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  1. #1
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    How do YOU clean your bike chain without a chain cleaner device???

    Im not asking for advice i just want to know eveybody elses technique. I got lazy and put a solid 100 miles on my new bike before i cleaned my chain to relube it. I put a thin coat of wd40 on it then sprayed it off. Then hit it with the air compresor and put some gt85 on it. It wasnt how i wanted to clean it and not how i want to continue to clean it because when i was done it did not feel as clean as it could or should be so for a permenent teqnique i want a list to choose from. So throw em at me. How do you clean your chain? Once again im not asking for a lube to use. Stricly the cleaning portion and this is for people WHO DONT USE A BICYCLE CHAIN CLEANING TOOL\DEVICE.

  2. #2
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    Keep it simple. Run some lube over the rollers, hold the bottle next to the derailleur and backpedal -- I like Boeshield or Rock'N'Roll. Backpedal. Let it sit for a few minutes. Then backpedal again with the chain running through a clean cloth, until I can touch the chain without getting any gunk on my finger.
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  3. #3
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    Mainly what Bro said ^^^^.
    ...or if the chain is really gunky and in need of a total thorough cleanup, remove the chain (quick link, or something similar), soak and shake in degreaser, get rid of the degreaser, soak in lube, remove as much lube from the exterior surfaces as you can, and reinstall the chain.

    "it IS possible that you are faster or slower than anybody else who is having at least as much if not more or less fun"

  4. #4
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    Re: How do YOU clean your bike chain without a chain cleaner device???

    I scrub mine with a bushy brush when I wash the bike, which is frequent. I scrub the chain and cassette while back spinning the cranks.

    A little lube once dry and i'm gtg.

    A deep cleaning is a solvent dip, cleaning then lube.

    Ch

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  5. #5
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    All of the above... I hose it off first, maybe give it a stiff brush if needed, run it thru a microfiber cloth, hit it with the compressor to dry it out well, then hold the Teflon dry lube to the links as I run them past the nozzle. Finally I wipe with the cloth to get surplus off.

    I have a cleaning device, so sometimes I will use that when really gunky, or I will remove the chain to clean better. Powerlinks are so good for chain maintenance, makes everything so much easier.
    It's all Here. Now.

  6. #6
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    Simple green and a grudge brush. I spray down the drive terrain with simple green let set for a minute or so then scrub with grudge brush. If it is no too bad I just add more lube and wipe clean.
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  7. #7
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    -Orange Citrus Degreaser
    -Nylon "wire" brush
    -Plastic solo knife

    1) Spray down the entire drive train (cassette, derailleur, crankset) using Citrus Degreaser, let sit for 5 minutes.

    2) Re-spray drive train with citrus degreaser

    3) Scrub the entire drive train, including chain.

    4) Using plastic knife, remove gunk from rear derailleur.

    5) Apply small amount degreaser one more time

    6) Dry out drive train, making sure chain leaves no residue behind

    7) Apply lube of choice,.

    I recently did buy a chain cleaner device....which I do after the steps above....

  8. #8
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    I washed mine first. Sprayed some WD40 on the chain and brushed it with a used soft used toothbrush and wiped it with a cotton rag until it all the excess degreaser and gunk are gone. I let it be for a full night and then lube it afterwards.

  9. #9
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    I try and keep it simple. Use alot of lube and wipe off the excess. If it's real dirty i'll do that a few times. If it's dirty enough that I would need a brush, I'll take it off instead and soak and swish in seafoam or some other degreaser/cleaner. Then wipe clean, let dry overnight and lube. I'm always amazed at how much stuff comes off the chain from a soaking, even when I thought it was pretty clean.
    A chain wear measuring tool is good to have. If I go throu the trouble of taking off the chain to clean it, I will put a new one on even if it shows minimal wear, just because a new chain is like 20-30 bucks and will help keep the rest of the drivtrain from wearing. It's also a good idea to have 2 chains, keep one cleaned and pickled in some fresh oil, ready to go.
    If you ride dusty a wax is prolly better.
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  10. #10
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    For extreme cleaning/de-rusting I soak in PB Blaster. It's basically just a stronger, more effective wd-40. This gets all the crap off. Rust has only been an issue for my commuter due to salt on roads. I'll use a scrubpad and old toothbrush for elbow grease. I remove all I can with old rags then lube with wax based lube when back on the the gears. I also just ride SS, and don't honestly keep up as much as I should

