Author Topic: Chain cleaners  (Read 1884 times)

quixoticgeek

  • Mostly Harmless
Chain cleaners
« on: November 15, 2018, 09:28:23 pm »

My approach to chain cleaning has largely involved wiping the visible crap off with a rag (yay for free mens tshirts at conferences), adding more oil, and hoping. A decent chain like a KMC X10SL lasts me about 4500km, which is acceptable given the amount of effort I don't put in.

But I'm wondering if I should take better care of my chain. Looking on the interwebs, I see videos of things like the park tools  CM-5.2 chain cleaner. Are these actually any good? Are they worth the money? How much mess do they make?

What do others use?

J
--
Beer, bikes, and backpacking
http://b.42q.eu/

Re: Chain cleaners
« Reply #1 on: November 15, 2018, 10:04:45 pm »
chain scrubbers like the park tool one



are good if you use a single chain at a time (i.e. you don't rotate chains) and/or use a chain with a joining pin that won't come off the bike easily.

Such chain cleaners do make some mess. You will need several changes of cleaning fluid (be it solvent or water plus detergent) before the chain is completely clean. You ought to clean the chainrings and sprockets too; with luck the muck on those will be softened by the solvent carried out of the chain cleaner, and since the dirt can be carried over into the cleaner, it makes sense to clean the chain once, then clean the sprockets, then clean the chain again, then do a final rinse of the chain.

Once the chain is clean it needs to be dried (i.e. made solvent/water free) and then meticulously and thoroughly lubricated.

Doing what you are doing at present -a)-   or  b) using one of these gizmos is just one of a plethora of different approaches to chain maintenance.  You might like to consider;

c)  chain rotation; eg use each chain (of a set of three or four) for ~200 miles each and then fit a clean one, using re-usable quicklinks.

d) chain rotation with a specific (e.g. molten wax) lubricant.

e) the throwaway chain; keep lubing the one you have until it reaches 0.5% wear, then bin it. Cleaning is optional...( :o). Hopefully the sprockets won't be too worn so  they will take a new chain OK.

The advantage of chain rotation is that you can have a stack of clean chains waiting to be fitted. Fitting a new chain is much, much quicker than cleaning (or even just lubing) them in situ. Dirty chains can be processed en masse; even if you are a high mileage rider (changing chains once a week or every ten days) this need not be done more than once a month or so.

Some folk report good results with molten wax treatments. I think this can work OK provided you change chains often enough; manufacturers/distributors suggest every 200 miles or so, but in wet/salty conditions I think this might not be soon enough; I have not seen testing in proper UK winter conditions....

When it comes to chain maintenance there is definitely more than one way of skinning a cat....

cheers

Re: Chain cleaners
« Reply #2 on: November 15, 2018, 10:11:19 pm »

My approach to chain cleaning has largely involved wiping the visible crap off with a rag (yay for free mens tshirts at conferences), adding more oil, and hoping. A decent chain like a KMC X10SL lasts me about 4500km, which is acceptable given the amount of effort I don't put in.

But I'm wondering if I should take better care of my chain. Looking on the interwebs, I see videos of things like the park tools  CM-5.2 chain cleaner. Are these actually any good? Are they worth the money? How much mess do they make?

What do others use?

J

They break.

I use a dishwashing brush, apply some degreaser, then turn the pedals and run the brush on all 4 sides of the chain, the chainrings and the sprockets. All part of the weekly bike wash.

Kim

  • 2nd in the world
Re: Chain cleaners
« Reply #3 on: November 15, 2018, 10:14:47 pm »
Sheldon Shake when I can be arsed.
To ride the Windcheetah, first, you must embrace the cantilever...

Re: Chain cleaners
« Reply #4 on: November 15, 2018, 10:48:54 pm »
I just go for the wipe down with a rag and re-lube with whatever's cheapest. It makes no difference IME.

I used to take them off, degrease them, clean, then oil up. But that does more harm than good as far as I'm concerned.

I got 9000 miles out of my last Campag Chorus chain. That's not bad - especially when you consider all I ever did was rub it down with an old pair of boxer shorts now and again, then lube it up. And of course - it's 11 speed, which everybody will tell you won't last. They're fulll of wrongness....
Those wonderful norks are never far from my thoughts, oh yeah!

quixoticgeek

  • Mostly Harmless
Re: Chain cleaners
« Reply #5 on: November 16, 2018, 12:00:02 am »


Well I've just rubbed the chain down with an old pair of jeans (they work better than a software company T-shirt, who knew). Followed by picking the worst lumps off with a sate stick. The lower jockey wheel had a caked on mass of gunk and hair (why does my hair get everywhere?!). Then relubed with Chain-L. I'm not getting the 1600km between applications that they claim, but I've certainly had 700+km before. Doesn't last too well when it rains tho, but then nothing does...

