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  1. #1
    Senior Member BlankTim's Avatar
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    Lube & Maintenance Question

    I recently cleaned my chain and gear set to get rid of some nasty grease that was on it, and re-lubed everything with "Tri-Flow Superior Lubricant".
    Fast forward a few weeks and I now have a lot of noise coming from the rear area, I'm guessing it's the derailleur.
    I'm guessing I need to clean and re-lube more often than "whenever I happen to think about it" but I'm not sure what a "good" schedule is.

    Also, is my choice of lubes okay? I haven't been puddle riding or anything, yet, but I really don't want to break something due to this lube not being lube-y enough. It's not my bike, I'm borrowing it from my roomie who doesn't use it, and I really can't afford to replace stuff on it right now.

    Thanks everyone
    Tim
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  2. #2
    Rat Bastard mcoomer's Avatar
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    Tri-Flow isn't really intended for use as a chain lube. Get down to a shop and get some wet or dry lube. I like wet lube when the weather or trails are wet and dry when it's dry. Compare Tri-Flow to a quality wet lube and you'll see that the chain lube is quite a bit thicker, allowing it to cling to the chain and not wash away in the first mud puddle you hit.

    If you're riding MTB, just let the mud dry, brush everything off real good (derailleurs, pulleys, cassette, chinrings, chain) then saturate the chain with lube while pedalling slowly. Hold a rag against the chain and pedal slowly and allow the rag to pull off as much of the lube as you can. After that, apply another generous coat, pedal and shift through all the cogs and chainrings, and you're good to go. If you on a road bike, I'm more picky about cleaning and will wipe everything down with a clean, soft cloth until it shines then repeat the above with a dry or wet lube, depending on the season. About every 3 months or so I'll load up a chain cleaner and really scrub the chain.

    Mike
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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by BlankTim View Post
    Fast forward a few weeks and I now have a lot of noise coming from the rear area, I'm guessing it's the derailleur.
    "A lot of noise" is more likely an indication that something needs adjusting. If the bike is new the dealer will usually do the first tune-up at no cost. If you want to learn to do your own adjustments try the instructions found at: http://www.parktool.com and http://www.shimano.com. Other good sources of information are found at: http://www.sheldonbrown.com and your owner's manual.

    Al

  4. #4
    Listen to me powers2b's Avatar
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    How often you lube is infinitely more important than what you lube with.
    Tri-flow is fine but costs $$$.
    A big bottle of 3-n-1 oil from the hardware store works just as well for less $.
    Quote Originally Posted by SBFixed View Post
    You're a dick, if your bike gets stolen I hope that you don't get a thread.

  5. #5
    Senior Member BlankTim's Avatar
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    mcoomer, thanks.
    Is there a specific lube you'd recommend, or just whatever I can get my hands on? There's only two LBS in town; Performance, and another that I won't go to because they care more about being a boutique than being a bike shop. It's pretty dry right now here in Colorado, but that will change in a couple more months I'm sure.

    Al1943 - Is it normal for stuff to loosen up through use?
    I know that sounds kind of stupid to ask, but I didn't have this issue before I cleaned the bike, and I didn't have it for a couple of weeks after. It pretty much started after I changed my ride to get out of the neighborhood and onto the streets, where I'm working a lot harder. Is it possible I'm just stressing the equipment a bit (lot) more and things are stretching out?
    How often should I adjust things? Is just based on how noisy it gets, or is there a sort of "general recommended service period" like there is with my car?

    Please, be gentle, I know dick-all about bikes

    Thanks!
    Tim
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  6. #6
    Senior Member z415's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BlankTim View Post
    mcoomer, thanks.
    Is there a specific lube you'd recommend, or just whatever I can get my hands on?

    Al1943 - Is it normal for stuff to loosen up through use?
    Is it possible I'm just stressing the equipment a bit (lot) more and things are stretching out?
    How often should I adjust things? Is just based on how noisy it gets, or is there a sort of "general recommended service period" like there is with my car?
    Any lube that says it is for chains should do fine. I use many different ones because I have only been biking for 3 years and am in the process of finding my favorite. Some here even use their own mixture of motor oil and some stuff but what I currently use is Finish Line Wet Lubricant that is green and smells minty (I think) and it good for less dusty conditions since it is s little thicker and dust can stick to it. It works well and lasts a long time. I also use it to lube up all the moving parts of the RD that some here may use Tri-FLow for instead.