  11. #11
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    Use a dry lube like finishline ceramic & you won't have to spend much time cleaning. Doesn't last as long, but keeps your chain cleaner.
    Check out my You Tube Channel

  12. #12
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    Most of the time I simply wipe my chain off with a rag after every couple of rides and re-lube as necessary. That usually keeps it pretty clean, but if I need to clean it a little better I just spray some isopropyl alcohol on the rag and repeat the above process.

  13. #13
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    I switched to paraffin. I'm using a small crockpot (1qt, new on Amazon for $16, or you could borrow it from your wife), a pound of Gulf Wax ($6 in the canning section). Start with a clean, dry chain. Put the wax in the crockpot, plug it in, find something else to do for 2-3 hours while the wax melts. Place the chain the the hot wax, find something else to do for 15 to 20 minutes. This is a good time to bend an old spoke into a little hook. Use the hook to retrieve the chain, unplug the crockpot, and hang the chain above the crockpot for 5 minutes to cool and drip. Put the crockpot away, re-install the chain.

    I have about 100 miles of dusty, dry western Colorado and Utah dust and the chain is silent. The dirt wipes off with a dry cloth. No black chain smear on leg, clothing, dog, car, etc. When the chain gets squeaky, plug in the crockpot and repeat.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stockli Boy View Post
    I switched to paraffin. I'm using a small crockpot (1qt, new on Amazon for $16, or you could borrow it from your wife), a pound of Gulf Wax ($6 in the canning section). Start with a clean, dry chain. Put the wax in the crockpot, plug it in, find something else to do for 2-3 hours while the wax melts. Place the chain the the hot wax, find something else to do for 15 to 20 minutes. This is a good time to bend an old spoke into a little hook. Use the hook to retrieve the chain, unplug the crockpot, and hang the chain above the crockpot for 5 minutes to cool and drip. Put the crockpot away, re-install the chain.

    I have about 100 miles of dusty, dry western Colorado and Utah dust and the chain is silent. The dirt wipes off with a dry cloth. No black chain smear on leg, clothing, dog, car, etc. When the chain gets squeaky, plug in the crockpot and repeat.
    Wait what? Can you make a Youtube video?

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stockli Boy View Post
    I switched to paraffin. I'm using a small crockpot (1qt, new on Amazon for $16, or you could borrow it from your wife), a pound of Gulf Wax ($6 in the canning section). Start with a clean, dry chain. Put the wax in the crockpot, plug it in, find something else to do for 2-3 hours while the wax melts. Place the chain the the hot wax, find something else to do for 15 to 20 minutes. This is a good time to bend an old spoke into a little hook. Use the hook to retrieve the chain, unplug the crockpot, and hang the chain above the crockpot for 5 minutes to cool and drip. Put the crockpot away, re-install the chain.

    I have about 100 miles of dusty, dry western Colorado and Utah dust and the chain is silent. The dirt wipes off with a dry cloth. No black chain smear on leg, clothing, dog, car, etc. When the chain gets squeaky, plug in the crockpot and repeat.
    Seems a little messy and complicated! How about Castrol chain wax if you want silent? You mentioned paraffin, where does that come in?
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  16. #16
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    I use several methods depending on how dirty it is (how much mud mostly) and how much time I have. All of them involve removing the chain as I don't like the mess it creates on the rest of the bike AND I don't want to risk getting stuff on my brake rotor. I'll go quickest to most thorough. So with chain removed (I use some sort of removable link like SRAM).

    1) On trips where I need quick cleaning I'll hang chain vertically using twist tie or wire or what ever I find lying around. I'll spray it through with carb/choke or brake cleaner. Either one has higher pressure with hose you can direct and clean the chain out. I use a paper towel so I don't spray people or stuff around. Bonus is the stuff dries pretty quick with no residue. I either let dry (usually pretty quick) or use compressed air to blow out the stuff and then apply the lube.

