It may seem easy enough to just grab a jar of lube from any store near you but knowing what type is right for your bike chain can be challenging if you’re not knowledgeable about them all yet.
You might not know this but there are many different types of lubricants that will protect your bike’s components from corrosion. Some people use WD-40 as a lube for their chains while others swear by kerosene oil or even olive oil.
This article will cover some of the different lubes used for bike chains and how to choose a good one that’s best for your needs.
What’s the best lubrication for your cycle? Learn about different types of lubricants and how to choose the right one to protect your bike chain.
- Can You Use Any Lube on Bike Chain?
- What are the different types of lubricants available for bike chains?
- Does it matter what chain lube you use?
- How often should you lubricate your bike chain?
- What are the consequences of not properly lubricating your bike chain?
- How can you tell if your bike chain needs to be lubricated?
- What is the best way to apply lube to a bicycle chain?
- What are some common mistakes people make when lubricating their bike chains?
- What’s the difference between wet and dry lubes?
- What oils should you avoid using on bike chains?
- What oils/lubes work as bike chain lubricant alternatives?
- How can you remove excess lube from your bike chain?
Can You Use Any Lube on Bike Chain?
When it comes to bike chains, you can’t just use any old lubricant. Different lubricants are made with different base oils and additives, and each type of lubricant is best suited for a specific purpose. There are four main groups of bike lubricants: light oils, thick greases, wax-based lubricants, and spray lubricants.
The texture of the oil may range from thick and greasy to light and wet. Some oils are applied with small syringes while others are sprayed directly on the chain. Oils can also be applied with a brush.
Chainsaw oil, silicone spray, clipper oil, and 3-in-1 oil can be used on bike chains. Engine oil should not be used because it is too thick. WD40 can be used as a degreaser but not as a lubricant.
What are the different types of lubricants available for bike chains?
Light oil is often easy to apply because of its consistency. It may run off the chain more easily than heavier oils, and it will typically evaporate more quickly. This means that light oils may require more frequent application. However, they can still offer good protection if used correctly.
Machine oils are nearly 100% white mineral oil and lack performance additives. They tend to be thicker than light oils, so they usually don’t drip as much. However, they also last longer between applications.
Thicker greases tend to last longer in wet or rainy riding conditions. However, they also collect debris and lead to dirty chains. A thicker grease requires you to clean chains and gears more frequently.
Wax-based lubricants are made of paraffin wax and offer increased longevity and resistance to contaminants.
The key to wax’s good performance is that, when applied correctly, it settles to form a hard, almost dry layer of low friction lubricant on the chain.
A downside of wax lubricants is that they require a fastidiously clean chain prior to the initial application, otherwise the wax won’t stick to the chain and you’ll be left with a mess.
Spray lubricants are the easiest to apply. You simply point and spray to lube your chain. Unfortunately, most sprays are too thin to provide optimal protection against friction.
WD40 is an example of a spray lubricant that a cyclist might try to use on bicycle chains, but it’s not a great idea. It’s great for a squeaky door hinge, but WD40 is too light to help lubricate your bike chain.
Bike lubricants come in a variety of forms, but they are all made with a base oil and various additives. The main groups of bike lubricants include: light oils, thick greases, and waxes/coatings
Does it matter what chain lube you use?
Yes, it does matter what chain lube you use! Different types of lubes offer different benefits and drawbacks, so it’s important to choose the one that’s best suited for your needs.
Squirt chain lube is a wax-based lube that lasts much longer than other lubricants. It’s easy to apply and stands up well on dusty and muddy summer gravel rides. However, it washes off easily during wet winter conditions.
Its water-based ingredients also mean that it won’t prevent your chain plates from rusting. While this could well compromise the life of your chain, in all probability your chain will have reached the end of its life before the plates rusted through. Vitally, our chain rollers stayed rust-free throughout testing.
How often should you lubricate your bike chain?
Lubricating your bike chain is an important part of bike maintenance. It helps to prevent corrosion, friction and wear, and it can extend the life of your chain. It also increases your “drivetrain efficiency,” which is the energy produced as you pedal.
Ideally, you should lubricate your chain regularly – at least once a week. If you don’t, your chain will start to experience more friction, which leads to additional wear and tear. Additionally, a dry chain can cause problems like increased noise and difficulty shifting gears.
