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Join The goRead. goRides seasonal biking tip and tasks.

Clean your bike chain

By Jo 4 years agoNo Comments

Clean bike chains look wonderful  – they sparkle & gleam.  What does YOUR bike chain look like?

Bike chains are made up of lots of little components. Each of those components needs to be flexible and move freely and smoothly to function well.  The links of your bike chain need to move freely to be able to;

  1. rotate around the chain teeth of the chain rings, sprockets and jockey wheels as you pedal
  2. move up and down the chain teeth of the chain rings and sprockets when you change gears

(If you are unfamiliar with some of those words then have a read of Know your bike chain)

However, bike chains are up against it as they are exposed to dirt, grit and water because they are low to the ground, they are not enclosed and often have a lubricated surface that provides a great magnet for things to stick to. Dirt, grit and water can cause all sorts of problems for your chain like the links becoming stiff, damaged and rusting. Doesn’t sound good, does it?  It’s not, but the solution is simple – clean your bike chain and bike regularly.  Cleaning your chain should be quick and easy.  It is the most important part to keeping your bike working well.

Lets look at ways for you to clean your bike chain.

To clean your chain ‘on’ the bike you have a choice of 2 methods.

Firstly some things that relate to both methods.

  1. Wash by hand. You are dealing with small components so it is best if we keep the hose away from it. A hose will do little to clean your chain anyway.
  2. Clean anything on the bike that the chain comes in contact with (see Know your bike chain). That is the chain teeth of chain rings, sprockets and jockey wheels. Otherwise when you ride with your clean chain it will contact the dirty chainrings, sprockets and jockey wheels and your chain will not be clean and sparkly anymore. See clean your Drivetrain

Method 1 – Using brushes and cloths and degreaser

What equipment do you need?  (Items found in goRide Everyday Bike & Chain  Clean & Lube Kit)

  • A brush – we use a bike brush for its long durable bristles to get to the hard to reach areas
  • Toothbrush – for any residue dirt after using the large brush
  • Bucket of water, soak brush in water before use
  • Cleaning agent – pop cleaning agent into the bucket of water. Use a squirt biodegradeable dish washing liquid in your bucket of water. Or you dilute your chain cleaner squirt into bucket of water. Our Spray Bike Cleaner can also be used – especially to reach hard to reach areas.
  • A specific chain cleaner. We use and recommend Chain Clean degreaser
  • 2 rags
    • A dry rag to wipe the chain clean (after the degreaser) is applied
    • A dry rag to wipe off excess lube (you MUST lube after you clean).

Cleaning Process

  1. Set up.  Make sure you have the equipment you need. The bike is placed  upside down. You need to be able to turn the pedals so you can apply the chain clean to the top of the chain of all the links.
  2. Clean your bike chain.
    • Apply the chain degreaser to the top of all of the chain links as you pedal the cranks backwards – remember make sure you apply it to all the links and leave for a few minutes.
    • Wipe degreaser off with a dry rag paying attention to ever link.
    • To help remove any remaining dirt and grit – soak the bike brush in the bucket of water with detergent or use the spray on bottle.  Scrub the chain with the bike brush and then the tooth brush and the rag on any stubborn dirt.
  3. After care.  Wash off with fresh water. You may need to empty your bucket if it contained detergent and fill with fresh water.  Leave to drip  dry. (You can dry with a rag to quicken this process) Lubricate your chain and remove excess lubricant with a rag. (See lubing your bike chain.) Remember to get prepared for your next chain clean so clean the brushes and the rags.

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Method 2- Using a chain scrub cleaning tool and a chain cleaning agent

What equipment do you need? (Items found in goRide Chain – Clean and Lube Kit)

Cleaning Process

  1. Set up.  Make sure you have the equipment you need. The bike is placed upright or upside down . You need to be able to turn the pedals so you can move the chain through the chain box.
  2. Clean your bike chain. Place degreaser and water in the chain box at a ratio 1:10. Put in more degreaser if you chain is heavily soiled. Place the chain box over the chain and pedal backwards making sure that all the links of the chain go through the box, repeat 3 times. Leave to drip dry )You can use a rag to dry to quicken this process)
  3. After care. Once dry lubricate your chain and remove excess lubricant with your rag. (See lubing your bike chain.) Remember to get prepared for your next chain clean so clean your chain cleaning box and rags.
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get Ready and goRide –  Clean your Bike Chain

Thanks for reading. Used together our stories, resources & products support you to achieve and develop as a rider.

Related Resources:

Clean the Drivetrain

Bike Chain – lubing

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