Bike chain lubricant or as you will commonly hear it called ‘chain lube’ is something you need to be familiar with to maintain your bike. Caring for your bike will give you the confidence to goRide more places, more often. So join me as we learn the why, what, when and how of bike chain lubing.
Why do I need to lubricate my chain?
Chains are made up of lots of little components. Each of those components needs to be flexible and move freely and smoothly so your chain can;
- rotate around the chain teeth of the chain rings, sprockets and jockey wheels as you pedal
- move up and down the chain teeth of the chain rings and sprockets when you change gears
Unfamiliar with some of these terms, see Know your Bike chain
When do I apply bike chain lubricant?
Every time you clean your bike chain. You never want to apply bike chain lubricant onto a dirty chain. Remember we are trying to keep the chain links flexible and moving smoothly so lubricating a dirty chain full of grit is not going to achieve this.
What type of lubricant should I use?
Different lubricants are used in different riding environments and conditions and for different reasons. You can apply a
Let me give you the ups and downs of dry and wet lubes and you can decide which one fits your needs. If you ride regularly through the seasons and weather conditions, in different environments then maybe being able to choose on the day is your best option.
Ups – Designed for dry dusty environments so dry road riding conditions and dry dusty trails. Being a dry lube the dust has less to stick so your chain will not act as a ‘dust magnet’. There is less risk of the chain leaving marks on your clothes which can be especially useful if you are commuting. You do not need to wipe excess off after applying the lube.
Downs – Do not last as long as wet lubes, so needs to be more regularly applied- this means more regular cleaning. It offers less protection in the wet – it will wash off more easily in wet conditions. Hence it needs to be re-applied after riding in the rain.
In a nutshell
- Dusty trails and road riding
- Drys onto your chain leaving a wax based coating – doesn’t attract as much grime
- Need to apply it more regularly than a wet lube
- Tends to keep your chain cleaner therefore you are less likely to get chain grime on your clothing making this lube a good commuter option
- Will wash off your chain in the rain so reapply immediately.
Ups – Lasts a long time, more all round lubricant so if you only want to have one lubricant and you ride in a variety of conditions then this is the one for you.
Downs – Being oil based it has an increased ability to attract dirt and grit etc. You need to wipe off the excess lubricant on the outside of the chain after applying a wet lube.
In a nutshell
- General all weather/terrain riding – versatile
- Oil based – be careful to wipe up excess with a dry cloth
- Lasts longer
- Wet so attracts more grit, dirt, mud, dust, sand meaning you need to clean more often. Ideally, simply wipe your chain with a cloth after each ride
Note: grease is another type of lubricant. It is a very sticky lubricant so should only be used on components that are internal and not exposed to an environment of dirt, dust, grit sand etc. Therefore it should not be used on a chain.
How do I apply the lubricant?
What equipment do you need?
- Your bike with a clean and dry bike chain (clean your bike chain)
- Chain Lube. Wet or Dry. (See the Chain Lube Buying Guide for more help with deciding which lube is for you)
- Dry cloth
- Set Up: Make sure you have the equipment you need. Your bike is upright and secure. You need to be able to move you pedal backwards in a full revolution (a full circle). Work out how many times you will need to turn your pedals backwards for a chain link to travel in a complete loop. Pick a link and watch it travel around and return to the start position. How many times did you turn the pedal in a complete circle?
- Lube the chain: Apply Green Oil to the top part of the bottom half of the chain, see below. Remember you are focusing on the inner part of the chain at the roller. Apply to one length of the chain so every pin/rivot and roller gets lubricated.
- Aftercare: Let the lube sit for 5 minutes to make sure it is able to soak into the connections then if using a wet lube use your dry rag to wipe off the excess from the outside of the chain (so it doesn’t provide a sticky surface for dirt and grit to stick to). Remember to get prepared for your next chain lubrication by cleaning and drying your cloth.
get Ready and goRide – The Bike Chain- Lubing
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