So, how do you go about lubricating your bike chain? It’s actually a pretty simple process. Just apply a thin coat of lubricant to the links of the chain, making sure to avoid getting any on the derailleur or brake cables.
You can use almost any type of lubricants, such as WD-40, Tri-Flow or bicycle-specific lubricants.
What are the consequences of not properly lubricating your bike chain?
If you don’t lubricate your bike chain, it will eventually wear out. Without lubrication, bicycle chains experience more friction, which causes additional wear and tear. This can lead to a number of problems, including:
- Increased noise
- Difficulty shifting
- Chains that constantly rub against other parts
If your chain constantly rubs against other parts, you may struggle to shift as easily. In addition, this friction can cause the chain to heat up, which can lead to damage to the drivetrain.
You should clean and lube your bike’s chain once a week if you ride daily. However, if you only ride a few times a month, you can clean and lubricate it every few months.
How can you tell if your bike chain needs to be lubricated?
If you start to notice that your bike chain is stretching, then it’s time to lubricate it. The distance between the pins on the chain will increase as the pins wear down, and at .75% stretch, the chain should be replaced. You can check chain stretch with a simple chain wear tool.
What is the best way to apply lube to a bicycle chain?
When lubricating a bicycle chain, it is best to use a dry lubricant. Applying the lubricant to the inside of the chain is key, as this will help keep the chain clean.
Make sure to wipe off any excess lubricant with a clean rag, and do not use olive oil or baby oil as they will damage the chain.
What are some common mistakes people make when lubricating their bike chains?
There are a few common mistakes people make when lubricating their bike chains. The first is using the wrong type of oil. People often try to use motor oil or WD-40, which are not meant for this purpose.
These oils are too thick and don’t penetrate the rollers inside the chain as well as a thinner bike-specific oil. They also struggle to cover every link and roller, and the thicker oil can collect more dirt and debris.
Another common mistake is not lubricating often enough. The chain needs to be lubricated after every ride if possible, and at least every couple of rides. If it’s not lubricated often enough, the gears will start to grind and the chain will wear down more quickly.
Finally, people sometimes forget to lube the derailleur, which is the part of the bike that moves the chain between gears. This component also needs to be lubricated regularly to keep it running smoothly.
What’s the difference between wet and dry lubes?
When it comes to bike chains, there are two types of lubes: wet and dry. Wet lubes are applied wet and stay wet, while dry lubes leave a dry, waxy residue.
Dry lubes are less likely to degrade and wash away in the rain compared to wet lube. A wet chain lube also protects against salt corrosion, which is often an issue during the winter.
If you do a lot of cycling in the rain, then a wet lube is your best bet.
Ceramic lubes provide a balance between wet and dry, drying into a tack substance that delivers higher performance and less friction.
Despite the seemingly endless differences, chain lube can be broken down into just two simple categories: wet and dry.
What oils should you avoid using on bike chains?
When it comes to lubricating your bike chain, it’s important to use the right kind of oil. Oils that are too thick, such as castor oil, engine oil and gear oil, can be a problem. They’re more likely to collect dirt and debris, and they can also damage your chain.
Motor oils and other thick oils should be avoided altogether. They can damage your chain and make it difficult to pedal.
Petroleum jelly is another substance you should avoid using on your bike chain. It can attract dirt and dust, and it can also corrode the chain.
What oils/lubes work as bike chain lubricant alternatives?
There are a few different oils and lubricants that can be used as bike chain lubricant alternatives. Chainsaw oil is one option -although it’s not recommended for use in other weather conditions, it can keep bike chains lubed in heavy rainstorms.
Another option is silicone spray, which is easy to apply but doesn’t last long. Clipper oil is another light machine oil that can be used to lubricate bike chains, and it washes away easily.
Finally, Vaseline can be used to reduce friction better than light machine oils and sprays, but it also collects dust and debris. 3-in-1 oil is a multi-purpose oil that can be used for a wide range of applications, including lubricating bike chains.
It has a high freezing point and offers superior protection against corrosion.
How can you remove excess lube from your bike chain?
There are a few ways to remove excess lubricant from your bike chain. One way is to use a rag or a brush to wipe the lubricant off the chain. You can also pour some degreaser on a rag and wipe the chain down with it.
Another way to remove excess lubricant is to use a chain cleaner. This is a tool that looks like a small metal box with a brush on one end and a reservoir on the other. The chain cleaner attaches to the bottle of degreaser, and you simply run the chain through it.
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