A clean bike is a fast bike – if you have ever ridden a bike that has been untouched for years, it’s probably rusty, slow, and makes weird noises. That’s why it is important for bike owners to learn how to clean a bicycle chain, and maintain it on a regular basis for a healthy, happy bike. Go the distance and hop on more adventures on your bike with our guide on how to clean a bicycle chain and our recommendations on the best bike chain degreasers and lubes!
Bike Chain Cleaning Essentials
How to clean a bicycle chain?
Step 1: Prepare your bike degreaser, lube and tools
According to the folks from the Global Cycling Network, soap and hot water are not enough to get the gunk off your bicycle chain. What you’ll need is a bike chain degreaser that is designed specifically for the job. Alternatives to this include paraffin and white spirit, which will get your bicycle clean too. It is highly recommended to wear cleaning gloves to avoid getting any of these in your eyes. Alternatively, use a bike chain degreaser spray to avoid getting your hands too dirty!
Other cleaning tools that will come in handy include Mechanic Brushes (available on Online Bicycle) to paint the degreaser on, and a Micro-cell Sponge (available on Online Bicycle) to wipe it off after. When it comes to how to clean a bicycle chain, you will also need a bike chain lube to oil the gears for the finishing touch.
Step 2: Apply degreaser to bike chain
Decant a small amount of bike chain degreaser into a container. Use one of the mechanic brushes to paint the degreaser onto the bike chain in liberal amounts. After that, back pedal the bicycle and let the degreaser sit for a few minutes. You can repeat this for the bicycle cassette and jockey wheels as well.
Step 3: Scrub the chain with nail brushes to deep clean
Using a sponge and hot water to remove the degreaser will certainly leave you with a clean-looking chain. However, it won’t be able to tackle the gunk within small crevices. If you have more time to do a deep cleaning, here’s a hack on how to deep-clean your bicycle chain.
You’ll need a pair of Nail Brushes (available on Shopee Supermarket) for this step of how to clean your bicycle chain. With the two nail brushes, sandwich the chain in between and backpedal to allow the bristles to clean the chain inside and out.
Pro Tip: Trim the bristles of the brush to make cleaning easier.
Steps two and three can be combined into one using a bike chain cleaner like the Muc-Off X-3 Dirty Chain Cleaner (available on Online Bicycle) which is designed specifically for this purpose. Fill the top reservoir with a bike chain degreaser, sandwich your chain in between them, and back pedal.
Step 4: Remove degreaser with a sponge and hot soapy water
After you have thoroughly cleaned your bike chain with a degreaser, soak a sponge in hot soapy water (cold water will not work) and wipe them off. It is important to clean it off completely as your lube will not be able to stay on the chain otherwise. Dry the bike chain spotless with a rag before moving on to the next step on how to clean a bicycle chain.
Step 5: Re-lube your bicycle chain
The last step on how to clean your bicycle chain is to lubricate it. You need to have a well-lubricated bike chain to reduce friction and protect it from wear and tear. There are two types of bike lubes – wet lubes and dry lubes. Wet bike chain lubes are designed for rainy days, and will stay put even when it pours. Dry bike chain lube, on the other hand, will be washed off in the rain.
Start applying them on the joining pin of the bike chain. Then, apply them on every single roller while back peddling, until you’ve gone one full revolution. Let the lubricant sit for 20 to 30 seconds, and back peddle for another 30 seconds. In a few hours, wipe away the excess and you’re all set!
How often do I need to clean my bicycle chain?
According to Bike Finest, you should clean your bike chain at least once a month (or after 160km – 320 km) to enjoy optimal performance. That said, this may differ for different road conditions. For those who live on the edge with the best mountain bikes on rugged terrains, it is recommended to clean your bike after every use.
How to clean bicycle clean – Best bike chain degreasers
1. Finish Line Ecotech Degreaser
Cleaning your bike regularly can be troublesome and time-consuming. The Finish Line Ecotech Degreaser (available on Online Bicycle) is one of the best bike degreasers that makes the job much easier and more efficient as it contains pure active biodegradable degreasing solvents. This allows your bike chain and gears to be cleaned quickly, and also removes step four of how to clean your bicycle chain, as you won’t need to rinse it with water.
Eco-friendly pals will also be glad to know that this Finish Line bike chain degreaser is made of soy-extracted solvents which biodegrade rapidly when they get in the environment. That said, it doesn’t compromise on its performance and is able to dissolve grease, grime, and soil particles with ease! That’s why it is one of the best bike degreasers in Singapore.
2. Finish Line Citrus Degreaser
Another highly reviewed option from Finish Line is the Finish Line Citrus Degreaser (available on Online Bicycle) which boasts an orange peel-based formula that has set the industry standard since 1988. It includes natural citrus extracts which are highly effective in getting rid of grease, wax, and oil. Your arm will certainly thank you for this as you won’t have to scrub as hard compared to average degreasers. With the Finish Line Citrus Degreaser, you’ll need to rinse it off with water and ensure a residue-free finish before applying lubricants.
