Lazy’s guide to chain maintenance…

24 05 2012

Lube and chain…

I used to obsesses over having a clean chain. Then I stopped caring and you know what? Nothing has changed except that I have more free time to ride my bikes instead of cleaning them. I’ve outlined below how I look after my bicycle chains broken out by derailleur and IGH drivetrains.

Derailleurs

  • buy the cheapest 8 or 9 speed SRAM chains I can find easily [I don’t have any 10 speed setups]
  • usually I buy a few at a time so I have stock in my garage
  • lube the chain on the bike about once per month or after a particularly heinous ride
  • let the lube penetrate for a few hours and then wipe down chain with a rag
  • measure chain wear every time I lube
  • when my chain starts to wear I replace it with a new one
  • inspect the cassette and rings when replacing a chain to ensure they are serviceable
  • if needed replace cassette and rings [generally not needed if you stay on top of measuring the chain wear]

Looks terrible – spins around just fine…

IGH

  • buy the cheapest 8 speed SRAM chains I can find easily
  • usually I buy a few at a time so I have stock in my garage
  • lube the chain on the bike a few times a year
  • let the lube penetrate for a few hours and then wipe down chain with a rag
  • almost never bother measuring chain wear
  • when I get embarrassed enough about the state of my chain [say once every few years] replace it
  • inspect the cog and ring when replacing a chain to ensure they are serviceable
  • if possible flip cog and ring so you can wear them out in the opposite direction

This methodology is easy, cheap and I’ve never had a chain let me down in the field. It should be clear that if you hate chain maintenance get an IGH. You can virtually ignore the drivetrain and it will keep turning despite all the abuse. If you can be bothered to lube and wipe the IGH chain down once in a while it will last a very very long time.

Ok…that’s ridiculous…time for another $15 chain…

Cleaning?

You’ll note I don’t mention cleaning my bike chains. That’s because I don’t ever do it. The time vs. benefit ratio is not worth it frankly. Especially when you buy low cost chains to begin with.

PNWet

Keep in mind that I ride year round in the PNWet and before that rode my winter bikes through the usual Canadian winter nonsense. So my chains aren’t treated with kid gloves.