Saturday, November 5, 2011

How to clean your bike chain

Below are two bike chains. Bike chain one (left) is clean, and in good shape. Bike chain two (right) is in dire need of a good clean.

Clean Chain
Dirty Chain

If you are anything like me, you may look at the left bike chain and say, That's a brand new chain. Clearly no one has riden it. Whereas, chain number two is the chain of someone who is regularly on the road. After having a heart-to-heart with my local bike mechanic, and searching the endless stacks of YouTube bike maintenance videos, I now know this thought process to be false.

Turns out a 'healthy' bike chain should always look like the example on the left. A chain that is allowed to develop serious grime, like example two, will not only scuff up your favorite pair of pants, but also significantly hinder your bikes performance and live a short life. (The same is true for rust. If your bike chain is rusted up, I recommend purchasing a new chain asap at your local bike shop)

This lesson on proper bike chain maintenance led to another question, How do I clean my bike chain? It's actually a simple, albeit messy process (be sure to always work on your bike outside, or in a garage). All you will need is a clean rag, chain degreaser, and bike lube.

Step One - Clean Chain
Before you can lube your chain, it is important to clean off all the grim that has built up on it. Here is a great video that walks you through the process. (Materials: Rag and chain degreaser)

Step Two - Lube Chain
Once your chain is nice and clean, you are ready to lube it up : ) Here is a great video that will walk you through the steps.

Once your chain is clean and lubed, you are ready to take on your next adventure. Enjoy!


  1. Hi there, Mathew! I think step three should be 'Do it on a weekly basis'. The benefits of cleaning and lubrication are lost when it is not regularly supplemented. Also, you have to choose a specific lubricant for a certain purpose.

    Tanner =)

    1. Two great points Tranner that I have learned over the last few months! The frequency and lube def depend the type of cycling one does, e.g., weather, terrain, etc.