Our cycling agony aunt Sara Robin tackles another problem...

Q: My chain is rusty, what should I do?

Sara replies:

HAVING a rusty chain is bad news as chains wear much faster if there is no oil on each link as they can’t bend smoothly round corners.

If your chain gets worn it will wear out all the parts it goes over, the sprockets on your back wheel and the chainwheel that your pedals are attached to and the chain goes round.

You can end up with an expensive repair. A rusty chain also leads to a noisy squeaking bike and a not very efficient one. I am sometimes tempted to stop cyclists with squeaking bikes and offer them some oil!

York Press: Keep your chain clean and oiledKeep your chain clean and oiled

It definitely pays to make sure your chain has been oiled before wet autumn and winter weather arrives.

If your chain looks red and rusty don’t put any old oil on it, you will definitely do better with an oil designed for cycles. However in an emergency something is better than nothing; on a wet camping trip I did once use margarine! I cleaned it off later and used something more suitable.

First make sure your chain is clean, chain cleaning fluids are available and putting some onto a rag and then turning your pedals backwards as you run the chain through the rag a few times should get it clean.

Once the chain is clean you have a choice of different types of chain lubes.

If you want to get into this in lots of detail there are plenty of articles and tests of different types of lube for example this article biketips.com/how-to-lube-bike-chains and this test of different lubes www.cyclingweekly.com/group-tests/best-chain-lube-wet-or-dry-289671.

In brief you can get dry lubes that don’t pick up too much dirt but they will wash off in wet or muddy conditions. The alternative is a wet lube which doesn’t wash off, but will remain wet but then dirt may stick to it.

However wet lubes will stay on your chain in wet and muddy conditions. Fair weather cyclists should go for dry lubes, mountain and gravel bikers are probably best with wet lubes.

A final decision to make nowadays is whether to go for an environmentally friendly biodegradable oil such as Green oil or Squirt which break down harmlessly and which don’t contain Teflon type chemicals and CFCs (Chlorofluorocarbons) which can be bad for health and the environment.

Keeping an eye on your chain will save money, lead to a smooth and silent cycling experience, and turn more of your muscle power into speedy cycling!

About Sara

Sara has been riding her bike in York and further afield since 1980. She initially got into cycling in Australia and worked as a mechanic in two bike shops in Sydney. When she moved to York Sara was a founder member of York Cycleworks which was set up as a workers coop in 1980 and she worked there in many roles until 2002. She rides one of her bikes most days and would love to encourage more people of all ages to ride bikes for getting around, shopping, commuting and leisure.

Do you have a question about cycling? Email maxine.gordon@thepress.co.uk and we will pass your question on to Sara