How to clean your bike chain

After Cycle Qld, 8kms of dirt and 570km of riding, my chain was looking a bit dirty.  You might want to clean your chain if you have been riding in the rain a lot (water flicks dirt up on to the chain) or have to ride over dirt or sand.  A chain looks dirty when there is caked on, grainy black stuff on it.  Cleaning the chain removes all the dirt, sand and grime from your chain which reduces the grinding and wear on your moving components.  This will extend the life of your bike.

This is a bit of a dirty job, so don’t wear your best clothes and be prepared to get a bit of grease on your hands.

Here is what you will require:

  • Chain cleaning tool
  • Stiff brush or tooth brush
  • Degreaser / Citrus cleaner
  • Rags
  • Lube for afterwards

If you don’t have a chain cleaning tool, that is ok.  Just use a tooth brush.  It will be a bit more time consuming though.

1. Use the brush to remove any obvious debris from the chain.  This is where we remove those chunky looking bits from the chain.

2.  If you have one, just the pokey hooked thingo with teeth to clean around your back gears / cassette.  Give between each gear a good scrape.  You may have to change gears to move the chain out of the way to get to all of them.

3.  Put the bottom of the chain cleaner under your chain below the bottom back triangle.  Best to choose a back gear about in the middle before you do this.

4.  Attach the lid of the cleaner.  Mine has two grooves to line up plus a little catch.

5.  Push the machine back and slip the handle over the top of the bottom jockey wheel.  It should sit between the two jockey wheels.

6.  Fill up the reservoir with degreaser.

7. Release some degreaser by pressing the button

8.  Gently pedal backwards.  Every few rotations, press the release button again.  Continue until reservoir is empty.

9.  Remove the device and dispose of dirty liquid in the bottom of the machine as per local ordinance.  Clean off chain with a rag.  This might require a bit of polishing and rubbing to clean up the chain.

10.  Use the opportunity to give everything else a wipe down as well.

11.  Don’t forget to lube your chain afterwards.


1 thought on “How to clean your bike chain

  1. That reminds me. I must go and buy a pokey hooked thingo with teeth.

    I like that chain cleaner. Mine doesn’t have a “clean degreaser” reservoir, it just recirculates the gunky degreaser from the sump. What brand is that one?

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