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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have some difficulty to keep my chain clean. Yesterday I cleaned the chain, the cassette and the chainrings as much as I can using chain degreaser, brushes and a "chain machine". I then used many scott towels to dry it. I put Finish Line Teflon Plus on the chain, removed the excess with another scott towel. I went for a short 15 miles ride on a not so dirty road and the chain is black again. There are not many sand particles or leaves, just black stuff.

Am I doing something wrong when cleaning/oiling the chain?
Should I use more or less oil?
I have also a bottle of Finish Line Wax Lubricant. Perhaps I should try that instead?

Thanks!
 

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Resident Curmudgeon
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Less lube is usually more. Too much attracts dirt. If you're riding on regular paved roads, I wouldn't bother cleaning the chain again. Just take a rag & wipe it off. Bicycle specific lubes are IMO highly overrated. Nobody has offerred any evidence that they are superior in any way, (except maybe high price), to any other commonplace lube on the market.

I don't clean my chain often, unless I've been riding in the rain.
 

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Old Skool
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Do a search in this forum

This topic has been covered too death in this forum. Chain maintenance, cleaning and lubrication is a frequent question, probably because it is an issue for everyone. However, there is not one right answer. What works for some folks does not work for others. You have to find what works for you. That said, do a search in this forum for terms like, “chain cleaning” and “home brew” and you will get some really interesting threads full of good advice. Here is a link to one to get you started.

http://forums.roadbikereview.com/showthread.php?t=62625&highlight=chain+cleaning

Personally, I use “home brew”, loosely defined as a mixture of some sort of motor oil and some sort of solvent (usually mineral spirits). I converted to this from White Lighting about 1,000 mile ago and find it works really well. My personal mix is about 1 part 90W gear oil to 5 parts mineral spirits. More details on the home brew thing in the thread above.
 

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Dirt outside doesn't necessarily hurt anything....

I'm with the post that says to wipe it off and keep riding. My chains usually have at least a little crud on them (I live in the desert on a short dirt road, so there's plenty of dust). Doesn't seem to hurt anything, and if you can wipe the excess lube and dirt off the outside, the lube inside the rollers etc. will still be doing its job.
 

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If it's just a thin black deposit on the chain then it's nothing to worry about, it's a bit of dirt suspended in lube (how it should be) and maybe a bit of worn metal (also suspended and harmless). It's when you start seeing dry dirt and/or clumps that you should be concerned.
 

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n00bsauce
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I put Finish Line Teflon Plus on the chain, removed the excess with another scott towel. I went for a short 15 miles ride
There's your problem. If you went for a ride right after lubing there is no way to avoid picking up enough dirt to turn the chain black. Plus, there's still enough suspended solids after the type of cleaning you did that work their way out. Clean and apply lube after you ride. Go through your wiping routine and let it sit overnight. You'll get less black buildup. If you wipe your chain down after each ride it helps the looks, too. Chain maintenance isn't rocket science and the appearance of your chain is not the main indicator of a well lubricated chain. Use the lube of your choice, clean and lube every couple hundred miles give or take depending on riding conditions and your chain will last a good long time. Just don't obsess over it's appearance. Afterall, how could you get those cool tatoos if the chain was always clean?
 

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I am of the same mind as Mel. I use mineral spirits to clean my chain. I use a toothbrush and a Park chain cleaner. Once I'm satisified that I have all the dirt out of it I dry the chain using cotton shop towels. I pay particular attention to getting the entire drivetrain dry to the touch. I then leave it overnight. Where I live the humidity is low and as it heats up during the day, whatever mineral spirits were left in the chain evaporate.

The next day I use a chain lube (Since this is a religious subject I won't touch it). After I lube the chain I wipe it down as much as possible. Here is the thing, you aren't going to wipe the lube out of the parts of the chain that need the lube. What you are doing is drying the surfaces of the chain as much as possible to help keep dirt from sticking to it.

Let me clue you in, you could get away with cleaning your chain throuroughly and not putting any lube back on it (I know, that is heresey). I tried it and noticed the tiniest little squeaking sounds when I was on my ride. The next day I wiped the chain dry again and lubed it. Oh, I said I wiped the chain dry. Yes, after the ride, whatever lubricant was in the rollers where I couldn't get at it after I had cleaned my chain, had migrated to the surfaces. This is why you don't worry about wiping your chain dry after you lube it. You just can't get all the lubricant out of the nooks and crannies anyway, so even after a couple of days, you could take a cotten shop towel and wipe your chain again.

Summary: your chain went black because you had way too much lubricant on it.
 

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I agree drying is key

I agree that completely drying the chain is key before applying your lube of choice. I also use mineral spirits to clean my chain. However, I “triple wash” mine in a mason jar as follows. Admittedly some may consider my technique overkill, but it works.
  1. Remove chain from bike, place in jar.
  2. Cover with mineral spirits, an inch or two will do, put lid on the jar.
  3. Agitate for a minute or so.
  4. Remove the chain from the jar and drain off the mineral spirits.
  5. Rinse jar with a splash more mineral spirits if needed to remove debris from the jar.
  6. Put chain back in jar and repeat the above steps twice for a triple wash.
  7. Wipe off the chain and hang it in the sun to dry completely.
The third wash mineral spirits remain very clean. This confirms that the chain is squeaky clean. While this process sounds complicated, it is really quite simple and quick.

I recycle my mineral spirits by draining the used spirits into a second jug. Yes, mineral spirits are cheap but they are still a solvent that needs to be properly disposed of. Reusing them cuts down on the volume of hazardous waste. Just let them settle and they get remarkably clear and the debris settles to the bottom. Just be careful not to stir them up too much when pouring from the recycled jug. I usually use “grey spirits” for the first two washes, but always clean “virgin spirits” for the final wash.
 

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Finish Line Dry needs time to dry. I would say give it a good hour or two minimum. When you wiped the chain, you probably just soaked up the lube on the side plates and excess on the rollers. But once you pedaled, the lube probably got pushed out and started the dust collecting fun, especially if you overlubed, which is VERY easy with Finish Line Dry since it's so damn thin and you don't even see how much you've put.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Heck said:
Finish Line Dry needs time to dry. I would say give it a good hour or two minimum. When you wiped the chain, you probably just soaked up the lube on the side plates and excess on the rollers. But once you pedaled, the lube probably got pushed out and started the dust collecting fun, especially if you overlubed, which is VERY easy with Finish Line Dry since it's so damn thin and you don't even see how much you've put.
Yeah that was probably the problem. Next time I will let it to dry overnight and I will put less
 

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I'm convinced that this is

I'm convinced that this is purely a function of the chain lube used. Some turn everything black and others leave a clean chain. I've had the best luck with Pro Link and ATB (Keith Lewis) for keeping my chain clean. YMMV>

Jim
 

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I will have to disagree. Finish Line's Teflon Dry is quite clean, only slightly more dirt attraction than their wax alternative, of course when used properly. I like Finish Line's Dry as it lasts a lot longer than wax, but not nearly as long as their wet version.

I might be in the minority here, but I switched back to wet lube and enjoy the properties it provides, but yes, like the label says, you need to pay more attention in keeping it clean.
 
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