how to clean a bike chain

How to Clean a Bike Chain Like a Pro

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Biking is a great way to stay active and get out into nature, but keeping your bike in tip-top shape can be tricky. There are many parts of the bike that need cleaning besides just the tires! One essential part of maintaining your bike is cleaning its chain.

A dirty chain can cause friction which will wear down other components on your bicycle. Thus, it’s important to take care of this piece with these five easy steps. 

How to Clean and Oil a Bicycle Chain in 6 Easy Steps

Step 1: Spray some degreaser or mild detergent onto the chain.

With the chain at the end of the cassette, apply a fresh degreaser or mild detergent onto the dirty chain. Let it soak for 10 to 20 minutes since both need time to clean off any dirt and gunk that may be present on the chain.

During this waiting period, use a brush to scrub off tougher spots. This will ensure that all of the grime is removed and also helps loosen dirt.

Be sure to clean the outside of the chain and remember to get to all of the small cracks and crevices. Include the cassette sprockets and driver as well.

Step 2: Wipe off any grime with an old rag or towel.

After the degreaser or detergent has had a good few minutes to clean out the dirt and grime, use a clean rag to remove all of it from both sides of the chain. Use circular motions when wiping off each section to ensure you don’t miss anything. Clean both sides completely clean and then let it air dry for 1-2 minutes.

Step 3: Give the chain a quick rinse.

Once the chain has dried for 1-2 minutes, it’s time to clean off any excess degreaser or detergent that may be left on the bicycle. Using clean water, give it a quick rinse. This will remove any particles and chemicals that were left behind when degreasing. Make sure to give it a final rinse to get rid of the soapy water.

Step 4: Apply clean lubricant for bicycle chains.

Maintaining your bike means you also know how to oil a bike chain. After the chain has air-dried for a minute or two, spray some WD-40 onto the clean side of it. This will make things much easier when you’re rolling your bicycle back and forth. It is crucial to apply the lubricant evenly and not to miss any spots.

Next, lubricate the dirty side of the chain. You also need to lubricate the gears of your bike. Lubricating the gears is important to prevent friction and will help to keep your bike clean and running smoothly.

Step 5: Wipe off the excess oil with a clean rag.

Remove any excess oil with a clean rag. You need to do this because any excess will attract dust and debris, which will lead to it breaking down again.

For this step, you want to clean off any excess lubricant that is left on the outside. Clean everything and if there are too many oily components, clean them with a fresh rag or paper towels.

Step 6: Check for any loose gears or parts. 

Bike maintenance isn’t just about knowing how to clean and lube bicycle chain and other parts. You also need to ensure everything is in excellent condition.

You cannot ride a bike with loose parts because this will cause damage to the other components. If there is some damage, it will need to be replaced soon. Hence, after you clean your chain, visually check for broken links and replace any sections that are damaged.

FAQs on Bike Chain Maintenance

Below are more tips on how to maintain a bicycle chain, whether you have a city bike, a mountain bike, or a BMX bike.

Why do you have to clean bicycle chains?

You need to clean the chain because it will wear down over time if it’s constantly dirty. A clean chain is essential for your safety and for preventing unexpected accidents when biking.

How often should I clean my chain?

You should clean your chain about every three weeks or after 100 miles of biking. If it is rained on or if you ride through a lot of mud, clean the entire chain more often.

Cleaning it by hand is an effective method for keeping it in great shape. Remove it from the gears and add a few drops of oil to each link.

What tools do I need for effective chain cleaning?

Cleaning your chain requires the right supplies. You will need a clean rag and an oil pan for each chain that you clean. You can use an old toothbrush to clean between the gears and a clean rag to clean the outside as well. You will also need a bigger brush.

If you clean it by hand, clean it with soapy water and a degreaser. Then give it a final rinse under fresh running water from the hose.

What can I clean my chain with?

spraying commercial degreaser

For those wondering what to use to clean a bicycle chain and gears, you can use a degreaser or a mild detergent. You should also have clean rags and clean water. You don’t even need a strong chemical degreaser to achieve an effective clean.

How do I clean my chain?

The best way to clean a bike chain is by using effective products. You can use a degreaser or mild detergent for cleaning your chain before applying lubricant. However, you should know how to degrease a bike chain and how to clean a bicycle chain with household products.

After all the initial degreasing, you should remove excess oil or grime with a clean rag or paper towels. Make sure to clean both sides completely! Include the outside only if it has excess oil on it.

If you’re wondering how to clean a mountain bike chain, the same steps apply.

Can I use a commercial chain cleaner?

A commercial chain cleaner is safe to use. If you choose not to use a commercial-grade cleaner, be sure to clean your bicycle with a freshly washed rag and mild degreaser in order to clean it thoroughly. If it is clean, you can reattach it to the gears. Apply a drop of oil to each link before securing it back onto the gears.

Can I clean the chain without using a chain cleaning device?

Yes, you can do it without any special chain cleaning device. Just use a rag and mild degreaser to clean the chain. Then apply lubricant by rolling the bicycle back and forth, making sure not to miss any spots. You should also make sure to remove any excess lube.

Where can I find chain lube?

For smooth riding and chain upkeep, a high-quality lubricant is critical. You can purchase chain lube at your local grocery store, hardware store, or local bike shops. You can also buy it online.

There are many different types of bicycle lube. Your favorite lube really depends on your preference, but some highly recommended brands are Finish Line and Squirt. The products mentioned here make excellent choices, but your choice depends on your needs and preferences.

Keeping Your Bike Chain Clean

The chain is a vital part of the bicycle which connects the crankset to the pedals. It’s essential to keep it clean and well-oiled for better maintenance and a smooth ride, especially if you’re going on any long trips or plan to use it often.

Knowing how to clean and apply lubricant will help keep your bike in excellent condition for longer. Now that we’ve shared some tips on how to clean a bike chain, you can enjoy riding without worrying about whether or not it’ll break down!

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