It is an inevitable chemical reaction that occurs when a bike chain comes in contact with salt, water, mud and other elements. It can be confusing; some sites recommend one method while others tell you that it’s the absolute worst thing you can do.
Some people state that cleaning a rusty bike chain is a waste of time. However, it is recommended that you learn how to replace a bike chain as it is one of the easiest things to do on a bike.
The best degreased is one that effectively removes grease and other dirt, that is safe for your hands, and also for the environment. Green Move Prep, Finish Line Citrus Bike Degreased, WD-40 and Diggers Mineral Turpentine can also be used.
Wear latex gloves every time you handle bike chain degreased. Pour it into a clean plastic container, preferably one that hasn’t been used before (any residual chemicals can react and have unexpected results).
You can use a rag or soft brush to get the chain completely free of grease. Lime juice contains citric acid which is excellent at stripping away rust.
Both lime juice and steel wool are rough on the hands so make sure you wear latex gloves for this stage. Soak the steel wool in lime juice and then scrub the parts of the chain that are rusted.
The wool will get clogged with rust as you clean; discard, get a new piece, soak it in lime juice and keep working. After a few minutes working on the chain, wipe it clean using a soft rag to see how much rust is left.
Once all the rust is gone you need to rinse the chain completely to remove all traces of lime juice and steel wool. If you don’t oil it properly it will rust again, and you will need to repeat the process of cleaning it or replace it altogether.
Applying too much lubricant isn’t recommended, so give the chain a gentle wipe with a clean cloth to remove excess oil. If you use your bike more than two or three times a week you should clean and lube the chain at least once a month.
Clean it of excess grease and debris and add lubricant where needed. You should oil your bike chain to prevent rust if you ride it in conditions such as mud, dirt, rain, and snow.
If you notice that the chain isn’t moving smoothly or makes creaking noises when you ride it’s time for a clean and lube. Review them carefully before you buy to ensure that they perform as stated in the marketing material.
You may feel tempted to use something that resembles bike chain lube, such as motor oil or something as simple as Vaseline. Motor oil contains finite particles and chemicals that will damage the chain over time, and Vaseline will not provide the required protection from the elements.
You may find products like WD-40 recommended is some quarters; they may help remove rust but only for a short period. Finally, if you don’t lubricate the chain after cleaning you shouldn’t expect the job to hold.
Choose your lube carefully, and make sure that it is recommended for bike chains. If the chain is heavily rusted don’t waste your time cleaning it.
It will not work, not to mention the rust may start to affect other parts of the bike such as the drivetrain and frame. To remove rust from your bike chain, run it through a rag soaked in degreased to first rid it of dirt and grime.
Now, wipe the degreased off and scrub away the rust with steel wool or bristle brush soaked in lime juice. Before proceeding to the steps in removing rust from your bike chain, it is important to first consider the tools you’ll need.
Rubber gloves Protective goggles Degreased Steel wool or scouring pad Lime juice or WD-40 Towel or dry clothes Toothbrushes or bristle brushes Chain lubricant It’s best to work in an open space as the chain cleaning, and rust removal process can be very messy.
If you’re working indoors or within an enclosed space, cover the floor with large towels, old carpets, newspapers, or old bedsheets. Place the handlebars and saddle on a drop cloth to avoid scratching its paint job or damaging it.
Stand on the drivetrain side and check the full length of your bike chain for any rust. However, if your bike chain is severely rusted and the links don’t flex or you notice any structural deterioration in the metal, you may need to replace it for safety reasons.
If you can’t find a master link on your bike chain, you’ll need to use a chain tool to open it. Simply position the tool between any two links and force out the center pin.
Before cleaning the rust off your bike chain, you’ll need to rid it of grease and dirt. Cleaning the buildup helps to reveal the rust formed on the metal beneath.
You’ll need a degreased to effectively remove all the grease and dirt. Degreases can also harm your skin, so put on a pair of rubber gloves when handling one.
To remove dirt and grease buildup, simply soak a clean rag in degreased and run the whole length of your chain through it. If your chain is attached to the bike while cleaning, you may need to use a toothbrush or bristle brush to get into the crevices and tight areas.
If you have a heavy buildup of dirt and grease, you’ll need to remove the chain and soak it in degreased. Fill a clean plastic container with degreased and soak the chain in it for at least 30 minutes.
After removing the chain from the degreased, use a brush or rag to scrub off the grime. Once the rust is softened, you can easily remove it with a scouring pad or steel wool.
Dampen the steel wool in lime juice and scrub the rust off the chain. With the bike upside down or hanging on a rack, scrub the whole length of the chain until all the rust comes off.
If you don’t have an extra piece, rinse it with hot water and soak it in lime juice again. Pour lime juice in a container large enough to accommodate the chain and soak it in it.
The amount of time you’ll need to soak it will depend on how heavy the rust is. After removing the chain from the lime juice, use a scouring pad or steel wool to scrub off the rust.
If you still have some rust left, repeat the process and soak it for longer this time. If soaking your bike chain in lime juice doesn’t remove the rust, spray WD-40 directly on it.
Leaving lime juice and steel wool residue will further cause the chain to rust. Dip a clean brush in a mixture of dish soap and water and use it to wash off all the residue.
Avoid using a power washer as the pressure from the water can remove the grease from the bearings. Ensure that the chain dries completely as moisture is one of the major culprits of rusting.
If you feel some sort of resistance or hear strange noises from the chain, you may have reattached it incorrectly. If you find yourself really struggling with the reinstallation of your bike chain, you may seek the help of a professional or look up tutorials on YouTube.
Apply lubrication liberally to all parts of the drivetrain, ensuring each link on the chain is well lubed. Once the chain completes a revolution, it’s lubed, and you’re ready to hit the road again.
Cleaning excess lube is important as it can attract dirt and cause grime to build up again. Rust is formed on your bike chain when it is exposed to moisture, mud, road salt, and other elements.
If there’s heavy dirt or grime buildup on the chain, you may need to remove it from the drivetrain and soak it in a bottle of degreased. In this case, use low pressure as you don’t want to remove all the grease between the links of the chain.
If you ride your bike more than twice or thrice a week, clean and lube your chain at least twice a month. Don’t wait until you notice some resistance or unusual sound in the chain before lubricating it.
The main purpose of the lubricant is to reduce chain wear and accumulation of dirt. You’ll find several types of chain lubes in your local bike store; however, it’s best to choose one that works with the weather in your area.
When rust begins to form on it, you need to remove it before it spreads to other parts or deteriorates the chain itself. To protect your chain from the elements and keep it free of rust, apply lubrication after cleaning it.
If your bike chain is severely rusted and your notice warping or some change in shape, it’s time to discard it and get a replacement.