How to Choose the Correct Chain Lubricant
Proper maintenance is essential to keeping your bike running smoothly. Lubricating your chain and components will not only give you a smooth and quiet ride, but it will drastically prolong the life of your drivetrain. Just like your car engine needs motor oil, your bike needs bicycle specific lubrication.
You may wonder why lubrication is so important. There are a number of reasons. Friction is the primary source of why parts wear out. Lubricant reduces friction between metal parts, keeps dirt and debris out, and stops water from rusting the metal. There are many different kinds of lubes out there. Whether you are riding a mountain, road, commuter or cruiser bike, you should pick your lubricant based on the riding conditions. Depending on if it is wet and muddy or dry and dusty, choosing the right lube for the right occasion is very important. So… how to choose the correct chain lubricant?
Kinds of Lubricants:
Wet lubes are specifically formulated for rainy, wet, and muddy conditions. They protect the chain by keeping water out of the links. A wet lube is a little thicker and more viscous than a dry lube. This means dirt is more likely to get caught and suspended in the lubricant which can cause wear to the chain. When using a wet lube you will need to clean the chain and gears, and re-apply lubricant frequently. After liberally applying a wet lube, wipe off the excess with a clean rag. Wet lube does not perform well in dry, dusty conditions. However it is better than no lube and will work if you are in a pinch.
Dry lubes are best suited primarily for dry conditions. They protect better against dirt and debris than a wet lube will, but they don’t provide the same kind of protection against water. A dry lube is alcohol based, so after applying you should let the lube dry out for a few hours before riding. Once the lube dries, it will have a sticky feel. It may require more frequent application than wet lube. You shouldn’t wipe off any excess lubricant after applying dry lube. Wax based lubes are also considered dry lubes and are meant for very dry and dusty conditions. Wax lubes are considered the cleanest of the lubricants, but require the most frequent application.
A drip lube is applied by dripping the lubricant directly onto the chain and components. Drip lubes allow you to carefully control how much lubricant is applied to each chain link. Drip also tends to be less messy than a spray type lube. We recommend drip for most applications.
I got your Spray
Spray type lubes are easy to apply because the spray out of a pressurized aerosol can. While they are able to efficiently penetrate the links, they tend to be messier than a drip lube. After applying a spray lube, you should wipe down your bike frame to remove any residue. You will also want to make sure no lube comes in contact with your brakes or rotors while applying spray lube, or any other kind of lubricant.
A common mistake is using a lubricant such as WD-40. This kind of lubricant is not meant for bikes, it is too light and causes excessive wear on your parts. Stick to a bike specific lube for the best results. However, WD-40 does make a lubricant specific to bikes, which is safe to use.
Keep your bike in top shape by routinely cleaning and lubricating it. Enjoy the ride!