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  1. #1
    Dad
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    Getting water on your chain

    I need y'all to help settle a disagreement between a friend and me.

    He's absolutely adamant that under almost no circumstances should you ever get water on your chain, especially when cleaning, to such an extent that he thinks I'm an utter amateur who knows nothing about bikes (I've been around bikes for a long time). He insists that if you speak to any 'pro' involved in bikes, they will tell you the same.

    I find this really odd for a number of reasons and don't agree.

    Firstly, my chain gets a regular soaking in water, mud, etc, when I ride.

    Secondly, I have always cleaned my bike by;

    1) a liberal spray down from a low pressure hose to remove mud
    2) apply a strong degreaser and leave for 15 mins or so
    3) scrub with a brush
    4) rinse with water
    5) wipe dry
    6) spray WD40 to displace water
    7) wipe
    8) lube

    I have never had any problems with this approach. No rust. Gets all the fine grit and crap out. My chains have always been in great shape.

    But he says you should only get water on the chain in extreme cleaning situations, like once a year, and should use other methods such as an air hose.

    Who's right?

  2. #2
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    As long as it is allowed to dry quickly and thoroughly after being washed then it will be just fine. Apply light oil and aim for the puddles next ride.

    I've foolishly put bikes in the shed wet and muddy and pulled em out a few days later to find they've rusted up and they've always been fine after being brushed clean and oiled.

  3. #3
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    Most dirt, if you let it dry, will easily wipe of with a towel. No water needed.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dad View Post
    I need y'all to help settle a disagreement between a friend and me.
    Just stick it in granny and start grinding.

  5. #5
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    Citrus degreasers are water based and made to clean chains.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by eb1888 View Post
    Most dirt, if you let it dry, will easily wipe of with a towel. No water needed.
    Most dirt I encounter is mud. I.e. grit, earth, etc, in water. It gets into the chain. How'd you get it out by just wiping the chain?

  7. #7
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    There is nothing wrong with getting a chain wet unless it sits in water constantly. I wouldnt use water to clean it, but getting it wet it no big deal at all. People ride in the rain, through puddles, and wash their bikes with water all the time. No issues.

  8. #8
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    It's your bike. If the cleaning process works for you keep doing it IMHO.
    I would only use a "mild" degreaser.
    Just make sure your chain is dry after washing. Some use denatured alcohol to do this. The WD40 will remove the water from your chain. It may interfere with the chain lube you are using. WD40 makes great degreaser.
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  9. #9
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    I made the mistake of having a dig at a local singlespeeder about his rusty chain once. His response was that a clean chain would not make him go downhill any faster and he still had to get off on steep uphills. I don't ever remember being able to keep up with him. At least his chain was dry.

  10. #10
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    Never EVER let him close to a CX pit area during a muddy race or he might die from shock!

  11. #11
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    I always rinse off the chain with water.

    But...I always get it to dry 100% then lube.

    No problems in 20 years

  12. #12
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    I got my chain wet once and it fell apart. Never again.
    Bikes, lots'o bikes

  13. #13
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    A bike that doesn't get water on the chain is a bike that doesn't get ridden.

    Tell your friend to take his garage queen bike and STFU. Water does not hurt a chain as long as you keep it lubed. I rarely clean or dry off my bike after riding or even if it rains on the way home and my bike is soaked. My chain is well lubed and not a spot of rust. I also scrub it with a stiff brush using water and degreaser when I do wash my bike. I wipe the chain with a rag and oil it up. No issues.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dad View Post
    Most dirt I encounter is mud. I.e. grit, earth, etc, in water. It gets into the chain. How'd you get it out by just wiping the chain?
    My dry and wipe with a towel really applies to the frame and fork.

    I don't ride in a lot of mud. When it's that wet I stay off and run the river.
    But when my chain is dirty I am setup to use another clean chain.
    Pop the link and put your cleaned and oiled chain#2 of 3 on.
    Wipe the outside off and....soak it in Stihl bar oil until its turn comes around.
    If just dirty apply the bar oil with a plastic syringe to the top and bottom chain run on the bike. Then the dirt is picked up and you can drive the chain with the bike on the stand as you use the towel to squeeze/wipe the excess oil.
    If I was doing this a lot a wax dipped chain would be my next move.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Farmguy View Post
    Never EVER let him close to a CX pit area during a muddy race or he might die from shock!
    Exactly what I was thinking.