    Yes, stuff does normally loosen up, but usually over a period of time or a lot of riding. For example, chains stretch and there are break in periods for shifters. Brake pads don't work the best right away. Saddles are uncomfortable right away. Some pedals take time to loosen up. I adjust things when I hear noises or feel that it is off.

    There is a general maintenance that I have in one of my bike's manuals and it suggest weekly wipe down and lube of chain, monthly cleaning and check/adjustment of drive train (RD/FD/etc.), and yearly total bike cleaning. I personally overhaul a whole bike every 6 months of so and leave it alone in between and suspect that recommended schedule is for racers or people that really put in a lot of miles or maybe ot make LBSs money.

    P.S. I use White Lightning for my road bike which is a wax based lube that creates a waxy coat over everything so dirt does not stick. It is not as smooth as petroleum based stuff and because the wax wears down with friction, you need to reapply it quite a bit more, maybe every 50 miles or less instead of a lot more. I did not do that and my chain rusted so yea....
    Last edited by z415; 09-03-08 at 04:52 PM.
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  7. #7
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    Check the phone book or the internet. Fort Collins has a lot of LBS's. I like full cycle on College Ave.

  8. #8
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    Noises are too hard to try to diagnose here without actually hearing it. If the noise is not there after you lube then you ride for awhile then the noise slowly comes back, only to go away again after lubing then returns, then you probably dealing with lube problem or a worn chain and or gears.

    I use to use TriFlow years ago on my chains and I never had any problems with it; in fact most LBS's still use TriFlow today in their shops. I've even used Speed Skate Lube intended for skate bearings on my chains and that stuff worked great except it only comes in a spray thus I no longer use it for that purpose. My favorite is the Finish Line lubes, any of their lubes are just fantastic.

    One thing about lubing that most people don't realize, is that first you must clean your chain, let it dry, then after you've applied any lube you have to let it dry for at least 8 hours. Maybe that's why your TriFlow didn't hold up?
    Last edited by froze; 09-03-08 at 07:56 PM.

  9. #9
    Senior Member BlankTim's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by froze View Post
    One thing about lubing that most people don't realize, is that first you must clean your chain, let it dry, then after you've applied any lube you have to let it dry for at least 8 hours. Maybe that's why your TriFlow didn't hold up?
    Ahhhh, you know, as I recall, I didn't let it dry after I lubed. I just took it for a ride and had a good time. I bet I slung a bunch of it off, and the rest just wore off through use.
    I'll get back to it this week sometime I'm sure, (just changed schedules at work so no riding the next few days anyway ), but I'll clean and re-lube again, and just let everything dry really good first. I'm also going to go shopping and find something along the lines of the dry lube that mcoomer was talking about.
    Hopefully, I can sort it all out, before I break anything.

    Thanks everyone, I appreciate the help.
    Tim
    “He attacked everything in life with a mix of extraordinary genius and naive incompetence, and it was often difficult to tell which was which.” ― Douglas Adams

  10. #10
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    I'm seeing some suspect info here, and let me tell you -- the lightest Mobil 1 synthetic you can get (I got 0W-20 at W-M), applied from an eyedropper-type bottle, will set you up fine. 3-n-1 is less than ideal for bike chains, and I have NEVER, even from Sheldon Brown, heard about an 8-hour drying time. And no, you don't have to 'clean' the chain every time.

    I've tried Tri-Flow -- didn't like it. Tried Finish Line -- didn't like it. Tried Pedro's Ice Wax -- sweet, but too short-lived. Tried Giant's 'Liquid Silk', or something like that -- very sweet! But the Mobil 1 has served me well for over a year and a half.

