I decided to make a video about how to clean and lubricate a bicycle chain. I was going to use my Finish Line bicycle chain cleaner, but I thought it would be more interesting and helpful to others if I used a cheaper and easier to find chain cleaning tool, so i purchased a White Lightning Bicycle Chain Cleaner from Walmart for around $10. The chain cleaning tool came with two bottles of cleaning solution, which is enough for 4 uses. I had no experience using this tool or the cleaning solution before creating a YouTube video about the tool, so things didn’t go as smoothly as I anticipated.
The first things I noticed about the tool are:
1) Its much smaller than the more expensive tools, which means it doesn’t hold as much cleaning solution. This means you will probably end up having to empty and fill the tool with clean solution a few times to get the chain clean.
2) The more expensive chain cleaning tools have a magnet embedded in the plastic housing to attract metal particles away from the cleaning solution and chain. The White Lighting chain cleaning tool does not have this feature.
3) There is nothing built into this tool to prevent cleaning solution from coming out of the tool as the chain exits the tool.
4) The tools plastic housing seems more rigid than the housing on more expensive tools. This might mean it is more vulnerable to cracking if you drop it.
5) The brushes and wheels look identical to the brushes and wheels on the more expensive Finish Line chain cleaning tool.
I filled the tool with Easy Clean solution supplied with the tool. The tool comes with a built in wire loop that loops around the rear derailleur cage to hold the tool in place as you rotate the pedals backwards (If your bicycle doesn’t have a rear derailleur, than just hold the tool with your left hand as you rotate the pedals with your right hand). I attached the tool and proceeded to rotate the chain for 30 seconds. My chain was very dirty, so 30 seconds was not long enough to clean the chain. I than emptied the Easy Clean solution and filled the tool with Simple Green. It took another 2 minutes to get the chain clean. My chain was very dirty! I ride during the winter and I tend to lax on my chain cleaning chores, so my chain tends to get very dirty. I would imagine if you clean your chain once every 2 weeks, than it shouldn’t take longer than 1 minute to to get your chain clean. I do think Simple Green cleaning solution works much better than the White Lightning Easy Clean.
After getting the chain clean I wiped the chain down with a rag to dry it, and proceeded to lubricate the chain. I am not picky about chain lubricants, and I usually buy a bicycle chain lube that I feel is reasonably priced and easy to get. The chain lubricant I used is White Lightning Epic Ride Semi-Dry chain lubricant. I apply the lubricant to the inside of the chain making one pass on each side as I rotate the pedals backwards. I suppose it is better to sit and put one or two drops of lubricant on each link in the chain, but I just don’t have the patients or time. I tend to start my commute at the last minute, so I am always in a rush to get going. However, my method seems to work well enough to keep the chain properly lubricated.
The tool doesn’t hold as much cleaning solution as the more expensive tools, so this makes cleaning your chain a little more difficult. Also the tool is slightly more messy to use than the more expensive tools since the tool doesn’t have any built in device to prevent cleaning solution from coming out as the chain exits the tool. Other than those drawbacks the tools is inexpensive and easy to find. Its priced right and makes more sense for someone who is riding a department store bicycle. The tools cost is around $10, and the more expensive tools are around $35 with solution, so the price of the tool better fits the budget of a person riding an $80 bicycle. I will continue to use the tool at least once every two weeks, and i will update this review/blog about my experience with the tool, so keep checking back.
Update 5/27/2016 Used White Lightning Bicycle Chain Cleaner during a bike wash, and used full Strength Simple Green cleaning solution. I was able to clean the chain in 60 seconds using only 1 fill with Simple Green. Clean-up is super easy if you clean your chain while washing the bike. The White Lightning Bicycle Chain Cleaner did a good job.
Update 8/18/2016 – Still working good. Used it yesterday to clean the chain on a Brompton Bicycle. The Simple Green cleaning solution seems to lather up more when it’s diluted with water, which caused more of it leave the tool as the chain passed through the tool. It still did a good job cleaning the chain, but it was a bit more messy. I think its better to only use full strength Simple Green with this tool; less lather and stronger cleaning solution. Simple Green diluted or not diluted is still better than the cleaning solution that came with the White Lightning Chain Cleaner.
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.“