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

07/22 Cassette Sizes

Hi guys,

I'm currently have a Shimano 105 derailleur, 11-25T 10 Speed. I want more help on hills, and will be switching to a 11-27 or 12-27 cassette. I'll buy a new chain also.

What is the difference between the 11-27 and 12-27? Will I have to change my derailleur since this will be a new size?... Read more >>

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I have a SR-500 all Shimano 105 Components.The bike came from factory with six speed 13 tooth thru 23,at some point before I got it it was changed to 14 tooth to 24.Know that there was a option for a 53 tooth Biopace but don't see any on the normal sites.I think the 53 will work with 14 tooth,anyone ever try this gear ratio?... Read more >>

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When purchasing a new crankset, would you get a new lockring, or would that have to be brought separately? As the lockring on my bike is damaged, though not budging. Only just realised this, (face palm)... Read more >>

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I have a Gary Fisher Marlin that's 10+ years old. I bought a bash guard and removed the big and small chainrings as well as the front derailleur. I'm not using only my old middle chainring up front. I first attached the chainring backwards, but noticed this when the chain was jumping off while the bike was still on the stand. I took the crank off, unscrewed everything, and put it back on facing the right way.

Went for my first ride this morning and the chain kept jumping off the chainring, especially when going over bumps and regardless of the gear I was in.

I h... Read more >>

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The wheel I have bought is a Halo Combat II,... Read more >>

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I got a new 24 speed specialized a few months ago and I'm having problems with my chain.

On certain gears the chain jerks. I took it in for a free 30 day tune up. Before that it was the 4th gear and now the 7th gear is starting to act up. The gears also jerk when I put pressure on them.

The pedals were also doing something weird. I'm not technical, I'm trying to learn, but I would describe it as something loose. There was a pulse that eventually turned into a wobbling every rotation. The shop I took it to did a pedal realignment and it worked fine for a while.
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06/25 General question re Chains

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I have an old bike with Sugino crank and have lost two bolts and bolts, on the bolt thread 8 mm long and then has a 3.5 mm larger bulb the width of the head is 7.9 to 8 mm. Any ideas on where I can source?... Read more >>

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Hi guys

My rear wheel needs replacing. It has a freehub cassette body and I am currently using an 8-speed cassette with it. A replacement rear wheel is costing around £50.

On the other hand, i've seen a cheaper rear wheel with a freewheel body costing around £25 and I've also seen 8-speed freewheels selling for around £10.

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Thank you.... Read more >>

05/21 Can somebody tell me what is wrong?

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Hi,
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I've thought these are the most likely, can anyone advise as to what is most likely? Or if there's anything else you'd expect?

-My shifter, ... Read more >>

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What is the next logical thing that should prob... Read more >>

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Hi. New member.
I working in Cambodia, riding a 2011 Giant Escaper 26" 24SP.
It's not a great bike, but it's what they gave me, and it works OK for what I need.
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Looking to change out the one ring (since the others and sprockets all
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