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Cleaning and Lubricating Your Chain

Cleaning your Chain

Keeping your chain clean will make it last longer and give a smoother gear change. The chain can be cleaned on or off the bike and is down to personal choice.

On the bike

This method uses a device that is placed on the chain whilst on the bike. It contains brushes and rollers that flex the chain and run it through a reservoir of solvent.

Off the bike

If you are going to take the chain off the bike on a regular basis it’s worth fitting an masterlink that permits regular removal. We tend to fit KMC chains that come with one ready fitted. Modern chains don’t take kindly to being regularly removed with a chain extractor as each time you remove a pin you weaken that link.

The easiest way to clean the chain off bike is to drop the chain into a plastic bottle with a small amount of un-diluted citrus degreaser, cap it, and shake thoroughly. Use a bottle that has a decent size top so you can get the chain out! Pour out and safely dispose of the degreaser, refill the bottle with water and shake to rinse. Remove the chain and dry thoroughly. You’re now ready to lubricate.

Lubricating your Chain

The type of lubricant you use will be very much a personal choice but there is definitely something you SHOULD NOT use and that’s WD40. This is because WD40 is not a lubricant but a solvent that is good for loosening rusted nuts and dispersing water! Using this on your chain will do it no good whatsoever.

Here are some options:

  • Light machine oil will penetrate deep into the chain. You only need a light application as the drawback of using oils such as this is that they attract grit which is the enemy of your chain causing premature wear of not just your chain but other drivetrain components.
  • Synthetic “Dry” Lubrication goes on wet, but then sets up in a dry, ‘paste-like’ film so it will not attract or absorb grit and grime. Good for on or off-road riding – especially in dry, dirty, dusty conditions, while still providing adequate wet weather performance. Holds up to extreme pressures and resists water wash-off. A very versatile all-weather chain lubricant. Also, use on derailleurs, brake and shifter pivots.
  • Synthetic “Wet” Lubrication goes on wet and stays wet on the chain. Recommended for long-distance riding and extreme weather conditions. If you use wet lube for riding off-road or in dry climates, be sure to wipe the excess from parts; this will help minimize the attraction of dirt and grime.
  • Wax Lubrication goes on wet, but dries to a hard, dry, super-slick wax film. No oily greasy film to attract or absorb dust and dirt. Wax lube requires more frequent application, but your drivetrain will remain nearly contaminant-free, so cleaning before relubing is not usually required.

Finish Line and White Lightning are two well know manufacturers of lubricants and degreasers.