This week’s Quick Tip comes from RBR reader Steve Bayard, and his method of chain maintenance that has dramatically increased the life of his road bike chain. Here’s what he sent us.
Normally, a road bike chain seems to last in the range of 2,500 to 3,000 miles when serviced in a traditional manner.
About three years ago, I changed the way I maintain my chain. A friend gave me a spray can of DuPont Chain-Saver Wax-Based Chain Lube w/Teflon. It’s a yellow can sold in Walmart and other hardware stores.
After each ride before I put my bike away, I first ‘back-pedal’ the chain for 15 seconds, wiping it down with a paper towel to remove dirt and sand from the chain. I then spray the chain as I backpedal for another 15 seconds. I follow up with again backpedaling the chain another 15 seconds, wiping it down with a paper towel to remove excess lube and any remaining grit and sand.
On the first chain I followed this very simple and easy procedure, I got over 10,000 miles before the chain gauge indicated it was time for a new chain. On two other chains I have gone 10,000 miles before replacing.
This two minute drill also extends the life of the cassette substantially as my present Ultegra cassette is still shifting well after 24,000 miles…
P.S. I ride 1,000 miles a month on the sandy west coast of Florida.
Kerry Irons says
A clean chain is one of the factors in long chain life. What Steve is doing here is keeping his chain as clean as possible by cleaning it after every ride. I have a dedicated roller bike that never sees the outside world, and the chain stays clean for thousands of miles with no need for lubrication. As a result it doesn’t wear much. On the road things are a different story with ever-present road grit and getting caught in the rain. I suspect that Steve’s cleaning routine is more important than his lube choice.
I get about 10,000 miles on Campy chains, cleaning/lubing every 350 miles riding in West Michigan. I’m sure that my relatively low power output is a favorable factor in my long chain life experience.
As a resident of Portland, OR, I have a dedicated rain bike and have a routine for the chain after every rain ride. First I spray generously with WD-40 and wipe as much off as possible. This does a lot to clean the chain and water displacement (which is what WD means).
After a few hours or longer, I lube generously with home brew and wipe thoroughly. This pretty much gets the chain cleaner and lubed.
As a retired accountant, I stopped keeping records on chain mileage etc but it seems like they last quite a while and never get stiff links.
Mike Tierney says
Merlin, I’m in SW Ontario Canada and I never ride in that rain (unless I get caught on a ride) so I don’t see the extremes that you do but I have followed the methods you use for many years. I clean the chain about every 600 miles by backpedaling though WD40 spayed on a rag. Then I lube (1 drop per link) with Homebrew and backpedal through a clean rag to remove any excess lube. I repeat that last step the next day before riding. My last chain lasted me 11,000 documented miles. The cassette is well into its 2nd chain and it shifts perfectly. That’s chain maintenance as inexpensive and effective as you can possibly get.
The DuPont Chain Saver Wax-Based Chain Lube w/Teflon is also available in a squeeze bottle. I have been using it for several years and use it by putting a drop on each chain pin, spinning the pedals backwards several revolutions and then wiping the chain while spinning backwards. I feel that using a drop on each pin uses less of the lube and avoids over-spray.
Hot wax your chain with an 80/20 mix of paraffin and beeswax and you don’t have wipe the chain after each ride and you still get the benefit of much longer chain life. The beeswax helps the paraffin stick to the chain longer than straight paraffin. Add Teflon or PTFE for an extra boost.
This article by Steve B. is right on. Ironically I too cycle on the West gulf coast of Florida. Back in 2o17 I started riding here using wet lubes. Unfortunately even our cleanest roads are coated with sand everywhere. Cleaning and wet lubing every ride helped, but still not resulting in normal chain and gear wear. Then, I stumbled onto “DuPont Chain Saver” at Walmart. The liquid carrier in this lube, also seems to be the cleaner. The Wax and Teflon in it remain in and on the chain after about 30 minutes of drying time when the solvent disappears. My chain that had been wet lubed, took about 3-5 applications at 60 mile intervals of “Chain Saver” to flush the old lube completely out. After which all is great. The road sand and dirt no longer cling. I do a “one step” lube/clean every 60 miles. Never looked back.