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5 Reasons Why Bike Chains Get So Greasy

If you’ve ever stopped midway through a bike ride and wondered, “why do bike chains get greasy?” You can rest assured – you are not alone. In fact, there are plenty of people out there who wonder why their bike chains get so greasy over time. Is this normal, or is it a sign of a problem?

In most cases, bike chains accumulating dirt and grime is normal, but if you are experiencing this issue more often than normal, it may be a sign that you need to change your cleaning routine. You may not be cleaning as often as you should or using the wrong lubricant. Alternatively, you may not be using the right bike chain for your bicycle.

If you are interested in learning more about why your bike chain collects grime and dust so fast, keep reading this article! We will also discuss whether or not the chain should feel oily and the steps you need to take to degrease a bike chain so it is ready every time!

greasy bike chain

Why Do Bike Chains Get Greasy?

In most cases, you will get some dirt on your chains while you are biking. However, if your chains look worn out after just a few rides, this may be a sign that something is wrong. Here are some things to consider if your bike chains are facing this issue.

The Chain Is Not Cleaned Often Enough

One of the most likely reasons why your bike chain gets so greasy is that you aren’t cleaning it often enough. As we mentioned, dirt, grime, and grease are normal and expected parts of riding a bike – but they should be cleaned off regularly in order to prolong the life of your chain and keep it functioning properly.

You Are Using the Wrong Lubricant

Another reason why your bike chain may be getting greasy is that you are using the wrong type of lubricant. Different bikes use different types of chains, and specific lubes, so if you are not sure which one to choose, consult with a local bike shop or cycling expert to learn which lubricant is right for your bike and riding style.

The Area You Are Biking In Has Dirt And Grime

If you are living in an area with lots of dirt or dust, then it is likely that your bike chain will become dirty and greasy faster than bikes in other areas. This can often be difficult to avoid, but if possible, try riding on lesser-used trails or paved roads where there is less dirt and grime accumulating on your bike.

The Bike You Are On Is Not Right For The Environment

If you are bike riding in a very rocky, bumpy, or uneven area, it can be more difficult for your bike chains to stay clean and lubricated. 

To do so, you need to use a bike built for riding in those areas, as the design is specific not to allow dirt and grime to enter the chain and cause damage. If this is the case, you will need to invest in a bike better suited to your environment.

You Are Using the Wrong Chain

Finally, another possible reason your bike chain gets greasy is that you use the wrong type of chain for your bike. If you have a particularly dirty or dusty riding environment, for example, you may need to invest in a higher quality and more durable chain that can withstand this extra wear and tear.

Here’s a helpful video about cleaning and lubricating your bike as you read on: 

Should A Bike Chain Feel Oily To The Touch?

A bike chain is one of the most crucial components of the entire system, and it is important to know what is and isn’t normal. So, what does it mean if your chain feels oily to the touch? If you are using a new oiled bike chain, then yes, it will likely feel oily to the touch. 

This is because this lubricant helps keep the gears from getting damaged and prevents residue from building up around the teeth.

However, the bike may not feel oily to the touch if you have an older oiled chain or a non-oiled chain that hasn’t been lubricated in a while. This is because it would be drier and worn down. 

If this is the case, you will want to consider either replacing your chain or using a lubricant to keep it well protected. It is always important to make sure that your bike chain functions properly and doesn’t break when you are out on the road, so keep this in mind when maintaining your bike.

Is It Important To Degrease Your Chain After Every Ride?

It is generally a good idea to degrease your bike chain after every few rides depending on the weather conditions. If you ride through mud or ride trails on a mountain bike, cleaning is recommended. On sunny days you shouldn’t clean your chain every ride, no need to clean something that isn’t dirty.

Over time dirt will accumulate causing extra friction and wear as you ride, which will decrease efficiency and shorten the lifespan of your drivetrain components. 

Additionally, it is best not to drop any oil or degreaser into the chain, as this can attract more dirt and grime. Instead, you should try to keep your bike clean and dry before applying quality lube or oil after every ride.

greasy bike chain and cassette

There are many different ways to degrease your chain, and each one has its own benefits and drawbacks. One common approach is to use a commercial degreaser, which you can simply spray onto your chain and then wipe away.

This is a quick and easy method, but it may not be as effective as other methods. If you have the time, you might also consider using a brush or rag to scrub your chain by hand. This will ensure that every part of your chain is thoroughly de-greased, but it can be time-consuming and may not be worth the effort if you only ride a few times a week or monthly.

Overall, degreasing your bike chain after every ride is important to maintaining your drivetrain components over the long term. 

Certain methods may work better for you than others, so be sure to experiment and find the one that works best for you. This could help to ensure that your chain is always clean and lubricated, which will keep it running smoothly no matter what type of riding you do.​


If you are experiencing issues with a greasy or dirty bike chain, take steps to clean and lubricate your bike regularly, using the right tools and products for the job. 

And if you continue to have problems, consider consulting with a cycling expert or professional to learn more about the best ways to keep your chain in top condition for many future rides!