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Clean drivetrain methods

Old 06-10-17, 11:17 AM
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silversx80
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Clean drivetrain methods

just curious what everyone does to get that chain looking new.

I've tried dozens of methods, but have settled on Dawn dish soap. Apply directly to chain, let sit for a few minutes, scrub with a wet sponge, rinse, repeat as necessary, and use an old toothbrush on the last round to get between the links. Follow by oversaturation of lube after everything dries. Wipe off and ride.
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Old 06-10-17, 11:27 AM
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One guy I ride with swears by paraffin and his chain and drivetrain always look clean and new.

Me? I just lube and wipe. It may look dirty but it's functional and I have more important things to do.
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Old 06-10-17, 11:52 AM
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Originally Posted by datlas View Post
One guy I ride with swears by paraffin and his chain and drivetrain always look clean and new.

Me? I just lube and wipe. It may look dirty but it's functional and I have more important things to do.
What's more important than a clean machine? I've started using a 50/50 mix of paraffin and paraffin oil, applied via dunking the cleaned chain in the paraffin mix warmed in a small crock pot. Long ago I used straight paraffin (canning wax). In between I used conventional bike chain lubes.
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Old 06-10-17, 11:53 AM
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It's more about the lube than the cleaning method. I used to use Tri-Flow. It was super easy to clean off (Simple Green), but was quick to get ugly looking after a few miles. I tried Dumonde Tech, which was supposed to be cleaner but didn't seem much different than Tri-Flow to me except it was about twice the price. I tried Finish Line Dry. Again, didn't seem all that dry to me and isn't as easy to clean.


I'm on Orange Seal chain lube right now. I like everything about it except for the price. It doesn't turn super black and doesn't attract a lot of junk. The down side is that you have to apply often, so your expensive chain lube runs out pretty fast. Not sure how it works in the wet, but we don't get much of that around here, so it doesn't matter to me. I'm using it on my upcoming tour because it's pretty much perfect for touring when you don't have the time/space to do thorough cleaning.
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Old 06-10-17, 12:01 PM
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Wait, let me get this straight. I'm supposed to clean my chain? Maybe in my next life.
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Old 06-10-17, 12:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Athens80 View Post
What's more important than a clean machine? I've started using a 50/50 mix of paraffin and paraffin oil, applied via dunking the cleaned chain in the paraffin mix warmed in a small crock pot. Long ago I used straight paraffin (canning wax). In between I used conventional bike chain lubes.
I feel it's a tool not a jewel. I don't care if it's not so clean.
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Old 06-10-17, 12:14 PM
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Originally Posted by rpenmanparker View Post
Wait, let me get this straight. I'm supposed to clean my chain? Maybe in my next life.
Ikr
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Old 06-10-17, 12:30 PM
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Sram chains with a power link. Take it off, let it soak in an old bottle with some citrus degreaser, shake it up, let it sit, cleans easy.

IDK how good this is for the freehub threading, but I take off my cassette everytime to clean it. So much eaiser. Clean drivetrains shift so nice after.
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Old 06-10-17, 02:37 PM
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Originally Posted by datlas View Post
I feel it's a tool not a jewel. I don't care if it's not so clean.
I've mostly been in the do-as-little-as-possible camp. Over those years I've stored up a mess of I-don't-like-getting-grimy-if-I-contact-the-chain, and I've had enough of that for a while.

I cleaned the chain extensively, I lubed it with Tri-Flow for years, then switched for years to Finish Line Dry, wiped it down, wiped it down, wiped it down, and inevitably any contact with the chain meant black mess on me or on my kit, even soon after cleaning.

Most recently I switched to White Lightning Clean Ride wax lube. But then after seeing individuals promoting paraffin, with small efficiency bonuses as well as the cleanliness advantage, I decided to go all the way back into waxing the chain as I did years ago. I've added now the modifications of the cheap crock pot replacing a primitive double boiler for the wax, and added an ultrasonic cleaner for another layer of overkill in getting the chain clean before lubing.

Another factor in trying something different is that we've added hours each week on the trainer indoors, using Zwift and/or PerfPro. We've got an old bike we leave on the trainer, and it may never ride outside again. That chain should stay very clean after it starts clean and we use wax that resists picking up anything from the air, etc. Even indoors, the Tri-Flow and Finish Line Dry would lead to the indoors chain building up black grime that would persist despite cleaning and wiping down.
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Old 06-10-17, 03:59 PM
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White lightning spray or WD40 to clean the chain using a machinist brush to get the serious dirt out. Repeat until clean. (takes <5 minutes). Let volatiles evaporate and apply Muc-off Team Sky stuff. Super long lasting, quiet, and keeps the chain very clean. Occasionally after a dusty ride, squirt WD40 on a rag, run the chain through it so side plates are clean.

