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Brand New Chain

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So I have a new chain on my bike. It's covered in white goop. I did a short ride on the bike (I'm also breaking in a new piston) and that new chain is throwing gunk EVERYWHERE, including onto my rear tire!


I've asked three people (so far) about whether I should clean that factory grease off and gotten the following answers:

1) Get the chain hot, use a cleaner/degreaser to get all that ###### off, then spray it with Chain Wax, DON'T use Chain Lube

2) DON'T clean off that stuff, it came with the chain, it is necessary and if you clean it you will be compromising the O-ring design of the chain

3) Wipe it gently then re-spray it with Chain Lube, DON'T use a cleaner, and DON'T use Chain Wax.


SO, with that selection of completely contradictory answers, I'm not sure what I should do! What do you do with a new chain, do you clean and re-lube, or just wipe it down...?

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Most chains have a wax-type of lube when new in my experience.


It doesn't matter if you lube the chain warm or cold as long as it's a sealed chain (O or X-ring). Simple non-sealed chains benefit from being lubed warm.


The biggest wear factor comes from dust and grit adhering to the chain. If you use wax or WD40 (wipe off lightly with a rag if you use the latter) little dirt with cling to the chain, enhancing life.


Even if you don't lube it at all, your chain will likely last between 10 and 25k mi. depending on conditions if the chain is sealed.


Hence you do not need to wax/lube the chain often and you should always do it sparing.


PS! You will, as you've noticed, get tons of varying answers to this. You need to use your own judgement,

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I hate that stuff too! I use a petroleum based degreaser to get that stuff off with, wipe it down with a clean rag then re-apply the lubricant you normally use. I like WD-40 but decided to use a manufacturers formulated lubricant, I have a Honda so use Honda's non wax chain lube.


When applying make sure you apply in a fashion that gets lubricant to the o-rings. The o-rings keep dust and dirt off of the wear surfaces of the chain.


It is my opinion that the wax actually helps dirt and particulate adhere to the chain because it is so sticky but that lubricant probably has a long shelf life and keeps the chain lubricated much longer than an oil.

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So Hotfoot,


Are you actually running an O-ring chain on your Moriwaki? If not, degrease with whatever solvent you like, and (when Will isn't looking) grab some Silkolene lube and lube the rollers. When done, immediately wipe the excess off the chain with a rag and let the stuff thicken. Repeat after each track or race day.


My favorite solvent these days is Zep Brake Wash which is alcohol based, cleans everything but doesnt damage o-rings or paint. Great stuff, I use it on everything. It is great for cleaning all the earlier chain ###### off of your bodywork, wheels, tires, boots, etc.



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  • 2 weeks later...

Ahh... the chain lube question. This ranks up there with the old "should I use synthetic oil" question. laugh.gif


I've heard stories from people that would seem to back up cleaning and not cleaning. Even using lube and no lube. Some people say they clean and lube their chain often, I have heard from one person who actually cleaned his chain but never used lube, and others who never clean - but just keep adding lube as it looks like it's needed. Even someone who cleaned and lubed so often and they feel that it actually shortened the life of their chain.


That white lube on a new chain is just there to protect it in storage/transport etc. I'm pretty sure the chains I've installed both came with manufacturer instructions saying to clean that gunk off the chain before use, using kerosine or similar. I used kerosine applied to a rag, then wiped down the chain.


I think most chain manufacturers will also say that WD-40 is fine to use as a cleaner, but I have never used it because of hearings stories of it penetrating the o-rings and separating the lube from the internal surfaces and then you've got no way to re-apply lube in there.


Keep in mind that the single purpose of using lube on a sealed chain is to stop the seals (o-rings, x-rings etc.) from drying out and failing (that's when a chain will develop tight/binding links). You can't actually add lube to them because they're sealed, and the contact surfaces (chain rollers, sprocket teeth) do not require lube. Ideally I'd like a needle-nose applicator, but instead we get aerosol cans that just spray the stuff as wide as possible. Go figure?


I suppose each person needs to come up with their own maintenance plan according to how and where they use their bike.

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  • 8 months later...



Lithium grease is what the chain is packaged with. I generally clean off as much as I can before installing it on the bike, then whatever remains will fling off on the first ride.


This is just for "O" or "x" ring type of chain.


As you can see by the diagram the center roller rides on a center bushing.


There is no seal between these, so there is no lube permanently installed either (unlike where you view the center bushing to the center pin which is permanently sealed in lube via the "o" or "x" ring)


Likewise the center roller runs across your sprockets.


If you feel metal to metal contact is what is best for your chain, then don't lube it. However if you feel metal to metal contact isn't what is best for your chain, then do lube it.


I did an experiment once;

I installed a new set of chain and sprockets and never once lubed the chain and went out and did my normal riding. That chain lasted less than 13,000 miles and I could lift it off the 3 o'clock position of the rear sprocket (with my 1.25" slack as required)

The next set of chain and sprockets, same brand and same bike, ridden essentially the same way lasted a little over 18,000 miles. The difference was I lubed that chain everytime the rollers started to look shiny, which occassionally was every gas stop if it rained or many gravel roads but in "good" weather I could sometimes go 500 miles without lubing it... I did also clean it once or twice, since the lube does attract some dust and dirt on the sideplates and near the "o","x" rings.


So you can imagine what direction I go. As far as what lube, well anything is better than nothing IMO, but I like Motul the best if you get it on hot and let the chain cool and sit for 12+ hours its tackiness goes away and it sticks really well.

The 12+ hours sitting, that is simply so all the propellants can evaporate off. I often find myself lubing it at a gas stop where I ride away almost immediately and perhaps 1/2 of the lube stays on the chain, the rest is on my rim, swingarm, bodywork, license plate sprocket carrier and inside the c/s sprocket cover amongst other places, but my carry can of lube is something significantly cheaper and smaller.


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A bloke in Australia got 77,000 km (nearly 50,000 miles) out of the chain and sprockets on his ZX-11. He rode fast, he even drag raced it regularly. His maintenance consisted of spraying it with WD40 after each ride and wipe of the dirt and excess, nothing else. WD40 doesn't lube much, but it cleans well, supporting the theory that the most important thing is to keep the chain and seals clean, that grit is what cause the most wear and that when the seals go the chain is basically toast. Unless you lube constantly like a non-o-ring chain.


Personally, I lube the chain when I feel like it or when it gets noisy. I hardly ever clean it. It takes less time to replace it a little more often than spending time cleaning and lubing it ever so often ;)

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