Cleaning a bike chain isn't just for visual aesthetics, to the extent a clean chain can keep your bike running smoothly and performing back to its original factory condition. In addition, regular and correct cleaning of the bicycle chain can avoid the adhesion of stubborn oil stains in time, thereby prolonging the service life of the bicycle chain.
Bicycle chain wear is caused by the friction between the grit and the chain. If you want to reduce the wear and tear of the bicycle, it is necessary to clean the chain in time. This operation can save you a lot of money on replacing chains, sprockets, and chainrings.
Experiments by independent test houses have confirmed that dirty chains can drastically reduce the performance of a bike. Depending on how "dirty" the chain is, the wear and tear on the chain may vary. But on average, a rider with a dirty chain at 250 watts adds about 3 to 5 watts of power loss, for a total of about 1 to 2 percent. Friction on the chain also increases when the chain is not properly cleaned and lubricated. Typically a clean and well-lubricated chain only draws about 7 watts on the road, but when the chain gets dirty, an extra 3 watts is lost. The additional power loss will increase with the degree of dirtiness of the chain, and in extreme cases may even have a loss of 12 watts.
It's a well-known fact that the quickest way to clean a chain is to replace it. If the chain wears too much, it's pointless to waste time on it. As soon as the chains show signs of contamination and wear, we should remove the old chains from the bike and properly wash them with cleaning equipment.
Should we take the chain off the bike and wash it?
There seems to be a big disagreement among the majority of riders as to whether the chain should be removed for cleaning.
It used to be a common practice for cyclists to clean a chain by removing it from the bike and shaking it in a can filled with detergent, but this is not so common anymore. With the increasing number of gear ratios, the transmission components have become more and more precise, and the simple and rough cleaning methods in the past are no longer suitable for the current bicycle chain.
The durability of the 7-speed, 8-speed, and 9-speed chain velcro can usually support two or three times of disassembly and assembly. The 10-speed, 11-speed, 12-speed chain's magic buckle is usually a one-time use, repeated disassembly and use will wear out, which may cause danger. It is recommended to use a new magic buckle every time the chain is installed.
Chain washer selection
The most effective way to clean the chain is to remove it and put it in the ultrasonic cleaner. It only takes five minutes to remove the stubborn stains, and the effect is very obvious. If you want to speed up the process of using an ultrasonic cleaner, you can assisted cleaning the bicycle chain with a stiff brush, followed by a second cleaning with an ultrasonic cleaner, rinse with clean water when done, and air dry. After the whole operation, you will get a brand new chain. However, it should be noted that the chain cannot be soaked in the cleaning agent for a long time when cleaning, because the metal part of the chain may be corroded by the cleaning agent and cause surface cracks.
For the average biker, a regular dishwasher brush, old toothbrush or even a toilet brush can be used to clean the bike chain. But never brush the chain with a steel wool ball, as this will most likely damage your chain.
Whether you're cleaning the chain with a stiff brush, a rag or an ultrasonic machine, decontamination is best done outdoors so you don't mess up your home. It is recommended not to use harmful solvents containing diesel, benzene, gasoline or acetone, and products that are safe and harmless to the environment should be selected.
If your bike has disc brakes, be careful not to splash oil on the brake discs when washing the chain. You can do this by removing the rear wheel and wrapping the brake caliper in a plastic bag while washing the chain.
Should I choose to use a regular metal cleaner or a chain cleaner from a professional brand?
Either a regular metal cleaner or a professional brand chain cleaner will do the job well. In general, a metal cleaner available at the grocery or hardware store will do the trick.
Some riders believe that the cleaning ability of most chain cleaners on the market is too strong, so that the lubricant inside the chain is taken away when cleaning the chain, which will shorten the service life of the bicycle chain . However, studies have shown that it takes only a minute for chain oil to drip onto the surface of the chain to fully saturate the interior.
There are a large number of cleaners with different prices and different fragrances to choose from on the market, so you can shop around and pick out your favorite products.