for you.

DebW
04-26-2006, 01:07 PM
Hmmm, am I the only one who uses WD40 for routine chain cleaning? I've always done this, since I was a teen. I spray WD40 liberally on the chain and rear cassette while turning, brushing, and using a rag (and rag strips) to get into nooks and crannies until all the gunk is gone. Once most of the solvent has been mopped off and evaporated then I reapply lube.

Dianyla, I'm an old WD40 user too. I even clean my frame and hands with it. I posted a similar question a couple months ago and got several responses that WD40 is not appropriate. Try a search to find it. Our bike shop used WD40 quite liberally 30 years ago, but guess there are better things nowadays. I did just buy some fancy chain cleaner and used it last night. But I really love the smell of WD40. So many good memories associated with it. (You all understand, right?)

mellic
04-26-2006, 10:45 PM
I reckon the worst bit about cleaning the bike is the chain, but it needs to be done regularly to prevent premature wear and tear.

I think the best invention is the master/quick link. They are very easy to install and the link itself does not cost very much. If you are not confident breaking the chain using a chain breaker take it down to the LBS and they will install the link in no time.

With this link installed you can simply squeeze the link and the links will come apart allowing you to remove the chain from the bike. The next step is to degrease the chain. I wouldn't waste your money on expensive bike specific degreasers when you can get much cheaper in the auto shop for exactly the same kind of product. I put my chain in a container and pour the degreaser on top and leave it for about 2 minutes to allow the degreaser to work its magic. Then I come back with a old toothbrush and scrub the chain removing any visible grease/grit. Once this is done you want to remove the degreasing agent, so a good rinse with water does the job. You then need to lay the chain out to dry otherwise it will rust. I put my chain on a bit of newspaper in the sun or in front of the heater.

While it is drying you can clean the other bits of the drivetrain, including the cluster, jockey wheels and chain rings. If your cluster is full of crap you can use a bit of degreaser on the toothbrush to remove it with a rag. After chain is dry put it back on bike and add chain lube.

SnappyPix
04-26-2006, 11:05 PM
Great tips on here.
I'd really like to take the chain off - and do have a chain removal tool. I've used it several times before, but on a much older bike.
My current bike has a Shimano HG chain - am I right in thinking these have special pins which aren't designed to be removed and reinserted? Can anyone shed any light on this?
Maybe a master/quick link would be a good idea if that's the case.

I'm always envious of riders who have clean, shiny chains with nice clean grease. My chain always looks like I've been riding down the mines, no matter how much I love and attention it gets from my demoted toothbrush!

DebW
04-27-2006, 06:45 AM
Great tips on here.
I'd really like to take the chain off - and do have a chain removal tool. I've used it several times before, but on a much older bike.
My current bike has a Shimano HG chain - am I right in thinking these have special pins which aren't designed to be removed and reinserted? Can anyone shed any light on this?
Maybe a master/quick link would be a good idea if that's the case.


Any chain has to be breakable or it couldn't be installed on your bike. I'm not aware of any difference in HG in this regard. But I wouldn't try a master link on a HG unless it was specifically made for that chain. The HG links are beveled in specific ways. Keep using the old chain tool. Regarding master links, it's an old idea that's been recycled. Used to be that only 3-speed and single-speed bikes used master links. How many times did people come into the bike shop in the 70s asking for master links, and we'd reply "Master links don't work on 10 speeds (ie. with derailleurs)".

MomOnBike
04-27-2006, 08:57 AM
I put my chain in a container and pour the degreaser on top and leave it for about 2 minutes to allow the degreaser to work its magic.

I've also heard that some people shake the stuffins out of the container once they put the chain/degreaser in. Then pour off the gritty degreaser & have another go at it.

These same people then dip the chain in some sort of magic potion (after it's rinsed & dried, of course) that lubes everything up until time for the next chain cleaning - which will be soon.

These are also the people who polish the bike to a fair-thee-well & complain about never having enough time to ride.

(Hint: I ain't one of these people, I'm just reporting what I read)

I kind of like the idea of agitating the chain, since you took it off, anyway. And maybe even a second wash is a good idea. I'll probably never know, though :rolleyes:

Dianyla
04-27-2006, 11:02 AM
My current bike has a Shimano HG chain - am I right in thinking these have special pins which aren't designed to be removed and reinserted? Can anyone shed any light on this?
Maybe a master/quick link would be a good idea if that's the case.
I've had this same question. From searching around it appears that there might be some masterlinks out there for shimano chains but most people still break and repin the chain, using a new pin each time. Looking at online retailers I'm seeing lots of Shimano chain pins sold in packs of 10, 20, etc. which would support this theory.

For now I just plan to keep with the onbike cleaning, it's better than nothing. Maybe every 500 miles or so I'll go to the trouble of removing the chain to clean it perfectly.

Cari
04-27-2006, 01:20 PM
I use Park Tool's Cyclone Chain Scrubber (http://www.parktool.com/products/detail.asp?cat=5&item=CM-5). I fill the reservoir with the same citrus degreaser that I use to clean the rest of my bike. I also use Park Tool's GearClean Brush (http://www.parktool.com/products/detail.asp?cat=4&item=GSC%2D1) to really scrub the chain, the cassette, the chainrings, and everything else the chain touches.

