Tech Tips & Tales from the Mockster

Ride & Shine Part IV

………………….Chain, Chain, Chains……………

In previous posts we have talked about the importance of doing a pre-ride bike inspection and what to look for.  Also, we have cleaned and wiped down your bike using Motorex BIKE CLEAN and BIKE SHINE and now have it looking great.  Let’s finish up this discussion by taking a look at how to quickly and easily keep your bike’s chain clean, lubed and happy.

Chains are probably the most unappreciated, unglamorous and unloved part of your bike. They have none of the wow-factor of that fancy gruppo or that zoomy carbon bit that you like to show off.  Yet an improperly cleaned and lubed chain can negatively affect your bike’s shifting and performance and will lead to wear and ultimate destruction of expensive derailleurs, chain rings and cassettes.

There are about a zillion opinions and methods of chain maintenance that mostly require the use of chain cleaning devices or taking the chain off the bike.  These are mostly a big hassle, require tools & equipment and require the disposal of cleaning solutions.  There is a quick and easy way to do routine maintenance on your road bike chain that requires only a couple of Motorex bike specific products and a couple of lint-free paper towels or rags.

If you understand how chains get dirty, it will help you visualize the cleaning process.  Most of the dirt and grime that ends up on a bicycle chain is kicked up from the front wheel onto the chain as it goes around a chain wheel.  The soil on a chain is consequently primarily on the top or outside of the chain.  Therefore, it is best if you apply chain cleaners and lubes on the inside of the chain (usually on the bottom run of chain, from the cassette forward) as they will work to flush out built up dirt.

O.K., let’s start.  First, put some newspapers or cardboard under your bike to keep the gunk off of your garage floor.  We are going to be using a couple of bike specific products from Motorex:  EASY CLEAN bio-degradable chain degreaser and DRY LUBE bio-degradable lube for dry conditions.

Spray EASY CLEAN on a dry rag or towel and wrap around on the lower run chain while slowly back pedaling. 

Applying EASY CLEAN to John Nguyen’s Pinarello.

As you do this, you are going to see a lot of black gunk transferring to your towel.   Continue to back pedal until it is mostly clean.  It is not necessary to get the chain completely dry before you proceed to lubing it. The next step is to apply the DRY LUBE to the newly cleaned chain. Again, apply the lube to the inside of the chain on the rollers, while pedaling backward until the entire chain is wet with the lube. It is good to over-apply a little as the excess lube will tend to continue to flush the dirt out of the chain rollers.  

Then loosely hold a clean rag or towel around the chain and back pedal while wiping as much of the lube as possible off of the chain. The goal is to leave only the minimum necessary amount of lube on the rollers.  Lube on the chain side plates does nothing for chain lubrication and only serves as a dirt magnet.  If you are able to do this the night before your ride it will give the lube a little time to dry and set.  A common question I get is:  How often do I lube???  Of course, it’s more a function of miles than time.  Also where you ride.  For example:  Lots of beach routes will lead to more sand and grit pick-up than an inland route.  Just keep an eye on your chain and watch for dry, shiny looking rollers that indicate a dry chain.  Don’t let it go until it gets noisy. 

The whole process of inspecting and cleaning your bike plus lubing your bike chain shouldn’t take you more than 5 minutes start-to-finish, if you do it regularly.

Anyway, you now have a clean, shiny bike with a well lubed chain.  What’s left??? Let’s go for a ride……….


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