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Sheldon Brown
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The ShelBroCo Bicycle Chain Cleaning System

Disassembly Cleaning Lubrication Re-assembly

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It is well-known that proper chain cleaning is the most vital and important aspect of cycling. There are zillions of doo-dads and gimmicks out there intended to make this task easier for spoiled, lazy cyclists.

Unfortunately, there's no "free lunch" in bicycle maintenance, and all of these existing systems are fundamentally mono-buttocked kluges.

The only proper way to clean a bicycle chain is to disassemble it, otherwise there is no way to be sure you've thoroughly cleaned and properly lubricated the critical internal parts where chain wear occurs.

Similarly, there's no way to apply correct lubrication to an assembled chain, since the rollers have different lubrication needs than the link articulation pins do!



Use your chain tool to drive each chain pin halfway out. It only has to go far enough to clear one of the outer plates.

If you will be using replacement pins or Powerlinks to reassemble the chain, drive the pins all the way through and discard them.

chain apart




Ready To Service Chain

Ready to go! Tom is all set, properly protected, with a supply of:

Pipe cleaners, paper towels, cotton swabs, Deakinol Rinsing Solvent, Shelbrothane Cleaning Solvent, Shelbroconol Pre-soak, Phil Wood green grease and Deakins White RollerGrease
1. Soak entire chain overnight in
Shelbroconol Pre-soak
2. Clean each piece thoroughly with
Shelbrothane Cleaning Solvent
Shelbroconol Pre-soak Cleaning Side Plate
Cleaning Roller
3. Clean each roller using a cotton swab
Shelbroconol Pre-soak
4. Clean each inner plate hole using a pipe cleaner
Shelbroconol Pre-soak
5. Rinse each piece thoroughly with Deakinol Rinsing Solvent
Rinsing Roller Rinsing side plate


Lazy, careless cyclists lubricate their chains with various sorts of oils or other liquid lubricants, including "dry" lubricants that are delivered by a liquid medium.

Serious cyclists, who value performance and are willing to take the time to do a job correctly use grease, but, of course, disassembly is required to access the surfaces that need to be greased.

If you're a cheapskate, you can use the same grease for both the pins and the rollers, but if you want to do it right, you will use:

6. Lubricate each roller using
Deakins White RollerGrease Deakins White RollerGrease
7. Lubricate each inner plate hole using
Phil Wood green grease Shelbroconol Pre-soak
This is the step that makes your chain better than new! When chains come from the factory, they're lubricated by dipping, so that the same lubricant is used on all parts of the chain. This is a cost-cutting move on the part of the manufacturers, who choose a lubricant that is a compromise between an optimal roller lube and an optimal pin lube.

Real Cyclists, however, eschew such penny-pinching compromises, and use the correct lubricant for each application, even if it is a bit more trouble.



Re-assembly is the reverse of disassembly.

The ShelBroCo Chain Cleaning Kit:

Basic Kit $69.95 buy button

Basic Kit Includes:

Shimano Deluxe Kit $199.95 buy button

Basic Kit Includes:

SRAM Deluxe Kit $249.95 buy button

Basic Kit Includes:
The co-inventor of the ShelBroCo Bicycle Chain Cleaning System,
and inventor of Nanodrive, Product W, Carrababy,
Tork-Grip Universal Torque Wrench, Real MAN Saddles,
Symmetrispokes, the Geomagnetic Booster, and
POWerwheels, Sheldon "Genius, But Modest" Brown
George Brown photo

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Check Out All These
Fine ShelBroCo Products:
and these products
from our sponsors:

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*Warning! Shelbroconol Pre-soak ®

Shelbroconol Pre-soak ® is the ideal pre-soak for chain cleaning, especially when used in conjunction with Shelbrothane Cleaning Solvent ®, but it is extremely carcinogenic. Do not breathe vapors from Shelbroconol Pre-soak ®, or you will almost certainly develop lung cancer within two weeks!

*Warning!Shelbrothane Cleaning Solvent ®

Shelbrothane Cleaning Solvent ® is the finest chain cleaner ever developed, especially when used correctly in conjunction with Shelbroconol Pre-soak ® and Deakinol Rinsing Solvent ®. However it is EXTREMELY toxic!

In case of skin contact, immediate amputation is indicated.

If swallowed, do not bother to induce vomiting, it won't do any good, you're a goner!


*Warning! Deakinol Rinsing Solvent ®

Deakinol Rinsing solvent is the ideal solvent for chains, and is perfectly compatible with all chain lubricants, road dirt and rust, but it is highly volatile and explosive. Deakinol Rinsing Solvent must NEVER be allowed to come into contact with Shelbroconol Pre-soak, as this combination is highly explosive, and will detonate without warning!

*Warning! Deakins White RollerGrease ®

Deakins White RollerGrease is the ideal lubricant for chain rollers, but it is important to keep it away from skin contact, as it will cause intense, unbearable itching!

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Articles by Sheldon Brown and Others

This page created April 1, 2010


This page is a joke! Note the date above!

ShelBroCo does not actually recommend taking your chain completely apart! Deakinol Rinsing Solvent, Shelbrothane Cleaning Solvent, Shelbroconol Pre-soak, and Deakins White RollerGrease are all imaginary products.

If you are looking for serious advice on Chain Maintenance, click here!

Since April 1, 1995

Copyright © 2010 Sheldon Brown

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Last Updated: by Harriet Fell