I cannot stand the sound of a chain that doesn't see much oil. Even if you ignore the noise, the lack of oil results in extra effort from the rider and shortens the life of the chain and sprockets.
Commuting to work on a combination of dirt and sealed tracks means that my chain needs regular maintenance. I once used a variety of degreasers and chain cleaning tools but it took too long and was messy. As a result I never got around to doing it. I was one of the high pitch rusty chain brigade!!!
It doesn't need to be that way. I now use a very simple method to maintain my chain that takes less than five minutes and is relatively clean.
Read on to banish the squeal!
Step 1: Materials
Very little is needed to maintain your chain if it is done regulary.
- Clean cotton rag - try to not use one with a loose weave as they tend to come apart and get stuck in the chain
- Bike oil - there are a variety of oils available, some a good for dusty rides whilst others are formulated for wet. Get one that suits your riding conditions. Generic oil can be used but I have found it doesn't last as long and tended to pick up more dust and dirt (hence more cleaning).
Step 2: Clean the Chain
Lean your bike up against something (or use a maintenance stand),making sure you can freely turn the pedals.
Hold a cloth against the lower portion of the chain.
Turn the pedals backwards whilst holding pressure on the cloth. You may need to rub as well to remove stubborn grime if your chain hasn't seen any love for a while.
Continue until the chain is clean.
Step 3: Oil the Chain
Apply oil to the chain whilst pedalling backwards. The chain should be fully coated but not dripping wet.
Continue pedalling backwards for a about 20 seconds after you stop putting oil on. This is to ensure the oil gets right into the chain.
Take a clean cloth, hold it on the bottom of the chain and pedal backwards. The aim is to wipe off all excess oil so dust doesn't stick.
Thats it! You may have to do a deeper clean every now and again but I find that if I do this once a week the chain stays in a relatively good condition.
Step 4: Since You Have Time....
Due to the amazing speed that you have just returned your chain to tip top condition, it is worth having a quick look at a couple of other components.
- Derailers - give these a wipe down and put a couple of drops of oil on all the pivots. Work them back and forth to get the oil in and then wipe off the excess
- Brakes - check to make sure there is still pads left, adjust the travel at the handle bars if they are too soft
- Tyres - check the pressure and inflate if required. Unless you are super strong, giving them a squeeze to judge if they need more inflation is good enough if your pump doesn't have a gauge
Thats it - get back out on the trails and enjoy yourself!