How to remove rust from bike chain?

You are wondering how to remove rust from bike chain ? Rust can damage any type of non-treated metal. Due to its corrosive nature, the metal surface starts reacting with the oxygen in the air. It can even destroy the entire body of your bike if you don’t get rid of it in a timely fashion.

There are various ways to treat rust. In this guide, we will get your question of how to get rust off a bike chain resolved. After reading it, you would be able to deal with rust and even prevent it from happening in the future.

So let’s begin the discussion without any further ado!

Remove rust from bike chain vs. changing the chain

Knowing how to remove rust from bike chain is important for the longevity of your bike. Before you get to the process of removing rust from your bike chain, you have to do a little inspection.

When your bike’s chain is rusted severely, you need to consider replacing it altogether.

There is no point in investing so much time and effort to get rid of the rust only to see it coming back. Plus, severely rusted bike chains can also damage other parts of your drivetrain.

If you think rusting has only occurred on the surface, then derusting bike chain is a better option instead of buying a new bike chain.

To inspect, you need to carry out the following steps.

  • Lay a piece of cloth on the ground and turn your bike upside down and secure it. It will prevent any damage to the paint job. You can also use a bike rack for this purpose.
  • Now assess the current condition of your bike chain. If you see dents, warps, or any other deterioration in the metal along with rust and corrosion, then replace it with a new one.
  • It is better to clean your chain once a week if you are an avid rider. If you are not a frequent cyclist, then you need to clean the bike chain every 200 miles.

clean rust from bike chain

Cleaning a rusty bike chain

Let’s get to the next step in how to remove rust from bike chain. If you have decided that your bike chain doesn’t need any replacement, then it’s time to clean it.

  • Locate that master link on your chain if there is any. Most of the modern bike chains come with this link now.
  • It allows you to remove your chain easily. This link will have a slot/pin connection. The pin of one connecting link goes into the slot of another connecting link.
  • Single-speed bikes don’t come with this master link. If the link is not visible clearly, it won’t be there. You can get this link added from a local bike shop if you want.
  • You can take a picture of your drivetrain setup to make sure that everything goes back into its place when you are assembling it back.
  • Insert the bike chain into the drivetrain correctly. If another is installed correctly, you might end up damaging the drivetrain and your entire bike as well.

Cleaning rust on the surface

First of all, you need to remove the chain when there is a heavy surface rusting. But light rust won’t need a disengagement.

With your hands, slide the pinout of the master link slot. Now disengage your bike chain and pull it out.

For a chain without a master link, jump one link off from the gear spikes. Only the first link requires this jumping; the rest of the chain will come off instantly. Now pull the chain out.

You can reinsert the bike chain back into the drive train by following the same steps but now in reverse order.

Now you need to follow the following simple steps to clean a rusty bike chain:

  • As you have taken the chain out of the bike, it’s time to run it through a degreaser-wet rag. Just dampen the rag with any good quality degreaser and pull the chain through this rag to get rid of any grease or sediments.
  • Make sure to scrub vigorously to get the grease off. Degreasers can be rough on your hands, so wear some protection.
  • You can also soak your bike chain in degreaser for about 20 minutes if the grease build-up is too stubborn. After that, wash the chain with hot water.
  • When you have very little rust to deal with in the first place, you can use steel wool diapers in lime juice and scrub your chain with it. Scrub it thoroughly. Rinse your steel wool with hot water as rust and grease might gunk it up.
  • Now rinse away the lime juice using hot soapy water when you are done removing the rust.
  • Don’t allow the juice to dry up on the metal surface, or it will gum up the surface because of the sugar content in it.
  • You can also break up any tough rust using a WD-40 spray bottle.

Reattaching the bike chain

When you are done cleaning, it’s time to reattach it. It is the time when you need to make sure of the picture that you took before you disengaged your bike chain.

  • Fit the links of the chain on the gear points. Make sure they run smoothly across all the components of your drivetrain. If there is any resistance, you might have installed the chain improperly.
  • If you are going through a significant amount of pressure to get your chain back in its place, consider going through a tutorial online.
  • Refasten that master link, and when you have done it properly, it will adequately align with other links as well.
  • The next step is to check the motion of the chain. Give your wheel spin. If there are any irregularities in the wheel, you will have to reinsert the chain by removing the master link. You might be able to resolve any minor errors with your fingers while the chain is still on the bike.

lubricating bike chain

Lubricating your chain

Your question of how to remove rust from bike chain has been solved here. And you are done inserting your chain back into the drive train as well.

Once you get rid of rust on bike chain, it’s time to lube your chain. Without proper oiling, the metal surface of your chain is exposed to the air and moisture and, of course, the oxidation process.

You can use different types of oils for this purpose. The most commonly used is the regular machine oil. But for maximum protection, you need to go for a good quality chain lube in order to maintain your bike in time.

What to use for lubrication?

To repair rusty bike chain, only use a good quality chain lube. It will protect any kind of corrosion and grime. You need to position the lube’s nozzle right above the midpoint of the bike chain. Now squeeze out a thin yet steady stream and along that start spinning the wheel of your bike.

When you reach your starting point on the chain, you are ready to use the bike. Just make sure that the stream remains steady and slow, and it covers the links and joints of the chain.

There is no need to go for the second round of lubing if you have done it right the first time. Don’t over-lube your bike chain either, or the lube will start spilling all over your bike.

How often to lubricate bike chain ?

The frequency of lubricating your chain entirely depends upon how often you ride. If you are a lot, you need to lubricate your chains fortnightly. And also run a check for any development of grime or rust as well. But it depends upon the conditions in which you ride as well.

If you have to deal with moisture and rain, then lubricating your bike twice or thrice a month is a good practice. In general, you need to lubricate the bike chain after every 150 to 200 miles based on the conditions. If you are not a frequent bike commuter, then lubricating it each time you come home from a ride would be a good option.

Final Word on how to get rust off a bike chain

In this guide of how to remove rust from bike chain, we have listed down some important steps that you can follow to get rust off a bike chain. Taking care of your chain is imperative. After all, this is the component that is driving your bike.

If you don’t take care of it properly, there are a significant number of chances that rust will develop. If you don’t attend this issue, this rust will start getting deeper.

This way, you make your bike chain last longer.

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