The condition of your bike chain can make or break your entire bike. It is a crucial component of a bike, and you need to take proper care of it. Adding lube to your bike chain is one of the simplest and best things you can do to maintain its proper functioning and durability. However, how do you tell how often you should lube your bike chain?
I neglected my bike for about four weeks without lubing the chains, not even touching the bike. The worst part is that when I chose to ignore maintaining my bike, it was during the wet winter days. And the next time I visited my garage, I found my poor bike in a corner with its handlebars and chain covered in rust.
This was the first and last time I made such a mistake. From that day on, I made sure to clean up my bike and lubricate the chain after every use. Doing so has ensured that my bike works more reliably and smoothly while improving the life expectancy of various parts.
Now, you may also be wondering, what is the proper way of lubing a bike chain? Or, what kind of lubricator should I use? I’ll answer all the questions you have in mind by the end of this article. I’ll also go over other things you need to know about chain lubricating and how to lubricate the chain the right way!
How many times should you lube your bike chain?
In a nutshell:
How often should you lubricate your bike chain depends upon how many times you ride your bike and on the type of route and weather conditions your bike goes through. Most bike enthusiasts suggest you lube your bike at least once or twice a month.
If you ride your bike regularly but on a paved road, lubricating your bike twice a month is fine. Also, in dry, hot weather, the need to lubricate the chains is not as high. But, during winter or rainy seasons, you need to take more care of your bike chain.
Also, if you ride your bike on dirt or through muddy areas, you will want to clean up your bike and lube the chains after every use. Cleaning your bike after every use during such a condition is recommended as excess dirt, water, and moisture will weaken your bike chain if left untreated or cause rusting.
Now that you know when to lube your bicycle chains, let us talk about why it is crucial.
Why do you need to lube your bike chain?
The chains on a bicycle are like the engine of a car or a truck. Without it, you won’t be able to transfer power from the pedals to the wheels and move forward. Also, the chain is located down below on a bike. So, whether your bike has a chain guard or not, the chain can easily pick up dirt, water, mud, etc.
Also, when you are riding a bike, the chain is continuously running and loses lubrication as time goes on. So, without proper lubrication, the chain will wear out very quickly. As such, cleaning and lubricating your chain is the key preventive solution to keep your bike working.
So, to ensure the durability of your bike, make sure to clean it and lubricate your bike chains after every use. I can’t stress how important it is to clean your bike often, after all, buying a bike isn’t cheap, so I’m sure you’d rather clean it often than having to buy a new bike or parts.
Now that you know why lubricating your bike chain is so important. Let’s move on to how you can lubricate your bike chain as well as the types of lubricators you can use.
How to lubricate a bike chain?
First and foremost, clean your bike chain with water and some dish soap. Do not apply high water pressure while washing your chain as doing so might damage bits and parts of the chain; if not the entire chain and gear structure.
Once you are done washing the chains. Wipe off the excess moisture with a clean cloth. If you notice your bike chains are slimy with grease, you can simply wipe it off with a good degreaser. But, make sure to put on latex gloves before using any degreaser or lubricator. For stubborn grime and dirt, you may use a brush or cloth to rub it off.
Make sure that your chain is completely clean before applying a fresh batch of the lubricator. Once you are done with the cleaning and degreasing process, you can opt to dry your chain with a clean rag.
Now, apply an adequate amount of the desired lubricator on to the chain links. The saying “the more, the better” does not apply here. So, use only the required amount of lubricator. And wipe off any excess with the help of a cloth.
Which lubricator should you use on your bike chain?
The type of lubricator you use on your bike chain also plays a vital role in maintaining the durability of your chain. Poor quality lubricators will weaken your bicycle chain just as much as not cleaning it. Household spray lubricators do not do a great job on bike chains, so if you planned to use one, I’m glad you read this first.
Also, do not use vegetable oil or motor oil on your bike chain. These make the chain tacky and also fail to penetrate the chain joints. You want to find lubricating oils that are mineral-based as they are by far the best lubricators for bike chains.
What type of chain lubricator you should use also depends upon the weather or route conditions – dry or wet. There are two main types of bike chain lubricators – dry lubricators and wet lubricators.
Off-road bikers popularly use dry lubricators. But if your chain tends to pick up a lot of dirt or mud along the way, you can use a dry lubricator.
Just as the name suggests, wet lubricators are meant for wet conditions. Constant moisture can lead your chain to rust. So, during rainy days or wet winters, use a good-quality wet lubricator. However, make sure you still clean your chain often while using one as the lube may collect excess dirt.
Frequently Asked Questions about Lubing bike chains:
Is it necessary to clean the chain before lubing?
Yes. This is an essential step. Make sure to clean and degrease your bike chain first before lubing it.
What is ceramic lube?
Ceramic lube protects the bike chain by reducing friction and creating a protective barrier. This lube is also available in both dry and wet versions. However, ceramic lube tends to be more expensive as compared to regular lubes.
Can I use dry lube in wet conditions?
Yes, you can. But make sure to lube your chain after every use. Dry lubes are not water-resistant, so it washes off quickly.
Can I use wet lube in dry conditions?
Wet lube in dry conditions can attract a lot of dirt. If you are fine with washing your bike chain after every use, there is no harm in using wet lube in dry conditions.
By reading this article, we hope you have realized the importance of lubricating your bike chain. We all have our lazy days and may skip the cleaning and lubricating process sometimes. However, if you had a long day riding your bike off-road on water, mud, or any kind of debris, you must clean and lubricate your bike after use.