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Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

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Old 12-03-07, 10:54 PM   #1
duke_of_hazard
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Oiling the chain

I have searched the forum but everything I read is too complicated and esoteric. I would like to know which type of oil I can buy at a Walmart/Auto-Zone for lubing my chain? After how many miles should I do it? Where else should I lube. I'd like to keep this as simple and cheap as possible, i.e the 80/20 of bike maintenance.
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Old 12-03-07, 11:08 PM   #2
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If those two stores are your only choices, get Liquid Wrench's Super Lubricant with PTFE. Avoid WD-40 and 3 in 1 oils. WD-40 is too light and makes a good cleaner, and 3 in 1 is vegetable based and will gum up after too long.
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Old 12-04-07, 07:24 AM   #3
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Motor oil.
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Old 12-04-07, 07:40 AM   #4
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go to a bike shop and get pedro's. wal mart is evil.
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Old 12-04-07, 08:42 AM   #5
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Motor oil will work ok.

Try riding until the chain starts squeaking to gage a time frame. At that point it needs oiled. Then just oil it every now and then BEFORE it starts squeaking.
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Old 12-04-07, 08:53 AM   #6
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30 weight motor oil. Some like to cut it a bit with mineral oil; this makes it thinner to carry it into the pins, then evaporates so a thicker lube is left on the inside.
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Old 12-04-07, 08:58 AM   #7
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Go to Lowes and buy a can of Dupont Teflon Multiuse Lube Spray, only $5.00 or less a can. Spray on and let dry.

If you have a motorcycle or ATB shop near you get Maxima Chain Wax, Maxima Chain Guard, or Klotz KLR Chain Lube.
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Old 12-04-07, 09:02 AM   #8
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Do not use WD-40 to oil a chain; it is not intended for that purpose. Buy a bicycle specific chain oil such as ProLink. Or better yet, mix up your own home brew with 3-4 parts odorless mineral spirits to 1 part motor oil. I've used home brew for years, and it's inexpensive and works as well or better than anything else.
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Old 12-04-07, 10:12 AM   #9
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Go to Lowes and buy a can of Dupont Teflon Multiuse Lube Spray, only $5.00 or less a can. Spray on and let dry.
I used that all last winter. I should probably switch back to it again. I didn't notice that the chain lasted any longer, but it was a lot easier to put on in the winter. It seemed like good stuff.

I rode my current chain too far anyway and wrecked the sprocket, so now I'm just riding it until the chain falls apart. The sprockets are now very easily noticably worn to oblong teeth, but they're not skipping or anything. This chain is at 4500 miles currently; for me they are "worn out" at 1800 miles (regardless of how I care for them).
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Old 12-04-07, 10:13 AM   #10
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Ditto on the warning against WD40. WD40 is NOT intended as a lubricant. It's a solvent and a water displacer. It is a little slippery but it is not tenacious; it will be off the chain in hours (mostly it will evaporate).

WD40 may be a good first step, but you need to then follow up with an actual lubricant. I wouldn't even use the WD40 as a first step; if the chain is dirty it's likely to just drive the dirt into the chain.
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Old 12-04-07, 10:20 AM   #11
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I can usually feel when my chain is dirty, so I clean then lube. Clean with MECs chain cleaner liquid + cleaning kit, and then with Tri-Flow as a lube. Seems to work out OK. I bought all three of these things in April, have ridden around 4000 miles and still have plenty left. I think the cleaner fluid (biodegradeable too btw) was $5, the kit $7 and the Tri-Flow $7 (all CAD) - check www.mec.ca or "REI" in the US (I think).

Check out www.sheldonbrown.com for chain maintenance techniques, too.
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Old 12-04-07, 10:34 AM   #12
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I bought a quart of chainsaw bar oil at walmart. It is a bit messy but works well.
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Old 12-04-07, 10:50 AM   #13
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My method:
Put paint thinner in old peanut butter jar. Put chain in jar. Shake for a minute. Wipe chain with a rag. Put chain in another jar with 50% paint thinner and 50% bar and chain oil (or motor oil). Remove chain from jar. Wipe chain with rag. Put back on bike.
The whole process takes about 10-minutes.

