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The most efficient way to deep clean your bike chain

Removing your chain might seem like a lot of effort, but it's actually a time saver

Clock09:00, Monday 27th November 2023

To thoroughly clean your chain and drivetrain, the best thing to do is to get the chain off your bike. If your chain uses a quick link or master link, this is a very simple task, so don't be put off. We've got a guide on removing and replacing your chain that explains the process in detail.

The steps below are for cleaning a chain you've been using for a while, or for preparing a new chain to be waxed. In addition to a pair of chain link pliers, you will need a container with a lid, some degreaser,

If you want to wax your chain, start with a brand new, unused chain. Once a chain has been ridden with normal oil-based lube, it'll collect grime that will interfere with the wax.

Read more: How to calculate the correct chain length

Tools Needed

With a set of quick link pliers, you can remove the chain in no time

Step 1

Remove the chain from the bike

Ideally, use a quick link and quick link pliers to quickly detach the chain from the bike. This allows for a more thorough and efficient cleaning process.

Read more: How to remove and replace your chain

The amount you need will depend on the brand of degreaser

Step 2

Place the chain in a container and apply degreaser

Put your chain in a jar, old bidon, or any other heat-resistant container with a lid, then pour over the degreaser. You don't need to totally submerge the chain. An ounce or so of degreaser should be fine.

Shake the jar to agitate the degreaser and work it through the chain

Step 3

Put the lid on and give it a shake

Put a lid on the container and give it a good shake, enough to really work the solution into every part of the chain. Then, leave it for five minutes for the degreaser to penetrate all the links and break down any grease and grime. Give it another shake, then leave it for another five minutes.

Ideally, you'll be able to do this outside

Step 4

Rinse and dry the chain

Wash off the degreaser, and with it all the dirt and grime. If you've got a biodegradable degreaser, you can clean the chain into a drain or even a sink, although this can make a bit of a mess.

Then, let it dry, either by simply hanging it up to air dry, or by drying it with a cloth, hairdryer or air compressor.

Use chain link pliers to make this job really easy

Step 5

Install the chain

Using a quick link, reattach the chain to your bike. Make sure you thread the chain the right way around the rear derailleur, especially around the little plate between the two jockey wheels.

Modern wax lubricants last longer than traditional oils

Step 6

Apply a lubricant

Apply the chain lube or wax of your choice by squeezing a drop onto each link of the chain. Run the chain through the gears to distribute the lubricant evenly.


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