3. WD-40 Bike Degreaser
Another way to speed up the bicycle chain cleaning process is to use a spray-type bike degreaser. For this, we recommend the WD-40 Bike Degreaser (available on Online Bicycle) – one of the best bike degreasers that come with a precision spray to tackle the grime without needing extra tools. This high pressure spray helps to flush out grease effortlessly, flushing the gunk off hard-to-reach places. It is also a fast-acting formula which takes mere seconds to cling onto surfaces and work its magic. The WD-40 Bike Chain Degreaser can be used on bike chains, derailleurs, as well as sprockets.
Pro Tip: Cover up disc brakes before using aerosol spray bike chain degreasers to avoid getting them onto unintended parts and damaging them.
4. Muc-Off Bio Drivetrain Cleaner
When it comes to the best bike chain degreasers for how to clean your bicycle chains, Muc-Off is a reputable brand that is loved by bike enthusiasts. The Muc-Off Bio Drivetrain Cleaner (available on Online Bicycle) leaves you with a sparkling clean bike that looks as good as new.
We also love that the formula is biodegradable and safe for multiple materials such as rubber, metal, and seals. This is great for klutzes who are worried about over spraying degreaser on other parts of the bike. The Muc-Off chain cleaner is also able to cut through grease rapidly and get rid of chain contaminants, making the process of how to clean bicycle chains a breeze!
How to clean bicycle chain: Best wet bike chain lubes
5. Finish Line Cross Country Wet Bike Lube
Wet lube is often the preferred choice for long-distance riders. After all, you never know when the heavens will open and you want to be prepared just in case. The Finish Line Cross Country Wet Bike Lube (available on Online Bicycle) is one of the best bike chain lubes that will come in handy for how to clean your bike chain. It boasts proven performance for over 100 mile rides, long rainy commutes, and rugged off-road conditions. This is because it features advanced anti-wear additives which makes it one of the most weather-resistant wet lubes on the market.
Pro Tip: If you use wet lube during dry weather, wipe any off excess lube after the ride.
6. WD-40 Bike Chain Lube
The WD-40 Specialist Bike Chain Lube (available on Online Bicycle) takes the cake for the best bike chain lubes in Singapore as it is suitable for any weather conditions, whether wet or dry. During months when the weather is erratic and unpredictable, this bike chain lube will come in handy. It contains corrosion inhibitors which allow for optimal chain protection. This helps to lengthen the lifespan of your bike chain for a durable, smooth ride in the long run. Furthermore, the WD-40 Specialist Bike Chain Lube does not contain wax, so you won’t have to worry about this causing build-up within the drivetrain.
7. Finish Line Ceramic Wax Lube
When a bike lube is used by professional racers, you know it’s something you can trust. The Finish Line Ceramic Wax Wet Chain Lube (available on Online Bicycle) is one of the best racing bike chain lubes used by Finish Line’s WorldTour teams in races of over 120 miles. It minimises time needed for bike maintenance and how to clean bicycle chains as it builds a ceramic coating that delivers over more miles per application. This often exceeds a whopping 175 miles! That said, it also comes at a more expensive price tag compared to average bike lubes. We’d recommend this for those who are training up for upcoming long-distance races!
How to clean bicycle chain: Best dry bike chain lubes
8. Finish Line Teflon Dry Lube Spray
For those who ride in dry weather conditions, or even dusty and dirty ones, go for the Finish Line Teflon Dry Lube (available on Online Bicycle), a versatile lubricant that holds up even in mildly wet weather. It creates a synthetic film on your bike’s drivetrain, keeping it clean by warding away dust and grime. The Finish Line Teflon Dry Lube is also one of the best performing bike chain lubes when it comes to minimising friction and repelling moisture. It is value for money as each application lasts for up to 100 miles.
9. Muc-Off Bicycle Dry Weather Lube
Another frontrunner for the best dry bike chain lubes is the Muc-Off Dry Weather Lube (available on Online Bicycle). It deeply penetrates into the links of your bike chain and helps it hold up against extreme weather conditions. With this, you’ll be able to enjoy a smooth ride! In addition, the Muc-Off Dry Weather Lube uses a biodegradable formula which makes it safe for other parts of your bike, and friendly for the planet!
Clean your bike like a pro with our guide on how to clean bicycle chain
Extend the lifespan of your bike with this step-by-step guide on how to clean a bicycle chain! Looking to start afresh with a new bike? Check out our roundup of the best foldable bikes and the best city bikes! If not, you can always get your daily exercise done by following these skipping rope workouts or heading to the best 24/7 gyms in Singapore.