Best bike chain lubricant?

Discussion in 'Beginners Forum' started by burntoshine, Jan 23, 2010.

  1. burntoshine

    burntoshine Guest

    hi, i just signed up with this forum. i tried searching for lubrication, but nothing came up.

    i just bought an old 1998 schwinn gsx searcher in mint condition. the bike shop must have cleaned everything 'cause the chain and gears look brand new and are bone dry.

    my question is, what should i use for lubrication for the chain and gears? i have wd40, 3-in-1 oil, and some white lithium grease. first of all, should i use grease or oil? my guess would be to use the 3-in-1 oil. should i get something better?

    any help is greatly appreciated.

  2. hophead

    hophead New Member Tavern Member

    I strongly recommend using a specific bicycle chain lube. My personal favorite is Rock & Roll chain lube. It's not only a great lube, but also cleans your chain and helps keep it that way.

    One other thing: Do not lube a new chain! The factory lube is the best stuff around and will typically last for many miles--often well over 100. The factory lube will feel kind of sticky. If your chain is truly dry, go ahead and lube it up.
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2010

  3. CTD50

    CTD50 DX's Biggest Member

    Never tried R&R; used Pedro's Ice Wax (good, but doesn't last long or clean up real well). Also tried Finish Line (YUCK!), and my favorite (a little pricey), Giant Liquid Silk. Unless you're riding in a lot of dust, or really dirty conditions, LS will last more than a couple days. It leaves the chain pretty clean, too.

    Since I don't have deep pockets, Mobil 1 0W-20 motor oil serves as a good heavy-duty lube, and a spray can of stainless steel cleaner/polish works for light duty. Bought the M1 a year and a half ago, still have most of it -- it lasts a WHILE. The SS cleaner/polish is an item from work, tried it one day as a necessary last resort, and was surprised at how good it was.
  4. camilo

    camilo New Member

    Any oil (not grease) used regularly will work fine... even wd40 (which really isn't a great lubricant, but better than nothing).

    3 in 1 will work fine, as will tri-flow, even motor oil.

    The most important thing is to keep it lubed. A bike chain is not a high tech device. It is not subject to extreme forces or temperatures. It's main enemy is road grit. Keeping fresh oil in there (the act of lubricating it drips out a lot of the contamination too), is the best thing you can do, trumping any supposed advantages of technique or product.

    That said, buy a little bottle of bike chain specific oil or make yourself a batch in a oil dripper can (general formula is 3:1 motor oil: odorless mineral spirits).

    Bike chain oil is more expensive than the cheapest alternatives, but it might be better suited than other oils in is ability to penetrate, not attract dirt and stay in place. My opinion is what you're mostly paying for is a slight advantage in functionality, but a good convenient dispenser. At the amoutn you'll use in a year, cost isn't a major factor.

    Simplest way to maintain a chain: wipe it as clean as you can while turning the crank backwards (grab the lower run of chain with a handful of rag). Then drip oil into roller parts of links. The rollers are the only areas needing lubrication, so that's what you should aim for. Let it set for a while, then wipe as clean and dry as you can (agin, using a rag on the lower run of chain while spinning crank backwards). Get everything off the outside of the chain - oil on the outside doesn't lube, and only attracts dirt. Only the oil inside the roller portion lubes. You can't see it. A clean, dry looking chain can be well lubed.

    I add one step to the above: After the first wipe down, I spray a thin oil (like wd40) liberally onto the chain rollers from above (remember, doing this on the lower run of chain), spin it a few times to work it into the rollers, let it drip as much contamination out of the rollers as possible, wipe it dry, then lube.

    some people take their chains off regularly, soak clean (mineral spirits), hang to dry, and then lube. I do that once or twice a year depending on how much I ride (maybe every 7-800 miles).

    I've used those chain cleaning attachments and think they're far more trouble than their worth. They are a real mess and my technique gets me plenty of miles out of my $25 chains. It's not worth the hassle and mess to try to make a chain last a little longer when they're not expensive to begin with.

    Again, bottom line is lube it regularly. All the other stuff is minor in comparison.
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2010
  5. Industry_Hack

    Industry_Hack Total noob (& forum admin) Admin Staff Tavern Member

    Do not use WD-40. There are tons of lubricants out there, but it depends on the riding you do. Wet weather or dusty conditions require different lubricants. All lubes need to get into the moving parts of the chain, the difference is how they get in there, and how they protect those parts from water and other contaminants.
  6. HandsomeRyan

    HandsomeRyan ♥'s Bicycles

    I second this advice 100%. :thumbsup:
  7. burntoshine

    burntoshine Guest

    thanks guys! i definitely didn't want to use wd40. i looked for rock and roll chain lube at my local shop, but they're out of it. i picked up some Finish Line dry lube. i just finished installing a trunk (milk crate) on my bike. i hope i don't have trouble putting both my bike and the wife's bike on the trunk bike rack with that crate mounted on mine.
  8. mikebike

    mikebike Florida Cyclist

    finish line dry should be Great.... I like White Lightning ... it is a personal preference....

    Do not Spray WD40 directly on the chain.... you can spray it on a rag and run the chain through the rag.....then completely wipe it clean then LUBE it with your Finish line.

    that is a good process to clean the chain.