Rusting chain. What is the cause?

It see rusting spots on my links. I replace the chain and about 4-6 mos later the chain rusts again. I can’t tell if it’s the chain, the weather, my salty sweat, or how I clean it.
Chain is Wippermann Connex 11s ( I like the quick release link for travel)
I live in Tampa and Houston areas.
I wash them every 2-4 weeks.
Apply citrus degreaser (mix of concentrated and water, about 1:1)
Hose it down after a few minutes.
I put the concentrated stuff in the chain cleaning tool and clean the chain and then hose it down again.
Apply dish washing liquid and scrub cogs with grout cleaning brush.
Dry it off and lube.

I don’t know much about the weather you folks have in that part of world but, do you wash the chain if you’ve been on a wet outdoor ride?

I ask because salt is put on the UK roads in winter and it’s not a friend to our chains. I’ve left my bike standing for a couple of days after a wet ride and rust becomes visible very quickly.

Personally I just give the chain a solid clean and more often than not, it’s just surface spots and I can’t honestly say that I’ve noticed a performance drop off.

I’m not a mechanic, but I have gone through chains in two months.

First thing if you don’t own a chain checker, get one and make sure your chains aren’t stretching. But that is neither here nor there.

The humidity where you live is killing your chains. Shifting is going to leave micro abrasions on the linkage plates and normal cog wear is going to abrade the rollers. Normal stuff.

Chains are also prone to a type of galvanic corrosion (dissimilar metals)…also neither here nor there.

What is happening is that you are never really getting your chain dry. “washing” with water unless your chain is off the bike and you are able to get your chain really dry will always leave some water behind. The lube will cover it up for a time but eventually the lube will slough off as it picks up dirt and the water in the scratched surfaces (and all that humidity) starts doing its job of corroding. I lived and rode in FL for quite some time and I would usually break my chains, this was prior to quick disconnect links, and dry them on low temps in the oven. Worked ok.

But what really works and is best for your chain and is also the lowest friction is waxing. I highly recommend it. Pick up a cheap crock pot on eBay or amazon. You can use straight up paraffin wax or buy something like Speed Wax ( they are who I use these days. When i was poor and before speedwax existed I would use paraffin wax and put about half a small tube of TriFlow in with it and mix it up. worked ok, but not super.

Anyway, molten speedwax has a bunch of youtube videos for how to’s. Highly recommend. I will usually prep 2 or three chains at a time and then just throw the ones I’m not using in a ziplock bag to throw on when I’m ready to swap out chains.

For anywhere wet…heck, for any cyclist who does any of their own road bike maintenance I think waxing is the only way to go. Hope that helps.


What are you using as lube?

You might be washing it too much. Try just topping up the lube after every ride (or every few rides, if its only an hour and dry).

I’ve found that chains can rust amazingly fast, if wet and out of lube - maybe as fast as within two hours.

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After you’ve dried it, spray it with some GT85 or water repellant to force out the water, wipe it off and then lube. Works for me, not had a rusted chain in 3+ years


What are the tricks if your chain has rusted but is not old at all to get it back to tip top shape?
I have a waxed chain that i used in the rain, got home cleaned it off but didn’t rewax it right away and it has minor surface rust on a number of links.

I use the Flaer system. The model I have, Revo Terra is for off road mountain biking and works great. I know they also do Revo Via for road systems but I’ve no experience of that model.

It has several settings to lube the chain continuously and I’ve yet to suffer from any rust no matter what the weather. People have commentated on how clean the chain looks! Can’t really take credit for it, I do clean the chain every time I clean the bike but the auto lubing does the rest…

Apologies for reviving an old thread, but seems the most relevant one I could find.

I drip waxed the wife’s 12sp Sram SX eagle chain, and 2 rides in the chain is super clean and seems to be free of sand and grit inside (unlike my 10sp one, which I just use normal lube on). To quickly clean the bikes I pressure wash the wheels and frame (soft pressure), trying to avoid the chain. Obviously the chain got some spray on it, and unfortunately I failed to dry it down. Not a problem for my chain, but the waxed one has a bit of rust on inner and outer plates, none on the rollers.

How much of a problem is this? Will it come off with normal use, or have I consigned a 2 week old chain to an early demise?

Probably nothing more than flash rust. The exposed steel is oxidizing quickly in the presence of moisture.
Clean the chain thoroughly and immediately dry it thoroughly. Once it is completely dry apply a lubricant coating.
This is a common occurrence in steel scuba tank when they are hydro tested.

It’ll be fine. This often happens to me after cross races with long drives back. Just wax it again, the rust won’t affect it.

With drip-waxed chains, I always wash the chain with the bike (with warm soapy water), let it dry a bit, then immediatly apply drip wax again. You don’t want to let it sit wet. (But you also can’t drip-wax a wet chain, it’ll just run off)

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