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Cleaning your bike chain, suspension, drivetrain, and other moving parts is crucial for maintaining the integrity of your bike’s performance.
Dirt and grime can build up in these areas and cause parts to break down.
Sure, you may not be able to avoid repairs sometimes. Stuff happens.
Still, you want to take all necessary precautions to avoid your chain breaking on a ride, right?
Cleaning the bike chain and moving parts
Before lubing up the chain, you need to make sure it’s clean.
Hint: it probably isn’t.
Get all your cleaning supplies ready and give your chain a wash.
To give your bike a thorough cleaning, you’ll need:
- Bike stand
- Bike cleaner, soap, or bike degreaser
- Brake cleaner
- Brushes in various sizes
- Water supply
Now, here are the steps in cleaning your bike:
- Lightly spray your bike with the hose. Make sure to avoid using high-pressure water as this could damage the chain and moving parts. Your goal at this stage is to remove any excess debris or mud.
- Using your smaller brushes, thoroughly clean the chain, cassette, suspension, and all other parts with degreaser or special soap.
- Rinse again using very low-pressure water. Make sure to remove all the degreaser or soap particles.
- Shake the bike a little bit to throw off the excess water. Using a soft cloth, take special care to dry your chain, cassette, and all moving parts. They need to be completely dry before applying the lube. Plus, water can cause rust and you don’t want that.
- Lube the chain, drivetrain, suspension, and everything else. Rotate the pedals a few times to let the lube soak in. After you’ve let it soak for a few minutes, wipe away any excess lube.
Selecting a bike degreaser
Now that you know about properly lubing and cleaning the bike chain, you need to select the best products possible for the job.
When it comes to bike degreasers, you’ll need to find something that works for you within your accessibility, needs, and price range. Some bike veterans even come up with their own bike degreaser formula.
Some people swear by diesel fuel as a bike degreaser – yes, diesel fuel. Mechanics, on the other hand, might caution against this because it can work its way into pins and bearings. (You need grease in those places.)
- Simple Green is easy to find and inexpensive. It isn’t harsh and it’s easy to dilute. Plus, Simple Green is eco-friendly. Since it isn’t super powerful, you may need to add some extra elbow grease.
- Morgan Blue comes from Europe where they know a thing or two about bikes. It’s also environmentally friendly and petroleum free but it still works like a charm.
- Finish Line Citrus Degreaser cuts away grease, grime, and dirt like none other. You can’t compete with the natural grease fighting power of citrus.
How to find the best bike chain lube
Okay, so you’re done cleaning the bike chain and now you need to find the best bike chain lube.
Not any old lube will do – even what one rider recommends might not work well for your needs.
Take some things into consideration before selecting a bike chain lube.
- Do you ride long distances or do you ride short distances on an irregular basis for relaxation?
- Do you ride in wet and muddy conditions?
- Do you ride in dry or sandy conditions?
- Do you have a mountain bike or road bike?
Types of bike chain lube
You have three different types to choose from. The best bike chain lube depends on what kind of conditions you ride in and what your bike needs. There isn’t any one right or wrong answer.
As the name implies, wet lube stays wet to the touch. This makes it perfect for rainy or other wet conditions. In dry conditions, on the other hand, wet lube can attract sand and dirt. If you’re using wet lube in dry conditions, wipe away excess lube before your ride.
Dry lube goes on wet but dries as it absorbs into your bike parts. It’s great for dry conditions because it doesn’t attract dust or dirt. You’ll need to apply dry lube a little more frequently than wet lube.
Wax lube is extremely dry and it also helps keep your parts clean by repelling dirt. This lube isn’t best for muddy or wet environments.
Dos and Don’ts of cleaning the bike chain
- Don’t wash your bike too frequently. Over washing can cause bearings to degrade and other parts to lose their integrity.
- Do thoroughly dry your moving parts to avoid rust.
- Don’t get any degreaser or lube near the brakes. This is a death sentence for your brake discs.