A bike chain that’s rusty or dirty can make your ride less enjoyable than it could be.
However, with the right equipment and enough elbow grease, you can remove the rust on the bike sprocket that has accumulated over time to get your chain running like new again.
On the other hand, a rusty bike chain can make it hard to ride your bike, and removing the rust on a bike sprocket can be challenging without the right tools or knowledge.
Luckily, there are plenty of ways to get rid of dust and debris from your bike chain, like wiping it off with steel wool or scouring pads, but this method may damage your sprocket’s metal surface and leave an ugly grey spot on your bike chain.
With this guide, you’ll be able to identify the cause of your rusty bike chains and how to remove bike rust.
If you bike through the city often, the chances are good that you’ve picked up some rust on your sprocket. You can remove rust from your bike chain sprocket with baking soda and vinegar, which will help clean and de-rust your sprocket without damaging the metal or leaving ugly spots behind.
The Causes of Sprocket Rust
Surface rust can form in areas that are not frequently oiled. Those who use their bikes primarily for street biking often see a lot of surface rust around their cassette and freewheel.
Here are some causes of sprocket rust:
#1. Water or Debris
Water or debris getting into your bike leads to corrosion. Therefore, you should ensure cleaning surface rust off before it spreads to other areas of your bike’s drivetrain components.
#2. Under Lubrication, Salt Water Exposure
Maintaining a clean bike is essential to avoiding corrosion and wear from rust.
For example, when applying bike chain lube, ensure you wipe away any excess after using it onto your drivetrain components, or else they will attract dirt, leading to more corrosion.
You should also avoid riding in salt water when possible because moisture can become trapped in nooks and crannies in places like between the links of a chain.
#3. Excessive Heat
Excessive heat is another cause of bike chain rust; if you do not lubricate a drivetrain enough, water will build up between links and wear them out prematurely.
Water buildup may also expose your drivetrain to increased salt from road grit, which will cause corrosion.
Therefore, I recommend wiping down or thoroughly cleaning your drivetrain after riding in salty conditions.
#4. Lack Of Regular Lubrication
The main issue with dry chain lube is that it hardens over time, increasing friction and an accumulation of grit between links.
This grit becomes embedded in your drivetrain components, causing corrosion and wear over time.
Therefore, it’s important to regularly apply lube to keep your bike running smoothly, even if you don’t ride often.
How To Fix Rust In Bike Sprocket?
Now that you know what causes rust on your bike, here are a few ways to fix the rust in your bike sprocket:
#1. Use of Dry Brush and Scrub
Use a dry brush and scrub to rid rust on the bike’s surface.
#2. Lime Juice Scrub
The acidity of lime juice scrub can help lift surface rust so that you can use it as an abrasive.
Apply two tablespoons of lime juice with half a cup of water in a spray bottle, then apply it to your chain and rinse it off after five minutes. (Always wear protective gloves when using citrus.)
But don’t use straight lime juice, or you might permanently stain your clothes or skin.
#3. Anti-Rust Sprays
Anti-rust sprays protect against rust by building a non-conductive film around metal parts.
It would help if you reapplied it after being exposed to water, like when you wash your bike, and you should never use it with a metal brush or cleaner.
#4. Use Bike Chain Paint
This anti-rust paint is specially formulated for bicycle chains, so it won’t ruin their finish. Just apply in thin coats using an old makeup brush or piece of foam from a package.
However, it will harden a chain and make it slippery, so you may want to remove it before applying it after letting all of these products dry for at least 24 hours.
Note that if you have exposed your chain to rusting over time, these steps won’t be enough to restore it to its original state.
However, they can protect it from further damage and prolong its life until you have time or money to fix more severe rust problems.
To remove existing bike rust and prevent rust, you should:
- If you ride in wet conditions, you should apply a waterproof lube to keep moisture from getting into nooks and crannies; it can eventually rust your bike’s drivetrain components. So it’s recommended that you reapply them more often than other lubes so that water cannot accumulate between the links and cause rust.
- Also, regularly wiping down your bike’s drivetrain after riding is a great way to remove any contaminants that may lead to rust. You can do this using a dry cloth or paper towel, an old toothbrush, some water, or a special cleaner designed for bike chains and cassettes. It’s best to perform these cleaning tasks right after you ride when they are still fresh so that you don’t have rust buildup over time.
- Regularly cleaning and reapplying bike chain lube is a great way to keep your bike rust-free. If you want to remove existing rust, you can remove a couple of links from your chain or use a rusty bike chain cleaner with abrasive compounds to remove existing rust while keeping new rust at bay. Just make sure that you read the instructions before using them to understand how long it will take for them to work and whether they’ll work on specific types of chains.
What Do I Do If My Bike Has Rusty Gears?
If you’re lucky, it’s surface rust only (on both chain and sprockets), in which case you should be able to scrub it off with a non-abrasive kitchen cleaner like oven cleaner or Lime-Away.
If it’s not coming off with that, try dish soap and water. It can take time, but eventually, even deep rust will loosen up.
Once you’ve got it clean, wipe off all dish soap/dishwater and let it dry for a day or two. After that, get some WD-40 and spray all your moving parts to protect them from future rusting.
Once you’ve done that, ensure all your nuts and bolts are nice and tight.
Then take it for a spin! It should feel pretty good, but I would still recommend cleaning it every once in a while with WD-40.
If it starts to stick or squeak, use some spray lubricant and give it another treatment with WD-40.
Will Rust Ruin My Bike?
Yes, rust will ruin your bike if you let it go for too long. However, you can prevent that by regularly treating and regularly protecting your chain.
There are two types of rust: surface rust and deep rust.
Surface rust won’t cause lasting damage to your bike’s metal parts, and you can often remove it with a lime juice scrub or an oiled rag.
You can sometimes remove deep rust with a wire brush, but it may eat through some material; when in doubt, take it to a mechanic.
If you don’t remove surface rust, it will come back, but deep rust is harder to avoid because it results from repeated exposure to moisture and water.
Regularly washing and drying bikes after each ride and storing them indoors in a dry place when they’re not in use can help keep deeper levels of rust at bay.
Spray it down with some WD-40 and let it sit for a few hours. Use a scrub brush to eliminate any rust particles, rinse off any remaining residue with water, then spray again and wipe clean.
Voilà! Your chain should be good as new!
In summary, a surface rust chain on your bike affects your bike’s lifespan and can cause damage.
So, it’s essential to know the cause and how to get rid of rusty bike chains to save costs and prolong your bike’s lifespan.
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