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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Toronto, Canada
    Posts
    18

    Cool Cleaning and lubing the chain for the first time: what can go wrong?

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    Hi everyone:

    I have a new road bike and I've been riding for two months, on weekends, in good weather. Question: All the books say to clean and lube your chain. OK, I ran out to get the chain cleaner and the lube from my LBS. I have J-cloths. And yet I'm so scared that I'll do something wrong and mess up my good ride that I don't dare touch my chain. What if I over-lube? Under-clean? Wreck my chain? Oh my, the tales of woe that run through my head are endless! The one thing I do know is that for both cleaning and lubing I run the wheels backwards. They showed me that much at the store.

    Any experienced riders out there with advice on chain management for a newbie? Thank you very much!
    2012 Specialized Dolce Elite
    Giant Cyclotron Mag II Trainer

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Location
    the dry side
    Posts
    4,367

    Cleaning and lubing the chain for the first time: what can go wrong?

    You tube is good. Really, not much to screw up unless you use the wrong stuff. You have stuff from the shop. Go for it!
    2015 Liv Intrigue 2
    Pro Mongoose Titanium Singlespeed
    2012 Trek Madone 4.6 Compact SRAM

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Location
    the dry side
    Posts
    4,367
    Hmm, your method sounds pretty good. Just be sure to rinse well and DRY THOROUGHLY before relubing the chain.
    2015 Liv Intrigue 2
    Pro Mongoose Titanium Singlespeed
    2012 Trek Madone 4.6 Compact SRAM

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Posts
    2,609
    I try to minimize the amount of water. I just spray on bike-wash liberally and start gently to remove gritty dirt, and dry it well. I remove the chain and clean it and the rear cassette separately with degreaser and plenty of shop rags. I know many people are fine using water, but I try to avoid it whenever possible.
    For 3 days, I get to part of a thousand other journeys.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Location
    the dry side
    Posts
    4,367
    Am I a freak if I have a power link on my road bike chain for easy **thorough** cleaning?
    I have them on all my mountain bikes...
    2015 Liv Intrigue 2
    Pro Mongoose Titanium Singlespeed
    2012 Trek Madone 4.6 Compact SRAM

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Location
    the dry side
    Posts
    4,367
    power links are a mountain biking thing. You can easily undo the chain and soak it in a jar of your favorite cleaner to really get the gunk off.
    2015 Liv Intrigue 2
    Pro Mongoose Titanium Singlespeed
    2012 Trek Madone 4.6 Compact SRAM

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    Whitmore Lake, Michigan
    Posts
    920
    I use this kit and love how it works. There are videos online for it's use and also reviews. I was working on my bike in the late winter in my brother-in-laws garage because it's heated and has hot and cold running water and he was very skeptical of the contraption when I pulled it out, but was really impressed with the results. After drying, I lube with T-9 and shifting is smooth as silk and quiet.

    When using any degreaser on your bike, avoid getting it on the frame and wipe off and rinse if you do.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Bike Writer

    http://pedaltohealth.blogspot.com/

    Schwinn Gateway unknown year
    Specalized Expedition Sport Low-Entry 2011

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Toronto, Canada
    Posts
    18
    Wow, tons of great advice! Thanks everyone. This is super motivating.

    Bike Writer, I have seen that blue contraption on YouTube. Is it easy to use? I'm all thumbs, you see. If you recommend it, I know where I can get it for a reasonable price. Thanks for the tip about degreaser on the frame. For the frame I'm going to use a rag/sponge and soapy water plus Q-tips for those hard to get areas. I know a lot of people use hoses, but I don't have one in my apartment! It'll have to be an old-fashioned bucket for me and little by little so I don't soak my living room, which is where I keep my bike. I get the feeling I'll end up making a mess though despite my best efforts
    2012 Specialized Dolce Elite
    Giant Cyclotron Mag II Trainer

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    DE
    Posts
    1,209
    Do NOT attempt to clean your bike or chain inside your house or apt. I would not even do it in a tile tub/shower. The grease will invariably get on the one surface that cant' be cleaned, including all of your walls, floors, clothes and towels. I know this.

    This is an outside project to be performed with gloves, rags, and clothes you don't care about.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Posts
    2,609
    Quote Originally Posted by Irulan View Post
    Am I a freak if I have a power link on my road bike chain for easy **thorough** cleaning?
    I have them on all my mountain bikes...
    Have them on ALL my bikes!
    For 3 days, I get to part of a thousand other journeys.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    4,632
    Just mind that you don't pull the chain toward you while you're cleaning.
    If you've applied so much lube that the chain is dripping, it's too much.
    Quote Originally Posted by Muirenn View Post
    I've done it in my bathtub. Also over lunch wearing work clothes. Well, maybe I did change, first.
    *Gigglesnort*
    At least I don't leave slime trails.
    http://wholecog.wordpress.com/

    2009 Giant Avail 3 |Specialized Jett 143

    2013 Charge Filter Apex| Specialized Jett 143
    1996(?) Giant Iguana 630|Specialized Riva


    Saving for the next one...

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    Whitmore Lake, Michigan
    Posts
    920
    Quote Originally Posted by BonnieS View Post
    Wow, tons of great advice! Thanks everyone. This is super motivating.

