17. How to Clean and Lubricate a Chain

Frequent chain cleaning and lubrication will help keep dirt off your chain and prevent wear.

IMPORTANT: Nuts and bolts on your bike should always be tightened to the manufacturer's specifications.
How to Clean and Lubricate a Chain
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Regular cleaning and lubrication of your chain will help prevent your drivetrain from wearing out. You should clean and lubricate the chain when it is dirty, dry or begins to sound noisy. If you ride every day, you should clean and lube the chain at least once a month.

Chain Lubricants

I don't recommend using either motor oil or 3in1 oil to lubricate the chain. Motor oil is too heavy and won't fully penetrate the rollers, and 3in1 oil is vegetable based and will gum up the chain. I also don't recommend using wax lubricants because while they don't collect as much dirt, they are a lot of hassle to apply correctly, and wax is simply not as good a lubricant as oil. I do recommend mineral based chain oils like Finish Line Cross Country or Phil Wood Tenacious Oil because they do the best job of fighting corrosion and don't wash away when they get wet.

Chain Cleaning

For cleaning, first shift the chain into the smallest sprocket on the rear. For average dust and dirt, wipe the chain clean with a solvent soaked rag. The easiest way to do this is to hold the chain still at the rear derailleur cage while firmly wiping the lower run of the chain. Then move the chain backward and wipe again until you've wiped the entire length of chain. Wipe between the rear sprockets using either a rag or a sprocket cleaning tool. Then clean all of the front chainrings on both sides.

Chain Lubrication

Shift your gears into the middle sprocket both front and rear. Remember that oil does a good job of spreading itself, so try not to over-apply the lubricant. Lubricate the inner circumference of the chain, on the side that faces the sprockets along the top of the lower run of the chain. Run the chain backwards while dropping oil down both sides of the rollers.

Shift through all of the gears to spread the lubricant evenly through the drivetrain. Then use a rag to wipe off any excess oil.

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Discuss this topic in the Chain Forums

06/25 Chain getting sucked in by fat tire

Hi, my chain on a 2016 Specialized fatboy keeps getting sucked into the tire and comes off when I am in the top gear coasting. I have had multiple bike shops look at it and they say that those bike are not made to be in the top gear which sound ridiculous to me. It also been suggested that I change the front sprocket from a 28 to a 32. Also the chain measured fine. Any suggestions?... Read more >>

05/04 42 chainring

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02/24 Chain issue

Hi,

I have the following issue on my bike (see video):

https://youtu.be/XtuR7BI_7SU

When stopped at traffic lights I need various attempts at putting the pedal at the correct hight to set off. Is this to do with play in bottom bracket or another issue?

I have this play in bottom bracket:
https://youtu.be/ikX9hNyDs6g

It's an old bike so do not want to spend much money on it. I can live with the play in the bott... Read more >>

11/07 Chain dropping?

I'm having an issue on my CX bike. Which is shimano with 38/48. On the last 2 rides when I'm in the lowest gear on the cassette my chain drops off the small chain ring. It doesn't happen on the 2nd from lowest gear on the cassette.

I decided that maybe my rear mech was limited enough so perhaps was pulling the chain off at an angle. Therefore I played with the Lo limiter screw and indexing adjustment to ensure that wasn't the case. On on my bike stand it was fine but once riding the bike again it dropped? Given that it has only just started happening could be be wear relat... Read more >>

09/11 Stay spacing for 6-speed freewheel

I have an older frame with an ultra-6 freewheel.  When the rear wheel is removed the stays measure 122.78 (hub is a 120 for the ultra-6).  I can cold bend it out to 126, I'm sure, but do I need to if I just put a regular 6-speed freewheel on?  I'm not sure how tight that would be as far as the chain scraping the frame.  has anybody tried it?  Has anybody bent a 120 out to 126 or 130 without problems?... Read more >>

09/10 Chain wear indicators

I recently picked up a Park CC-3.2 to put in my portable bike tool-bag (12 inch ruler won't fit).  With it one of my chains that measures fine with the ruler, fails, even at the .75 side.  Reading on the subject states that the CC-3.2 doesn't take into account roller wear, which the Shimano TL-CN41 does. So, I took a popsicle stick (perfect thickness) and shaped it to press the roller nearest the drop-in end of the Park to give similar results to the Shimano and eliminate roller wear anomalies.  Sure enough, measurements come out differently, and what "failed" previously with the Park, now ... Read more >>

09/03 Changing cassette fail

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See link to pics of my cassette and the lockring i bought. http://s1067.photobucket.com/user/Nexus62/library/Mobile%20Uploads

I think i know where i went wrong. The lockring i purchased didnt fit properly, so i just used a spanner to remove the bolt. Now all that is left on the wheel is the old cassette..

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07/26 Chain slipping off gear shifter(?)

i've recently started riding my bike for exercise. was going well for a couple weeks, but a few days ago the chain on my bike has been slipping off of what i think is the gear shifter. it is very annoying and i haven't been able to ride my bike because of it.

Edit More info: i have a Schwinn Ranger 10 speed. the gear only slips like that in high gear. it does not slip while in low gear.


i have a video of basically what happens. can't get a video of it while riding. it is a video of it slipping off stationary.



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