  16. #16
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    A chain is not a piece of fine jewelry. Clean it with water or a water based cleaner. Dry it. Lube it. By the time the water has harmed it, it SHOULD have worn enough from riding to need to be replaced anyway. A chain is not supposed to last forever.

  17. #17
    El Gato Malo
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    Chains aren't made of sugar, they won't melt if they get wet.

  18. #18
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    Never get water on your chain?? This may very well be the stupidest bike maintenance myth I've ever heard.

  19. #19
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  20. #20
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    Getting water on your chain

    Quote Originally Posted by Dad View Post
    I need y'all to help settle a disagreement between a friend and me.

    He's absolutely adamant that under almost no circumstances should you ever get water on your chain, especially when cleaning, to such an extent that he thinks I'm an utter amateur who knows nothing about bikes (I've been around bikes for a long time). He insists that if you speak to any 'pro' involved in bikes, they will tell you the same.

    I find this really odd for a number of reasons and don't agree.

    Firstly, my chain gets a regular soaking in water, mud, etc, when I ride.

    Secondly, I have always cleaned my bike by;

    1) a liberal spray down from a low pressure hose to remove mud
    2) apply a strong degreaser and leave for 15 mins or so
    3) scrub with a brush
    4) rinse with water
    5) wipe dry
    6) spray WD40 to displace water
    7) wipe
    8) lube

    I have never had any problems with this approach. No rust. Gets all the fine grit and crap out. My chains have always been in great shape.

    But he says you should only get water on the chain in extreme cleaning situations, like once a year, and should use other methods such as an air hose.

    Who's right?
    I think you are both wrong.

    I do not worry about water on the bike, as long as I am not totally submerging it.

    I do not do anything special to clean the chain.
    I may hose it off if it is muddy.
    I never use degreaser or water disperser on it.
    Wipe with a rag. Lube. Wipe. Done.
    Over cleaning a chain can remove the lube from the inside of the links and is tough to replace.
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  21. #21
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    I agree with Shiggy. Too many people overdo it with chain maintenance. Just lube it once in awhile and call it good. No need to do anything else.

  22. #22
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    Getting water on your chain

    Wd40 is not the best lubricant. It's more for displacing water. Hence the "WD" part.

    Get a good chain lube like tri flow or anything from white lightening. Lube every few rides. Wash or wipe off chain. Lube. Then wipe chain down lightly. Done!!!

    And your buddy is a *******. How are you gonna ride outside without getting the chain wet. What the hell is wrong with ppl. Be a man!! Rub some dirt on it and harden the F up!!!

    And before ppl go crazy about price of any chain lube.. It lasts forever!!!!! It's like $6-8 for enough to last to rapture!

  23. #23
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    Getting water on your chain

    Quote Originally Posted by jkidd_39 View Post
    Wd40 is not the best lubricant. It's more for displacing water. Hence the "WD" part.

    Get a good chain lube like tri flow or anything from white lightening. Lube every few rides. Wash or wipe off chain. Lube. Then wipe chain down lightly. Done!!!

    And your buddy is a *******. How are you gonna ride outside without getting the chain wet. What the hell is wrong with ppl. Be a man!! Rub some dirt on it and harden the F up!!!

    And before ppl go crazy about price of any chain lube.. It lasts forever!!!!! It's like $6-8 for enough to last to rapture!
    WD40 is a solvent and REMOVES and displaces lubricants. Exactly what you do not want.
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  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by shiggy View Post
    WD40 is a solvent and REMOVES and displaces lubricants. Exactly what you do not want.
    That depends. I actually use WD-40 to clean my chain. Its properties make it great at getting all the dirt out.(literally pushes the dirt out of the links) But then I use an air compressor and blow all the WD-40 off, and use chain lube to complete the job.

    It should not be used as a lubricant, but it does have useful properties if used as a cleaner.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by shiggy View Post
    WD40 is a solvent and REMOVES and displaces lubricants. Exactly what you do not want.
    I realize this.. hence why I said it's not the best thing... there are far too many guys that use it as lub to say it's a true chain killer.

