Chain/component cleaning- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Chain/component cleaning

    I want to keep my bike as clean and smooth as possible. From what I've read it seems that degreaser shortens chain life as it removes the grease from the pin. I have some gunk heavy duty gel I was going to use to clean everything up but I don't want to wear out my chain/derailers. If I'm cleaning my chain and re lubing everything every 20 miles is this over kill? Am I using the right cleaners and finish line lubricants? Any helpful tips on maintenance would be appreciated. Thanks.


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  2. #2
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    It's a phase you'll get through. Or not. Skin suites are sold to someone.
    I've never 'cleaned' my chain. A brand new chain gets dry wiped to remove the oem grease from the plates and roller exteriors so it doesn't attract grit.
    Most everything wipes off with an old bath towel. Stihl bar oil is my lube with one drop on each roller. I don't ride in rain or muddy conditions.
    I've never used water on my bike. That towel does enough for a mtb.
    Liquid Wrench can release crud from rings you can wipe down....and bb bearings that will be reloaded with grease once a season. I never use it on the chain.
    Last edited by eb1888; 07-02-2016 at 05:38 AM.

  3. #3
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    Try polishing everything once with Maxima SC1 or Pedro's Bike Lust, except the obvious stuff like rotors or anything else you don't want being any slicker. Cleaning your bike would be then as easy as wiping from then on. Use a paper towel on greasier parts, and microfiber for other parts. Careful with using a water bottle, cause that causes a bike to be filthy. Always properly prep your bike before working on it with any potentially messy stuff, like brake bleeds, chain lube, tubeless setup, etc.

    Quality chain lubes can last over 200 miles in clean dry conditions. The original chain lube from the factory can last over 500 miles. Stripping it out would decrease its lifespan, as it's the best lube for your chain, as other lubes can't get inside the chain's friction points reliably.

  4. #4
    > /dev/null 2&>1
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    You'll find a hundred threads on this, and hundreds more different perspectives. I clean regularly, with a bucket of water and a rag and a brush. I do not use any form of pressured water - hose, sprayer, etc. I do clean my chain regularly with the park tool chain cleaner. It also makes sense to keep your cassette and chainrings free of grime, I get in there with bottle brushes and a small piece of cord which you can use like dental floss in tough to reach parts of the cassette and chainrings.

    As far as not cleaning the chain, I have heard that too but I don't follow that philosophy. I don't buy that it shortens chain life, as long as you're lubing after you clean it. Next time you have to remove a link, you'll see grime inside there, its causing wear. The grime creeps in from the grime on the outside of the chain. More grime outside = more grime inside. So I clean, lube regularly. I also rotate 3 chains per cassette (take them all to 60-70, then take them all to 70-80, etc.) so the cassette and chain last for equivalent lifespans (not my idea, but it works great). You might want to try this if you have high-end chains/cassettes, otherwise you're either throwing away a lot of chains or wearing down expensive cassettes fast.

    Anyways, the reason I'm bringing that up, is, in doing so, I soak them in degreaser when they come off.

  5. #5
    Fat-tired Roadie
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    20 miles is pretty frequent. I'd be stopping mid-ride sometimes. Off-road I probably get closer to 50. On-road probably, like, 200.

    But, I do wipe off my chain and suspension stanchions after every ride.

    It's kind of nice to have a clean bike. It's not worth it to me to do it that often but when I do, I'm reminded that I like the way they look.

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  6. #6
    > /dev/null 2&>1
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    And sorry DivXin I gotta disagree with you on the factory lube. There's no way its going to last 500 mi mountain biking. On any dirt, unless we are talking REALLY dust-free hardpack (and who has that, especially in summer), those new chain greases attract lots of grit and sand, which quickly sticks to the chain. If its on the outside, some subset of it is on the inside. Those factory lubes are suitable for road riding only, in my opinion. You can feel the links getting stiffer after a few rides, if you test some links with your fingers.