  11. #11
    Senior Member z415's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ATAC49er View Post
    3-n-1 is less than ideal for bike chains, and I have NEVER, even from Sheldon Brown, heard about an 8-hour drying time. And no, you don't have to 'clean' the chain every time.
    Agreed.

    3-in-1 is too light and will need to be applied way too often as the original suggester implied and I doubt its protective abilities.

    Dry time for petroleum based lubes seems pointless. It doesn't dry and it won't work its way into important areas without agitation (hence directions that tell you to backpedal while applying) which can be achieved by riding. I have never read a label that tells you to let it dry except for dry and/or wax lubes. I only spin it a bit to get off excess and then wipe.

    Anything abrasive (sand, etc.) needs to be cleaned off - brush or something, but you don't *need* to take the chain off and soak it and what not every time. You can do it and your chain might last 100 miles more, but you don't *need* to.

    Mobil 1 is excellent and is going to be my next next chain lube and next engine oil. My next chain lube will be Castrol Syntec. I have also use a Teflon fortified motorcycle chain lube with success, but a LBS mech said that it would be too "thick" which I now know is ridiculous since it is definitely lighter than the Finish Line I am using now and a few others I have seen.
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  12. #12
    Senior Member z415's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ATAC49er View Post
    3-n-1 is less than ideal for bike chains, and I have NEVER, even from Sheldon Brown, heard about an 8-hour drying time. And no, you don't have to 'clean' the chain every time.
    Agreed.

    3-in-1 is too light and will need to be applied way too often as the original suggester implied and I doubt its protective abilities.

    Dry time for petroleum based lubes seems pointless. It doesn't dry and it won't work its way into important areas without agitation (hence directions that tell you to backpedal while applying) which can be achieved by riding. I have never read a label that tells you to let it dry except for dry and/or wax lubes. I only spin it a bit to get off excess and then wipe.

    Anything abrasive (sand, etc.) needs to be cleaned off - brush or something, but you don't *need* to take the chain off and soak it and what not every time. You can do it and your chain might last 100 miles more, but you don't *need* to.

    Mobil 1 is excellent and is going to be my next next chain lube and next engine oil. I plan on trying some leftover Castrol Syntec next. I have also used a Teflon fortified motorcycle chain lube with success, but a LBS mech said that it would be too "thick" which might make sense at first though I now know is wrong since it is definitely lighter than the Finish Line I am using now and a few others I have seen.
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  13. #13
    Senior Member BCRider's Avatar
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    The synthetic stuff is nice but if it's just a borrowed bike it's pricey. And as you're finding out oiling more often and wiping off the excess is sort of a partial way of cleaning the chain. With that in mind get a quart of cheap 10-30 car oil from the local autoparts place and just use that. If you keep a little squirt bottle of it handy and lube every couple of days after the ride and blot off the excess by backpedalling the chain through a wad of paper towel you may well find that you never need to clean it at all. The oil itself is actually an excellent "solvent" if it's used often enough in this manner.

    Mind you while I truly believe this last bit of advice and have always intended to try it I'm guilty of procrastination and neglect and have yet to actually put a bottle of oil and paper towels in the bike parking spot and try it.
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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by BCRider View Post
    The synthetic stuff is nice but if it's just a borrowed bike it's pricey. And as you're finding out oiling more often and wiping off the excess is sort of a partial way of cleaning the chain. With that in mind get a quart of cheap 10-30 car oil from the local autoparts place and just use that. If you keep a little squirt bottle of it handy and lube every couple of days after the ride and blot off the excess by backpedalling the chain through a wad of paper towel you may well find that you never need to clean it at all. The oil itself is actually an excellent "solvent" if it's used often enough in this manner.

    Mind you while I truly believe this last bit of advice and have always intended to try it I'm guilty of procrastination and neglect and have yet to actually put a bottle of oil and paper towels in the bike parking spot and try it.
    You are cheap. A quart of Mobil 1 is pricey! A quart should last years.
    You're just trying to start an argument to show how smart you are.

