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!