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  1. #1
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    Why does my chain gets dirty so fast...

    So my brother and I both bought an entry level bike. He bought it from a local bike shop and I got my Giant from a more department style sporting shop. I highly doubt that the build has anything to do with the problem anyways. I was thinking they put too much lubricant on the chain.

    However his chain is always clean and maybe a little dry where mine is always kind of oily and becomes dirty really fast. The clear rubber masking under the chain on the frame always has left over dirty residues on it from the chain.

    My question is, is it too much lubricant on the chain? So Yesterday I fully cleaned the chain and applied some lubricant but this time I wiped the chain to make sure it's pretty dry and shiny looking.


  2. #2
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    try a dry lube or a wax lube like rock and roll.

    If you really want your drivetrain clean, use a molten paraffin bath. You'll need to retreat the chain every few rides, but it's efficient and feels buttery smooth.

    I paired 4 chains to my new cassette and middle ring. I ride each chain for a few rides, fewer if I go through a lot of mud, then pull the chain off and put on a new one. Every week or two, I melt a pot of wax and dunk each chain for a few minutes. It takes some work, but it's interesting and most of the work is just waiting.

  3. #3
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    If you wipe your chain down so it looks like it does in the "after cleaning" photo before you ride it will stay cleaner and be much easier to keep clean, even with petroleum based lubes.

  4. #4
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    Run the chain under a stream of whatever lube you use. Then, run the chain through a clean cloth, switching to a clean spot on the cloth every so often. You're done when you can touch the chain without getting any black gunk on your finger. At that point, the rollers are lubed (the important part) and the exterior of the chain is dry, so that it doesn't pick up dirt and dust (the other important part).
    I've made some bad decisions like taking the gears off my bike. So here's the warning: Do not as I say, nor as I do.

  5. #5
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    Who cares if your chain is dirty? Are you going to eat off of it?

  6. #6
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    unless you're using a 'dry' lube the 'after' picture shows the chain way too clean in my view. i agree with Thor29, it's not a problem if it's 'looking' dirty. it's only a problem if it's so dirty that it's not working properly or has too much lube such that it's picking up sand, etc which will damage the drivetrain over time. use the lube that suits your trail conditions, but sounds like you might need to get a seasoned local to show you 'how much' or even ask your lbs to just let you watch them do it to get a clearer idea (or check the net for how to vids kind of thing). again, depending on riding conditions, you may find it helpful to make it a practise to clean and lube the chain after every 3 or 4 rides (or even sooner if you're using a dry or wax lube and doing long rides in my view). i use a wet lube now even though i'm in dry conditions mostly simply because it wears easier and survives going through some water pockets better than dry/wax lube. i compensate for any build-up of debris that wet lube does in dry (sandy) conditions by cleaning the chain after every 3 or 4 rides to avoid grit damaging the drivetrain.

  7. #7
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    Your before cleaning chain looks too clean to me. That looks like my after clean chain. If you can touch the chain and not get you fingers a little dirty the chain is too clean.

    I use white lightning clean ride and overall my chain and cassette say clean without major dirt, but it is always a little dirty. I ride in the desert and dust is everywhere.
    Joe
    2003 KHS Alite 4000 26" Hardtail - XC, All mountain, blah blah blah.. I just ride.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoePAz View Post
    If you can touch the chain and not get you fingers a little dirty the chain is too clean.
    ?? That makes no sense to me unless you're into greasy chainring "rookie marks" on your calf.

    The "before" photo on the OP isn't horrible but it looks pretty gritty to me and left alone it would continue to pick up more junk. That grit makes an ideal grinding paste that can transform a perfectly fine aluminum chainring into shark fins in record time, and in extreme cases I've seen people shell out drivetrain components in 1/2 the miles or less then they should have gotten out of them.

    Here is a photo I snapped of my chain yesterday, I admit that I haven't been on any real rides lately (injured) but I go out a few times a day with my dog by our river road, which has been a flooded mucky mess lately.

    Why does my chain gets dirty so fast...-bike-chain.jpg

    I last lubed that chain about a month ago and have not touched it since. In the last month it's been through water (submerged multiple times), mud, and plenty of sand and dust. It's just about ready for a re-lube (plain old tri-flo) and you can see that it will take me approximately 2 minutes to get it looking close to the OP's "after" pic before I apply more.

    I'm not trying to brag (look at my shiny chain!!) but the the reason I'm up at the crack of dawn preaching the word of clean drivetrains is because 30 years of experimentation have convinced me that a (relatively) clean chain means less mess, less maintenance time, longer drivetrain life, more efficient, and cleaner legs. There are no minuses.

  9. #9
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    that chain looks too dry to me. but I can't really see the inside the links as that is what really counts.

    Any my point is if you touch the chain at you don't get any lube on your fingers you don't have enough lube. Even "dry lube" will leave some residue. A properly lubed chain will be silent in pedaling. A dry chain will make a little noise.
    Joe
    2003 KHS Alite 4000 26" Hardtail - XC, All mountain, blah blah blah.. I just ride.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoePAz View Post
    that chain looks too dry to me. but I can't really see the inside the links as that is what really counts.

    That's what I mean, any lube left on the outside is only performing the purpose of attracting dirt, inside the rollers and between the plates and pins is where you want it IMO. I use plenty of oil and give mine a thorough soak for at least 5 minutes before wiping it down. A dry chain is not only noisy but also the friction is noticeable to me, especially under heavy pedaling force. I don't tolerate that well because it seems like that friction is robbing some of the little power I have so I definitely re-apply when I hear any noise or feel any roughness when pedaling. A silent bike is paramount to me.

  11. #11
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    A chain can not be too clean, regardless of what some people are trying to tell you. You did a great job cleaning your drivetrain. One suggestion about lubrication, the more anal you are about applying the lube, the lazier you can be about cleaning it.

  12. #12
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    I like my bikes clean - mountain and road. I wash my mountain bike after every ride. BUT, I'm very careful how I wash my bikes. I don't spray degreasers on the parts - I spray the brushes. I use a moderate stream of water to rinse. All the typical stuff you hear and read.

    With chains, once in a while, I'll pull the chain and soak it to really clean it. Then it really gets soaked in lube. When I apply lube to the chain, I turn the crank, letting a steady stream of lube soak the chain, then... (this is going to sound really anal)... I use my hand to basically "massage" the lube into the chain - just running the chain through my fingers as I pedal. Then, I let the bike sit - often overnight or for days, depends on the next ride. Last step is that clean cloth wipedown - pedaling both directions.

    Sure, it sounds anal. I've heard "Oh, you'll wear out parts faster overcleaning..." Well, yesterday I just took the XT BB out of my 1994 Zaskar for the first since... 1994. It was like butter. My 2008 mountain bike has the original derailleur pulleys, original BB... etc.

    But - you have to like doing this. ^That^ level of maintenance would absolutely SUCK for most guys. I like it. A good workstand, a bucket of little brushes, a good IPA... and it's a relaxing way to spend an hour.

    Mountain bikers who don't road ride are usually slow.
    Roadies who don't mountain bike are usually d***s.

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