Oh no, not chain cleaning again !!!

Discussion in 'Bicycle Mechanics and Repairs' started by gbb, 24 Nov 2007.

  1. gbb

    gbb Legendary Member

    Always open to new ideas or other methods, i've changed the habits of a lifetime and started using WD ( or similar) only, to lubricate the chain.

    But somethings become apparent to me !!!!

    A moderately frequent spray with WD and a good wipe, then once in a while, chain off, spray with WD, blast all the crud out with an airline, then apply WD again, wipe, then on the bike. That leaves the chain looking like, and as clean as a new chain.

    Its brilliant for a clean looking chain, doesnt seem to attract dust and crud like oil does...

    Theres a but...
    I fitted a new SRAM PC971 chain only a short while ago...and its already showing FAR more wear than i would have anticipated :sad:

    I dont ride this bike in the rain, its kept dry and looked after, yet this chain will never last as long as the one on my other bike.

    The question is....SRAM chain ?. 971 is moderate to higher end in their range...is it any good.
    WD...is it really lubricating ?. I know it does, but is it enough ?

    Answers on a postcard please ;)
  2. Tim Bennet.

    Tim Bennet. Entirely Average Member

    S of Kendal
    WD40 obviously does have lubricating properties because 'Slim' of The Hamsters fame ( www.thehamsters.co.uk ) uses it to help his fingers glide over the guitars strings and frets. However such is the rigour of human flesh on wound metal that it needs reapplying every five to ten minutes.

    So scaling it up to the demands of helping heavily loaded metal move over metal in a bike chain, I think it will be okay, as long as you reapply it every 2 minutes, or perhaps more frequently if going up hill.

    Or use a real lubricant.
  3. [/shouting]WD40 IS NOT A LUBRICANT[end shouting/]
  4. Danny

    Danny Legendary Member

    So why does my can of WD40 say that it "penetrates and lubricates"?
  5. Talcum powder lubricates, water lubricates, basil infused extra virgin olive oil lubricates, polytetraflouroethylene lubricates but I wont be putting any of them on my bicycle chain any time soon.
  6. Blue

    Blue Legendary Member

    N Ireland
    I think that you could chnge your wording to:-

    "spray with WD, allow it to get into the rollers on the chain, then blast all the crud and any grease that was ever on the rollers/chain off the chain. Chain looks great, but isn't left with sufficient lubrication to prevent excessive wear".
  7. fossyant

    fossyant Ride It Like You Stole It!

    South Manchester
    WD40 is good for cleaning stuff and displacing water but it's just not up to it as a good chain lube.

    I know someone who wondered why he had trashed his XTR drive system rather quickly - he only used GT85 - which is only marginally better than WD40.

    Good lubes like finish line etc will prolong the life of the drive system -together with regular cleaning !
  8. OP

    gbb Legendary Member

    [no need to shout]...It is a lubricant, but not suitable for chains...as professed by some members (GT85 must therefore be equally unsuitable i assume).
    No problem, i never close my mind to alternatives. Tried it...it doesnt work...so back to the old method of cleaning with WD (or similar), blast with an airline, then soak in a pot of oil, wipe...back on the bike. Jobs a goodun. Ah well, onwards...
    [/No need to shout] :sad:

    I raised this of course, not really complaining that it doesnt work...rather highlighting the fact it doesnt work. I was prepared to try on the grounds that oil does attract and trap cr@p...something that has always irked me.

    Not really relevant to those that dont have access to an airline, but next time, i'll take a photo of the cr@p that it blasts out....its quite an eye opener.
  9. barq

    barq Senior Member

    Birmingham, UK
    I think the most confusing thing about chains is that people see the dirt on the outside and want to clean it off. I've seen chains that sparkle but still make a horrid grinding noise because all the inner lubrication has gone and grit has penetrated.

    I imagine that the WD40 has dissolved all the manufacturer grease the chain came packed with, hence the extra wear. You can add more lubrication but it is hard to get it to penetrate the inside of the chain. I can only advise lubing up the night before you ride, allowing the oil to penetrate over night and wipe the excess off in the morning. The only time I ever use GT85/WD40 on a chain is to free up the powerlink if it is really gunked up and resisting removal. :sad:

    I've used more SRAM 971s (and their older equivalent) than anything else and I rate them as a pretty good chain.
  10. Fab Foodie

    Fab Foodie hanging-on in quiet desperation ...

