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How should I clean my chain?

Q. I keep getting conflicting information about bike maintenance. I've been told by one dealer that I shouldn't clean my chain, just spray fresh lube over the old muck, but another said I should clean it with a solvent before applying new lube each week, which is correct?
Warren Seagrave, Bradford
A. There are two types of chain used on bikes. Off-roaders and commuter bikes up to 125cc use chains made of metal only, other road bikes use O-ring chains. O-ring chains have small rubber seals between the rollers and the sideplates to slow down wear.

O-ring chains should be washed with a light oil or degreaser and then wiped down before lubricating. Avoid paraffin and petrol as they are too thin and will get past the seals.

If the lube you are using dries to a film, make sure you apply it at least 12 hours before you ride if you want to keep your wheels clean.

Simple chains on off-roaders can be power washed after use and then sprayed with a water dispersal agent like WD40 to stop it rusting between rides. Lubricate it with a light oil before you next ride. A light oil won't stick and turn itself into grinding paste as soon as it picks up some dirt.

If you plan on riding through sand the chain should be dry or it will grind itself away in minutes.

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