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Technical FAQ: Simple Green and chain breakage

  • By Lennard Zinn
  • Published Nov. 1, 2005
  • Updated Aug. 29, 2010 at 10:39 PM EST

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.

-David

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.
-Doug

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Lennard Zinn

Lennard Zinn

Our longtime technical writer joined VeloNews in 1987. He is also a framebuilder, a former U.S. National Team rider, and author of many bicycle books, including Zinn and the Art of Mountain Bike Maintenance and Zinn and the Art of Road Bike Maintenance, as well as Zinn and the Art of Triathlon Bikes and Zinn's Cycling Primer: Maintenance Tips and Skill Building for Cyclists. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in physics from Colorado College. Readers can send brief technical questions to Ask LZ.

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