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Fishman

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Reply with quote  #1 
What is your prefered method to thoroughly clean a chain of the grit, dirt and grime of gravel/dirt road miles?

I have access to an ultrasonic cleaning tank with a cleaning/lubricating solution. This helps a lot.

First I removing the chain and wipe it down and give it a scrub with a stiff bristle brush. Then I place it in the tank for 5 min or so. It comes out clean but I can still feel and hear fine grit in the chain. To clean this, as best as possible, I rinse and brush in warm water. Then I dry the chain. 

While the chain is off the bike I wipe down and scrub the rest of the drive train.

After replacing it on the bike I lube for current conditions.       
 
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bobknh

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Reply with quote  #2 
My $.02 on chain cleaning: Many of you may hate this suggestion; but I use WD-40 both as a chain cleaner and lubricant. I first spray my chain with a good dose of WD. Let it sit for a few minutes. Then wash it of with a water and dish soap using a Park chain and gear brush. Rinse with water, dry with rag or shop towels, and then re-apply light coat of WD. Works for me on many bikes for many miles. Since this method is fast and easy, you are more likely to clean your chain and drive train frequently. If you don't like WD-40, please use something else. Here is a video from the boys at GCN: 
 . I'm not as careful with the rest of my bike as shown here. But, I try to wash the drive train at least once a week -- or after any particularly muddy or dusty ride.
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BluesDawg

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Reply with quote  #3 
After most rides I backpedal and run my chain through a clean, dry rag in my hand to remove surface dirt. If it still looks dirty, I might dampen the rag with a little WD-40 and do it again. When the bike is dirty enough for a thorough cleaning, I'll spray the chain with the same Pro Gold bike wash that I'm using on the rest of the bike. After rinsing and allowing it to dry, I'll relube the chain and run it through a dry rag to remove as much surface lube as possible. I haven't taken a chain off to clean it in several years. I don't see the point of it.
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RoverAl

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Reply with quote  #4 
Wiping off the chain after every ride with a dry rag goes a long way to keeping it clean. In FLorida sand is the chain destroyer and it is hard to get it out of all the spaces, using a brush after a ride helps then wipe with rag.
I get about 125 miles out of an application of RnR gold. Every  600 miles or so I use the park tool chain clamp thing with rotating brushes filled with simple green. Rinse dry apply RnR gold My chains last about 1800 miles on average mol.
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bnystrom

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Reply with quote  #5 
For a thorough cleaning, I spray on Citra-Solve, work it in and brush the chain to remove any accumulated crud. After a thorough rinse and wiping dry, I apply chain lube, work it in, wipe it down, lube again, work it in, then a final wipe down. During this process, I also clean the chainrings and cassette.

Mineral spirits (a.k.a.,"paint thinner") on a rag works great for wiping down the chain periodically, between cleanings.

WD-40 is fine as a cleaner or rust preventative wipe-down, but it's useless as a lubricant. It has very poor lubricating properties, doesn't last long and make a black oily mess of a chain. The only thing it has going for it is that it's cheap, but there are superior spray lubes available for around the same price. I only use WD-40 as a water displacer (which is where "WD" come from) and rust preventer.

For lubrication, for years I used Pro-Link and I've experimented with at least a dozen other lubes. I'm currently using a home brew that works better than any commercial lube I've used.
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RoverAl

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Reply with quote  #6 
The last post reminded me about how I clean my cassette periodically. I was browsing bike stuff on amazon and came across gear floss. I almost bought it but tried some jute twine I have for my garden. Worked perfectly, just fit it in between the cogs and pull back and forth all the way around. Gets rid of all the deep down crud. 
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bnystrom

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Reply with quote  #7 
I just use the edge of a rag to get between the cogs, but the twine idea is a good one.
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BluesDawg

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Reply with quote  #8 
Quote:
Originally Posted by bnystrom
I just use the edge of a rag to get between the cogs, but the twine idea is a good one.


