How To

How to clean your chain

Chains of love: cleaned, lubed and ready to party

Chains are the lifeline of a bicycle. They keep the drive train turning and transmission churning. So why do we neglect them so?

A happy chain shifts better, sounds better and lives longer, plus, your mechanic will thank you for it. We rolled into 2nd Avenue Sports in Durango, Colorado, where chain master Jay Speed linked it all together.

Things you'll need : A shop rag or towel, degreaser, lubricant and a bike stand (while this is nice, a bike rack can work, or simply flip you bike upside down.)

1) Prep

With the chain in the middle of the cassette, spray the degreaser directly onto on the chain while rotating the cranks backward, careful not to contaminate the brake rotors. Some degreasers won't affect the rotors, but better safe than sorry. Check with your shop.

2) Clean

With the chain wet, use the rag between the crank and the rear derailleur to clean the chain of gunk while rotating the crank backward. Change spots of the rag when it gets too dirty, and continue until there is no more grease coming off. Repeat this process as needed.

3) Dry

Allowing excess degreaser to evaporate will eliminate any chance that it interferes with the lubrication process. Five minutes should do it.

4) Lubricate

Use a drip lubricant while working on disc-brake bikes. Holding the applicator on the chain, drip the lube lightly onto the chain for a few rotations, continuing to run the cranks backward to allow for the lube to soak in the chain bushings.

5) Wipe

Remove excess lubricant by the same process used to clean the chain, and continue until the rag stops picking up lubrication.

6) Go pedal

Listen to the soothing sound of a well-cared-for chain and enjoy the ride.

User Comments
Southwest Weather
  • Durango, CO 57º / Clear Full Forecast
    • Durango, CO

      Summary: Light rain tomorrow through Monday, with temperatures rising to 83° on Sunday.
      Weather data from
  • Flagstaff, AZ 61º / Clear Full Forecast
    • Flagstaff, AZ

      Summary: No precipitation throughout the week, with temperatures bottoming out at 76° on Thursday.
      Weather data from
  • Moab, UT 67º / Clear Full Forecast
    • Moab, UT

      Summary: No precipitation throughout the week, with temperatures rising to 94° on Monday.
      Weather data from
  • Santa Fe, NM 60º / Clear Full Forecast
    • Santa Fe, NM

      Summary: Light rain tomorrow and Wednesday, with temperatures bottoming out at 73° on Wednesday.
      Weather data from
Find Your Adventure
Help us help you. Try selecting a LOCATION or ACTIVITY or BOTH so we can point you in the right direction.