Who hasn't experienced this? After a few weeks' break, you finally get the electric bike out of the cellar again, start pedalling and don't want to get that pleasant feeling of smoothly turning pedals. It rattles, cracks and creaks. The unpleasant riding conditions lead by slightly rusty chain sounds and looks pitiful after wet weather. A life for a splash of chain oil - that's what the fellow riders think, who are already slightly annoyed by the sound coming from the drive. The discord could have been avoided - if only the rider in question had read this article from ESKUTE beforehand...
How to loosen a stiff chain link?
One of the essential components of a bicycle is the chain. It should always function optimally and be maintained. A clacking sound occurs when the chain runs over the sprockets if a chain link is stuck. A stuck chain link causes delays when pedalling and can lead to a broken chain in exceptional cases.
Locate the jump
Turn the bicycle chain slowly when stationary. You have found the spot as soon as a "bounce" or "jump" can be detected.
Oil the chain-link
Apply chain lube or a suitable lubricant to the affected chain link.
Dirt or sand is often the cause of a stiffened chain link. Therefore move the affected chain link back and forth after oiling. In most cases, the protection can be removed in this way.
Replace chain link
After a fall, chain link may bend. In this case, the only solution is to replace the affected chain links. Have you mounted your e bike chain yourself or replaced it before? Then you can use the remaining chain links and replace them with the defective ones.
Replace the rivet pin
If the problem occurs with newly installed electric bike chains, the chain link has been incorrectly riveted or bent. In this case, you should replace the defective rivet pin with a new one. This is best done with a chain riveter.
Why should I clean my chain before oiling it?
It is not enough to oil the electric bike chain - especially in the case outlined above. But even after you have ridden a tour, it makes sense to get a chain clean first. Dirt accumulates on the chain over time, and if you only oil it, it will move further and further into the links until it finally destroys them. The wear of the chain is much higher. A clean bike is prerequisite to lube.
This also applies to mountain bikes: dust on the road or especially salt in winter are poison for the chain and should be removed as quickly as possible before even a drop of wet lube touches the links.
How do I clean my chain?
As with the rest of the electric bike, the same applies to cleaning the chain: as gently as possible! So please do not use a high-pressure cleaner. This can generally damage the moving parts on the electric bike.
It is best to use a bucket and a clean cloth or sponge. Fill the bucket with water and chain cleaner. The latter reliably removes all dirt and old grease. Make sure that the chain cleaner is biodegradable - we don't want to pollute the environment any more than we have to. An official washing station is suitable for this, as they have special collection containers for water with oil residues.
After the chain clean, you can rinse the chain again with clean water. Then dry it well. It is best to dry it actively because rust can form if it is left to dry for a long time.
You SHOULD NOT clean the chain with
As the name suggests, the device works with high pressure. This is not a good feature for cleaning a bicycle, especially an e bike with its many moving and sensitive parts, such as sealing rings and derailleur rollers. Therefore, a high-pressure cleaner can quickly damage the parts and spray grease out of the bearings. Old dirt can also get into the bearings when used on the chain.
Rinsing agents are non-flammable and can therefore be used by the youngest children for the bike wash, including the chain. What's more, it can be rinsed off again without worrying about proper disposal. But that's all the advantages. A rinsing agent cannot compete with special chain cleaners or petroleum ether in terms of effectiveness. The agent that ensures clean dishes in the household does not penetrate as deeply into the chain link and is, therefore, less suitable for professionally or intensively used bikes. If you use it anyway, the chain should be oiled immediately afterwards.
It can be used, but we do not recommend it because a brake cleaner degreases very strongly and is highly effective. Therefore, after treatment with brake cleaner, the chain is completely unlubricated on the outside, and the inside and no longer has any rust protection. Therefore, the chain must be lubricated immediately after cleaning with brake cleaner.
Diesel or petrol
If you have nothing else to hand, you can also clean a bicycle chain with petrol or diesel. Petrol also has a strong degreasing effect. However, in both cases, there is a high risk of fire, so you should never smoke while handling diesel or petrol! If you have cleaned the chain with diesel or petrol, you should lubricate the chain again immediately.
Which oil do I use and when?
Before we get down to the nitty-gritty, what kind of oil to use? Regular oil, with PTFE, wax, maybe a spray or good old WD40? Never use dirty oil or dry lube.
To put it in a nutshell: You should never use WD40. Because as a penetrating oil, it is much more liquid than conventional chain oil and displaces the "thicker" lubrication of the chain over time. The thin film of WD40 is not enough to lubricate the chain sufficiently and can lead to more wear in the worst case. If no particular product is stored at home, WD40 can be used for cleaning because it degreases and protects the chain from rust.
Therefore, commercially available chain oil from the local bike shop is the first choice. This is then available in different variations, e.g. for damp weather with PTFE, which improves the water-repellent properties.
Chain wax has a particular position. It dries on the chain and thus forms quasi-permanent protection for the original grease. It means that it can also be applied to a new chain. However, it must be remembered that wax can hardly be removed without chemical degreasers, as it has a very lasting effect.
For the cooks, vegetable oil is not suitable for lubricating the chain, just as sprays for cars are not. These are usually tailored to the needs of the car.
How do I oil my chain?
Let's get to the heart of the matter: How do we apply the oil now? Maybe on the inside or instead on the outside? Upside down or pirouetting?
It's not quite that complicated. The best thing to do is apply oil to each limb - if possible, on the inside. You can do this with a spray or with a drop applicator. You can place the tip of the applicator on the chain, squeeze out the oil with light pressure and move the chain. Of course, you can also use a well-dosed spray - but you should be especially careful not to get any grease on the brake, brake disc or brake flank. The best thing to do is to hold a soft cloth behind it to avoid excess lube.
You can then use a dry cloth to wipe excess oil off the chain. With electrical components like motor and ebike battery in the ebike system, excess lube from the chain would affect e bike. Wait for 5 to 15 minutes so that the oil is well distributed. Ideally, the chain should be in the middle sprocket at the front and the lower sprocket at the back.
How often do I have to oil a chain?
There is no general answer to this question. It depends on how often the electric bike is used and how much the chain is exposed to dirt. It can happen after 100 km. Sometimes it takes longer. If, for example, we ride to work every day in wind and weather, the chain is happy to receive very regular care, which can even be daily.
One thing is sure: as soon as the chain no longer runs noiselessly and rattles, you should urgently think about new lubrication.
How much does a good chain oil cost?
The good news: The whole thing is not that expensive! An excellent essential oil usually costs less than 10€, and you can work with it for some time before it runs out. Even the special oils are often not much more expensive. And chain cleaner is also available for little money.
So there's no excuse for the next ride. The round is on you after the ride if you have an annoying squeak!