Last edited by matthew_deaner; 12-04-07 at 10:58 AM.
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Old 12-04-07, 11:02 AM   #14
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From what ive heard wd-40 is an abrasive. At least in the automotive world any equipment (such as diesel injectors) that is machined to fit there is an explicit warning not to use wd-40 to ease the parts in. I guess the wd-40 being somewhat of an abrasive can cause wear in close fitting parts.
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Old 12-04-07, 11:10 AM   #15
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I bought this Gunk Liquid Wrench Industrial Chain Lube at a local (ACE) hardware store for $4.00.

http://www.gunk.com/prod_photo.asp

I expect other hardware stores carry the same product. The old fashioned method of calling to ask if a store has the item in stock still works (except at Walmart)!
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Old 12-04-07, 11:53 AM   #16
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Why the aversion to purchasing a bike specific product at an LBS? A $8 bottle of Pro-Link will last me all season even with reapplying lube every hundred miles.
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Old 12-04-07, 02:09 PM   #17
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Why the aversion to purchasing a bike specific product at an LBS? A $8 bottle of Pro-Link will last me all season even with reapplying lube every hundred miles.
Because it's pointless. It's just frikkin' oil, and I can get a quart for $1.50 at any store. There's nothing magic about it. I've used Pro-Link, and I've use 30-weight, and they are equivalent for me.

I don't have a real aversion to buying at the LBS, but I only get in there maybe a couple of times a year. I have to ride an extra 8 miles to get there, and I don't generally have the time.
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Old 12-04-07, 02:22 PM   #18
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Why the aversion to purchasing a bike specific product at an LBS?
I wish that I was blessed with a good LBS near me.

Unfortunately, my LBS is only out to take as much cash from me as possible. I don't mind paying fair prices to keep him in business, but I refuse to pay top dollar for cheap inferior parts. As far as parts and components go... my LBS buys off brand crap and charges Litespeed prices.

And I also got tired of the owner scowling at me because I won't buy a new bicycle from him. His solution to fixing your flat is to attempt to sell you a new Trek...
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Old 12-04-07, 02:40 PM   #19
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I'm at least blessed there. My LBS does inflate prices quite a bit (bikes are OK, like "at list price" but accessories can be marked up as high as 3x suggested list price) but the guy is a straight shooter. He's given me the choice to fix it myself and waived the initial bench fee when it turned out a repair was going to be really difficult, and he's discouraged me from buying parts from him that he didn't think I really needed.
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Old 12-04-07, 03:00 PM   #20
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Do not use WD-40 to oil a chain; it is not intended for that purpose. Buy a bicycle specific chain oil such as ProLink. Or better yet, mix up your own home brew with 3-4 parts odorless mineral spirits to 1 part motor oil. I've used home brew for years, and it's inexpensive and works as well or better than anything else.
This is what I use. It's cheap and effective and a bottle will last you quite a long time doing regular cleaning and oiling of your chain.
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Old 12-04-07, 03:44 PM   #21
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lost of posts for lube but whats the REAL BEST cleaner
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Old 12-04-07, 07:44 PM   #22
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lost of posts for lube but whats the REAL BEST cleaner

Any type of degreaser will do.

Chain oil at the bike shop is not that expensive. You don't use it that much.

The main thing I wanted to add is don't forget to add a drop or two to your cables. Let it run down inside the cable guard.
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Old 12-04-07, 07:48 PM   #23
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lost of posts for lube but whats the REAL BEST cleaner
WD-40
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Old 12-04-07, 07:57 PM   #24
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Surprised no one has mentioned the importance of wiping off the excess after oiling.

Regular old motor oil is fine (surprise surprise)! just use what your car uses. Drip a little on, run the chain around a few times, then wipe off all you can with a rag on the chain while spinning the cranks.

cuts down on mess & dirt attraction.

cheers
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Old 12-04-07, 08:35 PM   #25
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Among the tired sycophantic ravings offered here, let's not forget the old bit about the fact the chain comes pre-lubed from the factory. Sheldon Blesses it as good stuff even.


Personally, my methods vary depending on the bike, season, and use.
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