For cleaning in the ultrasonic cleaner, is anyone using anything different than something like a water/simple green mixture?
Go to home depot or equivalent and get the large ZEP or Simple Green Citrus degreaser. Buying in bulk pays.
Mix 50/50 with boiling water and it will work wonders. The heat will save you a bunch of time with a heating cycle, and makes the grease break down so much quicker.
Then just get some mineral spirits and a mason jar once it is pretty clean and give it a good shake and soak in there.
I use a dollar store salad spinner then an old margarine container.
I purchased the Harbor Freight model, and was able to get 85% of my 10-42 Sram cassette into it. to get that last 15%, I just put that end of the cassette into the cleaner and ran for an additional cycle. I would highly recommend it. Try to find their 20% coupon when purchasing it.
I’m overall satisfied with the cleaner, and does what I need it to do. No complaints!
So I made the dive into chain waxing about a 1.5 months ago, and I cant believe I didn’t do it sooner.
I bought a few large white/clear candlesticks from the local supermarket, along with a 2 qt crockpot. Purchased some mineral spirits as well to strip my chains… Cleaning the old chains was the worst part, and I think I ended up doing 3 old chains (the most time consuming) and 3 new chains. I ran out of mineral spirits and went to gasoline, which seemed to work better, but was awfully smelly with the fumes.
Now all four of my bikes are waxed, so I had to ultrasonic clean 4 total drive-trains. Currently I’m cycling through 3 Shimano 105 chains on my road bike, which is splitting time 80/20 on the trainer/outdoors. Nothing is better than riding outdoors in kinda grimy weather (southeast michigan), and just spraying off the bike and drying the chain. It seems like that I’m getting around 200-300 miles per chain, before they need to be waxed again.
Working on the bike has been a dream, no more oil stains or Cat-5 chain ring tattoos.
Once race season starts, I’ll pick up 1 or 2 XX1/DuraAce chains, a bag of molten speed wax, and their race powder, for all the marginal gains
I also recommend getting a way to keep track of the chains - I put hooks on the wall, with labels for each bike above. That way I know how many chains are “on deck” and when I should do a wax session.
Incredibly informative article! Thanks for posting!
Trying to digest this all. I just purchased two Dura-ace 9100 chains to go onto the bike (so I can swap back and forth). I have the Harbor Freight ultrasonic cleaner. I purchased the Pedro’s Pig Juice degreaser (as recommended by CyclingTips). And am on the fence about buying molten speed wax or just going Squirt.
- Is the current ‘‘best practice’’ to ultrasonic clean off the factory grease, and then…
- Molten speedwax in a crockpot
- Then re-wax maybe every 300-500 miles, basically depending on how long it lasts?
Or, should I run them as they come from the factory until they’re dirty, then ultrasonic and wax? Is there any of the factory polymer coatings that the ultrasonic with degreaser (or maybe just Dawn) will take off?
I don’t ‘‘race’’, but have my 2019 A-Race as a 3 day (about 250 mile total) training camp in Tahoe in May. These chains will be used indoors on the trainer, some commuting (generally only in the dry), and for Tahoe.
I take it I shouldn’t run an oiled chain (i.e. my current two 6800 chains) in between the two waxed chains, as it’ll make the cassette/rings dirty etc? (i.e. once you go ‘‘waxed’’, do you ever go back?)
I’m about to strip the drivetrain and cables for an early spring refresh. New dura-ace cables, and then either cleaned 6800 chains back on, or move to waxed 9100’s.
I have not read all the posts here, maybe already mentioned but my experience with a waxed chain in the rain/wet absolutely sucks! I was on a ride where it rained the whole time and after an hour my chain was a creaky mess! the water and a bit or road grime scrubbed all the wax off!
I still love a waxed chain, but take note on a rainy ride it sucks (my experience anyhow!)
For a new chain I follow the MSW instructions regarding the sequential baths in White Spirit and then meths to get rid of the factory grease.
After the first clean and use period I generally give the chain a shake in white spirit before putting it through the sonic cleaner. I take a lot more care cleaning my race chain than the others which are largely used indoors.
I personally wouldn’t swap between oiled and waxed chains - they are so much cleaner to work on anyway I wouldn’t go back
I’ve considered the amount of effort involved in creating my own chain waxing setup and the limited amount of time that I’d actually have free to wax my chains, and concluded that it’s not feasible. As a busy attorney, my time needs to be spent ON the bike, and not fussing with it. This is a major reason I have a trusted mechanic to do all my repairs/fitting/bike builds. Which prompts an inquiry:
Is there any service that will wax a chain for you? Seems to me that I can’t be the only busy person out there who would pay for someone else to wax their chain. For the more entrepreneurial types, this could be a way to recoup the money spent on a waxing setup.
Anyone know of a chain waxing service, or wanting to start their own service?
Where are you based? There’s at least one in the UK I know of.
Take a read of this. Everything you need to know.
That’s fantastic! I wonder if there’s a service in the US?
Off to google to find out…
Don’t bother. According to Jonathan, above, it will hold up for about 200 miles.
It’s probably fun to do this, if you have a lot of spare time, but I seriously doubt that it is worth the effort.
Oil. Works great.
I am thinking of trying this out but how about rain. I live in Flanders (Belgium) and rain is kinda inevitable here, roads can be really wet and dirty. After every long ride i do a quick clean of my chain and lube again. I can’t image taking of the chain each time.
Zero Friction Cycling offer that service too. It’s a good idea for a new chain, to get it ultrasonic cleaned and waxed to start it off right.
I’m pretty sure the PDF I linked to mentions how to deal with rain/mud.
I’m finding having a waxed chain saves so much time (cleaning). The only disadvantage is as I don’t need to clean the drivechain now, my bikes (frame etc) are getting dirty as I’m not motivated to clean them (drivechain is always clean).
That’s how I got started with waxing. I bought a race ready waxed chain and still use that one now as a race only chain. It’s an easier introduction to the process.
My race chain and any new chains for my or my wife’s bikes gets the full series of white spirit baths and then an ultrasonic clean before the meths and waxing. Once that’s done for subsequent uses it tends to be a quick shake in white spirit to get any large bits of debris off before the ultrasonic bath does the bulk of the work.
Did you locate one in the US?