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Thread: Lube questions

  1. #1
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    Lube questions

    I've been using Finish Line Teflon Lube on my bikes so far and have been satisfied with it--both the wet and dry versions, depending on riding conditions.

    But the price of it is getting a little ridiculous! My bike shop is now charging $8.99 for a 4oz. bottle. So I thought I'd see what they had at Walmart and found a very similar type of Wet and dry versions called White Lightning. I thought I remember it being $3.50. Well, I checked it again, and it was $5, and it was only a 2oz. bottle. So that's even worse than Finish Line.

    At home improvement stores like Menards, there are a host of different lubes for various purposes. Are any of them good for bike chains? I got one on sale only 25cents for a 3oz. spray bottle called Jig a Loo. The ingredients sound much like WD40, which I know isn't good for bikes, so I won't use it for that.

    But what about any other generic types of lube? Is there anything that can be bought at a place like Menards that would be recommended for bike chains other than lubes that can only be bought at bike shops?

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    I've been using the standard "home brew" for several years. It's 1 part Mobil One synthetic motor oil with 4 parts mineral spirits. One or two drops on each chain link, wiping off the excess. I do this about every 100 miles and also use an on the bike cleaning machine about once per 800 to 1000 miles. If you buy mineral spirits be sure to get the real thing, not the "green" substitute.
    The large volume makes sense to me because I always have the ingredients in hand for other purposes.

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    The cost per oz. is only one measure of the cost of keeping chains lubed. The other two equally important factors is the amount used per application, and the number of miles each application lasts.

    A bottle of lube could cost twice as much and yet be much cheaper to use. I make this point because there are other (I hesitate to name one) lubes that cost more yet are vastly cheaper to use, say $12.00 for enough lube to last 10-20,000 (or more) miles.

    Then there's always the home brew option as used by AL1943, with many of those who post here having their personal favorites.

    BTW- Big box stores sell analogs of FL teflon dry lube, and wet lube, but White Lightning is a very different kind of product.
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    Senior Member MudPie's Avatar
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    Although I don't use it on my chain, Tri Flow is readily available, and I'd assume it is relatively low cost (made for the masses, readily available...). Some use it for chain lube.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
    A bottle of lube could cost twice as much and yet be much cheaper to use. I make this point because there are other (I hesitate to name one) lubes that cost more yet are vastly cheaper to use, say $12.00 for enough lube to last 10-20,000 (or more) miles.
    I admire your restraint. BTW, any bets on how long before this thread reaches 3 pages?

  6. #6
    lmurphy
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    Kerosene and a toothbrush to clean the chain, usually while it's on the bike. Old towel strips to floss the rear cogs. Drip dry over night. Lube the chain with automatic transmission fluid from a small drip bottle in the morning. Wipe the excess off with a rag. Been doing this with great success since the 60s. A quart of ATF last a very long time.

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    Ask 100 people this question and you will get at least 150 different opinions. How does that wise old saying go...dont talk religion, politics or chain lube.

    Another user of ATF here - its cheap, works quite well IMO and is the perfect viscosity as-is.

    I clean with mineral spirits. Works incredibly well and no fear of rust that might happen when using water based cleaners. I hear it can be put through a coffee filter to get out the gunk and reused several times. I take my used stuff to work and centrifuge it to pellet out the solids.

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    You want a good and inexpensive lube, I use straight synthetic engine oil.

    Nashbar makes a decent lube that is not expensive.

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    ATF: I have'nt heard of that in forty years. When I was a kid with a paper route, I would stopped by one of my customers, a 24 hour gas station and the guy there would give me ATF. He would fill up a coke bottle for me (8 oz.) and cap it with wax paper and a rubber band. Today, I too am searching for someting to use on my chain. The last time, I did my chain, I used Park Tool Polyurea Greese. I got it to lube my wheel and the guy said if I cleaned all the excess off, I could use it for my chain too: so I did.

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    Quote Originally Posted by musick View Post
    Ask 100 people this question and you will get at least 150 different opinions. How does that wise old saying go...dont talk religion, politics or chain lube.

    Another user of ATF here - its cheap, works quite well IMO and is the perfect viscosity as-is.

    I clean with mineral spirits. Works incredibly well and no fear of rust that might happen when using water based cleaners. I hear it can be put through a coffee filter to get out the gunk and reused several times. I take my used stuff to work and centrifuge it to pellet out the solids.
    I know, right?
    I personally use Finish line Ceramic wet lube, try to use "just enough". I have to lube about every 10days of riding here in the northwest. One 4 oz bottle of this stuff lasts me over a year on two bicycles (one single speed and one multi-geared ). For the summer I use "Epic lube", it lasts me about 20-30 days in dry weather.
    Use mineral spirits every third or fourth re-lubing, depending how much dirt collects on the chain.

    One last thing, as soon as I am finish my current lube. I will be switching to Super Lube oil or try their new "synthetic cycle lube".

    Last edited by ben4345; 02-10-12 at 09:04 PM.

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    Senior Member skydog6653's Avatar
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    any lube is better than no lube. bikes are very forgiving! i check out 20+ year old yard sale offerings all the time and I don't think any of them have been lubed since they left the assembly line.

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    4 parts unscented mineral spirits to 1 part chainsaw bar oil. Remove and clean the chain, put it back on and saturate the chain while cranking backwards and wipe off the excess.

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    Prolink Progold. Love it for road bikes/pavement only. White Lightening wax lube for anything off road, or Pedro's Ice Wax...
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    Chain Lube !!!!....slowly I turned.....

