>I have a 12 speed road bike and have always removed my chain before
>cleaning and lubricating it.
>I have another bike now with all Shimano components (Miyata
>"One-Twelve") and have a few concerns:
>1. I heard that some Shimano chains require a special tool and need to
>be disassembled at a specific place. I don't know how to do this. How
>can I tell if I have one of these chains?
>2. I hear that taking off the chain weakens it, and if I can do the
>whole thing without removing the chain (also a messy process, I've
>found) that would be great.
>Any tips appreciated...also suggestions for what to lube with.
It is possible to clean a chain while on-bike (you can find little
doohickeys in the bike gear catalogs for just this purpose), but IMHO, it
is much more effective to remove the chain and soak it in some kind of
solvent (I've been using Simple Green lately). Chains need cleaning most
in the space hidden by the rollers, and you just can't get in there very
well with an on-bike cleaning (somebody somewhere commented that sticking
it in an ultrasonic cleaner really got the gunk out, but until they are
cheaper, I'm holding off).
Shimano wants you to use these special one-shot pins with their chains. My
solution to this inconvenience has been to avoid Shimano chains.
Breaking any chain does weaken it (which those special pins are meant to
address), but there is a nifty product called Craig's Superlink, which is
a special replacement link that allows you to open the chain with your
bare hands. This does not weaken the chain, and it makes chain removal
(and therefore cleaning) much easier. Sachs chains are now being sold with
something very similar, called a Powerlink. I'd suggest trying one of
these out and seeing if you like it.
As for lubes, this is a matter of some debate. I started using White
Lightning a while back, and I like it. This is a wax-based lube that
flakes off with use, so it keeps the chain cleaner but you need to apply
it more frequently. You also need to get any residual oil off your chain
before applying it for the first time. Other people might correctly point
out that WL is more expensive than other lubes. To put things in
perspective though, I have a $12 bottle that is half-empty after about one
year of use on four bikes. That works out to eight "bike-years" of use for
$12. Yes, there are cheaper solutions, but unless you are really, really
strapped for cash, the difference doesn't matter.
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