Cyclists question:Rust on chain

What is the best way/product to get it off, ot is it better to replace the whole chain. Bike is not yet one year old.






A little surface rust is no big deal. Are the chain links nice and supple? If so just lube it heavily (link by link) and wait 12 hours then wipe off the excess.

It’s generally a good idea to change chains fairly often, since a worn or rusted chain will damage your gears and eventually make things much costlier for you (a new chain is about $15-30, depending on quality and weight). I generally replace my chain every 3 months or so, but i’m an avid cyclist. A friend of mine who’s a bike messenger changes his chain at least once a month.

Also, if you can help it, don’t leave your bike outside. This greatly shortens the lifespan of both the chain and the bike in general.

Shiva is correct.

Your chain got rusty because it didn’t have enough oil on it to displace the water (when your bike got rained on or got dew on it). Happens to me occasionally, the solution is always to lube the chain up real good, and then riding works the chain loose again. You shouldn’t have to replace the chain unless it got so rusty that you can’t get it going again when you lube it - if the chain is still crusty, replace it.

If you remember to keep the chain lubed (a challenge for me) you won’t get rust.

Zyzzva is also right - if you are riding tons and tons and tons you should replace the chain often. I replace a heavily ridden chain every year or so, not so heavily ridden chains every 2-3 years. I’m guessing that zyzzva rides 4 times more than me, thus justifying his chain expenditure. I’ve also noticed that after about 2 chains my gears (cassette) are funky and they need to be replaced as well. I might be able to run the cassette longer if I replaced more chains, but cassettes are only twice as expensive as chains for me, so I don’t know if it would make a difference.

If you are just riding the bike around town, a few miles a day, you probably won’t have to replace the chain more than every 2-3 years if you take care of it. Repeated rusty episodes and leaving it outside (dew) will significantly reduce this life.

I will definitely heed the advice about keeping the chain lubed and the bike indoors from now on. I am not an avid rider, not having ridden on our bike trail at all this winter, but the bike is a nice Schwinn Sierra and I need my butt kicked for leaving it out on the patio. So here I am at work on the night shift, and I have put the chain and cassette through a Pedro’s chain cleaner, I re-lubed with Ice Wax and yes, the links are nice and supple, so I guess I’m okay. The cables have some rust on them, but everything works fine. Which brings me to the question: what is good to remove rust from cables?

Thanks for your advice!:o


For the rear shifter cable, shift onto the largest rear cog, then without pedalling move the shifter to the smallest cog. This will give enough slack that you can undo the cable housings from the stops. Slide the cable housings out of the way to get at the rusty bits of cable. I’ve used both steel wool and emery paper on rusty cables. If the bike is gonna stay dry from now on, you can lube the cables with plain wax (rub them with a candle), but if its gonna get wet/damp again, you can use the same lube you used on the chain. The most important section to take care of is the under the last bit of housing going to the rear derailleur since this has the sharpest bend and is more exposed to gunk.

I use a thin coat of grease on cables when installing them, I never get rusty cables. I do get a bit of grunge on them, but I never really cared how my cables looked, and I replace them every 2 years or more often as they are like $1 to replace.

I might be inclined to replace the cables with stainless steel braided wire type.
Rust on cables is often from the outer casings which have a spiral wound strip of flat steel wire in them, might be a good idea to replace those too, and yes greasing the cable before sliding throught the casing is a good idea.

If the bike is going to be left out a lot then I would use 3in1 oil rather than WD40, you will get more crap sticking to it so it will need cleaning more often but its less likely to rust.

minor nitpick

They are not called gears, they are called sprockets

A gear is something with “cogs” or “teeth” that mesh with other “cogs or teeth”. A sprocket is something with teeth that power is transferred via a chain of some sort.

That being said though, if the rust is very minor surface rusting and not on the rollers of the chain (it shouldn’t be unless the bike was parked for a long time) clean and lube it and you should be OK. They are pretty inexpensive though, so you may want to replace it anyhow. Rust is not a good thing on any chain regardless.

Carry on…