Keeping a clean bicycle drivetrain

For years, I thought a belt drive was the only way to have a bike that was easy to maintain and stayed clean. I researched the best belt drive bicycles obsessively, but didn’t find any that seemed like a good value and had the features I was looking for. And the doubts in the back of my mind became harder to ignore as I noticed some significant downsides with belts:

But despite these drawbacks, I was still convinced that a belt drive bike would be the best bike I could own. Given the high cost, I dragged my feet on buying a good bike for much longer than I should have.

In 2022, as I was researching the best way to lube a chain, I stumbled across people melting wax onto their chain instead of using a drip lube. Companies like Silca and Zero Friction Cycling put out videos extolling the friction-defeating benefits of wax, but only mentioned the cleanliness aspect as a side-effect. I have a strong aversion to messy things, so this feels like the biggest benefit for me. I don’t really care about extracting the last few Watts from a drivetrain when I’m already running fenders and sitting upright. So, I bought a pre-waxed chain for an exorbitant sum of money and tried it out on a newly installed cassette and chainring on my Kona Rove.

Since then, I’ve been using waxed chains with Silca Super Secret Molten Wax whenever possible. To maintain a waxed chain, I brush off any loose dirt with a dry cloth and then dip it in melted wax. To melt the wax, I use an Instant Pot 3qt. and a bent spoke to hold the chain. I swish the chain in the pot and then turn off the heater so the wax can start to set. Over the next few minutes, I try taking the chain out until it barely drips wax. This keeps as much wax in the rollers as possible. I’ve written about my method for Waxing a bicycle chain.