I have a pretty new bike (5 years) and just recently got all the transmission very rusty (https://i.sstatic.net/5LmJm.jpg). Several things happened:

· Degreased it thoroughly (probably too much)

· Lubricated the chain and cassette with wax lube (brand: squirt). I've read that regular lube protects the chain from rust but I don't know about this one, couldn't find a thing.

· Did a 7-day trip with the bike leaving it most days outside, so it got exposed to some humidity but I had no option of leaving it inside.

if someone knows which one is the most probable culprit it would be helpful so I don't make the same mistake twice.

Now that it's rusty though I'm unsure about what to do. I tried to clean the rust without dissassembling the whole drivetrain but it wasn't very effective. Should I dissassemble everything and try to get the rust out or just lube it instead of using wax and use it regularly?

  • 1
    Go to a paint store and get some oxalic acid, sold as "wood brightener" or "wood bleach". Spray the rusty components with that, then run the chain through a "chain washer" filled with chain washer fluid (see, eg, the Park Tools parts). Commented Aug 12, 2019 at 3:21

3 Answers 3


Note to readers - Squirt is a wax based dry lube, the chain was not hot waxed.

The rust is cosmetic. Its been caused because you stripped the protective coatings with the degreaser and did not cover the chain and cassette completely in a protective layer. Did you dry the chain before applying the lube and did you drown the chain then wipe off excess?

Did you reapply lube over the 7 days? A dry lube won't last that long.

For De greasers I use a citrus based cleaner or specific bike 'chain cleaner as these are not as harsh as many of the automotive ones. They clean the chain without stripping it bare of protection.

Dry lube is great, in dry conditions and OK in damp conditions but you need to reapply it regularly and use the right amount (which is heaps, drown the chain then wipe dry). Wet lube offers better protection in wet conditions.

You can get plated chains if the rust bothers you.

  • Hi! Thanks for the reply. I dried the chain on the sun, thought that was enough but maybe I should have dried it with a towel. I didn't drown the chain (as I said, I'm a newbie here) but should I have soaked the chain in the wax dry lube, another dry lube or another product?
    – Everything
    Commented Aug 11, 2019 at 22:35
  • My plan now is to take out the rust and treat the drivetrain as nicely as possible so the rust doesn't come back. Even if it's only cosmetic, I think it will damage the metals on the long run. Oh and the degreaser is bike-specific, but I think I left it on the metals too much time.
    – Everything
    Commented Aug 11, 2019 at 22:37

Cleaning rust off is definitely easier with the chain off the bike. Quick links (or a joining pin) are not very expensive.

Coarse wire wool or a wire brush are quite effective at cleaning surface rust off.

When you re-lube, you may want to use more lube to get good coverage over all the links, then wipe excess off.


Looks like only a small amount of surface rust, so only a cosmetic problem. I wouldn’t worry too much about it.

Dry lube is great for dry or dusty conditions. For humid or wet conditions you should use regular or wet lube.

A new chain costs 10€ or so. In my opinion it’s not worth the effort to spend time and cleaning products on it.

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