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  1. #1
    pedal head
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    Anything wrong with white lithium grease?

    I will be repacking a headset in the next few days and was wondering of there is anything wrong with the thick white lithium grease. I used is on headsets and bolt threads in the past and have not seen any adverse effects, but would like an opinion (or 2). I'm sure there are better products available, but they are expensive and not sure if it will make a difference.
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    Team Beer Cynikal's Avatar
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    This is what we use at our co-op and what I use at home.
    I'm not one for fawning over bicycles, but I do believe that our bikes communicate with us, and what this bike is saying is, "You're an idiot." BikeSnobNYC

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    me have long head tube TallRider's Avatar
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    Not an ideal product for bicycle bearing applications. Lithium grease is thin and doesn't last very long. Because of its low viscosity, professional mechanics used to pack racer's wheel and bottom bracket bearings with lithium grease, but those bikes were overhauled regularly so durability of the grease wasn't a concern, only the low viscosity to contribute to less "sticky" resistance in the bearings.
    I'd recommend any standard waterproof bearing grease. Phil Wood grease is great for bicycle bearings, including headsets, but you could also pick up thicker (higher viscosity) bearing grease at any auto or marine store.

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    Senior Member yeamac's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by timcupery
    but you could also pick up thicker (higher viscosity) bearing grease at any auto or marine store.
    I've seen this same statement posted here on BF before. But I also read elsewhere (can't recall where) NOT to use Automotive grease on bikes because that is designed for high temperature and has different properties (perhaps thicker) and is not as good for use on bikes. Sorry I don't have a link to post, but google and maybe you'll find better information on the topic.

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    jcm
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    I've used white grease on front hub re-packs before. It seems to work well enough even though I tend to agree with the above remarks. I do wonder how it'll stay put in one of the rare hot spells we get here occasionally...

    Standard wheel bearing grease is probably more durable, but the red stuff I see at the LBS is kind of in-between - consistency of petroleum jelly.

  6. #6
    You know you want to. Eatadonut's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by yeamac
    I've seen this same statement posted here on BF before. But I also read elsewhere (can't recall where) NOT to use Automotive grease on bikes because that is designed for high temperature and has different properties (perhaps thicker) and is not as good for use on bikes. Sorry I don't have a link to post, but google and maybe you'll find better information on the topic.
    Temperatures aren't that different - I've been using trailer bearing grease for a few years now to pack all my hubs, and had wonderful results. I would also think white lithium grease is a little thin for the job - though I've heard of track racers running oil in their bearings on race day, I'm not sure that's the best for durability purposes (besides, it leaks all over the place which can be dangerous). Lithium grease is great for just about every other part on your bike, though. Pretty much all my screws are rubbed with it before installation.
    Weather today: Hot. Humid. Potholes.

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    Solo Rider, always DFL
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    The Finish Line Teflon grease doesn't feel that different to my fingers from white lithium, but I don't know whether it breaks down differently. I was told the Finish Line Teflon was fine for packing bearings... hope so

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    me have long head tube TallRider's Avatar
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    Finish Line Teflon is fine for bike bearings.
    Automotive or Marine bearing grease is designed for higher forces/temps than happens on bikes, but it works fine with bike applications and lasts a long time. The higher viscosity means very slightly more rolling resistance in the bearings, but not at a level that's practically noticeable.
    And again, White Lithium grease just ain't a durable bearing grease.

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    My bike's better than me! neil0502's Avatar
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    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by timcupery
    Finish Line Teflon is fine for bike bearings.
    Automotive or Marine bearing grease is designed for higher forces/temps than happens on bikes, but it works fine with bike applications and lasts a long time. The higher viscosity means very slightly more rolling resistance in the bearings, but not at a level that's practically noticeable.
    And again, White Lithium grease just ain't a durable bearing grease.
    Funny it used to be...I have several tubes of white lithium carrying the Schwinn approved seal. FWIW unless you are a hard core rider/race the white lithium will work fine. It may need attention sooner than the other types of grease. I prefer Phil Wood products and only use something else if I get in a bind.

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    Absolutely nothing wrong with lithium grease. Very tasty on crackers or bruschetta.
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  12. #12
    pedal head
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    Quote Originally Posted by neil0502
    I like that price. One thing that drives me crazy about bikes is that manufacterers can sometimes charge twice as much because they know people love their bike and want to take good care of them. I might get some of that...
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    Brown lithium grease?

    Is there anything wrong the brown lithium grease? Being a rank amateur mechanic, I overhauled an old Schwinn using grade 1-1/2 lithium grease (it's brown in color) I bought at the hardware store. Why won't it last a long time, what does that mean anyway? I do know lithium grease generally isn't waterproof, does this matter as long as I don't get it soaked?

    tia...

