The condition of your 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 chain is one of the simplest and best things you can do to maintain its proper functioning and durability. However, you might be wondering how often to 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 since it wasn’t protected by a weatherproof bike cover.
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 it two times per month and depending on how often I used it. 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 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 often Should I Lube my Bike Chain?
The Short Answer:
How frequently you lubricate your chain depends on how many times you ride your bike and 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.
Also, if you ride your bike on dirt or through muddy areas, you will want to clean up your bike, use a chain cleaning solution, and lube your chain after every use. Cleaning your bike after every use during such a condition is recommended as excess dirt, water, and moisture will weaken your bicycle chain if left untreated or cause rusting. See our Guide to remove bike chain rust.
Now that you know how often should to lube your bike chain let us talk about why it is crucial.
Why do you need to lube your bicycle 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 your bike’s durability, make sure to clean it and lubricate your bicycle chain 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 than buy a new bike or parts.
Now that you know why lubricating your chain is so important. Let’s move on to how you can go about chain cleaning and lubricating as well as the types of lubricators you can use.
How to lubricate a bike chain?
First and foremost, clean your 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 chain is 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 bicycle chain?
The type of lubricator you use on to lube the chain also plays a vital role in maintaining your chain’s durability. 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 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 chain. These make the chain tacky and also fail to penetrate the chain joints. You want to find lubricating mineral-based oils as they are by far the best lubricators for bike chains.
The type of chain lubricator you should use also depends on the weather or route conditions – dry or wet. There are two main types of chain lubricators – dry lubricators and wet lubricators.
Best Bike Chain Lube
Here are the best bicycle chain lubes that we recommend:
- Finish Line Dry Teflon Lube
- WD40 All Conditions Lube
- Squirt Long Lasting Dry Lube
- Rock n Roll Gold Lube
- ProGold Xtreme Chain Lube
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.
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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.
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Frequently Asked Questions:
Is it necessary to clean the chain before lubing?
Yes. This is an essential step. Make sure to clean and degrease your chain first before lubing it.
What is ceramic lube?
Ceramic lube protects the 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 chain after every use, there is no harm in using wet lube in dry conditions.
How often should I lube my bike chain?
It is important to regularly lubricate your bike chain to maintain its proper functioning and durability. How frequently you lubricate your chain depends on how often you ride your bike and the type of route and weather conditions it is exposed to. For most riders, lubricating the chain at least once or twice a month is sufficient. However, if you ride your bike frequently on dirt or muddy terrain, you should clean and lubricate your chain after every use to prevent excess dirt and moisture from damaging the chain or causing rust.
What is the proper way to lube the rear wheel gear assembly on my bike?
To lubricate the rear wheel gear assembly on your bike, start by shifting the gears into the highest position. Then, apply a small amount of lubricant to the inside of the chain links and rollers, where the most friction occurs. Be sure to wipe off any excess lubricant to avoid attracting dirt and grime. It is also a good idea to lubricate the pivot points on the derailleur and any other moving parts on the rear wheel gear assembly.
Should I use a wet or dry lube on my bike chain?
The type of lubricant you use on your bike chain will depend on the conditions in which you ride. Wet lubricants offer good protection against rust and are suitable for wet or dirty conditions, but they can attract dirt and grime. Dry lubricants are ideal for dry or dusty conditions, as they do not attract dirt, but they may not provide as much protection against rust. Wax-based lubricants offer good protection against rust and dirt, but they can be harder to apply and may require more frequent reapplication. Ultimately, the best lubricant for your bike chain will depend on your specific needs and preferences.
What is the importance of regular bike chain maintenance?
Regular bike chain maintenance is important because it helps to extend the life of your chain and other bike components. A well-maintained chain will run smoothly, shift gears more easily, and require less effort to pedal. Neglecting chain maintenance can lead to increased wear and tear on the chain and other parts, resulting in a shorter lifespan and potentially costly repairs.
Is it necessary to perform bicycle chain cleaning for a commuter bike?
Yes, it is important to regularly clean your bike chain, even if you are using it for commuting. A dirty chain can cause poor shifting performance and increase wear and tear on the chain and other bike components. Cleaning your chain regularly will help to extend its lifespan and maintain optimal performance.
What is the best way to clean a bike’s drive chain?
To clean a bike’s drive chain, start by shifting the gears into the highest position. Then, use a brush or cloth to remove any dirt or debris from the chain. Next, apply a small amount of degreaser or chain cleaning solution to the chain and scrub it with a brush to remove any remaining grime. Finally, rinse the chain with water and dry it with a clean cloth.
How do I avoid getting excess lube on my bike when lubricating the chain?
To avoid getting excess lube on your bike when lubricating the chain, use a small amount of lubricant and focus on applying it to the inside of the chain links and rollers, where the most friction occurs. Be sure to wipe off any excess lubricant with a clean cloth to avoid attracting dirt and grime. It is also a good idea to avoid applying lubricant to the outside of the chain, as this can cause a mess and may not provide any additional benefits.
By reading this article, we hope you have realized the importance of lubricating your 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.
Last Updated on December 20, 2022 by Daniel White