When I'm done washing and rinsing the bike, I use a clean rag to dry it as best as I can. Then I bounce the bike on the rear wheel to try and shake out as much water as possible, and use the rag some more. Then I let it dry overnight.

The next day, I lube the chain with the appropriate Rock N Roll chain lube (http://www.rocklube.com/chainlubes.html). I use Extreme (http://www.rocklube.com/products_detail_extreme.html) on my MTB, Absolute Dry (http://www.rocklube.com/products_detail_absolutedry.html) on my road bike, and more recently, Gold (http://www.rocklube.com/products_detail_gold.html), which I use on both. Rock N Roll lubricates and cleans the chain, so I use that between washes. I've become a huge fan of the stuff. It's kinda hard to get here so my friends and I buy it by the case. :D

Regarding WD-40: I'm no expert on petroleum products, but pretty much everyone has told me to keep the stuff away from my bike.

Oh, and for handwashing, I use lavender-scented Johnson's Baby Oil. It works like a charm, it's cheap, and it smells great.

~Cari

mellic
04-27-2006, 07:02 PM
There is definitely links out there to fit on shimano chains. I run xtr/dura-ace chains on both my mountain bike and road bike. The links I use are called Wipperman links and they fit on the shimano chain fine. I buy my links online from JensonUSA for US$4.

SnappyPix
04-28-2006, 01:49 PM
I've found links for 10 speed shimano chains, but still on the hunt for a 9 speed link. My LBS stocks packs of 5 pins, so I'll get some as a standby (and it's something that my bulging tool bag doesn't have, so obviously a necessity!) Actually, thinking about it, it IS a necessity - would be scuppered if my chain ever snapped and the pin bent. :eek:

On the subject of cleaning chains - I've used dishwashing/washing-up liquid as a cheap alternative to citrus degreaser. Seems to work a treat. I don't think there are any ingredients in there that are harmful to the chain?

matagi
04-28-2006, 07:06 PM
I clean my chain regularly every two weeks or so.

However, if I have been riding in the wet or on particularly dusty/gritty roads then I clean as soon as possible and definitely before the next ride. No way am I going to be breaking my chain every couple of days in those circumstances.

I use one of those chain cleaners that clip onto the chain and kerosene as my cleaner of choice. I empty and refill the reservoir with clean kerosene at least once to rinse the chain after cleaning. Then clean the cogs with soft toothbrush dipped in kerosene, wipe everything with a rag and apply lube.

DirtDiva
04-29-2006, 04:18 AM
Nothing like a bucket of hot water and Sunlight (well, I use Fairy here) and a big sponge to get all the mud off my bike. And, yeah, a squirt of it on an old toothbrush is pretty handy for getting gunk off the chain and that too.

Y'all are making me guilty about how long it's been since my chain got a really good clean and re-lube instead of a quick once over. :o

dianne_1234
04-30-2006, 10:51 AM
I think I might be the only person who never degreases the chain! I only ever wipe it off a bit after a re-lube with TriFlow. When I can't stand how dirty it's become (or when my ruler shows 12 1/16") then I replace it with new.

Sheldon Brown has an interesting article about chain maintenance:
http://www.sheldonbrown.com/brandt/chain-care.html

DirtDiva
05-01-2006, 01:14 PM
I thought of you when I was cleaning my bike today. Well, that's not scrictly true: I thought of G&Ts, which I figured was all your fault. :p ;) :D

donnambr
05-06-2006, 04:25 PM
My housemate was told by someone in a Portland LBS that the best kind of lube depends on the climate in which you live and ride. Apparently, this person does not approve of WD-40 for the Pacific Northwest, and recommended "A.T.B. Chain Lubricant" for all season cycling here. I am sure if you went to LBS in different regions of the country and world, you'd be told a different story for every climate.

KnottedYet
05-06-2006, 07:40 PM
Lookin' for Boeshield T-9. Might have to go to a different lbs if I can't convince Recycled Cycles to order some for me. (Montlake Cycles carries it. So does Nashbar.) Good for PNW cold and wet weather, without clogging the cassette like White Lightning.

Bella
05-10-2006, 02:50 PM
Someone already mentioned this but it bears repeating:

Spin Doctor Clean Machine Chain Cleaner. Comes with a plastic encasement that collects all the gunk as you clean. Intricate brushes attack the chain up down and around.

Works like a charm. I take a look after a ride to gauge how much dirt I picked up. Typically every three rides.

bcipam
05-11-2006, 12:06 PM
There are "masterlinks" you can buy for most chains. Conex (Sp?) for Shimano and Sram also makes a link. More expensive chains now come with the link pre-added. The link allows you to undo the chain without tools, take it off the bike for cleaning and return.

Generally I just use Pro-Link very carefully on my chain after doing a good dust off with a clean cloth and soft brush. I add the Pro-Link one link at a time until the chain is done and them wipe carefully. My chain tends to stay fairly clean, even on my mountain bike. If it gets really dirty, I remove it, use citrus degreaser (diluted quite a bit), then a good wipe with a clean cloth, put it back on the bike and apply Pro-Link very carefully.