How to clean and lube your bike chain

How to clean and lube your bike chain

Learn how to keep your bike shifting smoothly from home

Squeaky, rattle-y chains and chainring tattoos are two signs that your bike chain may be in need of a little TLC. In addition to a cleaner, more quiet ride, keeping your bike chain clean and lubed is one of the best ways to extend the life of your drive train and keep your bike shifting smoothly. Even better, it’s an easy task you can do from home. Watch the video below to learn how.

Step-by-step instructions

Before you start, this is your official warning that cleaning your chain is a dirty job. So take off that tux, pull on some gloves, and let’s get started!

1. Degrease your chain. If you have a designated chain cleaner tool, fill it with your bike-specific degreaser and wrap the tool around your chain according to directions. Then, use your free hand to backpedal. The brushes in your chain cleaner will clean all the nooks and crannies while collecting degreaser in its reservoir.

2. If you don’t have a special tool, use a brush to degrease your chain. A toothbrush or nail brush will do the trick. Just add some degreaser to the brush, hold it to the top of your chain, and backpedal. Repeat this step with the bottom of your chain, always brushing the section of chain below your drivetrain.

3. Rub down your chain with soapy water and a rinse to clean off excess degreaser.

4. Choose your lube. Use wet lube if you ride in wet, muddy conditions, and dry lube if you ride in dry conditions.

5. Lube your chain. Carefully place a small drop of lube on top of each roller in your chain. Make sure to aim the lube right into your rollers. Getting lube on the outside of the chain will just pick up more dirt.

6. Wipe off any excess lube, and you’re ready to ride!

Now that you’re trained in the art of chain maintenance, be sure to keep an eye out for creaks and squeaks. These could be signs that your chain needs a little love. And if you ride regularly, remember to clean and lube your chain at least once a month. If you like exploring off-road and getting your bike muddy, you should clean it even more than that. Happy riding!

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