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Can I keep my chain clean in winter...

GasperoniGasperoni Posts: 41
edited February 2015 in Road beginners
...without cleaning it after every ride? I see people with these pristine shiny chains and wonder if I am doing something wrong.

I'm going out in rain and muddy roads, and so using wet lube to keep the chain healthy. I will clean the chain say once a month and relube, but it is black and oily in no time again. I think part of the problem is/was a worn chain, so I have replaced that and the cassette but I was wondering if it is feasible to keep this chain its current colour and less likely to get oily hands in a wheel change? Maybe its a natural consequence of having to use wet lube, or maybe it requires a chain clean after every ride (do most people do this?), or is it just a forlorn hope?
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  • No you can't... and those people with shiny chains either don't ride them or they clean them a lot
  • If you see people with a clean chain in this weather then they either don't put any lube on it or they cleaned it less than 10 miles ago.
    I use wet lube and do a thorough clean and re lube once a week. The first ride normally turns the chain black.
  • mpattsmpatts Posts: 1,002
    I clean mine every ride. however, as it's the season of ceramic wet lube, then yes it turns to black after an hour.

    Nothing quite so satisfying as a clean bike.
    Insert bike here:
  • ai_1ai_1 Posts: 3,060
    I was using wet lube and of course the chain got very dirty very quickly, especially in winter. Now I generally use a light PTFE lube. The chain still get dirty fast in winter but doesn't hang onto as much material. Of course the downside is that the lube doesn't last as long but I haven't felt the need to revert to the wet lube. If I was commuting or doing huge mileage on dirty roads in the wet I might switch back but I'm not commuting or doing much yucky mileage this year winter.
    mpatts wrote:
    I clean mine every ride. however, as it's the season of ceramic wet lube, then yes it turns to black after an hour.

    Nothing quite so satisfying as a clean bike.
    I think getting off my bike deciding it'll be fine 'til next time and going for a nice warm shower is much more satisfying than a clean bike.
  • Mudguards help too, not much re the chain but the rest of the bike and more importantly me. I know Ugo despises them :twisted:
  • Mudguards help too, not much re the chain but the rest of the bike and more importantly me. I know Ugo despises them :twisted:

    There are many claims to fame for mudguards... now they even keep the chain cleaner? How about the carpets in the living room? Surely if you fit mudguards you don't have to hoover them so often... :wink:
  • Ha - hadn't thought of that! I'll add it to the list, sure my wife will be impressed. Although I do most of the hoovering.. :oops:
  • Thanks for the replies. It is reassuring to know that wet lube and dirty roads equal black chain, and there isn't some sort of bicycle juju that could keep everything sparkly clean. There's snow on the road now, so my bike gets to stay nice and shiny just a little bit longer.
  • dj58dj58 Posts: 2,161
    Just clean it once a week and accept that at this time of year it will get dirty fairly quickly. Carry a couple of pairs of disposable nitrile gloves if you don't like oily hands.
  • Was talking about this to a guy in our club who rides in all weathers and he swears by using dry lube in the winter. Applying it between every ride. Not sure myself but it seems to work for him.
  • ai_1ai_1 Posts: 3,060
    Was talking about this to a guy in our club who rides in all weathers and he swears by using dry lube in the winter. Applying it between every ride. Not sure myself but it seems to work for him.
    Yep, works fine. Might start to get slightly iffy were you to do huge rides in heavy rain but as my winter rides are rarely over 50km and less if it's raining the light lube works fine. I only needs re-applying between rides if it's been a wet one.
  • Step 1 is to accept that a chain will basically be black in the winter months.

    At this time of year, after every wet ride I spin the cranks, spray the chain with WD40/GT85, then run it through a clean cloth, then apply liberal wet lube then run it through a new clean cloth.

    Job done in about 2 minutes.

