Chain Lube

Questions regarding lubrication, adjustments, repairs and other issues
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Chain Lube

Postby Tomcat65 » Mon Aug 28, 2017 7:29 am

A hot topic, covered by the engineering mind of the FastFitnessTips guy on the YouTube:
With a cheat sheet:
chain lube chart best to worst.jpg
chain lube chart best to worst.jpg (106.68 KiB) Viewed 325 times

Honestly, I've used everything. Starting from when I was 9 or 10 years old, using motor oil and WD-40, to the crap I gave $20.00 for 16oz (not even on the list). White Lightning Clean Ride has been my go to lately, But I never know when to reapply.. Anyway, keeping your chain clean seems to be the best maintenance tip for this guy. I usually use a red shop rag, or a Bounty paper towel to wipe down when I get that black messy chain, and cheap mineral spirits for my degrease/once a year or 2 flushing degreaser.

What do you guys think? What do you use? And what advantages do you see in what you use?
What do you clean your chain with? Do you wipe down or flush with solvent?

Or do you ride until the chain looks like a black or rusted crusty mess with crap dripping on the floor where it's parked? :P
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Re: Chain Lube

Postby dddd » Mon Aug 28, 2017 6:08 pm

I'm pretty sure that I covered this subject in another thread already, but I prefer a solvent-diluted product that I can apply to the moving chain with a continuous stream of lube.

Then I wipe off as much as I can (you can't wipe too much lube off of a chain).

So I start with an empty Tri-Flow or other plastic squeeze bottle with the applicator tube. I then spray in a dry-type lube that is just solvent with PTFE particulate in it, a little more than half-full.
I then add oil, Nashbar chain oil, chainsaw oil or motor oil, they all work. I start with about 25% oil so the about 74% is solvent.
The applicator tube can be shortened as needed to increase flow out of the tube.

Usually I start by wiping the chain with a terrycloth rag, then I lube the chain, then I wipe it down again with the rag. Maybe best then if I allow the solvent to dry as needed, but I can ride immediately with no lube flying off the chain onto the rim.

There are lot's of pre-diluted lubes that seem to do the same thing, the important thing being that you can apply the lube in a continuous stream to make short work of it, and the lube you wipe off takes most of the dirt with it. Applying straight oil usually leaves way too much oil in the chain that oozes out quickly and makes a real mess after just one ride.

Also, you don't need to use an aerosol to dilute the oil, you can use mineral spirits for example, but the solvent in the aerosol dry lube dries faster, leaving just the oil and particulate ptfe "Teflon" behind in the chain.

Unless it's a mountainbike used off road that needs lube after nearly every ride, I will wipe off the chain after the first ride since I lubed it, since some lube creeps out of the joints and is then just sitting on the outside of the chain attracting dirt.

One of the MTB magazines tested a bunch of lubes on a batch of chains, measured the stretch wear after hard use in varied environmental conditions, then published the results. I remember one thing was that an unlubricated chain suffered less wear than chains that were heavily lubed but which were allowed to collect dirt and muck. So it's the recirculating oily grit that can wear out a chain fast. I dilute my lube enough that most of the dirt comes off with each re-lube and with almost nothing left on the outside to collect dirt. I only re-lube when I start to hear chain noise or when I'm about to head out on a 2 or 3 hour off road ride. Bike chains will always be a little dirty but I don't sweat it, best though not to let it get all sludged up with grime.
I make no attempt to lube the sprockets, they get plenty oily enough just by having the chain running on them, and I have to scrape a little residue off of them with a screwdriver tip once in a while as it is. I hold the screwdriver blade against a rotating pulley or sprocket and the residue peels right off in a strip of tar or bunches up on the blade.

Oh, and my chains are all happy, just ask them!


