Lubricating Your Bike Chain: Everything You Need to Know

Taking care of your bike is equally important as maintaining your car. Bike parts, if not maintained regularly, can start to corrode and rust. The most important part of the bike is its chain around the pedals.

It keeps the bike moving, and with an unlubricated and rusted chain, your bike rides won’t be as enjoyable as they used to be. This reason makes it essential to lube and cleans your bike’s chain regularly every week.

How Often Should I Lube My Bike Chain?

The drive chain is the part that receives the most wear and tear. The chain is always in motion when riding, and it is exposed to several environmental elements such as water and mud. Properly lubricating your bike chain will help operate it properly.

Lubricating Your Bike Chain
Lubricating Your Bike Chain

Ensure to lube the rest of the drive train, including the derailleurs, crankset, and rear-wheel gear assembly.

If you’re a frequent bike rider and use your bike several times a week, then it is important to lube your bike chain at least once every month for optimal performance. Your bicycle’ performance will benefit from it.

The best time to lubricate the drive chain is immediately after the ride, especially if you can see mud and dirt stuck to it. Clean the mud off and lubricate it, so your ride is smooth for the next time.

Also, lubricate it anytime you notice the chain becoming dry, sounding noisy, or if the chain links bind in any way.

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What Type of Oil Should I Use for My Bicycle Chain?

Your bicycle chain turns around the pedal cranks multiple times while you ride your bike, creating friction. To limit wear and tear, it is essential to lubricate your chain regularly.

Using a lubricant will ensure your chain works correctly and doesn’t create too much friction; this can extend the life of the chain and save you some extra cash on maintenance.

There are many types of lubricants available, and it can be overwhelming to choose the right one for your bike.

People use many different oils and greases, such as household spray lubricants that are too thin and can dry out bicycle chains.

Next, they use vegetable-based oils that are a poor choice as these become gummy and sticky.

Motor oils are too thick and do not penetrate the chain thoroughly. Lastly, the best one to use is a mineral-based lubricating oil specifically designed for bicycle parts.

Below is the list of commonly used lubes; consider your normal riding conditions to find the best lubricant for your biking needs.

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Light Oil

Light oil is best for your drive chain in average to dry riding conditions. These are good at penetrating the chain to minimize the wear and tear between the chain links.

To apply light oil onto the chain, turn the pedal crank backward and squeeze out a line of oil down the drive chain.

Make sure to clean the excess off and let the oil completely cover the chain. Let it stay on for a few minutes before you wipe it off using an old rag.

Thick Grease

Suppose you live in a city with a lot of rain and typically ride in wet conditions such as rain and puddles. Then thick oil or grease, mostly used on motorbike chains, is more appropriate for your bicycle chain.

It is recommended to use this thick grease after mixing it with a volatile solvent to thin it.

This thin mixture will better penetrate the chain bearings and links; the solvent will evaporate after a while and leave the thick lubricant on your bike’s chain.

However, the problem with thick lubricants is that they pick up more dirt and mud when your ride the bike; this makes it difficult to clean after, and in the long term, it can grind the gears down if you do not regularly change the oil and apply a new layer after every ride.

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For dry conditions, using wax to lubricate the drive chain is the best decision. Though it is very challenging to apply, that is the main reason people go for other types of lubricants.

It would be best if you melted the wax and then poured wax onto the chain. It very effectively penetrates the chain and then dries in place.

Unlike thick oils, dirt and mud do not stick to wax as your ride your bicycle. The wax on the chain can stay on for months if the conditions remain dry.

However, with time the wax would start to flake off, meaning you would not have to degrease the chain like you would with other oils.

Spray Lubricants

Spray lubricants are the easiest to apply out of all oils and can penetrate well. However, they are not the most popular choice because they are not good in any riding condition. Spray lubricants are too thin to affect the bike’s chain.

Also, this lubricant acts as a degreaser and strips away the already existing on the chain by the manufacturer; this, in turn, increases the amount of wear on your chain.

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How to Lubricate Chain- Brief Instructions

Your chain is likely covered in dirt and grime from roads and trails if you’re a regular bike rider.

This would cause the chain to eventually rust and wear out, depending on the climate you live in. the chances are a lot more if you live in a humid city with rainfalls.

The first step is to use an old rag and wipe off all the dirt and grime from the chain to prevent rust and wear.

Flip the bike upside down, so it rests on its handlebars, then with the rag, wipe all the dust and debris off. You may need a degreaser if your chain is excessively dirty.

Once the chain is clean of all the dust, mud, and debris, remove the chain for easier access or let it stay in place.

Apply the lubricant to the inner surface of the entire length of the chain. If you haven’t removed the chain, turn the pedals and shift through all the gears to work the lubricant into the links of the chain and the other parts of the drive train.

Keeping your bike chain clean and oiled can make it last longer and makes for a safer and smoother ride. Select the lubricant that works best for your bike and the weather conditions of where you live. Use a rag to wipe the excess lubricant off.