    2) Get a sealable plastic or glass jar or container that'll the chain will fin into. Fill with Kerosene or what ever suitable cleaning solvent you want. Add chain, seal tight and shake it around. After shaking for a while, most all stuff will come off. If you want to clean further, you can empty the contents into a 9x9 (or what ever) cake pan and brush clean more. Hang chain to dry or blow out with air and lube. If you have two jars, you can put the solvent back into the jar and let it sit for a day or two. All the debris will settle to the bottom, carefully pour into another jar and you've got nice clean stuff for the next go around.

    3) Do initial cleaning with #2 above and then put into an ultra-sonic cleaner. This will get ALL the stuff out. I use alcohol for the final cleaning as it evaporates nicely when done with no film will be ready to lube real quick.

    Good luck with that.

  17. #17
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    You can make a pretty good cleaning brush by taping two toothbrushes together, bristles facing in.
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  18. #18
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    I spray a bunch of Simple Green on a shop rag and then run the chain through the wetted section of rag. Repeat as necessary until chain is clean. Let dry a little, apply lube to chain and wipe off excess. Easy, quick and effective.

  19. #19
    High Desert MTBer
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    Quote Originally Posted by wv_bob View Post
    You can make a pretty good cleaning brush by taping two toothbrushes together, bristles facing in.
    Ah! But then that becomes a 'device'! Not allowed!!!
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  20. #20
    dru
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    If I'm not washing the bike I use a fine wire brush on the chain and sprockets, while spinning the cranks madly with the other hand. If I'm washing then I use a nylon brush with lots of dish soap.

    Obviously, relube when finished.

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  22. #22
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    Rag and lube or if I feel ambitious, citrus degreaser and water and rag and lube. But seriously it doesn't matter that much. I occasionally ride with a retired cat 1 racer whose chain is normally filthy. Evidently the additional friction does not slow him down much.

  23. #23
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    I keep old t-shirts in my garage to use as chain wipes after every ride. I just run the chain through it by hand cranking the chain in reverse while my bike is still on my hitch rack until it looks clean. When it is time to re-lube I wipe, lube, wipe until no excess lube. I also keep old tooth brushes around and have another stiffer bristled brush to clean the chain/cassette/etc.

    wv_bob... I am stealing that "device" idea since I already have so many toothbrushes in my cabinet. Good one!

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by borabora View Post
    Rag and lube .
    this^^ +1

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by RipRoar View Post
    this^^ +1
    Yep, same here. Unless the the chain sees constant river crossings and dunkings into silty/clay mud bogs, the rag and lube wipedown method works great.
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  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by rockerc View Post
    Seems a little messy and complicated! How about Castrol chain wax if you want silent? You mentioned paraffin, where does that come in?
    It's not any messier than anything else that has to do with mountain bikes. It's a small pot of melted wax with a chain in for a nice soak. Sure, there are a few drips when you pull the chain out, so I do it on my ski tuning bench, where there is a heavy crust of wax and P-tex already. When it's cooled, a scraper pops it right off. The paraffin is just plain old Gulf Wax, you find it in the canning section at the grocery or hardware store. 1lb costs about $6, I figure that much wax will last several generations. If you suspct the wax is getting contaminated with dirt, wait til it cools, then pop it out of the crock pot and cut the bottom off with the dirt. Exclusive of the heating and soaking time, the actual 'work' is less than 5 minutes.

    I don't know about the Castrol stuff, never tried it.

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stockli Boy View Post
    I switched to paraffin. I'm using a small crockpot (1qt, new on Amazon for $16, or you could borrow it from your wife), a pound of Gulf Wax ($6 in the canning section). Start with a clean, dry chain. Put the wax in the crockpot, plug it in, find something else to do for 2-3 hours while the wax melts. Place the chain the the hot wax, find something else to do for 15 to 20 minutes. This is a good time to bend an old spoke into a little hook. Use the hook to retrieve the chain, unplug the crockpot, and hang the chain above the crockpot for 5 minutes to cool and drip. Put the crockpot away, re-install the chain.

