How to Clean Your E-bike Chain in 4 Ways

shengmilo sml-100 eletric bike chain

How to clean the e-bike chain can be said to be a daunting task for most riders, after all, they do not like their hands to be contaminated with black sludge. Is there really any benefit to cleaning an e-bike chain? Some people say that the chain can only be wiped with a towel, and the lubricating layer inside the chain cannot be washed off with a chain detergent. Some people like to put the entire chain in an ultrasonic cleaner and soak it in chain detergent to wash out all the dirt. As for which method is the most correct, there is actually no conclusion (it is a consumable item anyway, and it can be replaced if the performance is not good), but regular cleaning work can indeed prolong the life of your chain, reduce chain noise, or Slightly improve the efficiency of the upshift.

The state of the e-bike chain is your riding log: the dirty black chain is covered in sand from the last rain ride, yellow mud from adventures in the mountains, pollen in summer, and more. If you have oil on your chain, the debris will be a very "high-efficiency" abrasive, speeding up the wear of the chain as well as the sprocket. Let your transmission components usher in their life in advance, or cause deformation, poor pedaling, and waste of power...

If you're looking to get more performance out of your e-bike, but don't want to spend a fortune, keeping your drivetrain clean should be a top priority.

How often and how often you need to clean your drivetrain depends on your lubricant choice, riding conditions and mileage. Of course, if you don't, it shortens the cycle of major maintenance.

There are many different ways to clean the drivetrain. We break it down into 4 methods, each of which will require more effort, but your investment will pay off accordingly.

Simple Drive Cleaning

Not enough time and space? Never mind, a simple cleaning process requires a rag and a bottle of chain oil.

This is the quickest method, just wrap the chain in a clean, lint-free cloth, then reverse the chainring to wipe off any outside dirt from the chain. Repeat this process until the rag is completely black. You can also use a rag to wipe off excess debris and sludge from the idler pulley and chainring. Also, baby wipes do the job well.

Once the chain has been cleaned, you can re-apply chain oil as needed. Regular chain oil also helps lift dirt to the surface of the chain, so you can also repeat the wipe a few times until the outside of the chain looks a little cleaner.

Depending on your lube choice, it might be a good idea to clean after every ride. As mentioned above, performing such cleaning operations on a daily basis can greatly extend the cycle of thorough chain cleaning. But if your drivetrain is already pretty dirty, the more in-depth approach below will make more sense.

Note that we do not recommend pouring partial degreasers into the rag. While the cleaning looks better by the looks of it, it just mixes the contaminated lube with the degreaser on the chain instead of removing it. In the end, you'll just get diluted chain oil and the performance will be greatly reduced.

Tip: If you're doing these cleanings indoors, lay down discarded clothing on the floor to soak up spills.


Moderate Drive Cleaning

As long as your chain isn't terribly dirty, washing it directly on the bike will get you the best results. At the same time, degreaser and water are required, and the whole process is best done outdoors or in a car shop.

Required tools:
● Citrus based or similar degreaser product
● A stiff brush, such as a chain brush or paint brush
● Large brush for cleaning the flywheel
● Container for storing degreaser
● Nozzle and water (because too much water pressure in the water pipe will easily make the motor wet, so a press-type watering can is quite suitable)    
● An empty space (as long as you don't mind the interior getting a little dirty and damp)
● Gloves

Cleaning process:

● Use a brush and degreaser to remove dirt from the crankset and rear derailleur pulley.             

● Brush the degreaser onto the chain and run the chain through the brush at various angles.         

● Brush the degreaser onto the cassette sprocket; a larger brush will be easier to use.     

● Use a watering can to wash the cassette, chain, chainring and derailleur  pulley. Avoid direct water spray to the bearing and motor.                  

● Dry everything with a clean rag, then set the bike aside to dry. Alternatively, use compressed air to blow away most of the moisture.                      

● Finally, use lubricating oil to coat the chain.

More Detailed Cleaning Methods

The chain wash method described above will be the choice for most people, but sometimes a more thorough cleaning is required. The following method is more detailed, which may be useful for those who do not have enough clean space outside. Of course, if you're going to change the frame, you should also want the old drivetrain to look a little newer. Similarly, some professional e-bike shops will also provide this meticulous service.

Chains can get more efficient cleaning, but this requires more maintenance knowledge. Careful cleaning involves removing the chain, cassette and chainrings (even the chainrings). This is also a great opportunity to do a major cleaning of the entire vehicle, such as an inspection of the bottom bracket bearing.

Required tools:
● Tools for removing the cassette (cassette cap tool and chain wrench) and
bottom bracket, chainring or crank (e.g. hex wrench, chainring side cover tool,
● Citrus essential oil or similar degreaser
● Hard bristle brush
● Large plastic bucket, etc.
● Parts Washer
● Shimizu
● Gloves
● Air pump

1. Assess if the chain is worn and needs to be replaced. Replace if necessary to make sure the velcro cannot be easily opened (especially the reusable velcro). Replace if necessary. Next let's do a more detailed cleaning.                   
2. Remove the rear wheel and take out the flywheel.
3. Remove the chainring from the crank (or remove the entire drive side crank).
4. Clean the derailleur pulley and guide arm with a rag. The air pump makes it easy to blow away grit from the cutouts. Or you can perform further disassembly and cleaning of the guide wheel.
5. Manually clean the degreaser-soaked cassette, chainring (or the entire drive side crank) and chain. Or put the dirty chain in a jar, pour in the degreaser, and shake vigorously.
6. After cleaning, please rinse with clean water.
7. Wait for all parts to dry before reinstalling. An air pump can speed this up, or just grab a hair dryer.
Warm Tip: Use a large stainless steel basin as a clear basin for accessories. This saves a lot of trouble.

The Ultimate Cleaning Method

If you have obsessive-compulsive disorder, there are extreme demands on chain cleaning. Then you can use a brand new degreaser and shake the chain repeatedly until the degreaser does not change color. At the same time, you can also replace it with denatured alcohol and repeat the action of shaking the chain. Remember to use a hair dryer to speed up the drying of the chain as you complete the cleaning step.

Chain maintenance is about to start on new e-bikes. Thorough cleaning is rarely needed if you've been keeping up fairly good preventative work. Taking care of your chain before it wears out and replacing it if necessary is the best way to extend the life of other components, as an overused chain will wear out the cassettes and chainrings more easily than a new chain.

Above are some introductions for cleaning, maintaining and lubricating e-bike chains. We hope to be able to help Shengmilo riders. As always, if you have any better chain cleaning suggestions or comments, please leave a comment.

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