Basic bike maintenance is essential to keeping your bike running well, and can help keep costs down in the long run as it increases the longevity of a lot of drivetrain components. Anyone who rides a bike fairly frequently should perform some maintenance regularly, from die-hard road bike and mountain bike riders, to leisure cyclists or commuters.
This article will aim to cover how to clean a bike chain, with the hope that it runs more smoothly and lasts longer, as well as causing other components like the cassette and chainrings to last longer as a result.
One of the big mistakes some cyclists make is applying lubrication to a chain without cleaning it first, thinking that more lubrication is better. In actual fact, adding more lubrication onto a dirty chain can make everything run worse and wear out quicker as the dirt and grime gets into all of the moving parts and layers of lubricant hold it in place. As the dirt is worked into the chain, it causes all of the surfaces of the chain to be abrasive and wear each other away. To avoid this situation, always make sure that the chain is cleaned prior to adding new lubrication before every ride.
So, how do you clean a bike chain? There are various methods and cleaning products to use, depending on how thoroughly you wish to clean the chain, but we'll start with just a basic "essential" clean. To get an every-day-maintenance kind of clean, we recommend using a chain cleaner such as the Muc-Off X-3 Chain Cleaner with a suitable drivetrain degreaser. This is a simple machine that has a rotating brush and some flexible fins inside which are designed to work with the drivetrain degreaser to remove all of the grime out of the chain. The degreaser can be easily rinsed off with water, and the chain should be dried before applying fresh lubricant.
Those of you who are looking for a more in-depth clean could remove drivetrain components such as chain, cassette and chainrings in order to clean them more thoroughly. An Ultrasonic Cleaner is a relatively inexpensive but very efficient way of cleaning drivetrain components and keep them running with optimum performance. Certain chain lubricants such as hot wax treatments require a chain to be completely clean prior to application, so an ultrasonic cleaner is best suited for this purpose.
If you have any further questions about how to clean a bike chain, or anything else bicycle related, please get in touch with us and we'll be happy to help.