    I have about 100 miles of dusty, dry western Colorado and Utah dust and the chain is silent. The dirt wipes off with a dry cloth. No black chain smear on leg, clothing, dog, car, etc. When the chain gets squeaky, plug in the crockpot and repeat.
    I use a deep fryer with paraffin and a bit of synthetic motor oil mixed in. Heats up quickly, and I leave it in for 20 - 30 minutes. Works for 6-10 rides here. Creek crossings tend to cause it to start squeeking.

    I probably wouldn't return the crockpot or deep fryer to to the kitchen after using it on your chain.

  28. #28
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    Toothbrush and simple green, if is really dirty soak it in degreaser, scrub it, dry it and lube it.

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by rockerc View Post
    Ah! But then that becomes a 'device'! Not allowed!!!
    "device" is way too formal a word for anything that I rig up

    Quote Originally Posted by OCtrailMonkey View Post
    wv_bob... I am stealing that "device" idea since I already have so many toothbrushes in my cabinet. Good one!
    I probably got the idea from an old magazine. I sure didn't think of it myself.
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  30. #30
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    I put the chain on the small cog and large ring. Spin the cranks backwards while dripping rocking and roll gold. Spin very fast and dirt will come out of the chain. Keep wiping until the cloth is somewhat clean

    If you twist the chain you can feel all the grit still in the links. This method will not get that stuff out.

  31. #31
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    This is awesome! I wonder how he changes his car oil?

  32. #32
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    A quick wipe with a rag and maybe run a brush over the links if it has oily chunks showing.

    The easiest way is to remove the chain and soak it in a degreaser or acetone. Taking the chain off also allows you to easily clean the rear derailleur. Taking a chain off is simple and quick. If there is no masterlink then buy a chain tool (small Park works really well) and a couple of master links and you are all set. Lots of You Tube videos showing how to break a chain.

  33. #33
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    So I took the chain off and toothbrushed everything with lightning degreaser. Rinsed with water dried with a rag and then air compressor. Put the chain back on (looks great!)

    Now I'm a little confused about the lube situation. I was going to just put 3 in 1 oil. Yay or nay??? Should I be putting something more designed for bikes?

    Thanks

  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rogo43 View Post
    So I took the chain off and toothbrushed everything with lightning degreaser. Rinsed with water dried with a rag and then air compressor. Put the chain back on (looks great!)

    Now I'm a little confused about the lube situation. I was going to just put 3 in 1 oil. Yay or nay??? Should I be putting something more designed for bikes?

    Thanks
    I would not suggest 3 in 1. It will make a mess of the chain, turn black, get all everything, and attract dirt and other things that will wear down the drive train. Once I did use 3 in 1 on one of my kids bikes in a pinch and it was a disaster. Best to get a bike specific lube.

  35. #35
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    A hard tooth brush pushed lightly agains the rear cassette and back pedal.
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  36. #36
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    I use a chain cleaner with simple green and then rubbing alcohol.. And then Teflon wax lube cause I ride in really dusty and sandy places. Whenever I use real lube my chain collects all of that crap and all I hear is grinding. I like a clean chain.

    Sent from my 831C using Tapatalk

  37. #37
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    Spray with wd-40, wipe off the excess. Lightly spray again and then hit it with compressed air, holding rag under air nozzle to catch all the gunk. This also cleans out the cassette and derailleurs quite well.
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  38. #38
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    Toothbrush ^^
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  39. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rogo43 View Post
    So I took the chain off and toothbrushed everything with lightning degreaser. Rinsed with water dried with a rag and then air compressor. Put the chain back on (looks great!)

    Now I'm a little confused about the lube situation. I was going to just put 3 in 1 oil. Yay or nay??? Should I be putting something more designed for bikes?

    Thanks
    Definitely nay. Use a bike chain lube. Preference is the dry teflon lube but the humid lube is ok as well. The dry seems to attract less dirt. You have to keep shaking the bottle otherwise the ingredients in the lube settle quickly.

    I lube each link using the masterlink as a start and end point. It only takes a couple of minutes. When done spend a few minutes running the cranks thru all the gears. Note that you will get some of the excess lube dripping or flying off so if you are in the kitchen.....