    Each month or so, chain off, bung it in jam jar full of white spirit, shake shake. Clean derailleurs, cassette, chainrings with white spirit and paintbrush, lube mechs then refit lubed chain.
  • mr_evilmr_evil Posts: 234
    A front mudguard keeps stops a huge amount of gritty spray from hitting the drivetrain.

    I'm still waiting for someone to make a full stainless steel chain, so I can keep the outside of the chain free of oil without it ending up rusty.
  • Mudguards help too, not much re the chain but the rest of the bike and more importantly me. I know Ugo despises them :twisted:

    There are many claims to fame for mudguards... now they even keep the chain cleaner? How about the carpets in the living room? Surely if you fit mudguards you don't have to hoover them so often... :wink:


    Of course mudguards keep the carpets clean in the house, as there is less much to drop of you when you walk in the house after a ride ;-)

    On my winter bike which is used for aprox 200 miles a week in all weathers I might clean the chain once a month and re lube. The rest of the time it gets a quick blast of GT85 and squirt of 3in1 oil. it has done 2000 miles so far this winter and is still working fine.
  • il_principeil_principe Posts: 9,146
    [quote="How Far is too Far"

    On my winter bike which is used for aprox 200 miles a week in all weathers I might clean the chain once a month and re lube. The rest of the time it gets a quick blast of GT85 and squirt of 3in1 oil. it has done 2000 miles so far this winter and is still working fine.[/quote]

    I bet it's worn.
    2015 Canyon Aeroad CF SLX
    2020 Canyon Ultimate CF SLX
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    On the Strand
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  • dodgydodgy Posts: 2,890
    Mudguards help too, not much re the chain but the rest of the bike and more importantly me. I know Ugo despises them :twisted:

    There are many claims to fame for mudguards... now they even keep the chain cleaner? How about the carpets in the living room? Surely if you fit mudguards you don't have to hoover them so often... :wink:

    I can categorically state that mudguards do help keep the chain clean. When I went to SKS Longboards on my Alfine bike I couldn't believe how silver and shiny the chain remains, even after weeks.

    I also have them on my new Tripster ATR, same story, chain is still silver and quiet after 300 miles.
  • Was talking about this to a guy in our club who rides in all weathers and he swears by using dry lube in the winter. Applying it between every ride. Not sure myself but it seems to work for him.

    A good piece of advice: avoid people who talk about chain lubrication during a club ride... you only live once, best to make the most of it... :wink:
  • dodgy wrote:
    I can categorically state that mudguards do help keep the chain clean. When I went to SKS Longboards on my Alfine bike I couldn't believe how silver and shiny the chain remains, even after weeks.

    Ah, those were the days! :lol:
  • trailflowtrailflow Posts: 1,311
    edited January 2015
    At this time of year, after every wet ride I spin the cranks, spray the chain with WD40/GT85, then run it through a clean cloth, then apply liberal wet lube then run it through a new clean cloth.

    Job done in about 2 minutes.

    Each month or so, chain off, bung it in jam jar full of white spirit, shake shake. Clean derailleurs, cassette, chainrings with white spirit and paintbrush, lube mechs then refit lubed chain.

    A clean cloth ? you must be loaded :)

    I run the chain through an old rag towel before each ride. Then re-lube with cheap oil from the hardware shop. I've just bought a litre of chainsaw oil for a fiver. Hopefully it will last me a good few years.

    i can clean most of my drive train to an acceptable standard just with a towel. Even the gunk on the crank,chainrings and deraillers. i can get most of it off. If i want to do a proper clean i will use some old brushes for the nooks and crannies,then a small sponge with soap.

    Its a waste of time to take your drivetrain apart to clean it. Plus you risk the chain split link/pin failing if you keep removing it. The parts will be back to being dirty again within 2 rides.
  • dodgydodgy Posts: 2,890
    I experimented at one time taking my chain off to clean it. Waste of time. Now I just wipe the chain with some GT85 used as a solvent, then re-lube.

