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How to Maintain a Bicycle Chain

Learn about bike chain maintenance from Silk Road Cycles' Brendon Nicholas in this Howcast bicycle repair and maintenance video.


All right. We're going to talk about how to maintain your bicycle chain. This is really important. It makes your chain last a lot longer. It makes your whole drivetrain last a lot longer. That's really important because it saves you a lot of money. Also, it saves you a lot of headaches if the chain breaks, or something like that.

As you can see, we have a very, very dirty chain, dirty drivetrain. This chain has not been taken care of. It has a lot of miles on it. What we can do to spruce it up is, you want to make sure you're cleaning your chain often. If it looks like this. Then all the dirt and things like that aren't going to dig into the metal parts of your bicycle, and wear them out faster.

You can use a couple different things. At the shop here, we use Simple Green to wipe down the frame, the area around the drivetrain. If you need something a little bit stronger, something like this multi bike degreaser works really well. It smells a little bit, so make sure you use it outside, or in a ventilated area. You need a bicycle rag, so an old shirt or anything cloth that's not going to scratch up your frame is fine.

So you spray some on your rag. Then you can start wiping down your chain. You can also take your chain off, if your chain has a quick link or a power link. Take it off and have it soak in this, which is also really nice because then it gets it really, really clean. This is just an easy way to do it at home, without worrying about how to take off your chain and getting super messy. Then you probably want to wipe down some gears, front and rear, making sure everything gets nice and clean, or as clean as possible.

Once you have the chain wiped down, you're going to want to re-lube the chain, because it's not going to have anything on it. The way to do that, is you make sure that your chain is nice and clean and dry. Usually the easiest way to do this is to take your chain lube, here. This is a dry lube.

There's a couple of different kinds. There's a dry lube, wet lube. There's also some other kinds, like ceramic and things like that. Basically, what you really need to know is just use pretty much any type of lube, as long as it's a bicycle lube. The difference being, dry lube is not going to pick up as much dirt. Wet lube is better for rainy conditions, or winter time when there's a lot of snow on the ground, and things like that. It doesn't come off very easily.

You just go to the back of your bike here, on your chain. Go slowly, making sure that you get at least one drop on each link. You can see I'm putting on a pretty heavy coat, just to demonstrate it being on every single link. Once you get through the entire chain, you kind of want to run it through the gears. Make sure that the lubricant gets in all the different parts of the chain.

Then you take a clean cloth. I'll take the other side of this cloth, here, that hasn't been used. You're just going to wipe down the chain. Basically, you just need to have a light surface of lubricant on the chain. You don't need too much, or it's just going to pick up a lot of dirt.

So here we are. That is how to lube and clean a bicycle chain.

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