  11. OP

    gbb Legendary Member

    Not having seen Mickles method, i cant comment. I'm sure its good. Not sure though as one poster commented it doesnt deal with abrasive particles inside the pins and links.

    Just did mine and was horrified at the 'scunching' coming from the links as i flexed the chain....and this was AFTER i had WD's and wiped the chain religiously. The cleanings got to go deeper than just the surface. Remember, its winter now. I didnt have this in the summer.

    I agree with Mickle on the de-greaser...no need. Tried it...no point, you do more damage than good.

    I'm in a slightly unusual position in that an airline allows you to blast out (and i do mean blast out) the crud, dust and debris from deeper inside the links than most other methods. This blasts out the same materials / fluids that you used to clean / loosen the crud, that will weaken or break down the oil you are just going to put in. This is important too.

    The whole process (airline or not) neednt take long. It takes me 10 minutes or so (excluding a soak time in oil for the chain) to remove, clean, oil and replace the chain.

    Engine oil for me BTW....any engine oil . Maybe one day i'll try a cycle specific lube....

    As a guide, my normal method saw my Raleigh chain last 3500 miles. i only changed it then because i got nervous about it snapping. It wasnt based on anything...just an irrational fear that takes root.
  12. PrettyboyTim

    PrettyboyTim New Member

    Okay - here's a question then:

    When I first got my bike, I didn't clean it for about 2 and a half months. I was doing about 70 miles a week in London and it was looking pretty mucky. I went to my LBS and explained and after giving me a disapproving look they recommended a chain cleaner, with degreaser and lube. I used it once to clean the chain, but then I read a post here suggesting the whole 'lube and wipe' method, which I've been using since.

    However, I do notice that having wiped, lubed and wiped, when I flex the chain, black stuff still leaks from the links. Does that mean it's still being worn away inside?
  13. Zoiders

    Zoiders New Member

    Ice Station Zebra
    Oh FFS

    Buy a power link

    Take chain off when needed, soak in white spirit, reeeaally give it good sloshing in a jam jar with the lid on, clean crap out with more white spirit, clean with rag and cotton buds until shiney again

    Dry chain, then leave to soak in a good quality lube until full penertration is achieved

    Remove excess lube, refit chain, cleaning cassette and chain rings before hand wont hurt either

    Chain cleaners are toss, the lube on a new chain is very good but it will not last for ever, sooner or later you must bite the bullet and clean it properly

    There are no half arsed short cuts, I grow weary of hearing them recycled again and again on cylcing forums
  14. OP

    gbb Legendary Member


    Agreed....like i said, its only 10 minutes work, barring the soak. Its not rocket science, just a little determination (and a power / quick link )

  15. Can you say palaver?

    Right then, 'Unckle Mickles Foolproof Chain Maintenance Programme is as follows.

    (1) Purchase a bottle, not an aerosol, of proper chain lube (not WD85, not GT40, not 'oil', not 3 in 1, not even basil infused virgin olive oil although any of the above will work better than nothing. Just) of the kind manufactured by Finish Line, Pedros, White Lightning etc and sold in your local bike shop.

    (2) Wipe your chain with a rag (Cotton. Old T shirts or sheets are ideal) until no more black gunk comes off on the rag. I do it with the bike in a work stand, set the bike in top gear and drag the lower run of chain through the rag.

    (3) Apply lube to the chain ensuring that every link gets a drop. If the chain is warm all the better. Then spin the pedals backwards a few times, this allows the lube to get to the inside of the chain by capillary action.

    (4) Wipe the chain until the rag comes clean.

    (5) Lube.

    (6) Wipe.

    (7) Wipe.

    (8) Ride a few miles and wipe again.

    As a general rule aim to spend ten times longer wiping the chain than applying lube and the last thing you do is wipe it.
    There should be no lube on the exterior surfaces of the chain save a thin barrier against oxidization.

    No degreaser. No chain cleaning machine. Job done in four minutes.

    Repeat as often as you like, the more often you do it the cleaner your chain will be and the longer it will last.
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