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What is the best way to lubricate the chain?
#1
From the video of bicycletutor, it advises to lubricate the chain by directly dropping the lubricant on the chain. But someone told that is a wrong way to do it. Because the lubricant will stain dust which will cause more wear on the chainring and the cogs. It should lubricate the pins of the chain only. Is this true?

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#2
The lube needs to be on the inside of the chain where the parts rub against each other. It is true that excess lube on the outside attracts dirt. But you can't lube just the inside easily so lube the whole thing, Backpedal and allow it to sit for a few minutes to allow the lube to penetrate, and then wipe the excess off the outside.

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#3
Before I lube a bike chain, I first do a thorough cleaning of the chain to remove dirt, debris etc. I'm only interested in removing the dirt, not the residual chain lube still in there, so I only use warm, soapy water. I get it clean and then let it dry before re-lubing.
As for the new chain lube, I use a good bicylce chain lube purchased at your local bike shop. I add only one drop to each roller of the chain. After making the circuit and lubing each roller, I then pedal the bike only about 15 revolutions to begin the process of working the lube into the rollers and pins. I then let it sit overnight to soak in completely. After that, the bike gets riden and after about a day, I wipe off any excess that may have splashed from the chain onto my wheel rims. I may also wipe off any excess that's accumulated on the sides of the chain. Works for me and it usually lasts about 300 miles before the chain tells me it's time for some more lube.

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#4
asufan, do you soak the chain in the soapy water? I just worry if you do so, the water will get into the roller and make the rollers rusty.

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#5
Cleaning before lubing is certainly a more thorough way to maintain the chain. But I don't usually "recommend" this to people because realisticly most people aren't going to do a full cleaning often enough. It's just too much hassle. Better to lube the chain fairly often rather than riding it with inadequate lube because you are waiting to do a full clean up.
Secondly, separating a chain without a master link does put wear on the pin where you separate it and "can" lead to a weak point that is more likely to break. Done right, separating the chain shouldn't hurt anything, but I don't like to put extra stress on a chain by taking the links apart excessively. The chain cleaners that clamp around the chain without removing from the bike are a good solution for this.
I agree with s970022 about cleaning with water. It's hard to get all the water out of a chain due to all the tight enclosed spaces. Water can cause rust, but it also displaces oils and may prevent lube from getting into a joint if there is remaining water trapped in there. Rubbing alcohol is actually a good fairly cheap and non-toxic cleaner. It evaporates faster than water and will mix with oil so it won't block lubes.
Here's Sheldon Brown's thoughts on lubing. Seems like he has some good points:
http://www.sheldonbrown.com/chains.html#lube

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