  15. #15
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    I use to use motor oil when I was a kid for my chains, but motor oil NEVER dries; sure it worked great for lubricating as any oil would, but it attracted dirt faster then you could say the word "dirt"! It's a dirt magnet! The same is true with synthetic motor oil; this stuff is not intended for external use, it is intended for internal use with a filter; but it would work in a pinch. A dry lube that literally dries to the touch after about 8 hours, Finish Line says 4 on their bottle, but I put on and let it dry overnight because I still found it a tad moist after 4. Dry oils go on wet due to the carrier which allows the oil to run into crevices then the carrier evaporates away leaving a dry lubricating film, much like liquid wax only better and stronger.

    I clean the chain before I relube, why you scream? because would you go to your local oil changer for your car and tell them to change the oil but leave the filter alone because it's ridiculas to clean the oil? But somehow it's ok to leave the chain dirty while you relube? If you want your chain and gears to last longer then take the extra 5 to 10 minutes and clean the chain and gears before you relube.

    Cleaning a chain doesn't have to be a radical remove the chain and drop it in a bottle of solvent routine. I use the Finish Line chain cleaning machine (use any chain cleaning machine by running the chain SLOWLY through it or it will splatter everywhere); the machine takes only 5 minutes to do and since I clean the chain every 100 miles or so the solvent comes out barely darkened. I only do the remove the chain routine once a year. My chains routinely last over 15,000 miles and my gear clusters last over 40,000 miles...tell me that cleaning doesn't work! Hey don't clean your chain, just buy new ones every time you buy tires!!!!

  16. #16
    Senior Member DannoXYZ's Avatar
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    I used to be anal about cleaning my chain too. I spent top-dollar to top-shelf oils with all the latest high-tech stuff. One of my motivations in working at shoppe was to get stuff at a discount! After getting busy with school, working and training for racing, I didn't have the time for my 100-mile oil-changes anymore. Tuition took away my oil-allowance and I resorted to motor-oil (Honda recommends motor-oil for their motorcycle chains). With 500-miles between oil-changes, without a full-flush, I still got over 10k-miles out of a chain.

    So it's a subjective thing. Do you want to spend $10 for oil and spend 20-hours cleaning it to save $5 on a new chain? Or you can spend $1 for a quart of motor-oil, spend just 2-hours cleaning and buy a new chain 5k-miles sooner. Actually that quart will last 20x longer than the $10 little bottles of oil, so the cost savings alone will buy you new chains for free! Not to mention the worth of your time in the labour market.

  17. #17
    Senior Member BCRider's Avatar
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    I tried a couple of the dry lubes and around here neither of them prevented the chain rusting like oil does. They don't call this the Pacific North"Wet" region for nothing....

    Yeah, oil is a dirt magnet but it only takes a very thin film to prevent rust and provide lubrication. So if you put it on and then wipe most of it off you get a thin relatively low stick surface that resists rusting for a week or more even during our worst rainy times. In a dry climate it works for weeks.
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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by BCRider View Post
    I tried a couple of the dry lubes and around here neither of them prevented the chain rusting like oil does. They don't call this the Pacific North"Wet" region for nothing....

    Yeah, oil is a dirt magnet but it only takes a very thin film to prevent rust and provide lubrication. So if you put it on and then wipe most of it off you get a thin relatively low stick surface that resists rusting for a week or more even during our worst rainy times. In a dry climate it works for weeks.
    Really? Dry lubes didn't prevent your chain from rusting? Wow, myself and all my biking buddies are just plain lucky then, because we all use dry lubes and none of our chains are rusting. By the way if you can't tell, I live in Indiana...it rains here too, it also snows...did you know that the city and county around here uses salt on the roads when it snow or gets icy? Hmmmm.

    They don't call this area the Rust Belt for nothing.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by DannoXYZ View Post
    I used to be anal about cleaning my chain too. I spent top-dollar to top-shelf oils with all the latest high-tech stuff. One of my motivations in working at shoppe was to get stuff at a discount! After getting busy with school, working and training for racing, I didn't have the time for my 100-mile oil-changes anymore. Tuition took away my oil-allowance and I resorted to motor-oil (Honda recommends motor-oil for their motorcycle chains). With 500-miles between oil-changes, without a full-flush, I still got over 10k-miles out of a chain.

