How to beat the winter (maintenance) blues: CHAINS

How to beat the winter (maintenance) blues: CHAINS

We’ve just survived Storm Caroline here in the UK and we’re told it’s going to be a cold winter with plenty of snow and ice. That means our roads will be covered in salt (grit). Salt is corrosive and can damage your bike/its components, especially your bike chain.

Here at havebike we wanted to share a few of our tips and tricks we use to look after bike chains on our clients’ bikes (and our own!).


Firstly, never add more lubricant to a dirty/oily chain. Adding more oil (lube) to an already dirty/oily chain simply creates a nasty grinding paste. This will accelerate chain wear, make your chain (and bike) even dirtier increasing the chances of get oil on your legs/trousers/hands/shoes.

However, you don’t always need to clean your chain before applying lube. Take a look at the state of your chain; if it looks like it’s covered in a layer of black slime (see picture below), it’s probably sensible to clean your chain. If you can see the metal of your chain and the branding/small numbers printed on the metal, you don’t need to clean your chain.


We know that time is precious, but so is your bike right? The only way to properly clean your chain is to remove it from the bike. Hopefully your chain will have a ‘quick link’. If not you’ll need a chain splitting tool (we love the Park Tool chain splitting tool).

Clean it thoroughly using a specialist bicycle degreaser (we avoid paraffin/petrol). Once it’s clean, give it a good rinse and dry – we use an air compressor but you can use the oven or even a hairdryer.

Then soak your chain in lube for a few minutes, this will ensure the oil penetrates the chain rollers. Remember wet lube for wintry/muddy/wet conditions, dry lube for the nice dry weather.

Remove the chain from its oil bath. Wipe off excess lube with a clean lint free rag or kitchen paper and refit it to your bike.


We appreciate you don’t always have the time or inclination to fully clean your chain, especially on your commuter wheels after a hard day at the office. However, if you can spare five minutes (especially after a wet ride/on gritted roads) to do some basic chain care tasks, you’ll prolong the life of your chain and be less at risk of chain failure (snapping).

During winter, we advise our customers to use what is called a ‘wet lube’ for the chain. This is a thicker lubricant that tends to last longer during the winter months. To apply:

  • It’s best to start with a clean chain (see point 1 above);
  • Hold a rag around the chain and spray a water displacer such as GT85 on to the chain. Spin the pedals in reverse so that you can cover each section of the chain. This will help clean surface dirt form the chain and more importantly, help get rid of water and salt;
  • Apply a moderate amount of wet lube to the inside of the chain (see picture below), again while spinning the pedals in reverse to cover all sections of the chain; and
  • Wipe away any excess lube with a rag.


  • Don’t put oil/lube onto a dirty/oily chain.
  • Do lube little and often.
  • Do try to use a good quality eco-friendly lube from a reputable brand such as Muc-Off or Green Oil.
  • Do wipe off any excess oil
  • Don’t use lubricant to stop your brakes from making a noise! In fact keep lube well away from your brakes and braking surfaces as it can contaminate brake pads and render brakes ineffective.
  • Don’t use the tin of 3-in-1 oil that your dad uses on the lawn mower or any type of oils used for cooking!
  • Don’t use spray based lubricants in confined spaces (especially GT-85 which contains ingredients that are considered to be carcinogenic).


For full peace of mind, you can book your bike into our workshop for a Winter Service. We can collect your bike from home or work, anywhere within the M25, and professionally clean and service your wheels. We can even provide you with a courtesy bike if you need one, at no extra charge.

We currently have 30% OFF all services, so how about giving your bike a treat, click here to book now.

Use code XMAS30 to get your 30% discount. Offer Expires 31st December 2017.

Have a lovely Christmas,

The havebike team.

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