The Chainlink

What do I need to do to make sure my chain is taken care of properly? What should I clean it with and what should I use to make sure I don't mess it up? Actually any general information on what I need to do to make sure I take good care of my bicycle would be appreciated. For example ... there seems to be so much stuff out there that I am not quite sure as to which products are good to use.

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You can read what Sheldon Brown had to say about chains, first. And actually, he'll cover a variety of topics regarding bicycle maintenance, as well as the Park Tool website.

I recommend just cleaning your chain off every month wtih water and using a plastic brush to remove debris and lubing each individual bushing with T9 (in the summer), or something thicker in the winter/rain months. Wait for it to dry, then wipe of excess oil. When extremely dirty, take your chain off, soak it in El Duke's degreaser, rinse it with soapy water, then clean water, re-mount on the bicycle, and lube as stated above.
I usually just use a clean rag to wipe off all the dirt and city junk, run lube along my chain, and wipe the access. I feel like I really should start scrubbing my chain though. I get tiny particles of dirt and little rock debris that makes it noisy.
I clean mine every couple of weeks in the summer, during hard riding season, and about every week in the winter when winter grime gets in the chain. I use undiluted Simple Green, which you can get at hardware stores. I spray it on the chain, use an old toothbrush to wipe of the grime, and then a paper towel. After it's clean and dry, reapply lube of choice. I use mostly wet lube myself, but lots of people prefer dry stuff because it attracts less road grit. Your mileage may vary.
I'm not really sure that soaking a chain in degreaser is good. Every time I've done that my chain has become louder and more finickey. Like dissolves like. Pro gold gets rid of pro gold.

As per Leonard Zinn: "Dear Steve,
Great question! I think that Shimano’s factory lube is quite effective, and I certainly do not try and remove it with a solvent.

Solvent could displace the lube and get in between the pins, rollers and plates and could bring on squeaking.

When the factory lube has collected noticeable dirt, I start adding Pro Gold’s ProLink after every ride. Once the chain is less sticky, thanks to repeated ProLink application, I wipe the chain, chainrings, jockey wheels, cogs and derailleurs before each time I drop ProLink into it.

I’m convinced that I get the longest chain life and best shifting performance using this method and lube brand than any other approach I’ve taken."

Buy one of those chain measuring tools. Measure your chain every 500 miles. See if its stretched. If it stretches too far replace it.
I have Park Tools' Chain Gang kit which I find works nicely. The bottle of degreaser that comes with it is small, but it includes the chain cleaner unit, a bottle of citrus degreaser and a double-edged brush (one side's a brush, the other is toothed plastic) so you can get all sorts of crap out of your cassette and chainrings and give them a good brushing too.

For degreaser after you run out of the included bottle, I'm a fan of Pedros Oranj Peelz.
I picked up one of those chain gang kits a while ago, and it works really nice. Just make sure that you're wearing old clothes and do the cleaning outside, because that thing throws grease & lube around everywhere (at least the way I clean...).

Most of the time I just wipe it off if it's grimy, and spray some WD-40 or some graphite lube on it if it's squeaking.


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