How to clean moutain bike chain: clean and lubricate

how to clean mountain bike chain

After a wonderful mountain bike ride, it is important to clean your mountain bike well. One of the trickiest cleaning jobs is cleaning the chain. In addition to cleaning the MTB chain, it is also very important to properly clean the sprockets, the cassette and the derailleur wheels. To help you clean the chain thoroughly, I’ve written this comprehensive guide.

Why clean an MTB chain?

Let’s start with why it is so important to properly clean your mountain bike chain. A clean and lubricated chain is very important for nice and smooth pedaling and shifting.

But not only that: if you do not regularly clean the mountain bike chain, this has a bad impact on the lifespan. The chain can rust if it has become wet and you do not clean and dry it. In the end, he may even break.

In addition, a chain with dirt – such as sand or soil – can also damage other mountain bike parts. Think of the wheels of the derailleur and the cassette.

So, clean an MTB chain regularly to:

  • to be able to switch smoothly;
  • to be able to pedal smoothly;
  • last longer with your chain;
  • want to avoid a broken chain;
  • not want to damage other MTB parts.

So it should be clear that cleaning is very important.

how to clean mountain bike chain
Yes, this chain can be cleaned well. ©

How often should you clean the chain?

The mountain bike chain should be cleaned regularly. There are actually two types of cleaning: a thorough cleaning and a quick (short) cleaning. Assuming you lubricate your chain properly (we’ll get to this later) you don’t need to clean your chain completely after every ride. It is often sufficient to dry your chain with a cloth after rinsing your mountain bike.

Have you had a really rough ride with a lot of dirt? Then it can be smart to clean your chain right after such a ride. A thorough cleaning, where you remove the chain from the bicycle? This depends on how often – and under what conditions – you get on the MTB. About quarterly.

What do you need to clean the chain

To properly clean the chain and degrease nearby parts, you need the right cleaning agents and the right mountain bike tools.

  • Chain cleaner or brush
  • A good degreaser
  • A dry (old) cloth

Are you planning to thoroughly clean your chain? Then it is best to remove it from your mountain bike. In that case you also have missing link pliers or a chain tool (depending on the type of chain you have) to remove the chain from the bicycle. In addition, you should also have a container where you can put the chain together with the degreaser.

Cleaning MTB chain: step-by-step plan

Quickly clean your chain after a very dirty mountain bike ride? Then follow the step-by-step plan below if you use a chain cleaner.

  1. Fill the chain cleaner with the degreaser and put it on the chain correctly (mounting hook around the derailleur)
  2. Rotate the mountain bike pedals to allow the chain to run smoothly through the chain cleaner
  3. Renew the degreaser if it gets very dirty until it stays fairly clear
  4. Remove the chain cleaner from the chain and empty it
  5. Now dry the chain well with a cloth

No chain cleaner, but just clean with a brush? Then fill a container with degreaser and clean the chain with the brush instead of with the chain cleaner.

Thoroughly clean MTB chain

Do you really want to thoroughly clean your mountain bike chain? Then you have to remove the chain from the bicycle.

  1. Loosen the chain with a missing link pliers or a chain punch
  2. Fill a container with the degreaser
  3. Put the MTB chain in the container with the degreaser in about 7 minutes
  4. Remove the chain from the tray and brush it thoroughly
  5. Dry the chain with a cloth
  6. Mount the chain back on the bike

Note: tensioning and checking the mountain bike chain is very important after cleaning. Even more important is to lube the MTB chain. This makes the chain better intended against dirt, it continues to run smoothly and shifting is better.

lubricate mountain bike chain
Lubricate the chain after cleaning to finish ©

Frequently asked questions about cleaning your mountain bike chain

Why do you need to clean the mountain bike chain?

By regularly cleaning your mountain bike chain, you extend its lifespan considerably. The same goes for other parts, including the derailleur and sprockets.

How often should you clean an MTB chain?

This depends on how much you get on the mountain bike and under what weather conditions you usually ride. After a rough ride with a lot of damp dirt, it is strongly recommended to clean the chain after the ride.

Is a chain cleaner tool necessary for a thorough cleaning?

No, you can also clean the chain with a chain brush. It is important to treat every link and to think carefully where you left off.

Can you also clean the bicycle chain without removing it?

You can! In fact, you can then easily move the pedals with your hands, so that you can let the chain go around nicely. During a thorough cleaning, it is smart to remove the chain from the bicycle.

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