Easy and effective on-the-bike chain cleaning
The fastest way to clean your chain and drivetrain
GCN Tech Presenter
Impressive sprinter - quite possibly the fastest member of the GCN team
If you want to clean your chain in a hurry, this is the best method. You can do it without removing your chain from your bike, with just some running water, a clean cloth, a bottle of degreaser and a brush. It won't be as thorough as if you remove the chain and soak it in degreaser, but for a quick, post-ride clean, this is perfect.
Prepare your chain
Carefully lean your bike against a wall or fence that you don't mind getting wet. If you have a work stand, place your bike in it.
Shift into the large chainring at the front and the middle of the cassette at the back. This creates a straight chain line, reducing the risk of the chain slipping off the cassette while cleaning.
Degrease your chain
Backpedal the bike and spray the degreaser directly onto the lower run of the chain, avoiding the disc brakes or wheel bearings.
Degrease the cassette and components, then wait
Spray degreaser onto a stiff brush then scrub the cassette and pulley wheels. Work the degreaser into all the areas using the brush while backpedalling.
Pay attention to hard-to-reach areas, such as behind the chainring and the gap in the derailleur.
Once you've applied the degreaser, give it a few minutes to work its magic.
If you have disc brakes, you can protect them from grease, oil or dirt by covering them with something clean, like a plastic bag.
Wash off the degreaser
Take the hose pipe and use low-pressure water to wash off the degreaser from all the components.
Hold the hose over the cassette, backpedal the bike, and flush out the degreaser with clean water.
Assess the cleanliness of the chain. For regular maintenance, one cleaning application might be sufficient. If the chain is still dirty, repeat the process one or two more times, focusing on the inside areas of the chain.
Dry your drivetrain off
Take a clean cloth and thoroughly dry the chain and drivetrain components. This step is crucial – now we've removed all the oils and lubricants from the drivetrain, the components will rust if left wet.
Grip the cloth firmly on the bottom run of the chain, backpedal the bike, and dry the chain off. Check the cloth for black marks, which indicate remaining dirt. If necessary, repeat the degreasing process.
Lubricate your chain
Apply a chain lube of your choice, placing one drop per roller for the entire length of the chain.
Backpedal the bike a few times to work the chain lube between the links, pins, and rollers.
Remove excess lubricant
Finally, wipe off any excess lube from the external surfaces of the chain, using a clean cloth. Excess lube on the outside of the chain won't help your drivetrain efficiency, and it'll attract dirt, dust and grime from the road.