Are chain scrubbers really any good?

General cycling advice ( NOT technical ! )
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EndlessWandering
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Are chain scrubbers really any good?

Postby EndlessWandering » 21 Apr 2011, 9:28pm

I've been umming and arring recently over whether it's worth investing in a chain scrubber. The Park CM5 scubbers are currently on eBay for about £24, but are they really any better than spending a good amount of time and elbow grease manually cleaning the chain?

I currently spend as much time as needed (I'm pretty fastidious when it comes to maintenance) removing grime from the drivetrain with just a rag and a bit of degreaser, and the results are great. But it does take time to achieve those results.

What are your experiences, should I just "stick with what's working" :?
Two wheels good...

nirakaro
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Re: Are chain scrubbers really any good?

Postby nirakaro » 21 Apr 2011, 9:43pm

I'm sure opinions will differ, but I found it a faff to set up, awkward to use, and not terribly effective. Used it once, just like the person who's selling one on ebay.

snibgo
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Re: Are chain scrubbers really any good?

Postby snibgo » 21 Apr 2011, 9:46pm

You might search these forums for "cleaning chains". Plenty of (conflicting) opinions.

The worst wear occurs within the rollers. Any cleaning that doesn't remove gunge from inside the rollers isn't much use. It may be worse than useless, shifting surrounding gunge into the rollers.

I use white spirit in a similar gadget. After 3 or 4 changes of solvent, it stays clean, and I reckon the chain is clean.

Tonyf33
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Re: Are chain scrubbers really any good?

Postby Tonyf33 » 22 Apr 2011, 1:31am

The Barbieri chain cleaner is available for £10.99 delivered from total cycling

TonyR
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Are chain scrubbers really any good?

Postby TonyR » 22 Apr 2011, 7:11am

If you really are fastidious, then nothing beats the ShelBroCo chain cleaner

[url="http://www.sheldonbrown.com/chainclean.html"]http://www.sheldonbrown.com/chainclean.html[/url] ;)

If that is a bit OTT, getting a Powerlink and doing the Sheldon Shake is by far the easiest way

[url="http://sheldonbrown.com/chains.html#cleaning"]http://sheldonbrown.com/chains.html#cleaning[/url]

He also has some comments on the chain cleaners.

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[XAP]Bob
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Re: Are chain scrubbers really any good?

Postby [XAP]Bob » 22 Apr 2011, 8:25am

The sheldon shake - also known around here as the MickF method - is remarkably effective.

I've been cleaning a few of my chains this way for a while now. I find the trick to be to have two chains - they you can whip one off and replace it (adding a small dribble of lubricant), dump the dirty chain in gunk (other solvents exist) and shake it over the next few days (MrsBob insists that it stays out of the kitchen though).

Then clean off in an old washing bowl in the kitchen sink, and bake for 15 minutes on very low. End up with a perfectly clean*, dry chain - easy to measure for "stretch" and ready to swap back onto the bike when the current chain needs a deep clean.

I do a few "wipe it down" cleans between each deep clean, but don't go through dust baths or other "chain nasties" very often (winter cleaning is facilitated by the two chain approach)

* Could eat dinner off it clean. Neither my wife nor mother complain if I pop it in the carpet, or cream chairs...
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Si
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Re: Are chain scrubbers really any good?

Postby Si » 22 Apr 2011, 8:53am

I've found my halfords chain cleaner to do a good job (apart from on the fixie/SS for obvious reasons).

I think that some people have trouble with them because they either don't remove all of the cleaner before lubing afterwards or don't lube properly.

Of course, the MickF method is probably better, but if you are MTBing in the muck and grinding paste then I find the chain cleaner to be less faff than doing a MickF clean twice a week.

reohn2
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Re: Are chain scrubbers really any good?

Postby reohn2 » 22 Apr 2011, 9:03am

I've had one of these:- http://www.chainreactioncycles.com/Mode ... delID=5956 for the thick end of ten years,and its a good product,it does exactly what it says,cleans the chain.I use White Spirit in mine then washing up liquid and hot water to remove the WS.
If I want a really thorough job on the chain and cassette the chain comes off and is dunked in a jar of WS then washing up liquid/hot water.
-----------------------------------------------------------

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[XAP]Bob
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Re: Are chain scrubbers really any good?

Postby [XAP]Bob » 22 Apr 2011, 9:19am

Si wrote:Of course, the MickF method is probably better, but if you are MTBing in the muck and grinding paste then I find the chain cleaner to be less faff than doing a MickF clean twice a week.


Yes - the advantage of having two chains is that the act of cleaning can easily be spread over a week. If you are getting serious grit on the chain then a good wipe down on a very regular basis is going to be essential - but the effort of a MickF clean twice a week will be excessive. I'd still be tempted to do it once in a while - switching chains also helps preserve the cassette (well, it makes you more aware of stretch).

