/ Bike chain cleaning gizmo's. Are they any good?

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The Lemming - on 01 Jul 2013
I've seen a few bike chain cleaning contraptions which have a little reservoir in them. The chain goes through the fluid and little brushes clean the chain as it goes through the gizmo.

Are such things a wise investment or just expensive bits of plastic that don't do very much?

Cheers muchly.
tlm - on 01 Jul 2013
In reply to The Lemming:

I read about this, and there seems to be a 50:50 split in the biking world about either cleaning your chain on, or taking it off to clean it by immersion.

Either way, I reckon it's better to clean it. And I clean it more often by using the gizmo, which gets lots of the gunk off, that by waiting until I get around to actually taking the chain off (which I never get around to doing).

Of course, this being UKC, there will be THE perfect, one and only way to do it, which will vary from person to person.
alan ashmore - on 01 Jul 2013
In reply to The Lemming: I've the Park tools chain cleaner and was amazed how much gunk it cleaned of and then how much better the gears shifted. I was sceptical at first but am now a regular chain cleaner :-)
elsewhere on 01 Jul 2013
In reply to tlm:
Hot water, washing up liquid & an old toothbrush was much more hassle but got much more off than the chain washer.

Having taken the chain off I then discovered you're no longer supposed to just use chain tool to push the pins out & back again so I'll have to try to keep chain on bike next time.

woolsack - on 01 Jul 2013
In reply to alan ashmore:
> (In reply to The Lemming) I've the Park tools chain cleaner and was amazed how much gunk it cleaned of and then how much better the gears shifted. I was sceptical at first but am now a regular chain cleaner :-)

Second thumbs up for the Park Tools one. Not sure what to fill it with now the little bottle of citrus flavoured holy water has gone
The Lemming - on 01 Jul 2013
In reply to elsewhere:
If I bought a chain cleaning gizmo, would hot water and washing liquid be the best and most cost effective cleaning agent?

Or would I have to keep buying expensive citrus cleaning fluids?

Any recommendations on which gizmo to buy?

Cheers
wintertree - on 01 Jul 2013
In reply to The Lemming:

> Or would I have to keep buying expensive citrus cleaning fluids?

It's alright, they're worth every penny. As close to liquid magic as you can imagine. I have a citrus spray and it's pure vudu. Years ago we had a hand cleaner called "Dirt Squad" made with castoffs from the Florida orange industry. It still appears to be going ( http://www.fwffb.com/OrangeBlossomDirtSquad.asp ) as was way better than Swarfega
elsewhere on 01 Jul 2013
In reply to The Lemming:
I've not used the chain cleaner enough to know the answers.
Ridge - on 01 Jul 2013
In reply to The Lemming:

Washing up liquid tends to have a lot of salt added to increase the viscosity, (it's really thick so it must be good). Not really what you want to drench your chain in.
bullandbladder - on 01 Jul 2013
In reply to The Lemming: +1 for the Park tools cleaner. I use Muc-off of similar in mine.
sleavesley on 01 Jul 2013
In reply to woolsack: pay 10 for a bigger bottle of the citrus flavoured holy water that has more in it. :-/
Horse on 01 Jul 2013
In reply to woolsack:
> (In reply to alan ashmore)
> [...]
>
> Not sure what to fill it with now the little bottle of citrus flavoured holy water has gone

Go to Halfuds and buy a big container of the stuff.

I used to use the chain cleaner device and found it pretty good. However, as all my chains now have power links I just undo them pop them in a jar of citrus fluid, give it a good shake and leave for 10 minutes. Rinse off, dry and put the chain back on. Leave the citrus cleaner in the jar for 24 hours and all the gunk settles out, decant off fluid into another jar and you can re-use it. White spirit is also good buy not so pleasant to handle.
The Lemming - on 01 Jul 2013
In reply to Horse:

Daft question, but how do I remove a bike chain?
Horse on 01 Jul 2013
In reply to The Lemming:

See

http://www.parktool.com/blog/repair-help/chain-installation-derailleur-bikes

It is a lot easier with a power link, or at least easier to put it back together.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VzBXHBtxRrM
Mike Redmayne - on 02 Jul 2013
In reply to The Lemming:

I recommend the Park Tools device, I've had other ones break but this has lasted well. Citrus degreaser.

But I've just started using the rock and roll lube which claims to clean as well as lube the chain, so perhaps I won't have to bother with the chain cleaner anymore. It's doing well so far.
Phil79 - on 02 Jul 2013
In reply to The Lemming:

The chain cleaners are ok, but tend to fall apart after a few years of regular use.

