How to Clean and Lube Ebike Chain
July 15, 2022
The chain is an essential part of any ebike, and keeping it clean and lubricated is essential to the longevity and proper functioning of the drivetrain (all the cogs and gears) of your ebike. Many have reached out to us asking how to clean and lube an ebike chain while others wondering how to properly lube a bike chain.
Before we get into how to clean and lube an ebike chain, we’re first going to run through some of the reasons why it is important. We then have some top tips that can make the process of cleaning an ebike gears and chain as quick, easy, and mess-free as possible. After that, we’ll move on to the best method to clean and lube an ebike chain.
Why Should You Clean and Lubricate Your Ebike Chain?
A clean and well-lubricated ebike chain will last a lot longer than its dirty and non-lubricated counterpart. Cleaning and lubricating your ebike chain regularly also increases the longevity of all the components that are in contact with it. This will save you money in the long run. A clean chain also makes for a smoother and quieter ride, because dirty chains are noisy and can make gear changes feel and seem clunky.
How Often Should I Clean My Ebike Chain?
An ebike’s chain should be put through a quick clean after every ride to remove the surface-level dirt and dust. A chain should then be deep cleaned after every 10 or so rides to remove dirt and grime that builds up in the nooks and crannies. However, if you ride in wet and muddy conditions, then your ebike chain should be deep cleaned more often than this.
These tips will help you to be successful and organized when you are cleaning and lubricating your ebike chain.
- A chain always needs to be lubricated after being cleaned.
- Use ebike, or bicycle, specific chain degreaser and lubricant because these are specifically designed for these applications.
- If you’re wondering how to oil an electric bicycle chain, oil is not a recommended lubricant for ebike chains as it does not penetrate the links nor fully lubricate the chain.
- It is easiest to complete these tasks with your ebike in an ebike stand so that it is at a more accessible working height. This also allows you to rotate the wheel freely.
- Protect the floor beneath where you are working by either spreading rags or cardboard. If you ask us, cardboard is best!
- Wear clothes you don’t mind getting grease on. To remedy this, it’s recommended to wear gloves and an apron to further protect yourself when doing a deep clean; because it can be messy!
- Do not get degreaser on your brakes or braking surfaces. For mechanical and hydraulic ebikes, this is the disc component of the disc brakes, while for ebikes with caliper brakes, the wheel rims. To prevent degreaser accidentally getting on these parts, it is recommended to cover them with clean cloths or to remove the wheels entirely if possible. If you do get degreaser on them, do not fear! Although it can affect the brakes' performance and produce a, sometimes irritating, squeaking sound, it is nothing a local bike shop cannot remedy.
How to Clean an Ebike Chain
A Quick Clean
Tools Needed: Clean, dry clothes, degreaser spray
- 1. Take a cloth and spray the cloth with degreaser.
- 2. Wrap the cloth around the chain, gripping it lightly. Use the other hand to pedal backward at a steady pace.
- 3. Do this until all the outside surfaces -top, bottom, and both sides- of the chain are clean.
- 4. Spray a clean part of the cloth with degreaser.
- 5. Now polish the chain by wrapping the cloth around the chain and rubbing it back and forth, remembering to periodically move the chain around to polish it all.
- 6. Lubricate the chain following the instructions below.
A Deep Clean - With a Chain Cleaning Tool
Chain cleaning tools typically cost around $20-30 but they are not necessary for deep cleaning a chain. However, they do a much better job than any manual cleaning process and take a lot less time and effort.
Tools Needed: Clean, dry clothes, degreaser, chain cleaning tool, soapy water
- 1. Move the chain to the smallest cog.
- 2. Fit the chain cleaner onto the lower part of the chain and fill it with the appropriate amount of degreaser.
- 3. Hold the chain cleaner in one hand and use the other to slowly pedal backwards. Pedal at least 30 full revolutions.
- 4. Remove the chain cleaner and dispose of the solvent responsibly. Check with your local authorities for how to dispose of it.
- 5. Rinse out the chain cleaner.
- 6. Repeat steps 2-5 until the degreaser comes out clean.
- 7. Attach the chain cleaner to the lower part of the chain and fill it with soapy water.
- 8. Hold the chain cleaner in one hand and use the other to slowly pedal backwards, moving the chain through the chain cleaner. Pedal at least 30 full revolutions.
- 9. Run the chain through a clean dry rag to clean off any excess water.
- 10. Leave the chain to air dry for a few minutes before lubricating. Don’t leave it for too long or you may be cleaning a rusty ebike chain.
A Deep Clean - Without a Chain Cleaning Tool
Tools Needed: Clean, dry clothes, degreaser, sealable container, chain breaker tool, water
- 1. Remove your chain from your ebike. Your chain will either have a master link in it that you can use to break the chain, or you can use a chain breaker tool to break and then reconnect the chain.
- 2. Fill a sealable container with enough degreaser to cover the chain.
- 3. Put the chain in the container and then seal it tightly.
- 4. Shake the container for a few minutes.
- 5. If the chain is extremely dirty steps 2-4 can be repeated once more before moving on to step 6.
- 6. Leave the chain to soak for 20 minutes.
- 7. Remove the chain from the container.
- 8. Wipe the chain off by sliding it through a tightly held cloth multiple times.
- 9. Rinse the chain with water to remove the last of the degreaser.
- 10. Reattach the chain to the ebike.
- 11. Leave it to air dry for a few minutes before lubricating it.
How to Lube an Ebike Chain
There are different chain lubricants for different riding conditions.
- Use a heavy-duty lubricant for wet weather and for when you go off-road where there’s lots of dirt and mud.
- Use a dry lubricant in the summer. It goes on wet and dries onto the chain meaning that dust will not stick to it. If dry lubricant is used in wet weather then the moisture will strip it from the chain very quickly.
There are other lubricants besides these two extremes, such as semi-dry lubricants and lighter wet lubricants, and these suit those of us who like to ride in a variety of conditions. If you are unsure of which lubricant to use then the staff at your local ebike shop will be able to assist you in choosing the lubricant that best suits your riding style and needs.
- 1. Apply a drop of lubricant to each link in the chain. Make sure that it coats both sides of the link. You want the lubricant to penetrate between the plates and reach the pin inside.
- 2. Do this for each link in the chain.
- 3. Once finished, slowly pedal backward for a couple of rotations.
- 4. Leave it to sit for a few minutes.
- 5. Wrap a clean, dry cloth around the chain and use the other hand to slowly pedal backward to wipe off excess lubricant.
A Final Word
Having a clean and well-lubricated chain can increase the longevity of the chain and the components it is in contact with. Once you’ve completed each of these processes a few times it will not take long at all, and you will never want to ride an ebike that doesn’t have a clean chain again!