Posted April 14, 2012 by Adam in mountain bike maintenance

Bicycle Chain Cleaning – How and Why to Clean the most important part on your bike

Dirty Bicycle Chain Here I will show you how bicycle chain cleaning and lubrication should be done, on one of the most important and neglected parts on your bike.

Having a decent chain on your mtb is no good if you are not going to look after it. A chain needs a LOT of cleaning and lubrication if it is going to last you a long time and keep performing the way it should.

A dirty bicycle chain will make shifting difficult and accelerate component wear… not to mention printing a nice black pattern on your leg anytime you touch it. Depending on when the last time you cleaned it was will depend on how you should clean it.

A Clean Chain Using Dry Teflon Based Lube

If you are using a dry Teflon based lube then simply wipe your bicycle chain with a soapy wet sponge after EVERY ride… that’s right… EVERY ride

A Mildly Dirty Chain or Using Wet Lube

Bicycle chain cleaning for a mildly dirty chain or one using wet lube involves dampening a clean, dry cloth in degreaser and wiping the chain. Clean until dirt and oil is removed.

A Dirty Chain

If you chain is too dirty to be cleaned with just a cloth (and most are) you will need to use a toothbrush, dish brush or the Park gear cleaning brush. Dip your brush in degreaser and get in between the links.

Park Brush

The “I thought chains were supposed to be that color” Chain

If your chain is really filthy you will need to completely remove it from the bike and soak it in degreaser. For this you will need a jar big enough to fit your chain into. Fill the jar with your degreaser, drop the chain in, put the lid on and shake it all about.

Leave it in the jar overnight and all the crap will settle to the bottom. You will most likely still need to use a brush of some sort and a cloth to get it really clean.

Other Methods

There are also a number of mechanical cleaners around such as Park’s ChainMate Chain Scrubber. The advantage of this is that you don’t need to take your chain off to get a good bicycle chain cleaning. You will however still need to get old oil and dirt off the cogs and derailleur with a brush.

Park ChainMate

Now that your chain looks like a chain again, you will need to lube it before you can use it…

Click next to find out the only way to lube your chain and the type of lube you need next