    My chain is usually the cleanest of the people I ride with, and I bet I spend less time getting it that way :)
  • team47bteam47b Posts: 6,424
    Mr Evil wrote:
    A front mudguard keeps stops a huge amount of gritty spray from hitting the drivetrain.

    I'm still waiting for someone to make a full stainless steel chain, so I can keep the outside of the chain free of oil without it ending up rusty.

    I have a chrome chain on my vintage steel bike this won't rust.

    DISCLAIMER - It doesn't rain much where I live so there is no need to go out on those few days when it does, so I use dry lube on all my chains, none of these chains are black or oily and a wipe with a rag takes off the dust.
    my isetta is a 300cc bike
  • team47b wrote:
    Mr Evil wrote:
    A front mudguard keeps stops a huge amount of gritty spray from hitting the drivetrain.

    I'm still waiting for someone to make a full stainless steel chain, so I can keep the outside of the chain free of oil without it ending up rusty.

    I have a chrome chain on my vintage steel bike this won't rust.

    DISCLAIMER - It doesn't rain much where I live so there is no need to go out on those few days when it does, so I use dry lube on all my chains, none of these chains are black or oily and a wipe with a rag takes off the dust.
    You never tire of rubbing it in do you! :lol:
  • janwaljanwal Posts: 471
    I'm sure I'll get shot down.Just give chain a thorough wipe with a towel and GT85.Then relube with the GT85.It does have plenty of lube for a 30/40 mile ride despite what a lot of people say and repels water.Chain is staying nice and clean and gear changes are spot on.I have cycled in Majorca for a number of years and nearly all the bike hire shops we have used just use GT85 or WD40.And there bikes are doing thousands of K's a year.
  • deswellerdesweller Posts: 5,271
    janwal wrote:
    I'm sure I'll get shot down.Just give chain a thorough wipe with a towel and GT85.Then relube with the GT85.It does have plenty of lube for a 30/40 mile ride despite what a lot of people say and repels water.Chain is staying nice and clean and gear changes are spot on.I have cycled in Majorca for a number of years and nearly all the bike hire shops we have used just use GT85 or WD40.And there bikes are doing thousands of K's a year.

    If you're lucky, and the roads are dry, and it doesn't rain en route. And you don't mind doing it after every single ride.

    Basically your solution is the minimum possible oiling requirement for a beginner cyclist.
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    On Strava.{/url}
  • jgsijgsi Posts: 5,027
    desweller wrote:
    janwal wrote:
    I'm sure I'll get shot down.Just give chain a thorough wipe with a towel and GT85.Then relube with the GT85.It does have plenty of lube for a 30/40 mile ride despite what a lot of people say and repels water.Chain is staying nice and clean and gear changes are spot on.I have cycled in Majorca for a number of years and nearly all the bike hire shops we have used just use GT85 or WD40.And there bikes are doing thousands of K's a year.

    If you're lucky, and the roads are dry, and it doesn't rain en route. And you don't mind doing it after every single ride.

    Basically your solution is the minimum possible oiling requirement for a beginner cyclist.

    OK, I give in... this is my scenario.. my chain is squeaky clean/shiny very, every and all rides.
    Use RocknRoll Red or Gold after each and every ride.
    I have done since last October 10 or so Sunday 'tempo' training rides - 60 miles (staves off Turbo cabin Fever).
    Although the rides have done with no rain, the roads have been consistently damp/wet... not exactly inviting.. I start these rides at the latest 6:30am so I have Sunday for better things than cycling (joke mode).
    Point is... was I supposed to have issues with my drive train because I failed miserably to have everything coated sh11ty black??
    Please enlighten me.
  • deswellerdesweller Posts: 5,271
    jgsi wrote:
    desweller wrote:
    janwal wrote:
    I'm sure I'll get shot down.Just give chain a thorough wipe with a towel and GT85.Then relube with the GT85.It does have plenty of lube for a 30/40 mile ride despite what a lot of people say and repels water.Chain is staying nice and clean and gear changes are spot on.I have cycled in Majorca for a number of years and nearly all the bike hire shops we have used just use GT85 or WD40.And there bikes are doing thousands of K's a year.

