Rad Academy: How to Clean and Lubricate Your Bike Chain
Keeping your bike chain clean and well lubricated is one of the easiest steps you can take to keep your electric bike in top shape.
But how do you get started? To answer questions like that, we launched Rad Academy, a series of themed basic ebike maintenance classes that give riders a chance to hone their skills with our team of resident experts.
This month we took the class out of our Seattle showroom and onto Instagram Live, from the quarantine comfort of our garage. If you want to keep your chain happy but missed the livestream, don't worry! You check out this walkthrough from Fritz, our Service Excellence Manager, on IGTV:
Here are a few of Fritz's tips:
- When you lube your chain at home, it's likely not going to be as precise or as thorough as what you'd get when you bring your bike in for routine maintenance. However, some DIY work is a great stop-gap between scheduled service intervals with a pro.
- There are lots of good lubes out there. For this, we used Muc-Off C3 Ceramic Dry, which we stock in the shop and supply to our Rad Mobile Service units when the weather is dry. You can use the one that works best for you. For wet weather, use a wet lube. For dry weather, go with a dry lube.
- You don't need tools, just the right lube, some rags, and degreaser. If you don't have degreaser, you can use rubbing alcohol. Avoid basic WD40, gun oil, or anything that might have unintended side effects on your bike.
There's no set timeline for how often you should lube your chain. It really depends on how often you ride and the weather in your area. However, you can determine if it needs lube with a simple "twist test." Just twist your chain, keeping the opposite corners between two fingers and rolling it back and forth. A chain that needs love will rattle and crunch, a happy chain will be smooth, silent, and maybe a little sticky.
- Now onto cleaning: hold a rag behind the chain while you spray it with degreaser or alcohol, then run the chain through the rag. Let it dry before breaking out the lube.
- Hold the nose of your lube dropper against the chain with your left hand. You can balance it against the frame of the bike for stability. Don't use a spray! You don't really want the lube anywhere but the chain and any overspray can hit the brake rotors.
- While spinning the cranks backward with one hand, draw a bead or trail of lube along one side of the chain, the center, and then the other side until you've got a nice even coating. Then bring back the twist technique to work the lube into the inside of the chain, so you don't have to wait an hour before you ride. Grab your rag again, and run the chain through it to wipe off as much excess lube as you can.
Still want more? Check out our tech teams' chain cleaning quick guide: