Gain The Knowledge On Bike Chains And Its Lubrication
A bike chain is the lifeline of a bike. If it does not function correctly, the entire bike will come to a halt. Therefore, it is significant that you know how to clean your bike chain. It is not a herculean task and can be done easily at home.
Maintaining a bike calls for three steps. These include cleaning the bike, lubricating the bike chain, and changing the bike tire. The first and last ones might seem a little daunting one, and here we discuss the lubrication of the bike chain.
Lubricating a bike chain is a lengthy process so start only if you are sure you can complete the process. It all starts with choosing the perfect lubricant.
Choose a lube
The Tribologists, the people who study the science of friction, keep improving the lube quality. Nowadays, one can find oils and various additives that will make the bike much more efficient. You can ask your mechanic or the one who sold you the bike for any suggestions. The type of lube you use can directly impact your riding experience. Therefore, it is very crucial that lube is chosen only after thorough research.
One thing to remember is that these lubes might leave stains. So either be very careful while handling them or pick up one that does not cause a stain. Additionally, you can choose a degreaser which will find its use in the next step.
There are a few factors that regulate the type of lube you must choose.
- Weather: for wet roads, a wet lube must be picked since it has a thick consistency so will stay even in the cases of heavy downpour. For dryer weather, try thinner and dry lube.
- Cleaning: Heavy oils though stay long, tend to attract more dirt. So if you are up for cleaning, go for it. On the other hand, dry lubes do not attract that much dirt but need to be reapplied very frequently.
- Applying: For using close to the chain, use squirt bottled Aerosol based sprays, on the contrary, spread to every nook of the chain. So be careful when using it lest you might spray it over the rims or rotors that will hamper and meddle with the braking system of the bike.
Cleaning the chain
This is the next step to the entire process. However, before jumping on to the chain, you must check if your bike is dirty. If yes, clean the bike first of all. You would not want to get all untidy when handling the chain, of course!
To clean the bike, use a water hose to clean it thoroughly. Water can remove the dirt and dust from places where your fingers might not reach. Now rest the bike on the floor with the pedal section facing upwards so that the chain is visible. Use water again to clean it. But that is not enough. It might wash away the loose particles but to get rid of the grease and dirt sticking to it, you need to get your hands dirty.
Take a portion of cloth and wet it. Hold the chain in between the material and start moving the pedal slowly so that the chain slides between the fabric. Repeat this step till the chain looks neat and clean and you are satisfied with the amount of work you do.
Now, take the degreaser, and apply it to the chain. This ensures that any dirt not visible to the naked eye is also removed.
Quick tip: you can use warm/hot water to clean the chain but just be careful that you do not burn yourself.
Now that the chain is clean, it is time to apply lubricant. For that, mark a point on the chain. Now, take the lube, and use one drop of lube on each link. It is suggested to use one drop because, at the end of the process, the extra lube will be removed anyway.
Keep moving the chain using pedal and applying lube to each link. When you reach the starting mark, stop. Let it stay for some time. Then wipe off the extra lube. Take a fresh piece of cloth and clean it just like you did in the earlier step. However, do not use any water else it will ruin all your efforts.
Ok, so you are done now. But how will you check if you did it correctly or not? The answer is to test it. Go out for a ride. If you do not feel any ruggedness, then you have done it just perfectly. In case there is any problem, go back and check where the chain is rubbing against or if there is any other issue.
A few points to remember are:
- If the chain is rusted, do not keep it. Replace it. Rust breaks down the chain, and it can come off anytime when you are riding.
- Use thin consistency grease. Thick grease will make it difficult to move.
- If you have a geared bike, check the bike in all the gears.
- Lubricate your bike chain on a regular basis. Don’t wait for it to give you signs.
Some other things to know
- There is a thing called dry lube that reduces the amount of dust getting attracted to the chain. It makes use of a light solvent carrier. However, these are not that effective and should never be considered a substitute of wet lube.
- Chain cleaning devices are also available in the market and are quite convenient. Just place the chain between this device without removing the chain and it cleans all the nooks and corners of your chain. This device is filled with liquid degreaser and then the chain is placed inside it. Then the pedals are moved which moves the chain inside the instrument. Thus, the device brushes the entire chain from every angle and cleans it inside out.
- You can also try going a little bold. Remove the entire chain. Soak it in a bucket of degreaser for a few hours. Since some chains have a quick-release master link, it gets all the more convenient removing and putting the chain back on.
What to avoid
These lubricants are a strict no-no if you want to keep your chains last long.
- Automotive motor oil: These oils contain detergent and are meant to wash away the combustion materials. Using these oils have resulted in squeaky chains.
- Household oil: Most people go by the notion that all oils are same. So they don’t hesitate from using cooking oils to grease their bikes. However, these oils get sticky with time and gum up.
- WD-40 and other thin sprays: These are made to act as solvents. Therefore, they evaporate more quickly.
Types of bike chains
There are three types of bike chains. They include:
- Chain joined with special replacement pin
- Chain joined with a special connecting link, which has been mentioned earlier as the master link.
- Chain joined by any pin
As told, it is recommended to get a chain with master link.
Owning a bike is an as great pleasure as taking care of it. Remember, the better you care for it, the better functionality it will reciprocate to you.