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Drive Train Cleaning Advise

543 Views 2 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  FBinNY
Hey there! I have ridden in mud and wet conditions recenlty and wanted to find out the best way to clean a drive train. I used water from a garden hose to get dirt and grime out, but I wanted to see if there is anything better to do.
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The "best" way is rather subjective, although it's simply not possible to clean your chain by splashing water in it. How you (need to) clean your chain usually depends on which chain lube you're using. I wrote a basic cleaning/maintenance guide for the beginner's forum (link) which includes sections on chains, gears and derailleurs. You may find it of some assistance.
It depends on what you were using for a chain lube. A decent heavy oil would have survived the mud and kept water out of the chain, even through a garden hose rinse, so nothing else would be needed or possibly just a quick wipe with mineral spirits to displace surface water, followed by a ligh re-lube.

If you were using a dry or wax lube, water is now inside your chain where capillary action will keep it trapped causing rust. You need to use mineral spirits or the like to displace the water, or alcohol (methanol, not rubbing alcohol) to mix with the remaining water and carry it out before re-lubing.

If you live where it's still warm these days, put your bike in your car and park it in sunlight and let this solar oven dry it out completely.

Remember that it isn't the water on your chain that causes problems, since minor surface rust isn't serious, but the water in your chain which is the real problem. It causes rust on the wearing surfaces, shortening chain life, and by filling the gaps keeps new lubricant from wicking in.

The secret to chain maintenance in wet muddy conditions, isn't how to get water and mud out of the chain, but keeping them from entering in the first place.
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