Bike Chain Cleaning & Maintenance Tips for Smooth Rides

Hey bike lovers, can you hear what is your beloved bike saying? Bike chain cleaning. It needs your care to be healthy and gift you some enjoyable rides. Why don’t you hear?

Well, I’m just kidding. Your bike can’t talk. Yet, bike chain cleaning and maintenance is not a joke. You will really need to keep your chain (and drive train) clean and well lubricated to get a smooth riding experience.

I hope you have realized its importance.

But, how to clean your bike chain? What’s needed to keep it lubricated? Can you do it with the home supplies?

Hold on, take a breath. I am gonna answer all your question about bike chain cleaning and lubrication throughout the post.

Why bike chain cleaning & maintenance is essential?

Simple, for a healthy bike!

But what does it mean by a healthy bike?

Well, a bike runs with human energy. You have to convert your leg power to kinetic energy by paddling. But it won’t run the bicycle until the power transfer to the cassette. Obviously, the chain makes it happen, isn’t it?

That’s why the chain must be in good condition to have a smooth and healthy bicycle. A rusty chain can disappoint you while riding, as shifting gets harder and paddling becomes less efficient.

Moreover, you have to face chain breaks frequently if it is not maintained regularly. Oppositely, a clean and well-lubricated bike chain offers excellent riding experiences.

Anyways, I guess I don’t need to discuss it further. Let’s jump into how to clean the chain and maintain it.

You may read also: how to fix a bike chain skipping

Dirty Bike Chain Regular Maintenance Necessary Supplies

bicycle repair

It’s quite sure to have a dirty chain and drivetrain after a few rides. So, it’s better to clean it regularly after 2/3 days if you commute daily.

Same for the Sunday riders, clean it after you ride the bike 2/3 times.

However, you really don’t need to remove the chain to do so. Let the chain keep staying on the drivetrain and wash it with what you have at home.

But what will you need to do it? Let’s learn about the necessary supplies.

Brushes & Clean rags

You can simply clean the bike chain with a rag. It’s easy and the laziest way of cleaning it. But it’s not enough.

You must clean the chain properly to get the highest efficiency while paddling. So, get some brushes to clean the chain and drivetrain accordingly.

However, you can use a toothbrush and a dish brush to do so. But, I suggest getting a bike-specific brush. These are easy to use and reach every corner of the drivetrain.

Okay! Don’t need to research further on brushes. Just make sure they have stiffness and good grip.

Soap & Degreaser

Soap or degreaser? It’s a common question among cyclists.

Well, I will suggest both. Because both works are almost similarly. If soap or degreaser can clean the chain, just get it. If you are still confused and asking for a suggestion.

I will suggest considering soap for the wet lube and the degreaser for the dry lube. However, you don’t need anything of the industry standard.

Some of the degreasers are too strong that can damage the drivetrain. So, buy a usual one from the local market.

Chain cleaning tool: Do you need it?

bike chain cleaning tool

Not compulsorily!

The brushes are still necessary after you have a chain cleaner. If you are not willing to take the hassle of washing with brushes, get a chain cleaner. It’s easy to use and clean the chain effectively.

Yet, you will need brushes to scrub the drive train. So, it’s obviously an efficient option, not a versatile solution.

Read also: cleaning hacks of oily brakes

How to clean a bike chain properly

All the necessary tools and supplies are ready. Now let’s start the work. Go step by step to do it efficiently.

Cleaning the cassette

Firstly, you have to clean the cassettes then the other stuff. However, prepare a washing solvent with water and soap.

Pour it to the cog-set and scrub appropriately with a brush. Anyways use the gear shifter to reveal each cassette. Shift the chain to the last cog, then clean the cog-set.

Again, shift it to the first cog and wash again. By this, you can clean the whole rear derailleur thoroughly.

The crankset

After cassettes are done, you have to clean the chainrings. It’s almost like cleaning the cassettes. Shift the chain on the last chainring and clean the remaining rings thoroughly with a toothbrush.

Again, shift the chain to the first ring to scrub the remaining.

The chain

Lastly, clean the chain. It’s easy but tricky to clean. Take a clean rag and run the chain backward through it. It will clean the external dirt from the chain.