If you've done organized rides for several years like I have, you have an abundant supply of old t-shirts to cut up and use for rags. The cuffs, collars and hem make great cassette floss.
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bobknh

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Reply with quote  #9 
Quote:
Originally Posted by bnystrom
For a thorough cleaning, I spray on Citra-Solve, work it in and brush the chain to remove any accumulated crud. After a thorough rinse and wiping dry, I apply chain lube, work it in, wipe it down, lube again, work it in, then a final wipe down. During this process, I also clean the chainrings and cassette.

Mineral spirits (a.k.a.,"paint thinner") on a rag works great for wiping down the chain periodically, between cleanings.

WD-40 is fine as a cleaner or rust preventative wipe-down, but it's useless as a lubricant. It has very poor lubricating properties, doesn't last long and make a black oily mess of a chain. The only thing it has going for it is that it's cheap, but there are superior spray lubes available for around the same price. I only use WD-40 as a water displacer (which is where "WD" come from) and rust preventer.

For lubrication, for years I used Pro-Link and I've experimented with at least a dozen other lubes. I'm currently using a home brew that works better than any commercial lube I've used.

OK - It's probably never going to change your mind, and I admit that I'm often pig headed as well. But, here is a picture of my bike's drive train taken after a few rides on dirt and gravel after a WD-40 treatment ala GCN https://photos.google.com/photo/AF1QipP1NqD-rzH2EYA5GD3B2Dy6eFlRyqpYUWyelZxI. No accumulated black gunk, and still pretty clean. Also, the drive train is smooth and quiet. I'd probably also get good results with your method. But, this works for me. I can only suggest that riders should keep an open mind. Try the WD-40 method. If it doesn't work for you -- I get it. If it does, welcome to the club.
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RoverAl

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Reply with quote  #10 
The twine floss is so much easier to fit in the cassette and you can make it two feet long. Nothing wrong with the rag that's what I used before. Try it and see so much easier. Don't need to take wheel off either.

Anyone ever try WD40 bike specific lube?
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bnystrom

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Reply with quote  #11 
If you can keep your chain clean while using WD-40, that's great, but it does nothing to address the fact that it's a really piss-poor lubricant. The WD-40 Company has even added a variety of actual lubricants - including chain lube - to their product line, acknowledging that their original product is crap when it comes to lubrication, at least for anything more demanding than squeaky hinges. With the cost of drivetrain parts, it doesn't make sense to shorten their life by using a notoriously poor lubricant when there are better alternatives available. If you want to use WD-40 as your chain lube, that's your choice, but it seems like false economy to me.

I'll always keep some around to keep my tools from rusting and to help loosen rusted bolts, but I would only use it on a bike as a last - and temporary - resort.
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jonz

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Reply with quote  #12 
I use one of the Park Tool chain cleaner things that come apart and clip over the chain.  I use Simple Green or similar degreaser in it.  Run the chain in that for a bit, then use a brush and more cleaner on the cogs and chain wheels, and then use that chain cleaner apparatus again.  It gets a lot of the gunk off.  However, every once in awhile, I take the chain off and soak it in plain old gasoline.  I even did that once right after using the Park Tool apparatus and was surprised at the amount of fine grit that came off the cleaned chain.  I sometimes smack a large cardboard box with that cleaned chain and more off colored liquid comes off.  Then I lube it up with whatever chain lube I have handy
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knl2stl

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Reply with quote  #13 
 WD-40 and gas.  Takes me back to my BMX days of the 70s.  
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bnystrom

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Reply with quote  #14 
I hear you, although I used to use "white gasoline" (a.k.a. "Colemen fuel") and occasionally still do. It's less volatile, less flammable and nowhere near as noxious as regular pump gas.

I've tried Simple Green and found that it really isn't a great degreaser, so I gave up on it for bike use. If you want a good chain cleaner that's water soluble, citrus cleaners do a far better job, though they may be more expensive.
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OTHRider

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Reply with quote  #15 
I have been using the Park chain cleaner for about 8 years. A little citrus-based cleaner works wonders. For the dusty SoCal trails I ride it is a must to really get the chain clean.  This summer I switched over to Muck Off DRY chain lube and it has been great.  I can easily get in 5 or 6 normal rides before my chain starts to act funny.  I also wipe down my chain after every ride.
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RoverAl

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Reply with quote  #16 
Quote:
Originally Posted by bnystrom
I used to use "white gasoline" (a.k.a. "Colemen fuel") and occasionally still do.


