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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?

  • 3
    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

11 Answers 11

28

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.

  • 5
    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
  • 1
    What brand of chain uses wax as a factory coating? I've never come across one. – joelmdev Nov 26 '11 at 16:49
  • 1
    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
  • Izumi chains come with a lot of sticky coating as well. – Alessandro Cosentino Jan 6 at 10:34
27

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!

  • > The factory lubricant all by itself is usually good for several hundred miles of service... This is great! – Alessandro Cosentino Jan 6 at 10:37
14

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.

  • 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
3

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...).

  • What about a brand new chain covered in mud or a coating of dust. Should I leave it or clean it? – Benzo Aug 19 '14 at 15:32
  • Well if the chain is ALREADY dirty, I would clean it before putting it on the bike. – heltonbiker Aug 19 '14 at 19:05
  • If I put on a new clean chain with factory lube, and then go for a nice wet mountain bike ride or dusty dirt road ride. Should I just rinse the chain off, re-lube, or strip and lube? – Benzo Aug 19 '14 at 19:21
  • I'd rinse if the ride is wet, because the dirt necessarily got inside the pins. A dry dusty ride does not prompt for cleaning if the chain doesn't sound squeaky IMO. There is an understanding that it's the dirt that causes wear, not lack of lube (which itself would lower drivetrain efficiency due to friction). Sheldon brown has the best article I've ever read about chainwear, it' enligtening. – heltonbiker Aug 20 '14 at 11:17
3

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.

2

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.

  • 1
    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
2

I have learned the hard way that chain suck can also be caused by sticky factory lube on a new chain. I followed Sheldon Browns advice to NOT remove the factory lube from a new SRAM chain, something I have always done in the past (and will in the future). This caused terrible chain suck to the extent I had no confidence in the bike. I degreased and lubed the chain with my normal go to lube (Muc Off dry), problem solved!

  • 2
    So your cogs aren't worn, and the chain is not too long? – Daniel R Hicks May 14 '17 at 21:42
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    I'd guess something else is wrong then. – Batman May 15 '17 at 0:55
  • +1 Same experience. Brand new bike from factory. Immediate chainsuck. Got rid of wax and applied nanoprotech , a nano tech lube. Night and day. – Sentinel Jul 17 '18 at 7:04
0

Personal advice, don't clean it. Let it collect dirt first. Eventually there will come a time that you'll clean it depending on your use. Then you degrease and apply your preferred lube. Saves you time and money.

  • 1
    Why would you want dirt in your drivetrain? – Neil Fein Aug 19 '14 at 19:07
0

The wax on KMC chains can sometimes be so thick (perhaps been on shelf for a long time?) that it causes sounds and sucking even on brand new bikes that are perfecty set up. In these cases, degreasing and then relubing by soaking will IME solve the problem and improve performance.

  • Gidday and welcome to SE. Politely disagree - degreasing will remove factory grease from the inside of the chain, where you want it. The top answer from 6 years ago suggested to wipe off the excess from the outside, but degreasing is not required. – Criggie May 27 '17 at 21:22
  • Thanks for the welcome @Criggie. I agree about preserving factory grease from the chains insides. However I have experienced new chains that perform really bad (even after some use) almost feels/behave like an old rusty one. Thought maybe others have had the same experience. I edited my answer regarding soaking in liquid lube for a while to try and get lube back in there where it belongs. Ps. I see now this is an old thread. At first I only saw the question was edited in 2016. – user32988 May 27 '17 at 23:18
  • Solve what problem? – Daniel R Hicks May 28 '17 at 2:47
  • The problem being mainly poor gear shifting, sucking is probably not the correct term, apologies for not being clear on this, I am still learning after 25 years of mtb. It has been maybe two three years since last time I experienced this problem. Usually a new chain from any manufacturer is lubed just fine and works perfectly. As I recall, this has occured only with KMC chains. – user32988 May 28 '17 at 6:06
  • @BStenvaag Answering old questions is no problem. A lot of the traffic to Stack Exchange is from people using search engines to find the answer to their problem (I guess that's how you found it!), so it doesn't matter that the person who originally asked the question found an answer years ago. – David Richerby May 28 '17 at 11:16
0

Just saying I had a new SRAM chain installed by a local owner of a bike shop who said the factory lube is better than anything you can apply and relube in 300 miles (482 km or three weeks).

-2

Best advice for anyone running a 1x11 setup and using a SRAM or KMC chain right out of the box, is to get all of this thick wax off first, then reapply your own lube! One ride and your chain acts like a magnet to dirt and dust. Not only that but it also causes the chain to grab the cogs and the front chainring causing a knocking/clicking sound which will make you think that your bottom bracket is about to fall out. This will save you so much time and frustration. I'm surprised that these companies haven't figured this out yet and stopped using this CRAP! Hope this helps you. Cheers!

  • What you are experiencing is called chain suck and it happens because of worn chainrings and slack chain. – ojs Feb 19 '16 at 19:24
  • As OJS says, you have a separate problem with your bike's transmisison. Also, there's nothing relevant in your answer that hasn't appeared in other answers already. New answers to old questions are fine if they add info, simply restating the same thing as others doesn't add value - we're not twitter. – Criggie Feb 19 '16 at 19:54
  • At most you might use a rag damped with solvent to wipe the heaviest part of the wax off the exterior. You do not want to wash the wax out of the chain as it's the best lubricant the chain will ever have. And if the chain is grabbing it has nothing to do with the lube -- you have worn cogs. – Daniel R Hicks Feb 19 '16 at 22:59
  • Ojs is not necessarily correct. My completely new Specialized had chain suck out of the box, because of a sticky grease on the chain. – Sentinel Jul 17 '18 at 7:07

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