I ride almost exclusively on road, so until the salt comes out my chain stays pretty clean anyway.
A shortcut has to be a challenge, otherwise it would just be the way. No situation is so dire that panic cannot make it worse.
There are two kinds of people in this world: those can extrapolate from incomplete data.

kwackers
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Re: Are chain scrubbers really any good?

Postby kwackers » 22 Apr 2011, 9:28am

I'm going to add my controversial bit here. :wink:

I never clean my chain*. I just spray it regularly with oil. It's now done 7000 miles and wear is well within limits. (There's also no noticeable wear to any part of the running gear - although I have replaced the bottom bracket!)

Here's my theory. You either *really* clean a chain (i.e. the Mick F) method or don't bother, a half baked attempt at cleaning simply forces the crud between the plates which causes premature wear.
Left to it's own devices the crud simply sits on the outside and oil 'wicks' through.

Of course it's only a theory, but if someone else can explain why most of the people on here get tiny mileages from their chains whilst I don't I'd be interested in hearing it.

*not completely true. It does get cleaned on the bikes post winter annual service.

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meic
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Re: Are chain scrubbers really any good?

Postby meic » 22 Apr 2011, 9:32am

Because you are a flatlander. :wink:
Yma o Hyd

ChrisButch
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Re: Are chain scrubbers really any good?

Postby ChrisButch » 22 Apr 2011, 9:46am

kwackers wrote:
Of course it's only a theory, but if someone else can explain why most of the people on here get tiny mileages from their chains whilst I don't I'd be interested in hearing it.

.

I have a theory (or rather a conjecture) about this - why, that is, riders using identical equipment and similar chain cleaning regimes have such different rates of chain wear. I suspect the answer lies in the local geology.

If we accept that the agent of chain wear is the 'grinding paste' picked up from the roads, then the abrasive constituent in this is mainly (at least in rural areas) mineral particles in the soil, which are washed out from fields, banks and verges in the form of mud. The size, shape and hardness of those mineral particles varies with the underlying local bedrock from which most soils are derived. It so happens that in my area, although geologically complex, most of the rock types contain significant quantities of quartz, an excellent abrasive which breaks down into hard, sharp particles. I therefore expect, and find, high rates of chain wear. If I happened to live in a soft limestone area, or in the clay lands of the southeast, or in the peatlands of the fens or the Somerset levels where the soil is mostly humus with low mineral content, I would expect chain wear to be much lower. QED

Father Jack
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Re: Are chain scrubbers really any good?

Postby Father Jack » 22 Apr 2011, 9:59am

They work great, get into places a toothbrush don't. £8.50 and came with bottle of lube and cleaner.

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Chris Jeggo
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Re: Are chain scrubbers really any good?

Postby Chris Jeggo » 22 Apr 2011, 10:13am

I've had a Park one for a few years and am pleased with it. I bought it when chains started to use non-reusable rivet pins. It does as good a job as removing the chain and washing it in a tray (it depends on how many changes of solvent you use) but is quicker.
How clean need a chain be? There's no point in getting it cleaner than it will be after the first wet day, which will send dirty water into every nook and cranny, even on road. It is 'grinding paste' between pins and bushes that does the worst damage.
When the chain scrubber is in use dirty solvent sprays/drips off the chain at both ends of the transmission so use sheets of newspaper to catch it.
After washing, most of the solvent can easily be removed by holding a folded absorbent rag round the chain with light pressure and winding the chain through it a few times. No need for washing up or baking. Lube and go if you have to, or otherwise give the remaining solvent time to evaporate first.
So, to answer the original question, whether it is worth buying one depends on which you can better afford, time or £25.

kwackers
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Re: Are chain scrubbers really any good?

Postby kwackers » 22 Apr 2011, 10:14am

ChrisButch wrote:If we accept that the agent of chain wear is the 'grinding paste' picked up from the roads, then the abrasive constituent in this is mainly (at least in rural areas) mineral particles in the soil, which are washed out from fields, banks and verges in the form of mud. The size, shape and hardness of those mineral particles varies with the underlying local bedrock from which most soils are derived. It so happens that in my area, although geologically complex, most of the rock types contain significant quantities of quartz, an excellent abrasive which breaks down into hard, sharp particles. I therefore expect, and find, high rates of chain wear. If I happened to live in a soft limestone area, or in the clay lands of the southeast, or in the peatlands of the fens or the Somerset levels where the soil is mostly humus with low mineral content, I would expect chain wear to be much lower. QED

I could buy that. But what about the idea you've got a 'sticky vest' around the chain to which the particles stick and cant get past? To wear they have to make it past the plates and into the pins but if that journey is hampered by a thick sticky coat?
I realise that potentially movement might act as a 'pump' causing them to circulate, but I'm not completely convinced.

@meic. Flatlander, yes. But when I do find hills I don't suddenly press much harder on the pedals.

Incidentally, when I broached this subject with my LBS he reckoned there was immense variation (presumably in the local area) which he put down to riding style...