The mixed reactions here is making me think against buying the gadget.

Rotating chains seems to involve a lot more faff than I'd like, esp at 300km intervals. That would be twice a week at busy times of the year... Not to mention the quick links are supposedly only rated for 3 cycles...

Maybe if I'm gonna be getting 4000+km out of a chain I could do the Sheldon shake every 2000km...

J
--
Beer, bikes, and backpacking
http://b.42q.eu/

Kim

  • 2nd in the world
Re: Chain cleaners
« Reply #6 on: November 16, 2018, 12:13:23 am »
Hair gets everywhere.  I once managed to get some in rower40's pedal bearings after a single ride on the back of his tandem.

I bet it gets into those whizzy chain cleaners too.
To ride the Windcheetah, first, you must embrace the cantilever...

quixoticgeek

  • Mostly Harmless
Re: Chain cleaners
« Reply #7 on: November 16, 2018, 12:22:34 am »
Hair gets everywhere.  I once managed to get some in rower40's pedal bearings after a single ride on the back of his tandem.

I bet it gets into those whizzy chain cleaners too.

True. Having 300mm chopped off my 750+mm hair back in the spring was a great improvement in the finding hair everywhere stakes, but it's growing back and I'm increasingly finding it on the bike. Don't get why, it's not like i ride along brushing my hair... Weird.

When i cleaned my Jockey wheels at 7500km, they contained a significant amount of hair inside the bushings...

Ah well, chain should be good for a few hundred km, or until it rains next...

J
--
Beer, bikes, and backpacking
http://b.42q.eu/

Re: Chain cleaners
« Reply #8 on: November 16, 2018, 02:28:45 am »
People dont clean motorbike chains much and they last a long time under very heavy loads if treated correctly. The main thing with them is to keep them lubed.
The best method is a thing called a Scott Oiler that is basically a supply of chain lube that drips onto the chain whilst the bike is running. I wonder if a miniature lighter system would work with pedal bike chains ?

https://www.scottoiler.com/product/scottoiler-vsystem-universal-edition/
I think you'll find it's a bit more complicated than that.

Re: Chain cleaners
« Reply #9 on: November 16, 2018, 06:29:43 am »
Not in there usual set up. I had one a d was connected between air filter and carbs and the tiny air flow through the pipe (may have actually been a low pressure been a while) was what made the system work

Re: Chain cleaners
« Reply #10 on: November 16, 2018, 07:27:17 am »
I have one of those Park Tool chain bath/scrubbers. It does 'a job', but not a great deal better than 2x toothbrushes held together with elastic bands:


I use quicklinks, so if i feel so inclined, i can easily removed the chain and soak it in something noxious. I also bought an ultrasonic cleaning bath to REALLY get all the crap out - it just looked fun (https://youtu.be/5Gnrng0XSQk?t=244). When clean, i bake them in the oven until lightly browned/devoid of mositure, thoroughly re-lubricate, wipe, reinstall. Quite a process, but therapeutic and the chain runs nicely until it's covered in crap again after 10km.

Re: Chain cleaners
« Reply #11 on: November 16, 2018, 09:56:28 am »
re scottoilers:

The traditional scottoiler motorcycle system is worked by inlet manifold vacuum, to open a valve that dispenses an occasional drip of oil from a reservoir  onto the chain whenever the engine is running. They now make this system (which they call V-system scottoiler) as well as various (allegedly cleverer, certainly more expensive and fiddly) electronic versions. In the past high mileage/offroad  motorcyclists used scottoilers and cheap (non-O-ring) chain. The back of a roadgoing motorcycle (including the tyre sidewall but not usually the tread itself) ends up covered in oil this way, but chains last longer. The oil used is 'special' in that it costs a fortune from scottoiler; it contains a stringing additive so that one drip is distributed over several links, not just one.  Most folk just use something like chainsaw oil which is vaguely similar much less expensive.  However the system is flawed in that

a) modern motorbikes use 'O' ring chains; all any lube on the outside of the chain has to do is to keep the rollers happy and keep the O-rings from drying out.... and
b) the centrifugal forces on a motorbike chain are extreme; any oil on the chain (or the tyre sidewall, fortunately) gets flung off almost instantly. Lubes that stay put for more than a few seconds are much, much stickier. Arguably if you use a scottoiler on a modern road-going motorbike with an O-ring chain, its main function is to keep the chain clean by helping the dirt to be thrown off the chain more quickly than it might be otherwise.

