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
Hey guys so I have ~50 years old Cosmos SuperCorsa and the only problem with it is that the rims are bent to the center. I want to replace them but I can't find the exact same brand at a good price. The wheels are from Campagnolo. The bike is 700c with 36 holes. The inner width is 13,5mm and the rim height is 18mm. Are the last 2 measurements not required or it should be exactly as the ones I have...Read more
IMG_0838_resized.jpg (Size: 195.96 KB / Downloads: 14) Howdy folks! Was hoping you all can help me out. I am going to send bicycle parts and tools to help people in Malawi. Was sent this image and told this type of bike is the "work horse" of transportation. From what I can tell they seem to be 1 speed with narrow tires, maybe 26 inch? Obviously pedals might be good too. Any thou...Read more
Could someone help me out? I recently purchased a new single speed bike sprocket. I put it on my bike and I had to make the chain smaller. Anyways I got everything put together and its as if the bike doesn't have enough tension when you pedal. like when you pedal it feels like the chain isn't even on. the cranks spin almost to freely....Read more
So I have a couple of questions that I hope someone in this group might know about or have experience with. This is for my Schwinn Meridian 7-speed trike. 1. Are the derailleur chain and the drive chain the same type? Obviously they're different lengths; and I assume the derailleur chain is a typical 7-speed chain. But what about the main drive chain? Same thing? Or is it a standard single speed ...Read more
I have these Chinese freewheels. On the inside are ridges which are supposed to be there so you can use the tool to remove it. With these freewheels, the ridges are very low. I have a tool, also made in China, and the ridges on the tool are also very low. So when trying to use the tool to remove the freewheel, it does not grip properly, and it can't be used to remove the freewheel. The metal on ...Read more
Hello everyone and thank you so much for having me! I have an older Columbia 3 wheeler adult tricycle and she has a differential, somewhat like a car. I wanted to open up the differential for cleaning and oiling but cannot find any info on her, as to how much oil to add, and where the oil fill point is. Can anyone help me in this endeavor? I'd really love to get her going but don't want to ris...Read more
does this noise mean anything? The bike was not used and left outside for a long time. The freewheel sprocket spun free in both directions. After removing it and dripping oil thru it in both directions it appeared to work fine. Once reinstalled it still works fine, but does make this noise when I stop peddling. With bike upside down and rear wheel spinning freely i can also fell the noise as a vi...Read more
Schwinn Boundary bottom bracket bearing let go. I would like to upgrade them to sealed bearings. Threaded frame bottom tube 35 mm nut thread od. x 73 mm wide....Read more
Hello all. My name is Andrew, and I reside in sunny Bognor Regis, UK. I have been an avid BMX rider my entire life, but my body has taken a battering and I now have arthritis creeping in and if I am really lucky* I will also inherit my mother's osteoporosis. *yeah was being sarcastic. No other form of comedy funnier etc lol. Any way, when my body started to fall to bits and I had a bad BMX wreck...Read more
I have a 1975 Hutchins road bike and want to, if possible, fit a modern crank set, say a Campy Centaur Compact, to the bike. Can this be done and would the existing 1975 front Campy derailleur work? Thanks, Dorsey...Read more
I'm trying to find a 3 spoke or 5 spoke wheel for my virtue hybrid bike. All I can find is for road and fixie bike only. Screenshot_20220522_213714_com.android.chrome.jpg (Size: 30.77 KB / Downloads: 10) ...Read more
I just installed a new set of brakes on a bike at a hostel I've been staying at and I can't get them to work right. First, the front brake lever has a ton of lateral play and they don't have much power when applied. Second, the rear brake arms won't release. It doesn't seem to be an issue of the brake nut being too tight, I can loosen it to the point where I can easily move the caliper by hand a...Read more
Just wanted to drop some positive encouragement for taking your spindle crank out and getting some fresh grease in the cups and on the axle regularly. This will dramatically improve the performance of your drivetrain. For example on how often, I had fully overhauled my bike back in March, when I converted it back to urban street from the snow conversion. It's only May, not even 300 miles on it sin...Read more
First, I'm new here and also Thanks in advance for reading and helping me out. I'm a casual bike rider who lives in a large city and enjoys getting out for a ride in the summer to enjoy the beautiful weather. I don't have a very fancy bike (Trek) but it get's me around just fine. My Problem: I don't know if this is normal on all bike's but I have to put air in my tires every 2 weeks. I've replaced...Read more
I received an update on the purpose of the alternate hole positions for the Stone Oval Chainrings for bolt-on cranks and I wanted to share it here for everyone to learn. This is the information that was provided to me. Hole 1 is for high speed cadence on flat terrain. Hole 2 is for versatility between flat and hilly terrain. Hole 3 is for leverage for cyclists that climb hills often.  ...Read more