Chain maintenance

Second weekend of virus bike maintenance. This weekend all the bars are closed by police and weather wasn't good for riding or hiking. Lucky for my much neglected mistress in the garage and this time it was time for the chain to get some love. 

Living in Hong Kong is not a chains favorite place since it is always fairly humid and things get rusty quite easily. My chain was in a bad state as you can see.

The basic tools I got started with was an old t-shirt as rag, some generic cleaning spray, chain lube a plastic brush, a steel brush and my enduro stand.

In order to be able to spin the wheel while working on the chain the enduro stand comes in very handy. This will lift the rear wheel off the ground.

To not the let the bike slip away there is a velcro strap holding the front brake in place.

These small asian stools are also handy to sit on while working.

First thing was to get the surface rust off the chain. Modern bike chain have o-rings between the links so have to be careful not to damage them. Working one link at a time is a bit of work but does the trick of getting off the rust very well.

Cleaning the chain is a bit of chemistry lesson. The generic cleaner I had, and you can see on the picture above, was no good at all. Basically the problem is that it evaporated way to fast. Petroleum based products works in the way of hydrocarbon chains.  It turns out that hydrocarbon molecules of different lengths have different properties and behaviors. For example, a chain with just one carbon atom in it (CH4) is the lightest chain, known as methane. Methane is a gas so light that it floats like helium. As the chains get longer, they get heavier. The first four chains -- CH4 (methane), C2H6 (ethane), C3H8 (propane) and C4H10 (butane) -- are all gases. The chains up through C18H32 or so are all liquids at room temperature, and the chains above C19 are all solids at room temperature.

The problem here when the cleaner evaporated to quickly was of a too light chain. People tend to recommend kerosene which is just a bit longer and heavier than gasoline. However, gasoline is pretty close itself so I just dumped some gasoline into a spray bottle and went to work on the chain.

Basically just spray liberally and the worst dirt will drop off and the rest you use a plastic brush to get off.

Finishing off by spraying chain lube on the chain. Important to remember is that you don't need too much of chain lube since o/x/z-ring chains have internal lubrication. The main reason for chain lube is to prevent rust which I obviously neglected far too long 

Last off is to wipe off any excess chain lube and check that the chain tension is as described in the user manual. Here it needs to be 5 mm off the swing arm 30 mm behind the chain guard.


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