Now, years ago, I idly wondered if such a thing could be made for a bicycle. However I dismissed the idea on the basis that a) there would be extra junk on the bike and that b) any oil would just make a sticky mess everywhere. Well it didn't stop the folk at scottoiler; they produced a small version of their oiler (which was lightweight, and required that the rider occasionally worked a control to dispense fluid onto the chain) and used a water-soluble oil (which they called 'active fluid') so that cleaning was maximised and mess was minimised.   This system did not sell terribly well, but some mtbers used it and liked it. You can see the scottoiler cycle oiler (~2005 version) here

https://web.archive.org/web/20051227122219/http://www.scottoiler.com:80/active.asp



on the bike it looks like this




Fluid is dispensed into a special lower pulley and thence onto the chain. The special fluid was sold pre-diluted with water (thus maximising cost and the needless shipping of stuff) and was quite pricey.  How it actually differs (if at all) from, say, water soluble machining oil is unknown to me.

 I looked on their website about three years ago and the system appeared to have been discontinued. They were still busy selling 'active fluid' in trigger sprays though, claiming that regular use of their fluid allowed easier clean-up; a partial benefit.   However they hadn't given up.... they (somewhat bafflingly) have modified and rebranded the oiler product as 'Flaer'

http://flaer.com/products/

and the fluid is now dispensed electronically. There is a road version 'revo via' and an offroad version 'terra'.  Claimed battery life seems pitifully short to me, but maybe the automatic dispensing makes up for that. I can just about see the point for an MTB but  for a road bike,  I wonder if keeping the reservoir full and the battery charged is more faff than maintaining the chain by other means, but what do I know....?

I used a motorcycle scottoiler  for some years and a friend has used the (old) cycle version (on a roadgoing bike).  Since whenever I saw the bike the reservoir was (apparently randomly) either empty or just as full as it had been before, I wondered if the thing was being used at all or if it leaked and/or syphoned the contents out automatically; it didn't seem that the chain lasted any longer than normal and there seemed to be a reluctance to buy any more of the 'special fluid' (the cost of which may exceed the value of a chain through its life.....*) so the system has been off the bike for the last couple of years. If more conventional methods work less well (for them, in their use) then it may go back on. This will be more likely if a (more reasonably priced/available) substitute fluid can be found.

(*) Currently 'Revo' (and 'terra') fluid is sold in £250ml bottles which cost £10 a go. This works out to £40 a litre, which is comparable to a lot of other cycle chain lubes. The difference is that this lube is mostly coloured water and you will probably get through a lot more of it than with other systems.  Basically you are paying about £400 per litre for the concentrate (assuming it is 10:1 diluted; it may not be) so it could be that you will spend more on the fluid than the chain is worth.  (By contrast water soluble machining oil (concentrate, so maximum dilution between 10:1  and 20:1) can be bought for about £4-5/litre. A 10:1 solution of that costs about £0.40 per litre...... :o  and may work as well as the stuff that costs x100 as much.....)

So my take is that it is an interesting approach, but there are some actual and some potential pitfalls; it might work for some folk, but most will be put off by the simple fact there is more junk on their bike, and one source of faff/expense is simply replaced by another.

cheers

PaulF

  • "World's Scariest Barman"
  • It's only impossible if you stop to think about it
Re: Chain cleaners
« Reply #12 on: November 16, 2018, 10:03:05 am »
Perhaps we should combine the previous posts and tape Peat’s toothbrushes to the chainstay and have a low budget version of a Scotoilerb? ;D

Ben T

  • What you saying, then?
Re: Chain cleaners
« Reply #13 on: November 16, 2018, 10:16:04 am »
only one way really to properly clean a chain: https://www.sheldonbrown.com/chainclean.html
Unless you put on overalls, boots, and a helmet with a high tech pre fitted lamp - and you dig coal - nope, you don't know me.

