How to Clean and Lubricate a Chain
Frequent chain cleaning and lubrication will help keep dirt off your chain and prevent wear.
Regular cleaning and lubrication of your chain will help prevent your drivetrain from wearing out. You should clean and lubricate the chain when it is dirty, dry or begins to sound noisy. If you ride every day, you should clean and lube the chain at least once a month.
I don’t recommend using either motor oil or 3in1 oil to lubricate the chain. Motor oil is too heavy and won’t fully penetrate the rollers, and 3in1 oil is vegetable based and will gum up the chain. I also don’t recommend using wax lubricants because while they don’t collect as much dirt, they are a lot of hassle to apply correctly, and wax is simply not as good a lubricant as oil. I do recommend mineral based chain oils like Finish Line Cross Country or Phil Wood Tenacious Oil because they do the best job of fighting corrosion and don’t wash away when they get wet.
For cleaning, first shift the chain into the smallest sprocket on the rear. For average dust and dirt, wipe the chain clean with a solvent soaked rag. The easiest way to do this is to hold the chain still at the rear derailleur cage while firmly wiping the lower run of the chain. Then move the chain backward and wipe again until you’ve wiped the entire length of chain. Wipe between the rear sprockets using either a rag or a sprocket cleaning tool. Then clean all of the front chainrings on both sides.
Shift your gears into the middle sprocket both front and rear. Remember that oil does a good job of spreading itself, so try not to over-apply the lubricant. Lubricate the inner circumference of the chain, on the side that faces the sprockets along the top of the lower run of the chain. Run the chain backwards while dropping oil down both sides of the rollers.
Shift through all of the gears to spread the lubricant evenly through the drivetrain. Then use a rag to wipe off any excess oil.
- Jim Langley: Cleaning Your Drivetrain
- Park Tool: Chain Cleaning
- Sheldon Brown: Chain Maintenance
- Bicycle Torque Specifications
- Park Tool CB-4 Bio ChainBrite
- Park Tool CG-2 Chain Gang Chain Cleaning System
- Finish Line Wet Chain Lube (Cross Country)
- Phil Wood Tenacious Oil
- Park Tool CC-3.2 Chain Checker
- Park Tool CC-2 Chain Checker
Discuss this topic in the Bicycle Repairs and Mechanics Forum
Hello everyone. After many winter rides, my 29er MTB began to throw out creaking sounds last week. It's nothing too loud, just a gentle yet annoying creak that happens on every other stroke but not constantly. Could it simply be the case of pedals (I have clipless Shimano MTB pedals) being "tired" and not the bottom bracket? Where should I look first?...Read more
Hello again folks, I have been working on a bike and when cleaning the freewheel (6 speed) noticed that the spacer between the top 3 and bottom 3 cogs was wider than the other spacers. I had ridden the bike as received and noticed that the shifting seemed odd and thought it may have been due to the improper chain width. Bike was purchased from the original owner, but I highly doubt that she had di...Read more
My 1997 Trek 720 Multitrack was diagnosed at the local bike shop that the crankset, cassette, and chain need to be replaced. I think the front derailer also needs replacement. I ride for fitness so I do not care that much about the weight penalty using this older & heaver bike. I checked my online cycling log that tracks my workouts and it was says there is over 5,000 miles over the last...Read more
The bike, new, was $199 from an Amazon dealer, and it came with a load of great reviews and very few negative ones. That should be a warning to anyone looking for a new bike; the shills are out there. If anyone buys one with the idea of putting it together and going for a ride, they would be disappointed. Walmart bikes are better. Seriously! I knew that it would need some work because you do...Read more
New to forum, just signed-up, after reading an entry about constantly loosening crank-arm fixing BOLTS. In my case, my original BB, uses crank-arm fixing NUTS (original equipment, not jury-rigged), instead of BOLTS. I’m “dating” myself, but I’ve had this bike since new. I’m constantly re-tightening the nuts, every other ride, or worse, at times after a long ride. I have had difficult...Read more
Anyone know how to remove the plastic cover at the base of the seat stem housing on a Trek Madone 9.2? The housing piece for the seat stem wobbles a little and I'd iike to tighten it. Assuming there's a screw underneath the covers. IMG_2660.jpg (Size: 51.17 KB / Downloads: 113) IMG_2659.jpg (Size: 44.51 KB / Downloads: 113) Thanks! Bill...Read more
varsity.jpg (Size: 152.97 KB / Downloads: 203) varsity2.jpg (Size: 77.64 KB / Downloads: 204) Hi. This is my first post. I have a 1962 Varsity that I've enjoyed riding since I was 10. I'm in my 60's now and just want to putz around the neighborhood. In order to make the bike more comfortable I put a super big seat on it and 12" high handlebars. It's my Lazy-Boy on w...Read more
I need to know what bottom bracket I have but I can fin a number or code on it to read it. Any experts in here, this is my first post. 006BA1F3-FE4D-4D22-85F0-095E72284B3D.jpeg (Size: 46.12 KB / Downloads: 61) ...Read more
G’day, I have a couple of questions. I want to install Fox 40 29” on a new custom made frame. Frame not made yet. The headtube will be straight headtube 44mm round 120mm or 135mm in length. What length would be best? I’m looking at zs44/28.6 zs44/30 headset. Would this be the right headset for the tube and fork? Also any tips on how to installing the fork and headset? Does the uppe...Read more
I have what I take to be an adjustable quill stem, after some research. I had a bit of an incident in which a wheel temporarily became slightly loose, and I think the angle of the stem somehow moved closer to 180. The handlebars aren't at the right angle. Anyway, I've unscrewed the angle adjusting bolt, but I can't get this thing to budge. What do I do?...Read more
I am having difficulty refitting a sturney archer 3 speed wheel. The chain on the indicator bar is coming out at the wrong angle by about 90 degrees. I have clearly reassembled incorrectly but I cannot see a way of assembling with the axial rotated by 90 degrees. Suggestions gratefully received. [attachment=1236] 71DD7E3C-8E11-4410-8239-13AB8963A4D3.jpeg (Size: 71.18 KB / Down...Read more
Hi everyone. First post, posting from a phone while on a week-long bike tour. I forgot to pack a spare mountain bike tube [/w presta valve] and there are not many bike shops around, but we managed to pass by one in a remote area. Surprisingly, they only got Dunlop and Auto valve, no sign of Presta inthe necessary size. Was it a gamble to take Dunlop? Does it usually fit with the same rims as Prest...Read more
Took my bike out after a couple of years only to remember that my left brake broke off while using it last and there is an unusual cable hanging from my bike that gets in the way sometimes, is it okay for me to cut it off? Will it affect the right brake?...Read more
I'm hoping someone can help me figure out what is causing the knocking sound on my NordicTrack U300 stationary bike. Any help would be greatly appreciated! Here is a video of the knocking sound: https://1drv.ms/v/s!AnBkAt1Ty5oGiGDlEifMjPDihGr7?e=08qsm9...Read more
I have just started hearing horrendous noises when pedalling my 7 week old Trek Powerfly 4 ebike. The sound is worse than clicking and clunking and I can’t tell exactly where it is coming from. So have uploaded a video here: https://youtu.be/G3X2tLHk4Bk. Has anyone had similar or know what if could be? I’ve not heard these types of noises before....Read more