Gritty Gears/how to clean

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Samuel D
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Re: Gritty Gears/how to clean

Postby Samuel D » 9 Feb 2018, 12:08pm

Mechanics lubricate chains when the rider needs a push, so it’s hard to know whether the chain needed attention. Still, a chain may certainly need lubrication within a hundred miles in bad conditions. It gets oiled in a dirty state since the oven routine is tricky on the road.

I replace my chains when they hit 0.5% elongation as measured with a ruler over many links. I use a chain-wear gauge every few rides to warn me when to start measuring with the ruler that gives a more accurate indication of wear.

My chains don’t last very long, in part because I ride in all conditions often without mudguards, and undoubtedly in part because I don’t clean them as often as I should. But because I replace them on time, my chainrings and cassettes last well. My current cassette is on its fifth or sixth chain.

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Re: Gritty Gears/how to clean

Postby Brucey » 9 Feb 2018, 12:13pm

Samuel D wrote:If you oil a dirty chain, the oil carries some of the dirt into the bearing surfaces where it grinds. Someone once disputed this with me, but I have now tried it too many times to believe otherwise. I can possibly believe some people don’t hear or care about the grinding....

In fairness the grinding often sounds worse than it really is; if grit gets under rollers or between chain side plates then it can make a terrible racket perhaps without actually wearing the pin bushings. However in not very many miles the grit will work its way into where it shouldn't and then it will cause accelerated wear.(*)

Keeping chains happy is, in principle, very simple; all you need is a clean chain, lubricated with something that has a high film strength.

However in practice there are complications; chains get dirty PDQ (and this varies enormously with the bike and the terrain it is ridden on) and folk have different ideas about what constitutes a good lube and even what constitutes 'dirty' anyway. Road salt means that many chain lubes that are effective the rest of the year are nigh-on useless in the winter.

(*) At one time I commuted by MTB. The chain got filthy (noisy filthy) every single day; every day I jetwashed it clean (completely clean, i.e. I cleaned it, sprayed it with GT85 and pedalled a bit until black stuff came out of the chain innards, and cleaned it again until it didn't come out dirty when I used the GT85 and pedalled again). I relubed the chain and then did about 20-odd mucky miles, then cleaned again. Chains treated thusly lasted about 2000 miles where by contrast a mileage without rigorous cleaning in the same conditions would be 500 miles or maybe a bit more. The conclusion is that it must take a few miles for the dirt to penetrate the inner workings of a chain and turn into grinding paste that wears the pin bushings, else the chains would have worn out more quickly than they did.

BTW drying chains is IMHO a waste of time and furthermore leaves a thin film of whatever crud was in the rinse all over the chain. If you take a 'clean chain' , spray it with GT85 and wipe, you will soon see if the chain was really clean or not; if not, you will get dark marks on the rag. If the chain is properly clean and just has clean water on it, spray it with a water displacer (eg GT85) and shake/wipe it to remove the water, which should bead up and come off nicely. Because the water is displaced instead of evaporated, it is less likely to leave any crud behind. The chain can then be lubed properly or stored (in dry conditions) as is. If the chain then corrodes before the next use, you either didn't get the chain clean or you didn't get all the water out of it.


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Re: Gritty Gears/how to clean

Postby SmilerGB » 9 Feb 2018, 12:17pm

I clean my chain regularly with muc-off x3 drivetrain cleaner, brilliant stuff/device & rinse off with water then dry with a absorbent towel & re lube with muc-off hydroponic lube on the road bike & muc-off wet lube on the cyclocross, a properly maintained chain & will making shifting smoother & reduce wear on your cassette & crank.
The bicycle is a simple solution to some of the world's most complicated problems.

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Re: Gritty Gears/how to clean

Postby mjr » 9 Feb 2018, 1:06pm

So you are going on a ride, say 30 - 50 miles and after ten miles you stop and notice that all the lube has worn off and chain is covered in something and is grinding :(

I always carry a can of solvent an oven and some gloves so I can do this regime on route......get real just add some oil and change the chain when its past the limit.

A bit of workshop towel or kitchen roll and ... 1063972833 in a food bag doesn't take up much space. Maybe not worth it for 30 miles (good lube will rarely wear off that fast), but I might for a 100.

On tour it's even easier as there's usually space/weight to tuck in a 200ml mini spray can and small lube bottle, then grab some tissue from the hostel/guesthouse/hotel.
MJR, mostly pedalling 3-speed roadsters. KL+West Norfolk BUG incl social easy rides
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