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Technical FAQ: Simple Green and chain breakage

Dear Lennard,

I am a fan of your repair books and I read the column often. While reading this week’s edition, I noticed that you mentioned Simple Green causing chains to crack after prolonged exposure. I can substantiate this. I took my PC-1 chain off of my track bike and dunked it into a 2-liter filled halfway with undiluted Simple Green.

Since I was replacing the chain, I figured I would just clean the old one and stick it in my toolbox for future projects. I shook the bottle for a bit, then put it on the windowsill t osoak for a while. Five months later, I cut open the forgotten bottle to use the chain on my cruiser/fixed-gear hack job. After rinsing the chain and putting it together, I noticed hairline cracks in the plates of the chain. When I used a chain breaker, the link crumbled.
So the SRAM rep was right; Simple Green will cause chains to crack.


Dear Lennard,
Aha! I can vouch for this problem. I left a SRAM 9 speedchain submersed in Simple Green for, oh, about two weeks (two small children is my official excuse). Ten miles into the first ride after re-installing it I stood up to climb a small hill and it snapped. The chain actually broke at the plates, not the pin. I’m not a big guy and don’t producethat much torque — I’ve never broken a chair before. So this revelation from the SRAM rep makes sense.