Get your socks off: They’re a great way to clean your bike’s chain

FILED - Like brushing your teeth, cleaning your bike's chain is something you just have to get into the habit of doing. An old sock is often the best tool. Photo: Christin Klose/dpa
FILED – Like brushing your teeth, cleaning your bike’s chain is something you just have to get into the habit of doing. An old sock is often the best tool. Photo: Christin Klose/dpa

(dpa) – When it’s time to give your bike a clean, the first thing you need to look at is the chain. After a few months without cleaning and greasing, it may have accumulated a few rusty spots, not to mention dirt and dust.

The chain is the heart of your bike, so to speak, and keeping it clean by giving it a good sweep and some oil will definitely make your bike run much more smoothly and quickly.

Time (especially out in wet weather) will wear out the chain rings and sprockets, and experts suggest an annual chain clean if you want to keep things running smoothly.

Start by removing coarse dirt with a brush. To clean the chain more thoroughly, there are special chain cleaning agents which you can spray or drip onto the chain.

There are also chain cleaning devices that clamp onto the chain and these will make your life easier, if you care enough to spend between 10 and 30 dollars on one.

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However, if your bike chain isn’t that dirty, you can also run it through an old sock, applying pressure to remove dirt and dust.

Once that’s done, drizzle or spray a thin film of chain lube on the inner plates of the chain – but not too much. If the chain is dripping with oil, it will not only get dirty more quickly, but it will also dirty your trousers.

You should then turn the crank about 10 to 15 times to distribute the oil properly. Use another clean sock to wipe off any surplus oil.

It makes sense to regularly oil your chain, not just in the spring, depending on the weather conditions. If you regularly venture out in rainy or snowy weather, you might even have to do it every couple of days, while once a month is enough during the rest of the year.

Whenever the chain starts making sounds or stops running smoothly, you know it’s time to get out the socks again.

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There’s a wide selection of optimized bike oil products, but a simple chain lube is usually sufficient. Sewing machine oil, on the other hand, is not suitable because it is much too thin.

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