J.
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Old 06-10-17, 04:01 PM
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I've just started doing the hot wax for my chains, and while only a few hundred miles in, I have to say-- I totally get it. Chain is absolutely silent, shifts are silent, and the thing stays really, really clean. No need to clean it, just redunk in the wax when it starts to wear off.
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Old 06-10-17, 04:14 PM
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Don't expect much in the way of clean,

but I have a bottle of castor oil that is going to be chain lube.

Stay tuned for the exciting results!
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Old 06-10-17, 05:00 PM
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Another rider in the black chain camp. IME they last longer if I don't clean them often, just wipe and relube. If it's quicker, better, and cheaper, why not? My bike isn't just a tool I use to hurt myself; it's also a tool I've used to have wonderful experiences. But it is a tool. That said, I did hand sand all the ugly paint off my carbon bike and do just love the naked look. Plus it looks a lot more expensive!
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Old 06-10-17, 05:01 PM
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Originally Posted by rpenmanparker View Post
Wait, let me get this straight. I'm supposed to clean my chain? Maybe in my next life.
Pretty much how I feel too, lol.
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Old 06-10-17, 05:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
Another rider in the black chain camp. IME they last longer if I don't clean them often, just wipe and relube. If it's quicker, better, and cheaper, why not?
The wife bought me an 11-speed upgrade for Father's Day, so I had an entire homeless 10-speed Shimano group with less than 2,000 miles on it, and decided to transfer it to her bike. I had exclusively been using MucOff Hydrodynamic wet lube, and that chain and cassette were just the worst. Three rounds of citrus degreaser followed by Dawn, then repeated baths in mineral spirits, and a final spray down with Brakleen. There were still black streaks on the cloth from the chain. Prior to the super-thorough cleaning, just getting too close to the chain would reward you with an indelible black mark.

But man did that lube work great. Well over 10,000 miles per bottle.
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Old 06-10-17, 05:23 PM
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I use White Lighting and my chains really don't get all that dirty. I typically lube lightly before each ride and wipe off the excess. I never clean them.

My motorcycle chains--that's another story. Kerosene.
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Old 06-10-17, 06:01 PM
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Since my kids are older now, my drive chain is dirtier.
We had a deal that anytime they cleaned my chain, I'd buy pizza.
Now they're old enough to realize that I buy pizza regardless.
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Old 06-10-17, 06:17 PM
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I spray with degreaser and a rag to catch it. One link at a time with a quick squirt, then use the now-saturated rag to grab-and-clean the chain. Takes about 2 minutes tops and my chain is sparkling.
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Old 06-12-17, 01:02 PM
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For me, WD-40 does an awesome job of cleaning the chain.


At the risk of starting a huge debate, I lube it with WD and wipe it down until it looks clean. At that point I consider it cleaned AND lubed.
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Old 06-12-17, 01:22 PM
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Originally Posted by datlas View Post
i just lube and wipe. It may look dirty but it's functional and i have more important things to do.
+1
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Old 06-12-17, 02:02 PM
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mineral spirits in a bottle or on a rag has always been able to clean a chain to sparkling new
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Old 06-12-17, 02:07 PM
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I spray some degreaser (Simple Green or whatever I find at Home Depot when I run out) onto a rag, scrub the chain, scrub the cassette and chainrings to get the worst gunk off. Dry it, put on lube (I've been partial to ProLink for years now, but I can't say it works any better than anything else), wipe, done.

Takes maybe 10 minutes. Usually do it once a week or so (which for me is about every 150, 200 miles).

Seems to work. My chain is quiet, it shifts well, I get decent chain life.
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Old 06-12-17, 06:05 PM
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I just apply a LOT of lubricant (Teflon types, typically) and use THAT to clean the chain, cassette and chain wheels. A bunch of black gunk comes off on the rag that I floss the cassette and scrub the chain with, and everything is left looking clean and shiny. Frequency depends on how wet and dirty the rides are, but I'm guessing they go about 2-300 miles between such treatments.
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Old 06-12-17, 06:28 PM
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Harbor Freight has an inexpensive ultrasonic cleaner.

Originally bought to clean vintage MC parts, it now does my chains/bike parts as well.

Hot water, degreaser... toss the chain and cluster in, sometimes dismount the rear derailleur and lower it into the bath too.

They come out sparkling clean!

Relube the jockey wheels with grease and it is good to go!
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Old 06-12-17, 06:36 PM
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Originally Posted by rgconner View Post
Harbor Freight has an inexpensive ultrasonic cleaner.

Originally bought to clean vintage MC parts, it now does my chains/bike parts as well.

Hot water, degreaser... toss the chain and cluster in, sometimes dismount the rear derailleur and lower it into the bath too.

They come out sparkling clean!

Relube the jockey wheels with grease and it is good to go!
I actually have one of those! I used to rotate chains every 1000 miles or so and get them all super shiny clean but... replacements are what, $30 - $40 and I have way better things to do with my time.
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