Can You Ride A Bike With A Rusty Chain? Tips How To Avoid Rusting.

If you love bike riding, you definitely have many questions in mind. Undoubtedly seasonal changes will not stop you from riding your bike, resulting in finding many issues. One of the most common issues that riders face is chain rusting. Thus, maintenance plays a significant role in a rider’s life. 

So, if you are eager to know whether you can ride a rusty chain, then yes, you might be. When your bike chain has more than 50% rust, you can keep riding without putting much stress on it. Since rust can weaken the mass of the chain, a considerable quantity of rusting will make you unable to ride the bike. The chain will no longer support the weight of your bike. 

Can You Ride A Bike With A Rusty Chain

Why is my bike chain rusting? 

Being a rider, it can be really frustrating for you to find rust. You might be wondering what the most common reason for bike rust is. Well, then you should not worry as it is common among most bikes. Corrosion is a process seen on bike chains. If you don’t take preventive measures, it can corrode the metal, especially metals. 

To put it simply, rust is most common in wet and humid conditions. Since metal starts reacting with water and oxygen, it causes oxidation. Leaving it untreated in the garage or outside can keep your bike exposed to these elements. So, it would help if you took proper measures to prevent rust build-up on the chain and ensure proper functionality. 

How to prevent the bike chain from rusting? 

  • Buy chain lubricant: Maintenance is the key to ensuring the best performance. So, you must start by shopping for the best bike chain lubricant. Please do not use cheap products as they can result in clogging the chain. Use the lubricant weekly to ensure the chain misses rusty. Follow this process even after cleaning the bike chain to ensure functionality. 
  • Keep the chain dry: The next most crucial part of maintaining your bike chain is keeping it dry. Since rust is caused by water damage and neglect, keeping it wet will catalyze the method. Adding a good thick layer of bike lubricant on a dry chain will prevent moisture build-up as it keeps the metal cover. 
  • Make less contact with water: Since cleaning is a necessary aspect of bike maintenance, the chances of coming in contact with water are a lot higher. However, it is primarily advisable to use a dry method for cleaning to ensure the best usage. If you use water, thoroughly air-dry it and use lubricant before moving out. 

The right answer can you ride a bike with a rusty chain?

Riders will always love to go cycling but not maintain it. Chances of forgetting to clean the bike chain are also common. However, it is mandatory if you want to prevent rust build-up. Since rusting can snatch the ability of your cycle, you must pay attention in advance. 

The truth is you will be able to use your bike chain for a while, but a rusted chain is not a safe choice. It is unpredictable and might stop in your mid-ride. So you can always prevent dirt and dust build-up by degreasing and cleaning. However, make sure that rust build-up has not caused holes in the metal. 

If the bike chain has been rusting for over 6 months, it has reached more than 50% of rust. In such cases, it is generally advisable to replace your chain. If you choose to ride your bike with that amount of rust, it can break the entire chain system. Cleaning would not be possible in such conditions. 

Rusted bike chain

Replacing a bike chain

A rusty chain might start weaning and get stretched. The chain would not mesh with the sprockets cassette and the chainrings. Thus, it will cause the chain to stop and slip while shifting. You can easily replace the chain before the chainrings and sprockets wear down. The chain that has rusted 75% can wear down easily. 

It requires a lot of attention to replace the bike chain. However, when you can put every bit of the bike chain together, you can attain the best results. 

  • Squeeze its quick link to unfasten and split the chain. 
  • Use a tool to push out the pain that will split the chain. 
  • Check the chainring and cassette and use a solution to clean them. 
  • Thread the chain properly. 
  • Make sure to cut the new chain into the correct sizes. 
  • Use a chain tool to cut it into the proper size. 
  • Join the chain ends and then slot them. 
  • Use a pin and then push it to secure it properly. 

Remember to use the best quality chainrings. Make sure to check the quality to ensure its durability. Find some quality bike chains here.

How to avoid rust in the future? 

Now that you know how to change your bike chain and the best chains, you must know how to maintain it. Maintenance is a necessity for any type of bike and bike chain. Remember that even the new chain will fall victim to rust and damage if you don’t take proper action. 

  • Remove grease and dirt: The first step is to start by removing dirt and grease from the chain. So, cleaning is the most critical step for any rider who wishes to enjoy a great ride every time. Keep a cleaning kit ready and eliminate excess grease and dirt from the bike chain. You can use a degreaser or water based on your needs and availability. 
  • Dry the chain: The next most crucial step after cleaning is to keep the chain dry. Irrespective of wherever you wish to wash your chain, drying is mandatory. However, it is recommended not to use hot air for drying but cool air. So, after you have cleaned the bike, it is time that you use a clean cloth to get rid of excess water and then leave it to air dry. 
  • Lubricate: Once your chain is clean and shining like a new one, you need to start lubricating it. Remember that chain lube plays a significant role. Lubing the chain before riding the clean bike chain ensures keeping the grease and dirt away from holding onto the chain. So use the best quality product to lubricate.
  • Wipe off the excess: Lastly, after properly lubricating the chain, you must wipe off excess oil. Find a clean and dirt-free soft cloth. Make sure it is dry, and once you have lubricated your chain, you must wipe off the excess. This will ensure that your bike chain does not keep the oil dripping everywhere you go. 

So these are the most common steps that you need to do to ensure a rust-free bike chain. However, maintenance is mandatory since you have to ensure that your bike runs appropriately. 

How often should I grease my bike chain? 

Greasing the bike chain is a great practice. If you have recently cleaned it, make sure that you maintain it. So, greasing it before every ride is strongly recommended if you are a consistent rider. It will ensure that your bike chain remains in good health and help you enjoy your ride every time you plan to go cycling. More about this read here: How Often Should You Lube Your Bike’s Chain?


Can I still ride my bike with a rusty chain?

Even when you might still be able to ride your bike with a rusty chain, it is advisable not to. Remember that it can cause irreparable damage to the other components in your bike. It is suggested to go for simple maintenance as it will be enough to prevent rust build-up on the metal surface of your bike chain. 

Should I buy a bike with a rusty chain?

Absolutely, no! When you are buying a bicycle, you have to verify thoroughly whether the chain is in the best condition or not. Significant rust can hurt the entire bicycle component. 

Does a rusted chain slow down a bike? 

Yes! When your chain is rusted, it can significantly take down the performance to 25 to 30%. As it makes the chain, derailleur, and cog rusty, it becomes challenging to move. You will face a lot of challenges pedaling your bike with a rusted chain. So either you need to get rid of the chain or the rust build-up to get the best performance. 

Is rust on a bike OK?

Bike chain rusting is a common stress that every rider has to face. Since your chain is a metal body, leaving it wet and humid will always result in rust build-up. However, all you need is to maintain your chain correctly for the best results. 


So now that you have gained comprehensive guidance about bicycle rust and the associated detail, hopefully, you will be able to make the right decision. Remember that maintenance is crucial to the bike chain’s life cycle. The better you maintain, the more it will provide the best performance. 

About Martin

I am Martin, I am the author of this blog. My main interests include cycling. That's why this blog was created. I have always been interested in technology and how bicycles are made, so I built one myself.

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