Get a 'power link' for the chain, means you can take it off very quickly without any tools by simply pushing the links together. Dunk the chain in a jar of white spirit or an hour or so and give the rest of the drive chain a clean with bike degreaser/white spirit. Wipe the chain down to remove as much crud/white spirit as poss, repeat, then put it back on the bike and re-lube.
nniff - on 02 Jul 2013
In reply to The Lemming:

Buy a powerlink, a paint scraper and a roll of cheap J-cloths.

Wipe your chain clean after every ride. Wrap the cloth around the paint scraper and clean the cassette. Re-lube with a mix of wet lube and GT 85 (the latter makes sure that the wet lube gets into the chain rollers). Takes about 5 minutes max if you do it every ride.

Every now and then, take the chain off, wash it in petrol and dry it. Replace and re-lube.
PeterM - on 02 Jul 2013
mike123 - on 02 Jul 2013
In reply to The Lemming: DBC9MX from fleas at bay as recomended on here several years ago.cheap as chips. lots of copies now, but a 5 litre tub lasts ages, dilute it right down and dont overuse. as well making your bike look shiny shiny also cleans all the grease out of where you need erm..... grease.
AlisonSmiles - on 02 Jul 2013
In reply to The Lemming:

Ex boyfriend's toothbrush does a fine job.
ads.ukclimbing.com
Calder - on 02 Jul 2013
In reply to Phil79:
> (In reply to The Lemming)
>
> The chain cleaners are ok, but tend to fall apart after a few years of regular use.

So it lasts longer than some of the other bits on your bike, then? I think for the cost, and for how effective they are, the Park Tools chain cleaner is a good bit of kit to have around. Basically because it's so easy to use you've no excuse not to give your chain a clean - this can only be a good thing, surely.
Phil79 - on 02 Jul 2013
In reply to Calder:
> (In reply to Phil79)
> [...]
>
> So it lasts longer than some of the other bits on your bike, then?

Potentially, yes. But I've switched to using SRAM chains anyhow, so I can take the chain off in the time it takes to fill a chain cleaner so I just do it that way.

Calder - on 02 Jul 2013
In reply to Phil79:

Fair dincum. The painful truth is I'm too lazy/inept to take the chain off...
Phil79 - on 02 Jul 2013
In reply to Calder:

SRAM chains are about 10-20 quid (usually on offer somewhere), so might be worth considering when your current one is worn out. Super easy to fit and take them off in seconds.
Smiffy - on 02 Jul 2013
Most people I have talked to say that they are not that good.
My solution is to fit a power link. With these, you can take the chain off in a matter of minutes. I then put it in a sealable plastic bottle, add some white spirit and shake vigorously. This makes a great job of cleaning the chain. The hang it up to dry whilst I clean the jockey wheels with an old toothbrush and more white spirit. Re-oil jockey wheels and chain with dry / wet lube depending of which bike it is. Road bike only goes out in dry conditions so dry lube that. Mountain bike and tourer go out in all conditions, so wet lube for that.
The Lemming - on 02 Jul 2013
In reply to The Lemming:

Thanks for the replies everybody. To be honest my bike is almost 10 years old and for the last 3-4 years only came out annually while I took my car for its MOT. This all means that my bike hasn't had much love and attention.

That is until now where, to keep fuel costs down on short journeys , I've dusted the cobwebs off, and I don't mean figuratively either. :-)

What do I use to lubricate the chain?

I realise that this could be quite a contentious issue for belly-button fluff gazers and anoraks, so I'd quite like 'simple and stupid' for a professional punter as myself. I'm not after winning any races, I just want to get out and about and a lot of bimbling.

Ho yes, I live a mile from the coast. ;-)
AlisonSmiles - on 02 Jul 2013
In reply to The Lemming:
> (In reply to The Lemming)
> >
> What do I use to lubricate the chain?
>

Chain oil.

On the shelf at the bike shop. If your bike is a bit ancient and you're not really bothered, just get the cheapest bike specific. If you feel the need to make a choice go with wet not dry ... we're in the UK after all.
The Lemming - on 02 Jul 2013
In reply to AlisonSmiles:
> (In reply to The Lemming)
> [...]
>
> Chain oil.
>

Bog standard, it is then. :-)

That's today's task sorted for me.
AlisonSmiles - on 02 Jul 2013
In reply to The Lemming: On my hybrid, I'll be honest, I sometimes even use the sewing machine oil or 3 in 1. It feels like I'm giving it a treat if I use bike specific!

The roadie and MTB get a lot kinder treatment. They even get cleaned.
The Lemming - on 02 Jul 2013
In reply to The Lemming:

Just been to my local bike shop for advice on what I need to service my bike. As I was not too sure about the condition of my chain I asked him to check it. I had to prompt him about its condition, however he said that it was half way to needing to be changed. He also said that if I replaced the chain then I would need to replace everything else.