To clean it thoroughly, apply soap and scrub it with a brush. It gonna be easier if you own a chain cleaning tool. Whatever just make sure no dirt or lube remains inside the chain links.

Rinsing & Drying

After doing all stuff, rinse the whole drivetrain and chain with water to wash away all the grime. Be careful if you are performing pressure wash.

Make sure no water enters inside the frame. It can result in rust on your bike and damage it. However, when it’s all done, leave the bike to be dried.

Bike chain cleaning by using an ultrasonic cleaner

ultrasonic cleaner

The above process is okay to get a clean chain before every ride. But, to get consistent performance, do some advanced bike chain cleaning works after every 3 months.

All you have to do is remove the chain & drivetrain from the bike and thoroughly wash it.

Okay, I have removed the chain & cassettes. Now what?

Well, It starts almost like the regular washing process. Yes, make a solvent and dip those bike parts on it. Then, scrub them thoroughly with the brushes.

This process helps to ensure detail on cleaning as nothing remains dirty by this. However, you can also use an ultrasonic cleaner if obsessed with bike chain cleaning.

How to replace a bike chain

You can get a clean chain if you follow the above instruction. Yet, the chain can get rusty and damaged after a particular time. So, it’s better to replace it when it gets too rusty.

But how often should you replace the chain?

Well, it’s difficult to answer. But, you can decide by seeing the condition of the chain. You have to replace it after some apparent signs of wear.

One is the rust, of course, but what’s beside it? It can be some unpleasant sounds from the drivetrain or uneven stretching of the chain.

However, if you have known when to replace a chain, let’s jump into how to replace it.

Most of the chains come with traditional chain links.  Which actually easy to open. Simple! Use a chain breaker to push out the pin from the chain link.

Thus, you can break the chain and remove it from the bike. However, SRAM and a few other brands offer a different kind of chain having master links. A special type of pliers is needed to break a master link.

Anyways, after breaking a link, you can take out the chain from the bike. But how to install a new one? Just set it and push the pin back to close the chain!

In case you have missed our previous posts you can check these out:

Bike chain lubrication

lubrication

Every time you clean the chain, you have to relubricate it. Regular lubrication helps you to get a rust-free chain and ensures smooth rides.

Moreover, you can get rid of frequent chain-breaking problems by this. Additionally, the lifetime of the chain will increase.

But, various type of chain lubes is out there. Which one is suitable for your bike?

Well, it depends on the type of rides and the climate of your arena.

Types of lubes

Lubes are differentiated by their functionality and properties. Let’s learn about different types of lube and learn which one is for you.

Wet

Most common for bike chain lubrication, wet lube works the same as a car or motorbike oil. Only because it attracts dust and dirt, it’s not suitable for tours & long rides.

You can use it for daily commutes or road rides. However, wet lubes don’t wash away with water. So, it’s ideal to use in any season.

Dry

Dry lubes are also popular alongside wet lubes. Plus point is it attracts less dirt and dust. So, you can use it confidently for sandy or country roads.

But, the problem is it gets washed easily with rainwater. So, it’s not a good idea to use it during rainy seasons. Oppositely, it’s easy to remove on the bike chain cleaning process.

Wax

Wax is just a type of dry lube. The difference is it comes with a wax form rather than. It’s easy to carry and portable. Nowadays, it comes in many colors yet works the same as dry lube.

Ceramic

This is a new addition to bike chain lubricants. It builds up a no friction layer with ceramic particles when applied to the bike chain. Eventually, it decreases the corrosion & link damage rate.

I hope, now you can choose a suitable lubricant. So, apply it regularly for getting a smooth drivetrain, but don’t over-lube the chain. Get a well-lubricated chain, not a dirt attractor.

Conclusion

I guess now you have heard your bike’s voice and understood why bike chain cleaning and maintenance are crucial. But, understanding it is not enough. “Doing it perfectly” is what the bike needs from you.

We have come up with an instruction on it after proper research and experience. So, follow it according. I assure you that you will be able to ride smoothly and get rid of all chain-related problems. So?

Wish you a healthy life with a fit bike.

Cheers!