    Bike Writer, I have seen that blue contraption on YouTube. Is it easy to use? I'm all thumbs, you see. If you recommend it, I know where I can get it for a reasonable price. Thanks for the tip about degreaser on the frame. For the frame I'm going to use a rag/sponge and soapy water plus Q-tips for those hard to get areas. I know a lot of people use hoses, but I don't have one in my apartment! It'll have to be an old-fashioned bucket for me and little by little so I don't soak my living room, which is where I keep my bike. I get the feeling I'll end up making a mess though despite my best efforts
    It's fairly easy to use and you can get the hang of it pretty quickly. Expect the chain to hop off once or twice and you'll have to handle a greasy wet chain so have plenty of rags handy. When you're working with degreaser, cleaning a bike/bike drive-chain it's hard to be neat. It's just one of those jobs that isn't. Can you seek a friends driveway with hose handy? Relative? I live in an apartment and have done it outside on the patio with a couple of buckets of sudsy water handy and we also have a car wash area with hose and stuff. I don't have a bike repair stand to hold it up off the ground so the pedals spin easily and my success is more dependent on what I've rigged up to hold the bike where the pedals will turn. The better job I do of that, the easier the cleaning goes. Good luck with whatever choice you make!

    This thread motivated me to clean my drive chain and bike today, it needed it from several dirt road rides in the last couple of weeks. Looks sweet now!

    Edited to add;
    I usually do two treatments because the first time the container is just black and oily. It's a bit less so the second time and if time permits I do it once with sudsy water then dry it holding the chain lightly between my fingers while holding a rag.
    Last edited by Bike Writer; 05-21-2013 at 06:15 PM.
    Bike Writer

    http://pedaltohealth.blogspot.com/

    Schwinn Gateway unknown year
    Specalized Expedition Sport Low-Entry 2011

  13. #13
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    northern Virginia
    Posts
    5,897
    Quote Originally Posted by withm View Post
    Do NOT attempt to clean your bike or chain inside your house or apt. I would not even do it in a tile tub/shower. The grease will invariably get on the one surface that cant' be cleaned, including all of your walls, floors, clothes and towels. I know this.

    This is an outside project to be performed with gloves, rags, and clothes you don't care about.
    I clean my bike indoors all the time. I live in a condo with no outdoor option except for an unshaded balcony that was recently deemed unsafe for heavy loads by the condo association (replacement planned in the fall).

    Most of the time I just clean and lube the chain. I take papers out of the recycle pile (I usually have some sale papers from the grocery store that I can use, though ripping pages from a glossy catalog will also work) and spread them out on the floor to cover an area larger than the bike, then I put the bike upside-down on top of them. I make sure to have a roll of paper towels handy as well as a container of Wet-Ones to clean my hands. I clean the chain and wipe the gunk off those two small cog wheels at the back whose name I can't think of right now. Then I apply lube (current brand is Rock n Roll, which is a bit messy but not too bad). I hold paper towel under the chain to catch the excess as I put a few drops of lube on each link. I make sure to place the bottle of chain lube and anything else that might be messy on the paper rather than directly on the floor.

    If the frame needs to be cleaned, I either use a damp rag or some pink bike cleaner that I bought years ago. I spray it on some paper towel, clean an area and then wipe it off with clean paper towel.

    I have some pale purple pajamas that still sport a small grease stain from when I wore them a few years ago while cleaning the bike, but otherwise I don't think any clothes have gotten permanently stained. I did get grease on my pink flannel bathrobe once but was able to get it clean.

    I currently have old wall-to-wall carpet that I hate, so I don't much care if I get it dirty. I'm hoping to get rid of it soon and replace it with new wood floors and area rugs. When that happens I'll probably buy a cheap vinyl shower curtain to use as a drop cloth, since that will protect the floor better.

    If the bike is really dirty, like with dirt and mud from riding in wet conditions, I will wipe the whole thing down with paper towels before I bring it in the house.

    During the winter, I bring the bike to the shop for annual clean-and-tune service. Usually I do this in January when they offer special deals to get people into the shop during the slow winter season. This is also a good time to hang out and chat and get to know the LBS people, because they are usually pretty bored and maybe even kinda lonely at that time of year.

    - Gray 2010 carbon WSD road bike, Rivet Independence saddle
    - Red hardtail 26" aluminum mountain bike, Bontrager Evoke WSD saddle
    - Royal blue 2018 aluminum gravel bike, Rivet Pearl saddle

    Gone but not forgotten:
    - Silver 2003 aluminum road bike
    - Two awesome worn out Juliana saddles

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    MS
    Posts
    220
    I use a 1:20 dilution of Simply Green to clean my drivetrain (stronger if needed). Spray it on & let it stand a few minutes. I have a chain cleaning tool I use, then rinse with a light flow of water. Always clean your drivetrain first. Then use soapy water for the rest of the bike, and once again rinse well. Sometimes I hand dry, somtimes sun dry. Re-lube the chain, etc and let it sit at least 10 minutes. Then with a clean rag wipe ALL the excess lube off the chain. There should not be any lube left on the outside of the chain, it will only attract dirt.
    I try to do a full clean once a month, lube chain about every two weeks.
    "Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly" (Robert F. Kennedy)

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Location
    the dry side
    Posts
    4,367
    A bike chain first? I had to detail my drive train after four days of British Columbia mountain biking. The silt in the chain was making a grinding sound! Right after I washed the chain DH asked me to go biking with him! Doh, chain is not dry enough to put on the bike. So since I don't have a blow dryer I put in in a pan and put it in a hot oven for twenty minutes to get all the moisture out of it.
    2015 Liv Intrigue 2
    Pro Mongoose Titanium Singlespeed
    2012 Trek Madone 4.6 Compact SRAM

 

 

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