Is this correct or can I just replace the chain alone?

I also wanted to get one of those chain links, mentioned further up this discussion, and he tried to sell me a gizmo to remove the pins in a link. He pointed out that this would be a one-time tool. I asked if I actually needed it and he said without looking at my chain he could not answer. He'd only seen the chain moments before. And when I asked if a Centre-Punch could do the same thing, I could almost hear his brain explode at the loss of another sale.

I felt like I was in the presence of Arkwright incarnate.
kathrync - on 02 Jul 2013
In reply to The Lemming:
> (In reply to The Lemming)
>
> Just been to my local bike shop for advice on what I need to service my bike. As I was not too sure about the condition of my chain I asked him to check it. I had to prompt him about its condition, however he said that it was half way to needing to be changed. He also said that if I replaced the chain then I would need to replace everything else.
>
> Is this correct or can I just replace the chain alone?
>

This depends on how worn the cassette is, but it often is the case, especially if the chain has not been changed regularly. The chain wears the teeth on the cassette down and then when you put a new chain on, you will find it skips. Have a look at the cassette - if the teeth are pointed at the ends or curved you will probably need to change it with the chain. If in doubt, change the chain first and see how it rides before investing in a new cassette, but do be aware that you could need to change out the cassette as well.
Phil79 - on 02 Jul 2013
In reply to The Lemming:
> (In reply to The Lemming)
>
> He also said that if I replaced the chain then I would need to replace everything else.
>
> Is this correct or can I just replace the chain alone?

Essentially correct - a worn chain usually means a worn cassette (the cogs at the back) and maybe worn chain rings (ones at the front). If you don't replace the cassette at the same time as the chain you can get the chain slipping and jumping as you ride.

If this is an old bike then you could just keep riding with what you've got, until its totally knackered or you decide what to do (i.e. upgrade or buy a new bike etc).

> I also wanted to get one of those chain links, mentioned further up this discussion, and he tried to sell me a gizmo to remove the pins in a link. He pointed out that this would be a one-time tool. I asked if I actually needed it and he said without looking at my chain he could not answer. He'd only seen the chain moments before. And when I asked if a Centre-Punch could do the same thing, I could almost hear his brain explode at the loss of another sale.
>

You can remove chain pins with a centre punch and a hammer (I've done it in the past) but its a total pain in the ass. A chain splitter is much easier if you intend to do it more than once or twice.
AlisonSmiles - on 02 Jul 2013
In reply to The Lemming:

I like this. You operate at my level of inexperience.

OK, chain. If it's "halfway" to needing change you'll probably get away with just replacing the chain not the cassette. If it's bad, bad, bad, you'll likely need both.

If you change the chain and you get skipping and horridness then you can go back and buy a cassette. Assuming you haven't spanked the living daylights out of the new chain before deciding to buy a new cassette.

If you do a lot of mileage then buy a chain tool. Mine is earning its price. I buy packs of 3 or 5 chains online ...
mkean - on 02 Jul 2013
In reply to The Lemming:
Buy two chains.

Fit one. Store the other somewhere safe. Use the bike till the chain looks like it could do with a clean. Take chain off, place in ultrasonic cleaning bath full of whatever volatile solvents you have to hand. Fit your other chain. Wait. Remove chain from the cleaning bath and rinse under hot running water. Return to ultrasonic bath. Wait. Remove the chain from the cleaning bath and give it a liberal soaking in GT85. Wait. Give it another soaking in GT85 or a decent chain lube. Wait. Wrap the chain in a rag soaked in your chain lube of choice. Put it somewhere safe. Ride the bike till the chain looks like it needs a clean, then repeat.

Allegedly using two chains reduces the damage to your drive train caused by chain stretch (sharks tooth-ing).
The Lemming - on 02 Jul 2013
In reply to mkean:

The two chains idea sounds good.

Now would an empty bottle of coke or jam-jar be as good as a ultrasonic bath?

However I do like gizmos. ;-)
The Lemming - on 02 Jul 2013
In reply to The Lemming:

Is it possible or normal to buy a cheapish bike (300) where the chain is built in such a way that it is designed not to be taken apart for cleaning?
The Lemming - on 03 Jul 2013
In reply to The Lemming:

Chain all smashed up, squeaky clean and ready for the magic connector to be put on tomorrow.

Could somebody please advise how to take the cogs off a back wheel?

I want to clean the bearings inside but don't want to get it wrong. Once I've done that, seat post and front forks then I've pretty much stripped the bike clean and greased everything.

Just hope it does not fall apart on me. :-)
Horse on 03 Jul 2013
In reply to The Lemming:

See

http://www.parktool.com/blog/repair-help/cassette-and-freewheel-removal

You'll need a chain whip and the relevant cassette lock ring tool.

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