Cleaning a Bike Chain

I spent quite alot of my Sunday cleaning and lubing my bike chain. This is the first time I have done this and it sounds simple, but by doing it slowly and methodically, I think I did it right and put everything back together correctly. Yes, I know I can do this with one of those chain cleaners while the chain is on the bike, but this is a "once a year, clean everything"...

Here it is in gruesome detail (thank your lucky stars I didn't think to photograph each stage):
  1. Photograph chain while still on bike from various angles so I know how to put it back.
  2. Diagram the chain around the various cogs and sprockets for safety
  3. Since I was advised to put the chain on backwards afterwards, I used a couple of cable ties to try to keep track of the orientation (who knows if I did or not)
  4. Use a master chain link to undo the chain and remove it
  5. Place chain in a small tub with orange/citrus based degreaser
  6. Remove rear wheel
  7. Clean chain rings at front (where the pedals are) with the degreaser and old rags
  8. Clean cassette (9 gear sprockets) on rear wheel with the degreaser and old rags
  9. Stir up the tub with the chain so the degreaser gets its work done
  10. Rinse off the chain rings and cassette with a hose pipe - leave to dry
  11. Use hot soapy water to clean off chain, followed by several rinses - leave to dry
  12. Use spray degreaser (Amorall) on derailleur (rear gear change mechanism) and clean with paper towels
  13. Use WD40 to spray out sand or grit from derailleur
  14. Lube the derailleur
  15. Replace rear wheel
  16. Study photos and diagrams of how chain needs to be reattached
  17. Put chain back in appropriate orientation (I think)
  18. Lube each link in the chain
  19. Admire


Now I wonder if I shouldn't have just taken the bike in to the shop and asked them to do this. Maybe next year.

PS: Yes, I helped with the Passover cleaning, too!


Tom Keller said...


Tom Keller here...(of -- you really need our comment system!)

Quite a post about cleaning your chain! One thing...many chain manufacturers recommended never dipping your chain into grease solvent (eg Simple Green), because it does a good job of removing the grease inside the rollers. That is the only place where lubrication really matters...and it fairly difficult to get lube back there. In fact, when you re-lube your chain, that is the only place you care that the lube gets. Since you can only lube there indirectly (put it on the outside of the roller and then go for a ride), and only with relatively thin oils at that, you have, by removing the grease, effectively diminished forever the lube in your chain...

My $0.02!

Ride on,

PS - I'm in Boulder. Bring your bike, and we'll go for a ride...

Hank Williams said...

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I am going to subscribe so I do appreciate those cycling posts!

Anonymous said...

It's not "I helped with the pesach cleaning, _too_" - it's "but I'm delighted to say that my bike chain is absolutely chometz-free..."