  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by wv_bob View Post
    You can make a pretty good cleaning brush by taping two toothbrushes together, bristles facing in.
    yes but op has a thing against "A BICYCLE CHAIN CLEANING TOOL\DEVICE"
    I hit it with this for 30 seconds then use Squirt

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  41. #41
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    I use white lightning clean ride. Its basically like the wax the guys are using above but its mixed in a quick evaporating alcohol solution. As it gets dirty it flakes off. To start you have to get all the old oil off the chain. With a degreaser, my favorite is gas or E85. Then while the chain is off, put a drop on every roller, let it dry then put it on. Once a year or so I will redo that. Once it is on the bike, I put a drop on every roller about every 30-50 miles. I just did this a few weeks ago and there is barely a mark on the quick links where they rub.

  42. #42
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    This works great altho it takes time it's worth it. Get a stiff brush and comet cleaner, put comet on the brush and go to town. I found this better than the fancy tool and comet leaves behind a little wax so it stays cleaner longer. Once I do that I use graphite dry lube it has some fast drying substance that soaks throughout and stays very clean.

  43. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bro View Post
    Keep it simple. Run some lube over the rollers, hold the bottle next to the derailleur and backpedal -- I like Boeshield or Rock'N'Roll. Backpedal. Let it sit for a few minutes. Then backpedal again with the chain running through a clean cloth, until I can touch the chain without getting any gunk on my finger.
    This. Everyone tries to make it so complicated with degreasers, chain cleaners, and other crap like that.

  44. #44
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    I find a chain cleaner pretty easy.. Dill with simple green solution, run chain though. Fill with water, run chain through. Fill with rubbing alcohol, run than though. Let it dry, lube, and done. Takes about 10 minutes.

    Sent from my 831C using Tapatalk

  45. #45
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    I wouldn't use a chain break constantly. Get a quick link if you're removing it every time you want to clean it cause the pin holes will wear out and you'll start breaking it on the trails.

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  46. #46
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    I put about 2k miles a year on my road and mountainbime combined. I never remove my chain or use any sort of chain cleaning device. I just wipe the chain after each ride (clasp with rag and freehwheel chain through it) and generally keep my bikes clean. I currently use Dumonde Tech Lite lube which keeps it pretty clean and I only have to lube once a month or sometimes less. All of the degreasing ruins your chain in my opinion. At most I will occasionally spray some White Lightning brand degreaser on a rag and wipe off the outside of the chain when it gets bad.
    Last edited by TiGeo; 09-18-2014 at 02:59 AM.
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  47. #47
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    Wow, some of you guys really like to yank your chains. I almost never clean mine. I use a Finish Line dry lube and lube it once every 2 or 3 rides. My chains seem to last a long time, so I have no idea why you guys go to so much trouble. I bet you decrease the life span by using degreaser - I wouldn't be surprised if you fail to get it all off and it eats whatever lube you add later.

  48. #48
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    I use Hoppes No. 9 (a weapons powder solvent) and I use Hoppes No. 9 Elite Gun Oil with T3.

    I coat it all with the powder solvent, then backpedal with a rag, repeat as needed. Then I use the gun oil and a clean rag, coat everything and backpedal with a clean rag.
    De oppresso liber

  49. #49
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    Re: How do YOU clean your bike chain without a chain cleaner device???

    Quote Originally Posted by Thor29 View Post
    Wow, some of you guys really like to yank your chains. I almost never clean mine. I use a Finish Line dry lube and lube it once every 2 or 3 rides. My chains seem to last a long time, so I have no idea why you guys go to so much trouble. I bet you decrease the life span by using degreaser - I wouldn't be surprised if you fail to get it all off and it eats whatever lube you add later.
    I ride in very sandy and muddy areas, if I didn't clean it I wouldn't have a drivetrain to use it on. It all depends on how you ride.

    Sent from my 831C using Tapatalk

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    Having a clean frame is nice, but where it really counts is with your drive train and other moving parts. Take special care to clean the chain well. So try this may help you. All the best!

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