​The Simple Solution to a Dirty Bike Chain

The Simple Solution to a Dirty Bike Chain

Say goodbye to that dirty squeaky bike chain. In my opinion, way too many people just let their chains get all gummed up with dirt and grease. If they only knew how much their chain and chain rings (and other parts that come into contact with the chain) do not like it.

We all been told that we should always keep our bike chains good and lubricated and we’ve all found lots of different concoctions to throw onto our chains in the name of good lubrication I’m sure. I’ve seen motor oil used as well as heavy greasing grease as well. Not really the types of lubricant that you should be using on the bike.

I recently found a really straightforward article on a how to quickly clean a bike chain. What I liked about this article was that it assumed that you had only the typical products that most of us have stored away in our garages. Things like rags, solvents (i.e. WD-40), an old toothbrush (and to keep the mess to a minimum), some old newspapers.

Start With Your Work Station

Bike chains are typically greasy and dirty. Our goal is to remove as much of that grease as possible in the shortest time possible. Lay down newspapers on the floor of your work area so that any drippings will be soaked up and not dropped onto the floor.

For this bike chain cleaning procedure, the article does not discuss the use of a bike chain cleaner. It keeps the article simple and uses rags instead. To learn more about how to use a bike specific chain cleaner read this chain cleaning article.

Grease Be Gone

With your bike chain in the large chain ring in the front and the smallest cog in the back, spray and wipe down your bike chain with a degreasing solvent (in this case WD-40). I got a bit nervous when I first read this statement because I had always been told to never put WD-40 on a bike chain. I did a bit more research and the intent of the “no WD-40” statement was always in regards to lubing a bike chain.

In regards to lubrication of the bike chain, that statement still holds true. WD-40 will not lubricate your bike chain; it will actually remove the lubrication (and grease) which is why it is being used in this chain cleaning procedure.

As you spray the solvent onto the chain, start wiping down with a clean rag. As you spray and wipe, keep turning the chain so you gradually work your way the entire distance of the chain. By this time your rag is going to be quite greasy so replace it with a new one and do another rotation around your chain (soaking and wiping). By the second time around, your chain should start to look quite a bit cleaner.

Get Out the Toothbrush

You are going to notice that the rag is hard to get into some of the tighter sections of your chain. This is where the toothbrush will come in handy. Spray some of these hard to reach sections with solvent and lightly scrub them with the brush (see pictures of this process here). You’ll see that it does a wonderful job.

While you’re at it you should also do a quick rub down of other areas of your bike that have picked up some grease as well. Your chain rings, sprockets and pulleys could all use a good soaking and scrubbing. With that complete do one last rub down with a clean cloth before moving onto the final step.

​Lubricate Your Chain

​Now that your chain is clean, you will want to give it a nice lube job using a bike chain type of lube. There are many on the market (I personally use Prolink), but they all do a very good job. Now that your chain is fully lubricated, you will also notice how much quieter it actually is when it starts spinning again. For me, a quiet bike is a joy to ride.

​There you have it, a simple procedure for cleaning and lubricating your bike chain. I’m curious to know how others clean their bike chains? Do you use a bike chain cleaner, or do you actually remove the chain from the bike before cleaning? Let the rest of us know! Other’s experience is greatly appreciated.

There you have it, a simple procedure for cleaning and lubricating your bike chain. I’m curious to know how others clean their bike chains? Do you use a bike chain cleaner, or do you actually remove the chain from the bike before cleaning? Let the rest of us know! Other’s experience is greatly appreciated.
Lubricate Your Chain
Robert Flaherty
 

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