    So it's a subjective thing. Do you want to spend $10 for oil and spend 20-hours cleaning it to save $5 on a new chain? Or you can spend $1 for a quart of motor-oil, spend just 2-hours cleaning and buy a new chain 5k-miles sooner. Actually that quart will last 20x longer than the $10 little bottles of oil, so the cost savings alone will buy you new chains for free! Not to mention the worth of your time in the labour market.
    Good points! Actually I don't spend money on top shelf stuff because as you said that stuff is expensive with very little pay back if any. I use the Finish Line product but that stuff is considered cost wise middle of the road.

    Your points about the cost and time savings is good but you over did it just a tad. While it may take 20 hours of time of the life time of a chain (factoring 15k miles on my chains, and I am assuming you mean over the lifespan of the chain), but I only spend no more then 10 minutes each time to clean and lube a chain with one of those machines. In reality, because I do get lazy, I really go between 100 to 250 miles between cleanings and oilings depending on what weather was exposed to the chain.

  20. #20
    Senior Member z415's Avatar
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    I've used White Lightning and my chain rusted pretty badly, but I just did not reapply it enough. I have learned that a lot of LBSs around here have no clue what they are talking about when it comes to maintenance, especially if their hands are not greasy.
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    Tri-Flow is an *excellent* lubricant, but you need to understand something about it.
    Follow this link and read paragraph titled "Motorcycle-type Chain Lubes":

    http://www.sheldonbrown.com/chains.html#oil

    When you use it on a chain, you need to wait until the solvent has evaporated before riding the bike, else it splatters all over the place. An easy way to tell if the solvent is gone is to sniff the chain; If you can smell it, there is still solvent there. Once the solvent has evaporated, it is odorless and won't splatter. I wait at least 24 hours before riding a freshly-lubed chain.

  22. #22
    Senior Member z415's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shimagnolo View Post
    When you use it on a chain, you need to wait until the solvent has evaporated before riding the bike, else it splatters all over the place. An easy way to tell if the solvent is gone is to sniff the chain; If you can smell it, there is still solvent there. Once the solvent has evaporated, it is odorless and won't splatter. I wait at least 24 hours before riding a freshly-lubed chain.
    Will not apply for me and my motorcycle chain Teflon fortified stuff. I never intentionally let it dry, but I had before as in I lube and I end up doing something else. A couple of days later, after I had wiped it down (standard procedure), I still get little speckles of lube all on my calf after I commute or go on a ride.

    Maybe the stuff I have is just different and technically it does "dry" - I have a circle of black slick goop under where my bike goes, but that was accumulated from years of drip on the tile. With the stuff I use, it would take a week to dry, if not more. I know for sure: I use it to lube my door hinges and it is still slick and very wet (did it last week).

    Plus, my stuff doesn't smell at all.

    And my Finish Line always smell somewhat minty, I guess - its green...... That barely sprays less since it is thicker.
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  23. #23
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    Another ****ing lube thread. Give me a break. Learn to use the search people.
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  24. #24
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    84 Trek 660 Suntour Superbe; 87 Giant Rincon Shimano XT; 07 Mercian Vincitore Campy Veloce
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    Quote Originally Posted by z415 View Post
    I've used White Lightning and my chain rusted pretty badly, but I just did not reapply it enough.
    That's because wax has no antirust inhibitors, and on top of all of that it's a poor and short lived lubricant.

  25. #25
    Banned.
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Fort Wayne, Indiana
    My Bikes
    84 Trek 660 Suntour Superbe; 87 Giant Rincon Shimano XT; 07 Mercian Vincitore Campy Veloce
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    Quote Originally Posted by operator View Post
    Another ****ing lube thread. Give me a break. Learn to use the search people.
    You know, your absolutely correct!! This is another falkin lube thread. You want to know something else? Everything that could ever be discussed about bicycles (and more) have been discussed at some time in the past. With your attitude no one should EVER have to post another question EVER again, just do a search.

    So um, why do you put in your 2 cents in here Operator?

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