Sometimes, your bike chain can be overlooked. You might think you just did it, or not realize that you have to do any maintenance to it at all!
If you’re not completing regular bicycle chain maintenance on your chain, you could be causing more damage than you think. Your chain picks up road grime, dust, and dirt every time you ride. If left to it’s own devices, that grime can create a paste that can cause expensive wear, poor shifting, rough pedaling, and wasted efficiency while riding.
Here are three levels of clean for bicycle chain maintenance.
Quick and Easy
If you’re in a hurry, just take a clean, lint-free rag and grip your chain with it. Then, backpedal the drivetrain through it to get the gunk and grime off. You can also use the rag to scrape grime off of your derailleur pulley wheels, and your chainring. Once your chain looks relatively clean, you need to re-lube your chain. If your chain still looks a bit dirty after you re-lube, go ahead and repeat the cleaning process. Oil-based lube can help contaminants float to the surface, so completing this process a couple of times will help clean your chain.
If you’ve got a little more time to take care of your chain, consider washing your chain and cassette. You’ll want a degreaser cleaner and some stiff-bristled brushes. Scrub all the parts with the solution and your brush, then rinse it off when it’s clean. Repeat the process as necessary until it looks shiny and new! When it’s all dry, apply your bike lubricant and wipe off the extra.
The Devil is in the Details
This is some obsessive level cleaning! It involves removing your chain, cassette, and chainrings from your bike. As an extra benefit, this gives you the opportunity to inspect these pieces and your bottom bracket to make sure they’re all in good condition and do not need replacement. When you get all the parts removed, you can use a degreaser to scrub all the parts and pieces until they are squeaky clean. An old toothbrush works well in this situation to get in those tiny spaces. Once everything is clean, rinse all the parts with water. Dry them all, then re-install. As always, re-lube the chain when you’re all done.
Keeping your chain clean is the best way to ensure that you’re bike will stay running well for rides to comes. Now, chains can wear out over time and use, so always keep an eye on the wear and replace when it’s time. If you ever have any questions about bike maintenance or anything else bike-related, stop by! We’d be happy to look at your bike and give you a recommendation.