Mastering the Art of Bike Chain Maintenance: A Step-by-Step Guide

clean bike chain

Cleaning the bicycle chain is not just for visual beauty. To a certain extent, a clean chain can allow your bicycle to operate smoothly and return its performance to its original factory condition, keeping the bicycle chain in its best condition. A smooth and efficient ride is crucial. A key aspect of bike maintenance is regular cleaning and lubrication of the chain. 

The cause of bicycle chain wear is the friction between the gravel and the chain,A dirty chain can significantly reduce your bike's performance

As we all know, the fastest way to clean a chain is to replace it. If the chain is too worn out, there is no point in wasting time on it. Once the chain shows signs of dirt and wear, we should remove the old chain from the bicycle and clean them properly with cleaning equipment.

Should I remove the bicycle chain and clean it?

There is controversy in the bicycle industry. If your bicycle has a 7-speed, 8-speed, or 9-speed chain, the durability of the magic buckle can usually support disassembly and assembly two or three times. The magic buckles used in 10-speed, 11-speed, and 12-speed chains are usually disposable and will wear out after repeated disassembly and assembly, which may cause danger. All major manufacturers recommend using a new hook and loop fastener every time you install a chain.
If you don’t need to disassemble the chain for cleaning, you can use a chain washer to clean it.

chain washer

Ultrasonic chain washer

The most effective way to clean the chain is to remove it and place it in an ultrasonic cleaning machine. It only takes five minutes to remove even the most stubborn stains, and the effect is very obvious. If you want to speed up the process of using an ultrasonic cleaner, you can use a stiff brush to assist in cleaning the bicycle chain, and then clean it a second time with the ultrasonic cleaner. After completion, rinse with clean water and then air dry. After the entire operation, you will get a brand new chain. However, it should be noted that the chain cannot be soaked in detergent for a long time when cleaning, because the metal part of the chain may be corroded by the detergent and cause cracks on its surface.

For ordinary bikers, an ordinary dishwasher brush, an old toothbrush or even a toilet brush can be used to clean the bicycle chain. But never use steel wool to brush your chain, as this is likely to damage your chain.

If your bike has disc brakes, be careful not to let oil splash onto the brake disc when washing the chain. You can do this by removing the rear wheel and wrapping the brake caliper in a plastic bag while you wash the chain.

Lazy person cleaning method for bicycle chain:

1. Clean the flywheel

Shift so that the chain is on one end of the cassette, then apply an appropriate amount of chain cleaner to scrub all the gears, then move the chain to the other end of the cassette and clean the remaining gears.

2. Clean the crank

After the flywheel is cleaned, the next step is to clean the large plate. When cleaning this part, you can take the chain off the plate and proceed with the next step of cleaning. Next, just like cleaning the flywheel, apply a generous amount of chain cleaner to the brush and then scrub it clean.

3. Clean the rear derailleur hanger

When cleaning the chain, please don’t forget to clean the rear derailleur guide pulley. This part is where dirt is most likely to hide. It will only become dirtier as time goes by, so scrub and clean it thoroughly. . You can occasionally put a drop of chain oil here, and it can operate for a long time after being lubricated once.

wash the rear derailleur
4. Clean the chain

Now it's time to clean your chain. If your bike is not a single chainring system, hang the chain on the large chainring, then rotate the large chainring while scrubbing the chain with an appropriate amount of chain cleaner until it is clean.
clean the chain
5. Wash gently with water

After the bike's drivetrain is completely cleaned, rinse it with water to remove any remaining grit. Avoid using a high-pressure water gun as this may damage the bike's transmission system.

After cleaning with water, you need to wipe off the moisture on the chain or use a hair dryer or blower to dry it to prevent it from rusting, and then add new chain oil.
wash the bicycle
6. Apply chain oil on the chain

Drop chain oil on each link of the chain, then let it sit for a few minutes so that the chain oil can better penetrate inside, then wipe off the excess lubricant, and you're done.
chain oil
Regularly cleaning and maintaining your bike chain is a simple yet effective way to prolong its life and ensure a smoother, more enjoyable ride. By following these steps and making bike chain maintenance a part of your routine, you'll keep your bicycle in optimal condition for miles to come.