    If you're lucky, and the roads are dry, and it doesn't rain en route. And you don't mind doing it after every single ride.

    Basically your solution is the minimum possible oiling requirement for a beginner cyclist.

    OK, I give in... this is my scenario.. my chain is squeaky clean/shiny very, every and all rides.
    Use RocknRoll Red or Gold after each and every ride.
    I have done since last October 10 or so Sunday 'tempo' training rides - 60 miles (staves off Turbo cabin Fever).
    Although the rides have done with no rain, the roads have been consistently damp/wet... not exactly inviting.. I start these rides at the latest 6:30am so I have Sunday for better things than cycling (joke mode).
    Point is... was I supposed to have issues with my drive train because I failed miserably to have everything coated sh11ty black??
    Please enlighten me.

    But you're using a proper oil, not WD40 or GT85. I don't understand the relevance of the quote.
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  • janwaljanwal Posts: 471
    Sorry Des,I'm not a beginner,I'm now retired and even in this weather the 30/40 milers are done 2 or 3 times a week with 100 milers in the summer.I've tried all the big name lubes that people on her swear by.Most lubes also pick up road censored and dust and mud and you end up with a black gungy chain which also acts as a grinding paste.I just prefere GT85 as a lube as I have the time to do the cleaning. At the end of the day, in the overall cost of running a bike even my 10 or 11 speed Ultegra chain are cheapish replaceable parts.
  • deswellerdesweller Posts: 5,271
    Fair enough.

    I used to do that for 25 milers when I was a teenager. The chain was always dry and squeaking like a goodun by the time I got back.
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    On Strava.{/url}
  • gimplgimpl Posts: 268
    trailflow wrote:
    A clean cloth ? you must be loaded :)

    I run the chain through an old rag towel before each ride. Then re-lube with cheap oil from the hardware shop. I've just bought a litre of chainsaw oil for a fiver. Hopefully it will last me a good few years.

    i can clean most of my drive train to an acceptable standard just with a towel. Even the gunk on the crank,chainrings and deraillers. i can get most of it off. If i want to do a proper clean i will use some old brushes for the nooks and crannies,then a small sponge with soap.

    Its a waste of time to take your drivetrain apart to clean it. Plus you risk the chain split link/pin failing if you keep removing it. The parts will be back to being dirty again within 2 rides.

    I thought chainsaw oil was quite thin although thinking about it, it needs to stick to a chain flying round very quickly so might be quite sticky. A relative of mine did try motorcycle chain oil once but it was far too sticky and the chain didn't run properly.

    I have a few litres of motor oil at home and was wondering if I could just soak my bike chain in that then let it drain hanging up - any reason not to use motor oil anyone ?
  • ai_1ai_1 Posts: 3,060
    I don't quite understand the "controversy" over chain lube.
    It's pretty simple:
    Penetrating oils like WD40 are not intended for lubrication. They will be better than nothing but won't last and won't provide much of a lubricating film. A bad idea unless you have no alternative in my view.
    Heavy winter lube will best stay on the chain but will carry more grit and debris than a lighter oil or dry lube. Makes the chain dirtier if you rub off it and it's not so pretty. Possibly could cause some wear in extreme cases. Most resistant to the wet. Needs least maintenance.
    Light oils will work in winter but won't last as long when subjected to the wet and large amounts of muck. Fine so long as you re-lube more often.
    Dry lubes will be less prone to carrying debris but will be less resistant to wet and mucky conditions. As with light oils they'll need to be re-applied more often but will result in a cleaner chain.

    Wet lube = less corrosion, less maintenance
    Dry lube = least mess, less durable
    Light oil = somewhere in the middle

    Is that accurate?
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