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    Banned Big_knob's Avatar
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    I can't believe how many "which grease" threads there are!
    As for myself , after using many,many, various "bike specific" & "automotive" greases through the years,
    I have settled on Sta-Lube's Moly-Graph( Lithium based) AUTOMOTIVE bearing grease.Quite slick & smooth along with being waterproof .
    I have also found that this PARTICULAR grease DOES perform better than many "bike specific" greases.


    Whatever spins your wheel

  15. #15
    Senior Member MrCjolsen's Avatar
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    I just built up a fixie and greased the bottom bracket and headset with white lithium grease.

    It's oozing out the spindles and over the top of the fork. I've got the only bike in the world that drips oil on the garage floor.

  16. #16
    pedal head
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    Quote Originally Posted by MrCjolsen
    I just built up a fixie and greased the bottom bracket and headset with white lithium grease.

    It's oozing out the spindles and over the top of the fork. I've got the only bike in the world that drips oil on the garage floor.
    In my "shop" I have two different white lithium greases: One that is in a tube and thicker than toothpaste and another that is in a spray can.

    I have noticed the the thick stuff never goes anywhere, but the thinner stuff is best for just spraying into cable housings etc...
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    Sometimes knows stuff. rmfnla's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eatadonut
    Temperatures aren't that different - I've been using trailer bearing grease for a few years now to pack all my hubs, and had wonderful results. I would also think white lithium grease is a little thin for the job - though I've heard of track racers running oil in their bearings on race day, I'm not sure that's the best for durability purposes (besides, it leaks all over the place which can be dangerous). Lithium grease is great for just about every other part on your bike, though. Pretty much all my screws are rubbed with it before installation.
    The thicker stuff holds the bearing balls in place better while you're re-assembling the hub.
    Today, I believe my jurisdiction ends here...

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by probable556
    I will be repacking a headset in the next few days and was wondering of there is anything wrong with the thick white lithium grease. I used is on headsets and bolt threads in the past and have not seen any adverse effects, but would like an opinion (or 2). I'm sure there are better products available, but they are expensive and not sure if it will make a difference.
    The short answer is it will probably be fine. Here are some goods links about grease that I've collected.

    http://www.rocklube.com/reviews.html
    http://www.rocklube.com/reviews.html
    http://www.engineersedge.com/lubrica...ies_grease.htm
    http://www.usace.army.mil/publicatio...2-1424/c-5.pdf
    http://autospeed.drive.com.au/cms/article.html?&A=0837
    http://www.bestsynthetic.com/edu-grease.shtml
    http://www.fammllc.com/famm/publicat...lletins_08.pdf
    http://www.contentmart.com/ContentMa...=327&content=1
    http://www.amstedrail.com/tech_sheets/9202.asp
    http://www2.nynas.com/naph/start/art...=433&Sec_ID=55
    http://www2.nynas.com/naph/start/art...=433&Sec_ID=55
    http://www.machinerylubrication.com/...?articleid=798
    It's not rocket surgery.

  19. #19
    Banned Big_knob's Avatar
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    What a bunch of weirdo's ya'll Make me laugh with your grease fetishes

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by neil0502
    That's the same stuff I use. You can get it at any Home Depot and a can for bike use will probably last a lifetime.

  21. #21
    me have long head tube TallRider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wahoonc
    Funny [white lithium grease] used to be [a durable grease]...I have several tubes of white lithium carrying the Schwinn approved seal. FWIW unless you are a hard core rider/race the white lithium will work fine. It may need attention sooner than the other types of grease. I prefer Phil Wood products and only use something else if I get in a bind.
    No, it's not a particularly durable grease, and there are certainly lots of better greases out there for bicycle bearing applications.
    And ironically, it was a good grease for racing applications, which I'd noted in my first post on this thread (you were responding to the second) because of its low viscosity and thus slightly lowered rolling resistance in the wheelbearings.

  22. #22
    cyclist/gearhead/cycli... moxfyre's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by probable556
    I will be repacking a headset in the next few days and was wondering of there is anything wrong with the thick white lithium grease. I used is on headsets and bolt threads in the past and have not seen any adverse effects, but would like an opinion (or 2). I'm sure there are better products available, but they are expensive and not sure if it will make a difference.
    There's nothing wrong with it. I used it for a couple years and it works fine. It gets fairly hard and crusty and separates a bit after a year or two even if it isn't dirty.