    I recommend not using wd40.. but many do.. I didn't wanna say it's not a lube cuz I didn't wanna argue with the one guy that has used it for 20 years and wants to be all knowing on the net..

    I'm a big fan of triflow and white lightning

  26. #26
    Dad
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    Smile

    So the ultimate chain cleaner would be an ultrasonic acetone bath you could slowly run the chain through without taking it off the bike. This would;

    1) strip all lubricants very effectively
    2) shake out and rinse out all grit and abrasives
    3) dry very quickly ready for the next lube

    That would be a truly awesome tool. Expensive, but awesome and if you, like me, have to take care of fifteen bikes regularly ridden in mud and crud, then it would save a great deal of time and effort. I'd buy one.

    Could someone please make one? But at least give me some credit when you make your millions

  27. #27
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    Ultrasonic cleaners are pretty inexpensive. Surly it would be overkill but I wonder how well it would work.

  28. #28
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    Getting water on your chain

    Quote Originally Posted by Dad View Post
    So the ultimate chain cleaner would be an ultrasonic acetone bath you could slowly run the chain through without taking it off the bike. This would;

    1) strip all lubricants very effectively
    2) shake out and rinse out all grit and abrasives
    3) dry very quickly ready for the next lube

    That would be a truly awesome tool. Expensive, but awesome and if you, like me, have to take care of fifteen bikes regularly ridden in mud and crud, then it would save a great deal of time and effort. I'd buy one.

    Could someone please make one? But at least give me some credit when you make your millions
    No, you DO NOT want to strip all the lube!
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  29. #29
    AZ
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    Move to Aridzona and you wont have to worry about getting your chain wet. Ever.

  30. #30
    Dad
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    Acetone is awesome stuff. I'm a biochemist and have used masses of the stuff. Very effective organic solvent and very non-toxic. Takes water with it and evaporates very quickly. Fantastic drying agent. An ultrasonic acetone bath would completely strip a chain of everything leaving it ready for completely fresh lube.

  31. #31
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    When I was younger and worked near a car wash, I regularly (probably weekly) used the high pressure of the water at the car wash to clean my chain and then applied a liberal application of lubricant afterwards. It worked great and that is still my preferred method.

    I think keeping the chain free of grit is the most important thing.

  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dad View Post
    An ultrasonic acetone bath would completely strip a chain of everything leaving it ready for completely fresh lube.
    I've use ultrasonics for cleaning parts and have thrown in particularly gunky chains before. It does strip a chain of everything and get it clean but I concur with Shiggy (again!) that completely stripping a chain is not what you want to do. Unless you soak the chain in lube it is difficult to replace what you are removing from the most crucial areas of the chain, and even then I don't think it's as good as the factory lube that was already there.

    Also I believe ultrasonic cleaners can damage some parts, chains included, by loosening tolerances.

  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dad View Post
    So the ultimate chain cleaner would be an ultrasonic acetone bath you could slowly run the chain through without taking it off the bike. This would;

    1) strip all lubricants very effectively
    2) shake out and rinse out all grit and abrasives
    3) dry very quickly ready for the next lube

    That would be a truly awesome tool. Expensive, but awesome and if you, like me, have to take care of fifteen bikes regularly ridden in mud and crud, then it would save a great deal of time and effort. I'd buy one.

    Could someone please make one? But at least give me some credit when you make your millions
    Ultrasonic cleaners (big enough to put a chain in) are about $30 from Harbor Freight. I own one.

    Works good on cassettes with a water - simple green mix.

    Acetone is pretty cheap too. HD or Lowes has it for maybe $8 for a half gallon.

    For less than $40, you can experiment with your million dollar idea.

  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce in SoCal View Post
    A chain is not a piece of fine jewelry. Clean it with water or a water based cleaner. Dry it. Lube it. By the time the water has harmed it, it SHOULD have worn enough from riding to need to be replaced anyway. A chain is not supposed to last forever.
    This!