Gasoline or Coleman fuel, makes using WD40 that much more reasonable.
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bobknh

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Reply with quote  #17 
Quote:
Originally Posted by bnystrom
If you can keep your chain clean while using WD-40, that's great, but it does nothing to address the fact that it's a really piss-poor lubricant. The WD-40 Company has even added a variety of actual lubricants - including chain lube - to their product line, acknowledging that their original product is crap when it comes to lubrication, at least for anything more demanding than squeaky hinges. With the cost of drivetrain parts, it doesn't make sense to shorten their life by using a notoriously poor lubricant when there are better alternatives available. If you want to use WD-40 as your chain lube, that's your choice, but it seems like false economy to me.

I'll always keep some around to keep my tools from rusting and to help loosen rusted bolts, but I would only use it on a bike as a last - and temporary - resort.

I really don't know how to respond to your assertion about WD-40 being a poor lubricant. I typed a lengthy refutation and defense by cherry picking various facts and figures etc., then deleted the reply. My bottom line is personal experience using it on lots of bikes and lots of miles with very good results. The central property of WD-40 is it's low viscosity and ability to stick to metal surfaces. This makes it an excellent penetrant and cleaner. But while I find that WD picks up less dirt and prevents corrosion, I do find that it wears off more quickly, and must be replenished more frequently than some other products I use such as Triflo and T4. In the GCN video for example, he washes and re-applies the WD after every ride. I'm less fastidious. I re-apply WD after about 200 miles of riding. More frequently if I ride in muddy or wet conditions; or when I hear the chain sounding dry. I also use WD as an alternative to washing my bike when I find washing it inconvenient.
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reanimated

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Reply with quote  #18 
Quote:
Originally Posted by RoverAl
The last post reminded me about how I clean my cassette periodically. I was browsing bike stuff on amazon and came across gear floss. I almost bought it but tried some jute twine I have for my garden. Worked perfectly, just fit it in between the cogs and pull back and forth all the way around. Gets rid of all the deep down crud. 


I believe I bought that gear floss you saw on Amazon and I have to tell you I was pretty disappointed with it.  It shreds very easily when you catch a tooth on it and just doesn't work very well. I am back to brushing and slipping the edge of a rag between the cogs. 
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NoCoGreg

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Reply with quote  #19 
The WD-40 bicycle specific lubes work great for me (not to be confused with the common spray can of WD-40).

Lots of people here in Colorado swear by the WD-40 dry lube for mountain biking where typical conditions are dry and dusty. Lots and lots of dust. 

I'm a wet lube proponent. The WD-40 wet lube, like Tri-Flo, contains a solvent which will evaporate over several days and leave a thicker higher viscosity lube. This is exactly what I want INSIDE the chain links.

Like others I will wipe down the chain with a rag that has a solvent (mineral spirits or WD-40).  WD-40 on the rag does a good job of collecting the dust and dirt.

Putting the chain on the big chainring and small cog, I will then apply a drop of wet lube to each link only working on the inside surface between the derailleur cage and chainring and ensure the lube gets between the plates.  After the lube gets pulled into the chain by surface tension (aka wicking action) I'll give the chain a quick wipe to remove excess from the outside and reposition the chain to get the next set of links.  Once the entire chain has been lubed I'll back pedal and wipe off excess from the outside.

I'll then let the bike hang for a few days for the oil to thicken some. On the first ride after lubing the chain I'll ride for a couple miles and wipe the chain as excess oil gets squeezed out of the rollers.

The excess oil and pedaling will flush some of the grit and grime out of the chain.  

After about three stops to wipe off the chain pretty much all of the excess oil has been pushed out and what remains inside will last for hundreds of miles.  

Chain-L oil, which happens to be very similar to chainsaw bar lube, lasts a very-very-very long time. It goes on like honey. Is really-really-really messy and because it's so thick it is sloooooow to wick into the chain. But once the chain has been lubed and a few miles of riding and wiping, this stuff lasts a long time!

