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Old 06-21-08, 11:35 PM   #1
Leo1903
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Routine Bike Lubrication

What is a good maintanance routine to lube moving parts - ???Km/miles or monthly? Should one use different grades of lubes for different mechanical parts, i.e. chains vs. components containing bearings? What lubes should one buy?
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Old 06-22-08, 12:05 AM   #2
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How long is a piece of string? How deep is half a hole?

It really does depend on the conditions you ride in? If you only ever ride on tarmac roads in fair weather, then you can get away with re-lubing every month. But if you take your bike off-road when it is peeing down and muddy re-lubing everyday may be the way to go. That again will dictate your choice of lube, if you are constantly riding in wet conditions you are going to need either a very water resistant lube (no matter it be the chain or the BB), or re-lube every day or so.

But as a general rule... bearings need grease, your chain will need a light oil. But again... specific recommendations do depend upon the conditions you ride in. Let us know that, and you may find more helpful replies.
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Old 06-22-08, 09:00 AM   #3
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Any part that moves will need lubrication, the condition you ride in deteremines the interval of application. Stuff like derailleur pivot points, barrel adjusters, chains, hubs, headsets will start (if they are not sealed cartridge) becoming seized when ridden in bad weather, especially if it's being commuted on.

Cables, etc the list goes on.
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Old 06-22-08, 04:23 PM   #4
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Thanks for your replies. I guess you've answered my questions.

I have a bike which I use mostly in nice summer weather, in which case I should lube monthly.

My winter beater/year round work-horse on the other hand, should get treatment maybe even daily, depending on the circumstances.
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Old 06-22-08, 05:13 PM   #5
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There's no need at all to lube most of the stuff monthy. A good grade of boat trailer water resistant wheel bearing grease will easily last a year or even three if you don't ride often or in harsh wet conditions. On the other hand the chain and sprockets will benifit from a clean and re-oil whenever the chain looks black or feels gritty. This can equate to a chain clean and lube every 1/2 dozen rides if you see a lot of rain during that 3 days of back and forth.

Generally if there's ball bearings involved like in the hubs or steering head then clean and grease once every couple of years or once a year if you commute heavily in bad weather. Also when you wash the bike set the spray nozzle to a force that you would use on a fairly delicate garden plant. No strong blasts or you'll find it pushes water in past the seals very easily.

Brake and shifter cables can benifit from a thin wipe of a light oil. No grease here as it is too sticky. However the shifter pods or grip shift units generally need some grease inside them to work smoothly rather than oil.

For oil you can go Triflo like so many here do or you can buy a bottle of 10-30 motor oil and use the same bottle for the rest of your life provided it's only for bicycles. That and the little tub of water resistant boat trailer bearing grease and you're all set.
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Old 06-22-08, 05:58 PM   #6
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Also be careful of some cables and their housings. Some types do not require lubrication, in fact lubricating these can be detrimental.

A good plan is to have a sealed BB fitted, you can forget about lubricating them for about two years... and then just replace it. Same to with pedals, go for the type with sealed bearings. The BB and pedals have a lot of road debris thrown at them.
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Old 06-22-08, 06:39 PM   #7
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Back in the days when men were men and all bike frames were steel we used to overhaul our hubs every few weeks. I never did my bottom bracket or headset bearings that often but I probably should have because they were almost always dry when I finally took them apart.

Sealed bearing systems have really cut into service intervals. I MIGHT do my hubs once a year. Cartridge bearing bottom brackets and headsets have virtually eliminated their need for overhauls.

Chains are the exception. Your chain sits out in the weather and, every time that you ride in the rain, the front wheel constantly pumps water onto it as you go down the road. If you're alert you will hear noise as your chain begins to get dry. It's an "as needed" rather than a frequency interval maintenance item. Clean it first, put a small amount of lube onto it and let it rest. After a passage of time (overnight would be great) try to wipe off all of the lube that you put on the day before.

I seldom to never lube derailleur pivots, brake pivots and the like. I am particular about keeping them clean. If you do that, they don't require much lubrication.
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Old 06-22-08, 06:49 PM   #8
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The better BB's are pretty good. I've been schlepping back and forth through beaucoup rain year after year and the LX level BB's on my two square taper bikes are still going strong some 8 and 10 years later. The other has an LX or XT level ISIS BB and it's been going strong for about 7 years. No grind'y sounds yet.... But I've got this creaky seat.... er.... saddle I mean. Well, sometimes the seat creaks too. Especially after some chili.....

I've done a few V brake rebuilds to get some lube into the sleeve and pivot when they stiffen up and even rebuilt a couple of sidepull calipers. But usually they'll go for literally years with no attention. The choice of metals or plastics they use takes care of the lack of lube usually. Most often when I do tackle them it's due to grit jamming things up or from the center bolt rusting and the rust jamming things.
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