    I now use marine wheel bearing grease (designed for the bearings of boat trailers which have to be pushed into the water). It is extremely waterproof and durable, and several very knowledgeable people on Bikeforums suggested it to me (lawkd has done some research and thinks it's just about the best grease for bike parts out there ). You can get it at any marine/boat store and many Home Depots as well.
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  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by moxfyre
    There's nothing wrong with it. I used it for a couple years and it works fine. It gets fairly hard and crusty and separates a bit after a year or two even if it isn't dirty.

    I now use marine wheel bearing grease (designed for the bearings of boat trailers which have to be pushed into the water). It is extremely waterproof and durable, and several very knowledgeable people on Bikeforums suggested it to me (lawkd has done some research and thinks it's just about the best grease for bike parts out there ). You can get it at any marine/boat store and many Home Depots as well.
    Between Calcium, lithium, amd polyurea thickened grease, the calcium is the worst for bicycles. Marine bearing grease is thickened with calcium. Lithium is used in roller bearing applications. This is because roller bearings aren't as hard on the grease so it is not necessary to pay the extra price for polyurea. Polyurea is more durable and is the best grease for ball bearings.

    "Calcium soaps: Conventional calcium soap or lime-based greases are prepared by reacting fatty acids or esters with calcium hydroxide in a mineral-oil medium. As a result of the small, closely packed fibres which constitute their structural framework, products thus produced have a smooth texture.

    The principal advantages of calcium-soap greases are:

    They are, perhaps, the least expensive soap-based greases to manufacture.
    They are not emulsifiable in water; therefore, they resist washout from bearings. At low temperatures, they suffer no phase transformation and remain pumpable.
    Their major disadvantage is that the maximum working temperature of water-stabilized, calcium-soap greases is only about 90 degrees C; greases derived from 12-hydroxystearate can function at 120 to 130 degrees C. Calcium-soap greases are primarily used to lubricate water pumps, wire ropes and machinery components operating under mild conditions. Their use in plain and rolling-element bearings(ball bearings)is severely limited by their low thermal stability and susceptibility to shear"

    "Polyurea greases are characterized by good water resistance and good thermal stability. Because of their durability, polyurea greases are frequently used in sealed-for-life bearings which are filled during assembly, permanently sealed and operated without relubrication for the normal life of the equipment. Polyurea greases tend to be more costly than conventional soap-based greases because they require more sophisticated processing and their raw materials are more expensive. The poor pumpability of certain polyurea greases limits their use in large centralized systems"
    copied from http://autospeed.drive.com.au/cms/article.html?&A=0837

    "(a) Polyurea is the most important organic nonsoap thickener. It is a low-molecular-weight organic
    polymer produced by reacting amines (an ammonia derivative) with isocyanates, which results in an oil- soluble chemical thickener. Polyurea grease has outstanding resistance to oxidation because it contains no metal soaps(calcium) (which tend to invite oxidation). It effectively lubricates over a wide temperature range of -20 to 177 EC (-4 to 350 EF) and has long life. Water-resistance is good to excellent, depending on the grade. It works well with many elastomer seal materials. It is used with all types of bearings but has been particularly effective in ball bearings. Its durability makes it well suited for sealed-for-life bearing applications."
    copied from http://www.usace.army.mil/publicatio...2-1424/c-5.pdf
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  24. #24
    me have long head tube TallRider's Avatar
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    Interesting stuff, Pete. Though this theoretically contradicts the experience of lots of people who've found marine (bearing) grease to be durable for bicycle applications. Unless we've been using marine bearing greases that are polyurea-based, which is possible.

    What I'm interested in: do you know what greases, have which properties? Could you explain more the practical downsides of calcium-thickened grease? Etc. How is Phil Wood's grease made? And so on.
    Thanks.

    Plus, the maximum temperature for calcium grease seems just fine for bicycle bearings. Ever touched your hub and burnt your hand because it was near-boiling (90 degrees Celsius)? I didn't think so.
    Last edited by TallRider; 01-04-07 at 09:46 AM.

  25. #25
    cyclist/gearhead/cycli... moxfyre's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pete Hamer
    Between Calcium, lithium, amd polyurea thickened grease, the calcium is the worst for bicycles. Marine bearing grease is thickened with calcium. Lithium is used in roller bearing applications. This is because roller bearings aren't as hard on the grease so it is not necessary to pay the extra price for polyurea. Polyurea is more durable and is the best grease for ball bearings.
    .
    .
    .
    Pete, this is very interesting stuff, though seems to contradict a lot of folks' experience. My "West Marine Wheel Bearing Grease" does not have a complete ingredient list but does say "lithium complex". There is no mention of any calcium in it.

    If calcium is bad for ball bearings, I am not sure why marine grease would contain it, since marine grease is meant for use on ball bearings... ball bearings that get immersed in water, to be exact
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