Bottom line: the goal for wet lubes in dusty locations like Colorado is to have the oil inside the chain and keep the outside plate and roller surfaces dry.

For the truly OCD folks out there who want to get ALL the grit out of the chain, I found the Barbieri cleaner to work best for me (also tried the Park and Finish Line cleaners).  The basic method is to use a citrus degreaser or mineral solvent to break down the oils in the chain and then flush out the dirt by running water in the chain cleaner.   To get a chain truly clean took several cycles of degreaser and flushing.  One last hack to speed up drying - use rubbing (isopropyl) alcohol for the final rinse.  It will displace water, wick out quickly into a rag and anything remaining will evaporate quickly. 

New chains are packed in grease so don't deep clean a new chain by soaking or flushing with mineral spirits. It's far better to clean the surface by wiping and then lube with oil.  Sure after 1000 or more miles feel free to clean however you'd like but I have heard of people using mineral spirits on a barely used chain. 

Last note: cleaning and lubing chains are religious topics.  What I've described is purely my experience over many years and tens of thousands of miles. There are lots of ways to make a chain last a long time and I seem to get good results with the quick wipe & lube.
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NoCoGreg

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Reply with quote  #20 
Quote:
Originally Posted by bobknh

I really don't know how to respond to your assertion about WD-40 being a poor lubricant. I typed a lengthy refutation and defense by cherry picking various facts and figures etc., then deleted the reply. My bottom line is personal experience using it on lots of bikes and lots of miles with very good results. The central property of WD-40 is it's low viscosity and ability to stick to metal surfaces. This makes it an excellent penetrant and cleaner. But while I find that WD picks up less dirt and prevents corrosion, I do find that it wears off more quickly, and must be replenished more frequently than some other products I use such as Triflo and T4. In the GCN video for example, he washes and re-applies the WD after every ride. I'm less fastidious. I re-apply WD after about 200 miles of riding. More frequently if I ride in muddy or wet conditions; or when I hear the chain sounding dry. I also use WD as an alternative to washing my bike when I find washing it inconvenient.
 
Sounds like "traditional" WD-40 would be a good substitute for dry lubes....  

BTW - WD-40 also a very inexpensive frame protectant. If you know you'll be riding your steel bike in wet conditions a bit of WD-40 sprayed into the various tubes will go a long way in protecting against rust. Just do it several days in advance so it has time to thicken on the tubes.

While I haven't used WD-40 for washing a bike, it does work great at removing tar and dried on bugs.  For quick bike cleaning I'm a fan of Windex and Pledge.  Cheap and easy...  :-)

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egear

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Reply with quote  #21 
Spray the inside of your frame with motorcycle chain lube.  It drys to a sticky consistency and really protects the frame from rust.  Cheaper then framesaver by a mile and I bet you could do 30+ frames with one can of it.
I just happened to have a can laying around from a dirt bike I had.  As all my bikes are steel I was glad to find that it works so well.

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Zurichman

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Reply with quote  #22 
I read thru this entire thread. It seems like everybody has their preferred oil lube for their bike. I guess I haven't really found my sweet spot yet. I do know I stopped using Simple Green as a cleaner once I saw it doing a number on my tires making them soft. I do know LBS shops that use a Gatorade qt. bottle and use a removable link in their chains and then use chain bright to clean the chains by shaking it around some. They then rinse it off with hot water. This has been my experience with lubes. The dry lubes like White Lighting for me doesn't seem to lube the chain enough. The wet lubes seem to gunk up on me and collect a lot of dirt. I wish I had found my magic chain lube but I am not there yet.


Zman

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bobknh

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Reply with quote  #23 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zurichman
I read thru this entire thread. It seems like everybody has their preferred oil lube for their bike. I guess I haven't really found my sweet spot yet. I do know I stopped using Simple Green as a cleaner once I saw it doing a number on my tires making them soft. I do know LBS shops that use a Gatorade qt. bottle and use a removable link in their chains and then use chain bright to clean the chains by shaking it around some. They then rinse it off with hot water. This has been my experience with lubes. The dry lubes like White Lighting for me doesn't seem to lube the chain enough. The wet lubes seem to gunk up on me and collect a lot of dirt. I wish I had found my magic chain lube but I am not there yet.


