What are the pros and cons of the various chain degreasing techniques. I want to maintain my chain and sprockets to the best possible standard and have heard many schools of thought on chain cleaning but I'd like an engineers perspective on the best method for keeping a chain maintained without taking the chain off.
What I've tried:
- On a really dirty bike whose previous owner had never cleaned the chain, there was years of caked grime and grease and asphalt, I put the bike on centre-stand, put it in first (running) and pointed a hot soapy jet wash at the chain for ten minutes. I found a pretty decent shiny chain in surprisingly good condition under all the guck. (warning for the uninitiated: this is dangerous. It's not intended as advice. Don't try this at home. Chains should never be cleaned while the engine is running.)
- When I first started chain maintenance, I would get through a full aerosol can of whatever brand motorcycle chain cleaner happened to be cheapest at a motor factors. I would rarely get a clean chain without using the full can.
- Later, I bought a three-sided chain brush and found I could get away with only a third or half a can of aerosol degreaser by scrubbing while spraying and wiping away muck with a rag.
- Are cheap(er), citrus based degreaser products (like this or this) safe to use on a motorcycle chain? Will they damage my o-rings? (also: what are o-rings?)
- Is WD40 (or similar) harmful to a chain? Some say that it removes lubricant from the chain internals so you should avoid it or only use it if the chain is off the bike and can be really thoroughly re-lubricated after the clean. Is this true?