A bicycle chain is undoubtedly the primary component of your bike as it transfers the energy generated by pedaling straight to the wheels of your bicycle.
Therefore, a badly maintained chain will reduce the overall efficiency of this transference of energy and make your ride less optimized and far more strenuous, particularly with uphill climbs!
In order to ensure that your ride remains enjoyable, you should try to ensure that your chain is maintained in good condition. Using the right supplies will enable you to clean a bike chain using household products in half an hour or less, and there are numerous household products that can assist you in this process.
Are Bike Stands Necessary?
Firstly, place your bicycle on a stand as it is advantageous to have it propped on a solid work stand. This will inherently make the job far easier as you will be able to inspect your bicycle visually whilst you are cleaning your chain.
It also helps to protect against disturbances that could potentially knock your bike over and cause further damage if it is not secured in place.
A bike stand is handy for any form of maintenance, however, if you do not own one then you can always set your bike upside down on the ground so that it is rested entirely on the handlebars and seat.
Next, you should thoroughly inspect your bicycle chain. If you observe that your bike chain has become grimy with a layer/crust of dirt that has formed, it is definitely time to give your chain a good clean!
If you are cycling on a regular basis, you should aim to clean your bike chain every couple of weeks depending on the conditions that you are riding in and the distances that you are covering.
Checking your bicycle chain on a regular basis will help to prolong the lifespan of your chain and protect the rings from any unwanted damage or corrosion. It will also enable you to observe any changes in your bicycle chain such as link damage.
This visual inspection will be enough to determine whether your chain needs to be cleaned and whilst you are doing this, you should refer to a ‘chain checking’ guide where available.
There are numerous websites that list this kind of information and a quick Google search will enable you to observe key indicators of chain wear prior to cleaning your chain or replacing it entirely.
Whilst you are cleaning your chain, you should try to identify the master link in your bicycle chain. This link makes it easier to remove your chain entirely for cleaning purposes and the majority of chain manufacturers will have these included in the bicycle chain by proxy.
However, if your chain doesn’t include a master link, then you can install a master link for yourself or alternatively, install it at a local bicycle store. This is usually inexpensive and typically costs approximately $15 for the installation process.
Using Household Products For Cleaning Purposes
There are a number of household products that you can use for cleaning your chain. However, you will need to exercise caution when making your choices as using the wrong product can ruin your bicycle chain instantly.
Any all-natural, biodegradable, no phosphates solvent like ‘Orange Citrus Degreaser’ will ensure that your chain is cleaned and lubricated to perfection as it leaves enough residue on crucial parts of the chain to ensure that your ride is smooth. Other products include ‘Shelite’ which is a white spirit-based cleaner.
IT is perfect for cleaning a chain that is not overwhelmingly dirty as it air-dries which also means that you will need to use a considerable amount of it to clean a pretty dirty chain. The best thing about this product is that it is virtually odorless and only emits a slight smell.
Kerosene is also usable, however, this product does not have a strong odor and it can be messy when applied.
You will also need to use soft rags such as old cotton t-shirts in order to clean your bicycle chain effectively. Of course, using a lubricant that is sold at your local bike store will always be preferable over using household items as you are guaranteed to be using a product that will not cause any lasting damage to your bike chain and these products are renowned for working effectively.
To decrease your bicycle chain, you should empty some degreaser into a spray bottle and spray it directly yet liberally onto the chain. Then, leave your chain for a few minutes depending on the amount that you have used, and rinse it thereafter.
You will need to do a second treatment of degreaser if you are attempting a deeper cleanse of your bicycle chain. To do this, remove the master link by sliding the pin that holds the link closed out of its slot.
Once the master link is opened, you can pull the chain free by feeding it carefully through the drivetrain. Once the chain is fully removed, place it into a large bottle filled with the degreaser, ensuring the lid is fastened.
Then shake it thoroughly for a couple of minutes. You can also leave it to soak for approximately 20 minutes and remove it using a coat hanger in order to avoid getting your hands greasy.
Then, place the chain in another large bottle that contains hot water to rinse off any remaining degreaser or grime. Remove the chain once more and use a dry, clean cloth to rub the chain dry, ensuring that any excess moisture, dirt or degreaser is removed.