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My new chain is totally coated in lube. I would never ride a bike with a chain like this normally. All that goop is just going to collect flotsam from the road and wear out the chain.

Should I clean this coating off the new chain too?

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I clarified your title a bit, but please feel free to roll back my edit if needed. –  Neil Fein Nov 25 '11 at 18:15
    
In a singlespeed chainline the outer part being dirty is not a great problem, since this dirt woultn't wear the chain. The problem is dirt on the legs, and that is a good reason for the chain not to be soaked in lube. –  heltonbiker Nov 26 '11 at 19:56
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6 Answers 6

up vote 13 down vote accepted

The coating is generally a form of wax, which is an excellent chain lube, and less apt to attract dirt than most chain oils. All you really should do is wipe off (with a dry cloth) any excess.

If the wax seems excessively heavy you can add a little solvent to the cloth, to just wipe off the outer coating. You want to leave the lube on the inside of the chain, where it's really needed.

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The factory coat of wax always seemed sticky to me and prone to picking up dirt even after being wiped down... will try wiping it down with a small amount of solvent next time. –  James Schek Nov 26 '11 at 7:45
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What brand of chain uses wax as a factory coating? I've never come across one. –  joelmdev Nov 26 '11 at 16:49
    
I've been buying SRAMs for several years, and they always seem to come coated with what I would call chain wax. –  Daniel R Hicks Nov 26 '11 at 20:13
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It depends on the brand. Most brands used to use a heavy packing grease that was very tacky and an absolute dirt magnet. It's more of a preservative for the metal than a lubricant. Some manufacturers have moved away from that type of grease to a lighter lube that you can use out of the package (Shimano moved to this lighter lubricant if I remember correctly, SRAM has not). Regardless of brand, if the new chain feels overly tacky you can use your favorite lube and over-apply it to the chain then give it a thorough wipe down to remove the excess. Your lighter lubricant will combine with the heavier lubricant and help remove it. You can also use a non-water based solvent on a rag to achieve the same result, just be sure you re-lube the chain afterwards.

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+1 - this has been my experience lately –  user313 Nov 26 '11 at 20:16
    
Note that the "heavy packing grease" is probably chain wax, which is traditionally a blend of paraffin wax and beeswax, with some kerosene usually added to thin it for application. It's applied hot. It does leave a noticeable coating on the chain -- one you can scrape off with a fingernail -- but that's the intent, more or less. –  Daniel R Hicks Nov 29 '11 at 23:40
    
The stuff I'm talking about does not harden. It's thick, sticky and it attracts dirt like crazy. Maybe it's wax thinned down, but regardless it's not a suitable chain lube unless you're running in mud. Wax or a dry lube is a totally different story –  joelmdev Nov 30 '11 at 15:04
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Sheldon Brown says no (http://sheldonbrown.com/chains.html):

This factory lube is superior to any lube that you can apply after the fact.

Some people make the bad mistake of deliberately removing this superior lubricant. Don't do this!

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I always find it more worthy to ride the new chain as is, and clean it when needed. Since if you'll need to clean it anyway, at least take advantage it is already lubed, although with a less-than-ideal lube. I use KMC chains, by the way, and they are in the sticky end of the spectrum, but I didn't perceived any dust-attracting property, at least not more than any other lubed chain, wiped to remove excess or not (I never remove the excess, but try to put just the "right" amount of oil, not an easy goal although...).

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I would recommend leaving the manufacturers grease in place but I know it's seems a bit over done on some chains. If it seems like it'll attract too much dirt you could take a degreaser like Clean Streak and spray some on a rag and then make one quick pass around the left and right sides of the chain. Avoid getting the degreaser in contact with the rollers along the top and bottom.

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I just got a new Shimano CN HG-53 and it was covered in a honey-like lubrication. I wiped all that stuff of and used my own lubrication on the chain. Worst part of the factory-applied lube was, that it was all over the place just waiting to collect all kind of dirts on my first ride.

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I think that, because chain wax is fairly soft, people often misperceive it as "sticky". It is a superior lubricant to most "chain oils", and is not particularly apt to attract dirt. If the coating seems excessive wipe the chain lightly with a solvent-moistened rag. –  Daniel R Hicks May 5 '12 at 20:20
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