    I have two cassette which at 1400 mi and 1300 mi respectively, with 3 chains rotated each cassette, lubing every other ride, so, every 30-40 mi or so. Before I started lubing that frequently (and rotating chains) I believe I was going through 1 chain every 300 mi, so I feel I've extended the life of each chain about 30% by lubing a lot more, and they're far from done (they're at 70-80 wear). Mix of bay area and tahoe conditions, so, dusty and dry grit. Maybe I'm over-doing it, but the cassettes are doing great and I think that's a factor. Cassettes are pretty pricey these days.

  7. #7
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    It totally depends on the conditions you're riding in. I had a friend who cleaned his bikes straight after every ride, they were always immaculate and lasted years. Mine usually have a layer of dried mud on them!

    The grease that comes on the chain is pretty hard to beat in my opinion but what can you do? If the links get full of grit and dirt it's still better to clean it. The transmission will work a lot better. The most thorough method is to take the chain off the bike, wash in solvent, rinse of the solvent, dry and lube. It's actually quicker and easier than it sounds. You can clean the cassette that way too.

    Squirt chain lube is about the cleanest running lube I've tried but it's a total pest to apply and needs reapplied often. It also does not leach all over the chain and protect it from rust the way thinner oils do. Of the thinner oils I like Finish line Cross country but just about any oil will work. Sticky spray greases work fine too and are more water resistant. What I'm really saying is that pretty much any lubricant is fine! It's more important that you use one than what kind it is.

  8. #8
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    You can easily do more harm than good with cleaning. As suggested in some previous posts, the last thing you want to do is get water, and especially water based degreasers into pivots and bearings. You also don't want to drive dirt/grit into bearings and pivots. Just about any efforts at washing or cleaning have the potential to do that. FWIW, my advice is to clean as little and infrequently as possible. If you must: Use soft brushes rather than rags or sponges, which can grind grit into the finish. Use only a very gentle spray of water, kinda like what you'd get from a flower watering pail. Use diluted dish detergent as a cleaning agent as it's less corrosive than degreasers like Simple Green which can be fairly strong bases. If you do need/want to use a degreaser, use petroleum based materials like OMS, which will temporarily dilute lubricants but won't degrade them or cause corrosion.

    IMO, you want to wear your bike out riding it, not washing it. And ridden mountain bikes are gonna be dirty.

  9. #9
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    I would assume petroleum based products are oil and would ruin my pads. Is it worth pulling the pads before washing?


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  10. #10
    since 4/10/2009
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    You don't have to get crazy about it.

    I dry wipe my chain after every ride. Fresh lube every 50-100mi or so, or if the chain starts making squeaky noises, whichever comes first (highest frequency tends to be spring/fall). Maybe a few times a year, I more thoroughly clean the dirt off my bike.

    I use Clean Streak for the drivetrain for those more thorough cleanings. I definitely use it any time I switch lubes (between wet and dry for example). Maybe once or twice otherwise during the peak season, depending on how dirty things get.

    I might only clean the frame once or twice per year. I use soapy water on a rag/towel and then follow up with some Bike Lust.

  11. #11
    Fat-tired Roadie
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    Quote Originally Posted by sethd513 View Post
    I would assume petroleum based products are oil and would ruin my pads. Is it worth pulling the pads before washing?


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    You mean brake pads, right?

    Just don't clean your rotors. They're actually supposed to pick up a layer of material from the brake pads, and the braking action does a pretty good job keeping the braking surface clean. You could clean the spokes, though. I wouldn't use any solvents near there.

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  12. #12
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    If there's one thing I cannot bear it's a dirty chain. Especially if you need to touch it out on a trail.

    I use wax on my chain. Not a clean lube thing either, I'm talking about dipping the chain into melted wax. I usually get about 2 weeks riding out of it before I need to do it again. Just cut the bottom off a candle, melt it and dip. You will have a chain you could eat your dinner off!

    In the winter I sometimes use a 'wax' lube but they never run as smoothly.

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