The Real Story
Dirt. grit and corrosion do more to ruin bike chains than anything else. Is there anything you can really do about it? The answer is yes! First let’s take a look at what really happens. Very few cyclists are strong enough to actually stretch the metal side plates of a chain. The metal is pretty strong. Sometimes a chain is not assembled correctly and breaks, but that is not usually a function of lubrication.
Chains lengthen because their hinge pins and sleeves wear. Most of the time, wear is caused exclusively by road grit and other particles that enter the chain when it is lubricated. Applying fresh lubrication to a dirty chain only serves to carry the wear producing grit right into the center of the chain mechanism which accelerates the damage. Lubrication on the outside surfaces of a chain does not prevent wear. It only attracts more dirt and makes for those lovely chainring tattoos on your leg.
Oils are viscous, acting like an adhesive, causing dirt and grit to stick where it lands on the chain. More lube means more glue and the wear effect just gets worse. You have to get all of the old lube and grit off the chain surfaces and out from inside the links.
Commercial abrasive grinding paste is a mixture of oil, silicon dioxide (sand) and silicon carbide (sand). It does a great job of removing metal under pressure and motion.
Road grit combined with chain lube has the exact same effect inside of your chain. Remember, just cleaning the outside of a chain doesn’t count. It’s what is inside that matters. Combine a thorough cleaning with an ultra high film strength, extreme pressure, long-lasting lubricant that runs clean and you will have a winning solution to making your drivetrain last a lot longer.
At Bike Medicine, we want to see our customers get the maximum service life and value from their equipment. We firmly believe that if you learn to service, clean and lubricate your bike properly, it will far outlast bikes that are neglected. Plus, a really clean, quiet bike is a real pleasure to ride.
Please click on our bike cleaning page to see how many professional team mechanics service racing machines every day. With a bit of practice you should be able to get the total cleaning down to about 10 minutes. We feel that is a great investment in making your equipment look great and last a lot longer. Remember, if your chain lasts longer, so does the rest of the drivetrain. It all works together.