Re: Chain cleaners
« Reply #14 on: November 16, 2018, 10:20:12 am »
Something along the lines of the Tuturo oiler might work on cycles, using the natural vibration of the ride.

https://www.tutorochainoiler.com/
We are making a New World (Paul Nash, 1918)

Re: Chain cleaners
« Reply #15 on: November 16, 2018, 10:27:32 am »

My approach to chain cleaning has largely involved wiping the visible crap off with a rag (yay for free mens tshirts at conferences), adding more oil, and hoping


Quite right.

zigzag

  • unfuckwithable
Re: Chain cleaners
« Reply #16 on: November 16, 2018, 11:35:39 am »
the mistake i see many cyclists make is they overlube the chains, often by squeezing the bottle over the chain and rotating the cranks - everything gets mucky in no time. my way is to wipe the chain clean, put a small drop of oil across each roller, spin the cranks few times and wipe the oil off thoroughly. it takes less than 5min. no lubing (only wipe off) until the chain gets chatty again). the chain below has done over 2000k, but still looks new and will stay clean until it's time to replace it.

Re: Chain cleaners
« Reply #17 on: November 16, 2018, 12:46:01 pm »

My approach to chain cleaning has largely involved wiping the visible crap off with a rag (yay for free mens tshirts at conferences), adding more oil, and hoping


Quite right.

Thirded. I rarely even bother with the first step and my chains - and cassettes and chainrings - seem to last just fine.

Kim

  • 2nd in the world
Re: Chain cleaners
« Reply #18 on: November 16, 2018, 01:04:11 pm »
I've seen people with scottoilers on their bikes.  Seems to be a beard'n'sandals recumbentist thing.  I remain unconvinced that it's solving a relevant problem: IME recumbent chains  a) benefit from less-is-more lubrication, so as not to accumulate too much gunk that causes excessive drag in chain tubes and idlers  b) are generally exposed to less crud than DF bike chains anyway.

If there's a place for scottoilers on bikes, it's surely for mucky mountain bikers who keep losing lube as the chain sheds wet mud?  And that seems unnecessary as the dry (for certain values of dry) chain will keep working fine (if noisily) until the bike gets hosed down and re-lubricated at the end of the ride.

The real-world solution is chaincases.
To ride the Windcheetah, first, you must embrace the cantilever...

Gattopardo

  • Lord of the sith
  • Overseaing the building of the death star
Re: Chain cleaners
« Reply #19 on: November 16, 2018, 01:14:37 pm »
No hot wax chain....

Re: Chain cleaners
« Reply #20 on: November 16, 2018, 01:17:59 pm »
I miss Scottoiler guy. Maybe it was on the previous incarnation of this forum, but it was funny  :)
Those wonderful norks are never far from my thoughts, oh yeah!

Cudzoziemiec

  • Solar powered, tea fuelled cycle-wol
Re: Chain cleaners
« Reply #21 on: November 16, 2018, 01:38:36 pm »
I've got one of those Park Tool chain cleaners and the advantage of it is that it's easy to use. How effective it is compared to other methods, or none, I'm not sure, but it does mean I do clean the chain occasionally. Though I do find gunk often needs scraping off the jockey wheels. It's all very dependent on weather and terrain, of course.

But mostly:

My approach to chain cleaning has largely involved wiping the visible crap off with a rag (yay for free mens tshirts at conferences), adding more oil, and hoping


Quite right.

Thirded. I rarely even bother with the first step and my chains - and cassettes and chainrings - seem to last just fine.
this, although I don't go to conferences which give out t-shirts. I do however have a 50% share in a fast growing human start up and get first dibs on his socks.
The earth is vast and beautiful and contains many miraculous places. (Chekhov)

Re: Chain cleaners
« Reply #22 on: November 16, 2018, 01:47:37 pm »
The real-world solution is chaincases.

And for motorbikes its to buy something with a shaft drive.
I think you'll find it's a bit more complicated than that.

Re: Chain cleaners
« Reply #23 on: November 16, 2018, 01:58:03 pm »
I miss Scottoiler guy. Maybe it was on the previous incarnation of this forum, but it was funny  :)

I think it was C+

Re: Chain cleaners
« Reply #24 on: November 16, 2018, 03:40:01 pm »
I've seen people with scottoilers on their bikes.  Seems to be a beard'n'sandals recumbentist thing.  I remain unconvinced that it's solving a relevant problem: IME recumbent chains  a) benefit from less-is-more lubrication, so as not to accumulate too much gunk that causes excessive drag in chain tubes and idlers  b) are generally exposed to less crud than DF bike chains anyway....

I agree. I also note that the chains on recumbents are two or three times longer and therefore each link sees two or three times fewer loaded articulations per mile ridden. Then again it is two or three times more expensive to replace when the time comes, too....

cheers