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Re: Chain Lube

Postby metalman302 » Thu Sep 07, 2017 12:21 am

Weird, the list doesn't include either that I've been using, Finish Line dry, and normal Tri-Flow.
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Re: Chain Lube

Postby bikesRfun » Thu Sep 07, 2017 7:59 am

I'm going to disagree with the chart.
I've used various chain lubes and so far I like Purple Extreme best, although it has gotten too expensive at $16 for 4 oz. Another thing I like about it is it doesn't have a heavy odor. Next I use ATB and Dumonde tech.
I do mtb, so I clean and lube the chain every 20 - 30 miles. I use 2 different mechanical chain cleaning tools with water and a little bit of Dawn dish detergent. Then plain water several times. Wipe and dry.Then chain lube, spin, wipe, spin. Done.

Lately I've been experimenting with various oils and fluids. I see in the chart they tested olive oil. How interesting. I'll see how it does. The search continues . .
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Re: Chain Lube

Postby NYMXer » Fri Sep 08, 2017 5:09 pm

I always laugh when people spend $20 on commercial chain lube to protect a $14 chain. For me, a clean chain is a long lasting chain, and that includes the gears and drive rings. Once or twice a year, I'll soak my chains overnight in mineral oil, drip dry and then apply lube (almost anything oil based), my preference is ProGold.
After applying the lube, wait 5-10 minutes and wipe clean. When I hear my drive line start making noise, I reapply... about every 300 miles in the road bike, or once a month on my mtb.
I'm on the same bottle for 2 years now and should make 3 before I run out
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Re: Chain Lube

Postby to the beach » Sat Sep 09, 2017 3:35 pm

I use WD40 to clean the chain, it's basically a solvent with a little whale oil in it. Once I've wiped the chain dry with a microfiber cloth, I allow the WD40 to evaporate over night. I then apply White Lightning dry wax lube that is pre mixed with a solvent. The wax lube is perfect for the paved trails I ride. If I were to ride off road, I would use Finish Line wet lube, it has teflon in it so dirt is less likely to stick.
to the beach
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Re: Chain Lube

Postby desertguns » Sun Oct 22, 2017 2:00 pm

I'd say riding conditions have been mostly overlooked but would play a huge part in selection. In the desert, dry lube to no lube works best in dry sand & dirt. Oil just becomes grinding lube. Bearings are a different story but a bike chain is not a rocket ship. It's a bike chain & whether you use 30W Mobil or 3 in 1, it won't make a spit worth of difference for the average rider. While it can be fun, some bike stuff is just waaay overthought. :P
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Re: Chain Lube

Postby Tomcat65 » Sun Oct 22, 2017 2:51 pm

lol.. Agreed!
BUT, I do like dry lube most of the time. The sticky crap that comes with the chain is usually what the bikes still have on them when I have folks asking me for help with a rusty or otherwise filthy chain. FFT is always overthinking everything, the dude's an engineer yanno? I just thought it was interesting how complicated a thing like chain lube could be, and if anyone here had given much thought to it. Dddd has a formula, it works for him, I get why he does it. I have a product that works for me, I like it right up until things get muddy, then I'm never sure when I have my chain clean enough, and usually just quit at some point and hope for the best lol..

Anyway, I have WD-40 Bike lube on the fatbike now, and it is NOT the same as the White Lightning Clean Ride. I kind of like it on the fatbike though, I might be trying WD-40 on the MTB 's and White Lightning on the road bikes for a while and see how long a chain lasts. I like the WD on the off road bikes because the spray kind of works as a cleaner and lube. Maybe I'm using it wrong? W/e it's working for me.
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Re: Chain Lube

Postby jimmie65 » Sun Oct 22, 2017 4:49 pm

I've used WD40 to clean some really nasty chains. Combined with 2 toothbrushes taped together, that's all the cleaning any chain has ever needed.
White Lightning is my preferred lube; right now, I'm using Clean Ride on all my bikes but I've used Wet Ride before on a fat bike for beach riding.
Current bbb bikes - Mongoose Beast, Iron Horse Yakuza 5.1. Other bikes - Marin Fairfax, Specialized Sequoia, and Torker Tristar. Other "other" bikes - Cyco-cycle, Razor DXT drifter. Current project - 1995 Specialized Hard Rock to gravel grinder.
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Re: Chain Lube

Postby Tomcat65 » Sun Oct 22, 2017 5:05 pm

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