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MCN  says:

You Ask/You Answer: Keeping a bike clean

"I am new to biking and I want to keep my machine in good condition but my chain is already looking worse for wear. Everyone seems to be giving me different advice on how to keep it clean such as: WD-40, paraffin, engine oil, cleaners, specific chain lubes and Scottoiler. What works best?" Your answer could help. The best will be...

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  • Posted 2 years ago (25 March 2013 15:52)

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Feb 09

Posts: 541

jon66 says:

a constant battle

i get irritated at the amount of work required to keep a chain good  if riding all year , the washing after salt is on the roads , the drying , then cleaning , then lubbing again , i use parrafin to clean , gear oil to oil and also have a manual chain oiler fitted , but still managed to have 2 seized links just the other week , new chain and sprockets are now fitted

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Mar 13

Posts: 4

It's Wurth the effort...

I've just had a brand new chain and sprocket fitted after being in exactly the same position (previous owner took little care over the chain). Word of warning if you end up with a new chain (sounds like you might), get the grease they put on the new chain off ASAP. I didn't and it completely covered bits of my faring and is an absolute pain to remove!!

Back to cleaning. Once I've cleaned the bike and let the chain dry I use a Castrol chain cleaner with a scouring pad to get most of the dirt and grit off working on a small section at a time. It's pretty good stuff and doesn't get into the O-rings like WD-40 would. Once that's gotten 90% of the dirt off I then spray with a little Wurth Dry Lube (doesn't fling up the side of your bike) and give it a rub with a jay cloth to get rid of the last bits and get some of the chain cleaner off. Don't forget to wipe off any build up around the rear sprocket! Let that dry/evaporate for a while then come back and liberally spray with Wurth again. Did this at the weekend and got my chain back to being pretty pristine!

This would be a deep clean every 2-3 weeks depending on mileage and road conditions. But always re-apply lube after the bikes been cleaned and dried off.

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Oct 11

Posts: 197

SundayRoast says:


Never heard so much cleaning guff.

Had a GSXR1000 for 5 years and 12,000 miles of riding in all conditions including flat out. Deep cleaned the chain once and put lube on it twice. No benefit so gave up. Cleaned all the crap off the dealers put on it at service before riding off and had no problems whatsoever. Only had to adjust the chain a half dozen times

All this specific cleaning rubbish is just guff. Just clean it when you wash the bike (nothing special), and it will be fine. They are sealed and putting too much work into it just adds to the risk of damage or ingress of solvents into the seals.

Leave well alone. Just adjust when necessary and wipe. Oil is to stop rust nothing more.

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Oct 11

Posts: 34

Typhon219 says:

I use sdoc100 cleaner and lube when I remember/get round to cleaning the chain. brilliant stuff and I wont bother with anything else anymore as I've tried loads of different things. Personally I think all this parafin/engine oil may have worked in the past but bikes have changed, materials have changed and I'd rather use something designed for the job. Tooth brushes are ok but I've found a proper U shaped chain cleaning brush works wonders and is definately worth a few quid. lube weekly if you commute and deep clean at  once a month (although for me it's probably more like twice a year which is probably why I've just had to change a chain & sprocket) It's the old adage look after your kit and it will look after you.

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Oct 12

Posts: 133

flydnb says:

i just leave it

wait till till its slack and rusty , then get another.

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Mar 13

Posts: 4


I think it's up to the individual, but to put into context, in 6 months I do the mileage you did in 5 years. My chain(s) can use the love.

Although agreed with the crap put ont he chain after service. It's terrible!

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May 10

Posts: 26

d0nkeychop says:

Some folk seem to fear WD40. They did an experiment with WD40 and an O Ring chain. Soaked it in it over night. Did eff all to the rings. It's on YouTube somewhere. I tried branded spray cleaner, worked ok but cost a fortune. Tried WD40 worked fine. Tried GT85, not quite as good at heavy grime but for regular cleaning seems good enough. I wash the bike as normal after cleaning chain, sprocket and swingarm. Make sure everything's properly dry. Apply whatever lube you like aiming the spray at the space between the inner and outer plates of the chain (not the rollers in the middle). Use a rag (i use old jeans cut up, nice and durable) with some of the same lube on to remove excess and leave nice even coat over the outer parts. Re apply lube when chain feels dry. Repeat cleaning process as often as you can be bothered. I'm not a scottoiler fan, I get a sense of satisfaction from cleaning and lubricating it plus I know the general condition and wear. And most importantly it still looks nice n gold n shiny ;) Some lubes seem to last longer, others pick up less dirt, some fling off less. I didn't like the wax as seemed to last two minutes, wet stuff seems good in heavy weathers but I use a 'dry' lube all the time now on a high quality x ring chain. Sorted.

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Jul 08

Posts: 165

Carlosoul says:

Little and often...

is the key, I give my chain a spray of gel chain lube every few days or 100 miles and just use a chain cleaner or something like that when it gets a bit mucky, dont wait too long for that though, keep on top of it and the chain will last for ages

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Sep 07

Posts: 2860

James600zx says:

Chain maintenance.

Rapid chain (and tyre) wear appears to be an expensive badge of speed for some but I reckon most wear occurs in the "launch phase." If you're the type who fancies himself as a drag racer at every junction you're going to wear chain and tyres much faster than someone who pulls away more gently (-and catches up at the first corner!)  An O-Ring chain just needs exercise and a bit of 90w gear oil to keep rust off the side plates. Rinse the salt off it, and otherwise clean it when you clean the bike, -infrequently!

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Sep 10

Posts: 120

daveire says:

keep your chain clean, your bike dirty.

I use paraffin oil and a tooth brush to clean the chain and sprockets, don't forget the front one. Paraffin oil is great to cut trough the oily paste, its also a lubricant and won't damage O rings. Dry with kitchen paper and apply a little chain oil spray. Its best to apply a little oil when the chain is hot after a ride as it seams to penetrate better and less ends up on your back wheel.  

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