One of the steps in bike maintenance is to clean the chain and drivetrain of your bike. If you maintain the chain properly, it will last longer. There are multiple ways to clean your drivetrain, we are happy to share our tips!
Why should you clean your chain?
Cleaning the chain is also called degreasing. You remove the dirt and grease from your chain with a chain cleaner or chain degreaser.
If you just re-lubricate without cleaning the chain in between, the chain oil will build up in and around the links and may attract more dirt. By completely degreasing the chain before you lube it, you remove the dirt and oil residue. Your chain will run smoother.
Degreasing the chain of your bike regularly will extend the lifespan. Chain oil attracts dirt, which causes extra wear in the chain links. By regularly removing this dirt, your chain will last longer, which will save you money in the long run.
How often do you clean the drivetrain?
There is no fixed number of kilometers after which you have to clean the chain. It depends on the lubricant you use and the conditions in which you ride.
We can, however, mention three moments when it is recommended to degrease the chain:
- When you install a new chain: A new chain comes in factory grease. This grease protects your chain when it’s in the packaging and is not designed to lubricate it, it attracts a lot of dirt. So, degrease your new chain before mounting it to prevent your new chain from wearing out immediately.
- When re-lubricating with oil: When you are going to lubricate the chain again, it is wise to degrease it first. This way you remove the old oil and dirt, which reduces the wear in the chain.
- When you apply wax for the first time: When you switch from chain oil to wax, it is important to completely degrease the chain. Wax does not adhere well to the chain if it is greasy with oil residue.
What do you use to clean a chain?
To degrease your drivetrain, you need a chain cleaner, a brush and cloth.
Dynamic has 3 different degreaser in its range:
- Drivetrain Detox: A biodegradable degreaser that you directly spray on the chain, cassette and derailleur.
- Chain Cleaner: A powerful two-component cleaner. It degreases your chain and leaves a preparatory primer so that chain oil adheres better to the chain. This will help to protect your chain, cassette, and crankset between lubrication.
- Chain Cleaner High Pressure: A chain cleaner in a can that makes it easy to remove grease from your drivetrain.
A microfibre cloth is useful to dry your chain and parts after degreasing.
How do you clean the chain?
You can degrease your bicycle chain in 4 steps:
There are several ways to apply the chain cleaner:
- Spraying: Drivetrain Detox and Chain Cleaner High Pressure can be sprayed directly on the drivetrain. Make sure that you do not spray directly into the bearing, as this will remove the grease in the bearings, causing them to wear out sooner.
- Using a brush: Dynamic Chain Cleaner and Drivetrain Detox can be poured into a container or, like a real mechanic, into a cut-open water bottle. Use a brush to dip into the liquid and apply the degreaser to the filthy parts.
- Using a chain cleaner tool: Fill the tool up to the mark with Chain Cleaner or Drivetrain Detox. Then click the chain cleaner around the chain and hang the hook around the derailleur. By pedaling backwards, the rotating brushes of the tool will clean the chain.
How do you clean the cassette?
We now go into detail about the steps to clean your cassette.
- Take your wheel from your frame so that you can properly clean the cassette.
- Remove the stubborn dirt with the scraper of the Claw brush. Remove the dirt between each of the sprockets.
- Apply the degreaser to the cassette and let it soak for a few minutes.
- Now take a brush. Clean each sprocket with the Claw Brush or Drivetrain Detailing Brush.
- Rinse the cassette with water.
- Dry the gears with a clean, dry cloth. By placing the edge of a microfibre cloth between the sprockets, you can easily dry all the gears.
- Put the wheel back after cleaning the chain.
How do you clean the derailleur?
At events we regularly see pulley wheels with a lot of dirt and oil residues stuck to them. However, cleaning them is done in no time!
- Remove the most stubborn dirt from the pulley wheels using the hook on the Claw brush.
- Spray some degreaser directly on the derailleur and let it soak.
- Place a brush or cloth against the pulley wheels and rotate the pedals backwards.This way you remove the remaining dirt. Repeat if necessary.
- Finally, rinse your derailleur and pulley wheels with water.
You can dry them with a dry cloth.
Tip: If you ride with wax, chain wax residue can accumulate at the pulley wheels. You can easily remove this with a dry cloth after your ride.
Thorough drivetrain cleaning
If your bicycle chain is really dirty, it’s a good idea to clean it thoroughly. To do this, remove the chain and cassette from your bicycle. If you ride with oil, it is wise to thoroughly degrease the chain and cassette several times a year. For wax users, we recommend doing this before applying wax for the first time.
Essentials for a thorough cleaning:
- Chain cleaner, such as Drivetrain Detox or Chain Cleaner.
- Brush, like the Claw brush or Drivetrain Detailing Brush
- Container to put the degreaser in
- Dry cloth
- Remove the chain from your bicycle using pliers on the missing link or chain tool. Remove the cassette from your bicycle using a cassette remover and chain whip.
- Pour the degreaser in the container
- Place the chain and cassette in the container and let them soak for 5 minutes. Tip: Arrange the gears in order.
- Clean the chain and sprockets with a brush.
- Dry the chain and sprockets with the cloth.
- Place your sprockets and chain back on the bike. Tighten the cassette using the cassette tool.
- Lubricate your chain before riding.
Clean your drivetrain
With a Chain Care Box you have everything you need to degrease and lubricate your chain with chain oil. With the Speed Potion Pack or Super Slick Set you have a complete set for the maintenance of your chain when you ride with wax.
Photos by Leon van Bon, Maximilian Fries, Jannis Brandt, Etienne Kraemer.