If you aren’t sure which type of lubricant to use, ask any bike shop close to the area, they will help you select the right one and know which one is the most popular right now.

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The 4 Best Bike Lubes in The Market

With all the different brands out there, finding the best lube for your bike can be overwhelming.

To make it easier for you, here is everything you need to know to find the best lube for your bike; there are these four lubricants popular in the market and recommended by many bike owners.

1. Best Dry Lube

The best dry lube available in stores is the Rock-N-Roll Absolute Dry LV, and cycling coaches and bike riders swear by it. It is super easy to apply and has a clean application. What more does a bike rider need?

Rock-N-Roll Absolute Dry LV Bicycle Chain Lube Made for Road Bikes - 4oz - (Pack of 3)

This lubricant brand is ideal for road bikes; however, it does need regular touch-ups as it comes off easily. Because it’s a powder, it doesn’t drip like oil lubes and picks up little dirt, unlike grease. The best thing about it is that application is the easiest.

Rock-N-Roll Absolute Dry LV comes in a package of three on Amazon, so you won’t have to restock very often.

2. Best Wet Lube

Finish Line’s wet lube is available in various sizes and bottle styles, ranging from small squeeze bottles to gallon containers. This sizing makes it easier for those who want to try it out for the first time to see how it works.

If you live in an area with constant rains and puddles, the Finish Line’s wet lube is the best. It sticks to the chain for a long. You can buy this popular lube at Amazon easily.

Finish line wet lube cross country lubricant Size:120 ml by Finish Line

3. Best Ceramic Lube

Much-Off C3 is an ideal lubricant for dry and dusty weather. Bike riders and coaches recommend this brand of ceramic lube and swear by it. This type of lube works best for road and mountain bikes.

The good thing about it is it glows under UV light, so you can easily tell if you have covered the chain completely or if there are some inner parts still left unlubricated. 

Muc Off C3 Ceramic Dry Chain Lube, 120 Milliliters - Premium Bike Chain Lubricant with UV Tracer Dye - Formulated for Dry and Dusty Weather Conditions

If you love riding your bike on a sunny warm day or by the beach, then this is the best bicycle chain grease for you. This lubricant is also easily available in stores and on Amazon.

4. Best Wax Lube

The next lube that is ideal for dry conditions is Speedmaster chain lube. It stays on the chain for at least 400 miles, so you don’t have to keep rubbing it on.

However, if you have to ride your bike on rough or rainy trails, it can go for 200 miles out of a single application.

Speedmaster Wax Bicycle Chain Lube

Wax lubes can be a little challenging to apply and will generally need to be reapplied more often than that wet lubricant in wet conditions.

However, if your city experiences a dry, hot climate most of the time, this is a good choice for you, and you can easily purchase it from Amazon.

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Which Brand Should I Go For?

Each lubricant has a different texture and application process. It will be given in more detail on the product, which would make the application easier for you over time.

Wet lube like Finish Line’s is a liquid. Dry is usually in powder form, and wax needs to be melted to apply; and lastly, ceramic lube is like a cream.

If you’re someone who wants an easy and quick way out, then stay clear of wax lubricants and opt for dry or ceramic lubes like Muc-Off C3.

Muc Off Wet Chain Lube, 120 Milliliters - Biodegradable Bike Chain Lubricant, Suitable for All Types of Bike - Formulated for Wet Weather Conditions

Wax takes longer as you need to melt it over boiling water before applying it to the chain. You can only ride your bike once the wax has hardened.

Also, the type of lube you choose depends mostly on the weather conditions, and different products work for each condition.

Dry, ceramic, and wax lubricants are ideal for drier, dusty conditions, whereas wet lube will protect your bike from water and rust.

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How to Take a Chain Off a Bike Without a Tool?

To ensure the lube covers the chain completely, it is best to remove the chain from the bike and apply lube to it.

here are specialized bike chain removal tools designed to make it easy for you to remove the chain from your bike. However, not everyone owns one.

Oumers Bike Cassette Removal Tool with Chain Whip and Auxiliary Wrench Bicycle Sprocket Removal Tools, Bicycle Cassette Lock Ring Removal Freewheel Remover Wrench Sprocket Remover

Therefore, there are ways to remove the chain from your bike with supplies you likely have at home.

This hack is even for those who want to replace their rusted chains because they forgot to clean and lube them regularly!

Bike Chain Removal

To remove the bike chain without using a tool, you will need other tools such as needle-nose pliers and a hammer to remove the chain.

Most bikes have a master link that is removable and is not fused like the others. Remove the link by twisting it off with a pair of needle-nose pliers. Press the nubs through to the other side to fully remove the link.

You may need to use a hammer or wrench to tap the link so that it pops out, allowing the chain to separate.

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The Final Note

If you’re a regular cycler, it is essential to lubricate the chain regularly using the right grease for your bike. Take care of your bike if you want it to last a lifetime.