    Quote Originally Posted by Cheshire Cat
    Only a few find the way, some don't recognize it when they do - some... don't ever want to.

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    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    Hot wax method for the past 37 years.
    Cheap, works, re-usable and usually last around 3,000 miles depending on weather.
    Chain can be grabbed bare=handed and no residue comes off . . .

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    Quote Originally Posted by zonatandem View Post
    Hot wax method for the past 37 years. Cheap, works, re-usable and usually last around 3,000 miles depending on weather. Chain can be grabbed bare=handed and no residue comes off . . .
    Yep, cheap and extremely clean but certainly not durable in any kind of wet conditions. I did it for a while too but the lack of durability finally made me give it up as I had to rewax about every 300 miles, not 3000. Also, the need to remove the chain from the bike for each lube made it a pain in the days before master links.

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    If you like the finish line dry I've found this in the hardware store and it's virtually identical. If I recall it even said finish line on the back of the bottle. http://www.amazon.com/LUBRICANT-MULT.../dp/B00030BFEM

    This one even mentions finish line. http://www.fastenal.com/web/products...4115261&ucst=t

    I do use and like a certain BF members product.
    Last edited by dedhed; 02-11-12 at 08:28 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by musick View Post
    Ask 100 people this question and you will get at least 150 different opinions.
    That's what I think too.

    Also, while people sometimes have different criteria, all of those methods must work to a degree. If they didn't, the user would change his methods and certainly wouldn't recommend them to others.

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    I tend to favor any of several automotive products - sythetic motor oil, ATF or gear lube. Whether to thin with mineral spirits or not may depend on how you want to apply it. I normally thin the lube and apply a generous stream in attempt to wash out as much grit as possible. If applying unthinned, then a single drop on each roller will do the trick. Either way, wipe the chain with a dry rag to remove excess lube, before riding. Lubes thinned with mineral spirits or naptha require an extensive drying period before riding, so the lubing should be done right after a ride.
    Last edited by DaveSSS; 02-12-12 at 09:03 AM.

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    Thanks for the replies everyone! You've given me alot of options to consider. I guess it's not necessary to rely on the LBS anymore.

    I used to use regular machine oil back in the day. Then I heard about how it attracts dirt which causes more wear on the parts, so that's when I first started using the Finish Line stuff and noticed how it didn't attract dirt and then I was hooked on using that only. But with SO many other types of lube out there, I figured there had to be something better than machine oil, yet cheaper than Finish Line.

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    Quote Originally Posted by skydog6653 View Post
    any lube is better than no lube. bikes are very forgiving! i check out 20+ year old yard sale offerings all the time and I don't think any of them have been lubed since they left the assembly line.
    Kinda depends on the conditions you ride in, too.
    You wouldn't use a dry lube in the NW in the rainy season, that would just be a waste. You wouldn't use very heavy grease on your chain. I wouldn't use wax lubes if I was going out for a triathlon, or would trust it if I lived near the coast.

    The bicycle itself, is very forgiving, you don't always have to buy bicycle specific lube to perform well. In fact, there are MUCH better lubes out there that (sometime much cheaper too) perform superior to what you see in bike stores.
    Last edited by ben4345; 02-11-12 at 01:43 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ben4345 View Post
    Kinda depends on the conditions you ride in, too.
    You wouldn't use a dry lube in the NW in the rainy season, that would just be a waste. You wouldn't use very heavy grease on your chain. I wouldn't use wax lubes if I was going out for a triathlon, or would trust it if I lived near the coast.

    The bicycle itself, is very forgiving, you don't always have to buy bicycle specific lube to perform well. In fact, there are MUCH better lubes out there that (sometime much cheaper too) perform superior to what you see in bike stores.
    What about something called Silicone Spray Lubricant? I have a can of it. I think someone told me before that it was too light to use on a chain, but judging from what I'm hearing today, it might not matter as much as I thought.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Giant40 View Post
    What about something called Silicone Spray Lubricant? I have a can of it. I think someone told me before that it was too light to use on a chain, but judging from what I'm hearing today, it might not matter as much as I thought.
    Besides the weather conditions - wet, dry, salt air on the coasts, etc. - there's the issue of where and how you ride. The tension in a chain is proportional to pedaling force. With higher tension loads the lube requirements go up also.

    Someone casually riding on flat terrain can use much lighter oils than someone doing lots of hill climbing. Speed is also a factor because chain tension is proportional to the square of speed. A pro rider doing 30mph has 9 times the chain load chain compared to a casual rider doing 10. That's a big difference and has to factor in chain lube choices.

    So some riders can use just about anything and enjoy excellent chain life, while others have to be more careful in their choices, either because of where, when or how they ride.
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    Not all silicone sprays are made the same. Some are totally dry and would not work well or last long. Others are not dry and actually have some light oil as part of the mix. It's still doubtful that it would be a good choice.

    Even WD-40 has about as much oil in it as a typical home brew lube, thinned with mineral spirits, but the oil is not up to the task of lubing a chain. I tried it, just as en experiment and expected good results, but I got far more than my usual amount of elongation after 1000 miles. I quickly changed back to my regular home brew.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Giant40 View Post
    What about something called Silicone Spray Lubricant? I have a can of it. I think someone told me before that it was too light to use on a chain, but judging from what I'm hearing today, it might not matter as much as I thought.

    It will work, but I also encourage you to experiment with alternatives.

    Where in the world do you live? What is the conditions you ride in, and what do you do with your bike, commute, something else? What kind of bike do you have, multigeared, single speed, fixed?

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