How do you maintain your chain - dusty conditions - gravel / MTB

Our trails have turned to a fine powder. When I come back from a ride my chain / cassette have a light dusting of powdered dirt. Sometimes it’s more than light.

I could ride it one more time and probably get away with it. The chain might start squeaking by the end of the 2nd ride.

I’m a Rock N’ Roll lube user. In less dusty times I do the apply/wipe routine every three or four rides.

Lately, I have been hosing off the drive train to get rid of the dust/dirt, then letting it dry, and then doing the Rock 'n Roll routine. It’s just getting tiring doing this every ride.

I’m curious what others are doing…

I’ve gotten into the habit of washing my entire bike after every ride. I do low pressure rinse, spray drivetrain with simple green and scrub with tooth rush, sponge bath everything else with car detergent, then rinse again. Then I wipe as much water off drive train as possible and relube. This is a necessity as I live in a small apartment and don’t want dirty bikes inside. It doesn’t take very long either, because my bike never really gets dirty!

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I live in a region where the trails turn to moondust in mid summer. There can be several inches of silt on the trails.

I start by degreasing the chain when new. This must be done throughly. The best methods are discussed throughly in the chain waxing thread. I just use a citrus degreaser a couple of times in an old bottle and shake. The chain is then rinsed and dried and I’ll put a heavy coat of lube on it.

Before the first ride, I wipe off the excess lube. Then I wipe down the drivetrain and relube after every ride. I then make sure to wipe excess lube from the side plates but leave it on the rollers. Takes me about 2 minutes to relube and wipe.

I went to a waxed chain for this reason and have never looked back.


Rock N Roll does work well in these conditions. For my non race chain I use Rock N Roll Gold on both gravel and XC bikes. I wipe down after each ride and reapply frequently.

For new chains I strip factory grease by soaking chain in mineral spirits for a day or two and then ultrasonically cleaning before applying Rock N Roll the first time. Periodically I’ll give the chain a good cleaning with the ultrasound cleaner.

For race day chains, I’ll use Molten Speed Wax. It’s great and holds up really well over the course of a long event. The wax does seem to help dirt from penetrating as much into the pins and rollers.

Dry dust is perfect for waxed chains, nothing for the dust to stick to, basically just falls off the drivetrain instead of getting into everything. Ive done >400km of dry dusty rail trail and gravel roads since my last wax and the bike is dustier than the drivetrain