Zman

Hey Zman- Chain cleaning and lube is almost like discussing diet, religion, and politics. Topics that are usually banned or avoided on bike forums. I've taken 74 trips orbits around the sun. I've been riding bikes seriously for the last 60 of them. Unlike the folks from GCN, I don't insist that my bike be sparkling clean; and I hate washing bikes. WD works for me. If you haven't tried it, I suggest keeping an open mind. If you haven't tried using it regularly, try it. My method is a skinny version of GCN's. I only wash the bike once a week. Frequently I just do the drive train. I don't even use a bucket of soapy water. I have one of those dish brushes that you fill with liquid dish soap. I soak the drive train wish WD. Let it sit for a few minutes. Wet it with hose. Scrub it with the dish brush ( also a Park gunk brush for the cassette). Then hose it off, and re-apply the WD. If I don't have access to water hose, I use an inexpensive 2 gallon garden sprayer filled with plain water. Actually better for the bike since you are less likely to get water into the bearings.
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PoolBoyMatt

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Reply with quote  #24 

The only thing I haven't seen mentioned is the Finish Line Grunge Brush. 

I wet the brush, squirt in a healthy dollop of dish soap, and scrub a wet bike. I find that wetting the bike first helps the chain grease droplets that sling out not stick to the bike as much. The next step would be finishing the wash of the rest of the bike. I pull my rear wheel and do the rag between the cogs, and since I don't have a front der I use the 3 sided end of the Grunge Brush on the front ring after slipping the chain off. If you have a double +, the single sided end works great, just stab it onto the big ring (with chain in small ring position) and rotate crank, shift der and repeat.

I use a 5 gallon bucket, dish soap, + these items:
http://www1.jensonusa.com/Finish-Line-Easy-Pro-Brush-Set

http://www1.jensonusa.com/Finish-Line-Grunge-Brush

 

I am a fan of functionally clean, not aesthetically clean, and never remove my chain for cleaning unless something terrible has happened, like Land Run 100. Then, honestly, I probably just throw it away. It sounds wasteful, but at that point you probably will never salvage it back to proper.

I use Tri Flow as chain lube when all done.

 

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bobknh

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Reply with quote  #25 
Quote:
Originally Posted by PoolBoyMatt

The only thing I haven't seen mentioned is the Finish Line Grunge Brush. 

I wet the brush, squirt in a healthy dollop of dish soap, and scrub a wet bike. I find that wetting the bike first helps the chain grease droplets that sling out not stick to the bike as much. The next step would be finishing the wash of the rest of the bike. I pull my rear wheel and do the rag between the cogs, and since I don't have a front der I use the 3 sided end of the Grunge Brush on the front ring after slipping the chain off. If you have a double +, the single sided end works great, just stab it onto the big ring (with chain in small ring position) and rotate crank, shift der and repeat.

I use a 5 gallon bucket, dish soap, + these items:
http://www1.jensonusa.com/Finish-Line-Easy-Pro-Brush-Set

http://www1.jensonusa.com/Finish-Line-Grunge-Brush

 

I am a fan of functionally clean, not aesthetically clean, and never remove my chain for cleaning unless something terrible has happened, like Land Run 100. Then, honestly, I probably just throw it away. It sounds wasteful, but at that point you probably will never salvage it back to proper.

I use Tri Flow as chain lube when all done.

 


Matt - I'm with you on your bike clean ethos. I also like Triflo. But, I find that the teflon particles in it tend to cake up in the chain plates, pins, as well as on the jockey pulleys and chain rings if you aren't diligent with your scrubbing. That's why I usually use WD-40. The trade off is that the Triflo lasts longer. I don't race and avoid riding in rain or muddy conditions. If I were to tackle some longer, tougher rides in poorer conditions, I might switch to Triflo or T9 for my lubricant. Also, even though I use SRAM chains with quick links, I don't pull my chain to clean it. I do check the chain wear regularly with my trusty Park chain gauge. I put on a new chain, when it gets on the dark side of 50%. Much less expensive to replace a chain then to replace a cassette or chain rings.
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