  35. #35
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    LPS is better than WD-40

  36. #36
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    Soak the chain in melted paraffin, old school style. Hang it from a wire coat hanger, then when its soaked for a while lift it out and hang it above the pot/can/vessel that you heat the paraffin in. When cool re-install. Best not done indoors.

  37. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dad View Post
    Acetone is awesome stuff. I'm a biochemist and have used masses of the stuff. Very effective organic solvent and very non-toxic. Takes water with it and evaporates very quickly. Fantastic drying agent. An ultrasonic acetone bath would completely strip a chain of everything leaving it ready for completely fresh lube.
    Acetone is non-toxic?? Really?

  38. #38
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    Acetone - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Check out the Toxicology section.
    Bikes, lots'o bikes

  39. #39
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    the only use I've for wd40 is changing dirt bike tires nothing else

  40. #40
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    Yeah, I know. Doesn't it let off some fumes that can be harmful to the brain?

  41. #41
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    I have no idea about the fumes of WD40, I will not use this for any kind of lubricant. I have on ocassion used penatrating oil on chains for dirt bikes because the mud doesn't stick to the chain like chain wax will and the dry dust doesn't stick to it as much. If I'm going to clean it I'll us purple power deluted works great, and on the spockets to, the dirt is what kills them

  42. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by aBicycle View Post
    Yeah, I know. Doesn't it let off some fumes that can be harmful to the brain?
    No waii man. I yuse that stuff allof the tyme.

  43. #43
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    for a lubricant it doesn't last if your lucky maybe 2 days and that's if it's out of the weather That's why it's so good for changing mx tires its better than soap. cause soap will stay slippery on the tube even when it dry. causing the tube to slip inside the tire. But Wd40 will be dry and gone within an hour or lot a time's less. It's a trick I learned from the pro's and they are right.

  44. #44
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    Why not just soak that grimy chain in citrus degreaser for a while to loosen up the crud and then run it through a dishwasher cycle, and do the same with that cassette while your at it? Doing this when the wife isn't around is highly advised

  45. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ricko View Post
    Why not just soak that grimy chain in citrus degreaser for a while to loosen up the crud and then run it through a dishwasher cycle, and do the same with that cassette while your at it? Doing this when the wife isn't around is highly advised
    to funny better yet havethe wife clean it for u

  46. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by shiggy View Post
    No, you DO NOT want to strip all the lube!
    I've read this before and it's a bunch of hooey. It's not hard to reapply lubrication and it's not rocket science to allow it to soak into the nooks and crannies. To suggest that completely stripping all the residual lubrication is somehow harmful is downright ludicrous.

    This thread is rather pointless anyway as most riders don't replace chains as often as they should. And they usually degenerate into "my method of lubrication is the best" dick-waving contests. So there.

    P.S. I EXCLUSIVELY degrease my chains with peregrine falcon tears and relubricate with unicorn blood. All other procedures are COMPLETELY inadequate.
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  47. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by Berkley View Post
    I've read this before and it's a bunch of hooey. It's not hard to reapply lubrication and it's not rocket science to allow it to soak into the nooks and crannies. To suggest that completely stripping all the residual lubrication is somehow harmful is downright ludicrous.

    This thread is rather pointless anyway as most riders don't replace chains as often as they should. And they usually degenerate into "my method of lubrication is the best" dick-waving contests. So there.

    P.S. I EXCLUSIVELY degrease my chains with peregrine falcon tears and relubricate with unicorn blood. All other procedures are COMPLETELY inadequate.



    Wipe the chain down with an Easter Bunny hide.

  48. #48
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    No, I mean the fumes of acetone.

  49. #49
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    I only lube my chain every third ride or so. Well, clean it with a citrus degreaser and lube it with White Lightning. Either way, I don't care if it gets wet.

  50. #50
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    Chains are kind of disposable anyway...aren't they? Every ten rides or so lube them sparingly, wipe off the excess and they are good to go. If they get wet and muddy I rinse and brush them with a hose. When the old Park Tool Chain Checker says they are out of spec I replace them. Because I have five bikes that I ride regularly I probably go through three chains a year.

    I think it's neat all of the strategies people employ to clean and lube their chains (boiling in solvent, soaking in wax, and etc.) but seems like a lot of trouble for nothing.

    I ride in Louisiana.

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