During races, pros have their bikes (including chains) cleaned every single day. That’s unlikely to be practical for you, so read on Your bicycle chain will wear for various reasons, but the key accelerant is grit within that grinds away the metal. But while reducing wear through chain cleaning is certainly the factor that will save you money, you should also consider the efficiency that’s lost through all that abrasive friction.
Jason Smith, of independent testing facility Friction Facts , confirms that there’s a measureable amount of efficiency lost from a dirty chain.
"The numbers can vary based on the ‘dirtiness’ of the chain, but on average, testing shows a dirty road chain can decrease efficiency by about 3-5W (at 250W rider output) – about 1-2% of power loss," he says. "For example, say a properly cleaned and lubed chain consumes about 7W. The light road grit kicked up from a couple of ‘clean’ road rides can cost an additional 3W of frictional losses." Does your chain look like this? you’re due for a scrubbing: Wear and lost speed, damn you dirty dirt
Smith explains that number increases with the grit. “Riding on several road rides without cleaning or relubing can […]