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How many times a week/month do people clean their chains? I live in NYC and I think there is generally more gunk on the road that ends up on my chain - so any help from NYC folks is also appreciated.
 

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The Edge
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when it starts to make noise.

I come from the old methodology of "It takes energy to make noise or heat, so if you sense either of the two, you are loosing energy somewhere." I clean my chain when a simple relube and whipe-down won't get the buildup off. I use a Ziploc container filled with mineral spirits. I stake the container with the chain inside, let it sit for 5 minutes, shake again and remove the chain. I look brand new. Then relube with motor oil thinned with mineral spirits. I've tried alot of lubes and cleaning methods, and this is the easiest/cheapest/best performing by far.

If you haven't put a tool-free quick-link on your chain (by Whipperman or SRAM), that makes it all possible. Total time including drying time and relube should be about 30 minutes. No elbow grease involved.
 

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Riding conditions a big factor..

I don't have a lot of dust or grit where I ride. I wipe my chain down after each ride as part of my after ride bike cleaning routine. I apply a light coat of home brew (3 parts mineral spirits to 1 part 30W motor oil) and run the chain backwards through the rag I am using until the chain looks squeaky clean (usually about 15 revolutions). I have never removed a chain for cleaning. However a couple of years ago I did some riding in the San Jose Ca area where there is a lot of traffic and my chain became filthy with grit and grime after each ride. Keeping your driveline clean makes your chains and cassettes last longer. I'd say it's better to go over-board on the cleaning then to go the opposite direction....
 

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Don't clean your chain

Assuming we're talking road riding, use the following technique for successful ProLink or homebrew lube (1 part motor oil to 3-4 parts odorless mineral spirits) application and use:
1 - wipe the chain, cogs, pulleys, and chainrings clean with a rag.
2 - drip on lube while pedaling (forward is better) so that the chain just starts to drip lube. Aim the lube between the side plates and between the bushings and the side plates.
3 - run through all the gears several times, front and back.
4 - wipe the chain, cogs, pulleys, and chainrings clean with a rag.
5 - repeat 2-4 if the chain was really dirty

If you do this regularly, you will not get any significant gunky buildup, and you won't have to clean the chain.
 

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I'm about 28 miles northwest

and I clean my chain once a week with a couple midweek wipedowns if the conditions call for it. I drop the chain into a 2 liter bottle filled with mineral spirits, close the cap and shake. I used to use gasoline- the ULTIMATE degreaser, but that's just askin for it.


Some gunky dirty roads in the burbs too...
 

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Suggest the Park Tool CM-5 Chain Cleaner

JELLIOT said:
How many times a week/month do people clean their chains? I live in NYC and I think there is generally more gunk on the road that ends up on my chain - so any help from NYC folks is also appreciated.
It's been raining like every weekend here in No. California. Thankfully I did squeek in a couple 20 mile rides this past Sat/Sun. But I did manage to ride in misty, cold rain back on Superbowl Sunday (Feb 1), with a lot of grit and grime on the road. My new bike's chain got filthy quick as if it were a magnet to dirt.

Just yesterday, I got one of them chain cleaner machines cause I've always wanted one. The Park Tool CM-5 Chain Cleaner. Park also offers bio-degradable!!! cleaner fluid. It worked wonders. My dark brown chain turned silver color once more. I also did my girlfriend's chain on her bike... the machine is fun to use why not spread the joy.

I think it's well worth the money (~$25) as it's very thorough and easy. The guys at the LBS said they weren't believers in the machines until they tried it themselves.
 

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Depending on how far I've ridden and the conditions, I usually clean my chain every 200Km.Sometimes when it's not to dirty, I just wipe it down with a clean rag, and relube.
After every 200km, I take the chain off the bike, put it into an old gatorade bottle, fill it with ZEPP 505 degreaser, and shake it for a few minutes, then I let it sit for a while! If the chain was really dirty at the start, I drain out the old degreaser after the first time, rinse out the bottle, and repeat the cleaning process 2-3 more times.
I then spray down the rings, cogs, and pulley wheels, and wipe them down with the zepp cleaner. Once that's done, I remove the chain from the bottle, let it dry, put it back on the bike, relube, while turning the cranks forward, wiping off any excess from the chain, and rings.
It usually takes me about 10-15 mins, depending on how dirty the chain was, but after that my chain looks as good as new.
This way I get around 2500Km out of a chain, before I have to replace it, to preserve the cogs.
 

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2nd the motion for a chain cleaner

I used to take my chains off, soak 'em, spin 'em, hang to dry, reinstall and relube every month or so. About two years ago somebody gave me a Bibox chain cleaner, and I sneered but tried it anyway. It works pretty well, and it takes a couple of minutes instead of a couple of hours. I also have a Pedro's cleaner now (two bucks at a bike swap; couldn't resist), which might do a little better job. Either one gets the chains plenty clean enough for me, and it's a LOT less trouble.
FWIW, I use Prolink on my road bikes most of the time, and White Lightning on the mountain bike except when it's muddy. They both stay cleaner than they used to when I used motor oil.
 

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Off the back
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Word of Caution

Bill J Pappas said:
Depending on how far I've ridden and the conditions, I usually clean my chain every 200Km.Sometimes when it's not to dirty, I just wipe it down with a clean rag, and relube.
After every 200km, I take the chain off the bike, put it into an old gatorade bottle, fill it with ZEPP 505 degreaser, and shake it for a few minutes, then I let it sit for a while! If the chain was really dirty at the start, I drain out the old degreaser after the first time, rinse out the bottle, and repeat the cleaning process 2-3 more times.
I then spray down the rings, cogs, and pulley wheels, and wipe them down with the zepp cleaner. Once that's done, I remove the chain from the bottle, let it dry, put it back on the bike, relube, while turning the cranks forward, wiping off any excess from the chain, and rings.
It usually takes me about 10-15 mins, depending on how dirty the chain was, but after that my chain looks as good as new.
This way I get around 2500Km out of a chain, before I have to replace it, to preserve the cogs.
If you spray down the cogs, IMHO, take the casette off of the wheel to clean it. I killed a hub by being over-zealous with spraying Simple Green to clean the casette, then hosing it off. It made the casette nice and clean, but the Simple Green ate the hub grease and ruined the hub.
 

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questions/what i do

what is "mineral spirits"? where does a clown like myself go to get 'em?

i clean my chain in a water/dishwashing soap solution, relube, replace. thing is, i have 2 chains for one bike, so i can replace one while i'm cleaning the other. that way, you can ride virtually without interruption.

-rob
 

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" what is "mineral spirits"? "

Oy, vey!

You can buy mineral spirits at every hardware store in the known world. Don't use dish soap-it leaves detergents behind. Not to mention that it really doesn't clean the chain well in the first place.

BTW, I tried one of those Bibox things a few years ago-got nearly as much cleaner on the floor and my hands as got on the chain. On top of that, it did a lousy job of cleaning.
 
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