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  1. #1
    Senior Member Polaris43's Avatar
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    Folder Chain Lube

    I've been browsing the Mechanics forum and found zero concensus on chain lube. One thing I did learn is to not believe the sales pitch on the web sites that sell the various lubes.

    I thought I'd see what my folding friends have to say on the topic as folders present some unique issues - like trying to not get chain lube all over everything when you fold your bike.

    So what say ye? What lube do you guys & gals use on your folding bike chains? Pros and cons if you care to add the detail.

    Thanks!

  2. #2
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    I use "white lightning", and have no complaints.

  3. #3
    Raleigh20 PugFixie, Merc LittlePixel's Avatar
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    I second your sentiments Polaris43. I've tried the white waxy stuff that supposedly dries after application but it makes such a mess and washes off in the London rain all too quickly and normal oil just turns everything black with dirt in no time at all. I know I should be better about re-lubing - especially after the rain - but I hate putting on stuff that I don't think works very well.

    What I *want* is to be able to buy some of the clear lube that seems to be on chains when you buy them. A big bottle of that please. Any clues anyone?

    Actually - thats a thought. Maybe Vaseline is good?!?!?!?!?!

  4. #4
    jur
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    Well after getting extremely anal about cleaning my chains and lubing the religiously, even that didn't work well, so one day i switched to Prolink. I must say, everything I read about that stuff is true. It really works.

    Basically it is a very very thin oil, you first clean the chain before the very first application, at least by wiping well with a rag. Then place a drop on each roller. Wipe off and repeat. Let sit for some hours and wipe dry again.

    This stuff has properties that make it stick to the metal and reduces friction greatly; and being not an oily mess does not capture dirt so chain wear is greatly reduced. Being thin it flushes out any crap already there, hence the necessity to wipe after application. A weekly application is good, and after riding in rain. Always wipe excess. Your chain will always be clean and wear very slowly.

    First i thought the stuff is very expensive, so i started counting the number of times a bottle will lube a chain, but I stopped counting at 20 and still the bottle is not empty. So it works out at well less than a dollar per lube. And because the chain lasts MUCH longer, the cost is more than recovered, especially after I include cleaner solution and other lubes in the cost estimate.

    [/endorsement mode]

    Anyway, what you will find is that every man has his own favourite method. No consensus whatever. But at least Prolink gets rave reviews in important places.
    My folding bike photo essays www.dekter.net/

  5. #5
    Senior Member Fear&Trembling's Avatar
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    I also use Prolink and recommend it.

  6. #6
    Bop
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    I ride in two greatly contrasting climates. At home, in the temperate rainforest of SE Alaska, with 100 or so inches of rain a year, I’ve settled on Tri-flow, applied whenever chain rust starts to rear it ugly head. But, I take my S&S coupled bikes, and most recently, my Swift, to drier climes. I have very good luck with White Lightening. I like that it does not make a mess of things in the packing process and does its job admirably in most conditions, short of constant-deluge, which is the default here at home. I haven’t found a perfect product that satisfies both scenarios, so I thoroughly clean chains and re-treat with the waxy stuff prior to travel.

  7. #7
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    I switched to White Lightening and never looked back. No more grease on my pants.
    Juan

  8. #8
    Senior Member caotropheus's Avatar
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    I use Prolink at the shop and people are very happy. I use the old engine oil in small amounts and always work.

  9. #9
    No Rocket Surgeon eubi's Avatar
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    White Lightning.

    But Prolink seems to have its followers. I'll try it when my bottle of WL runs out.
    Fewer Cars, more handlebars!

  10. #10
    All ur bike r belong Enki james_swift's Avatar
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    I used Prolink for a while. It's a great light-weight oil, although it dries-up/throws-off easily (as evidenced both by the gunk accumulated on my hub/rim and the need to re-apply to the chain often). I now use Finish Line wet, which is heavier and has less of a tendency to be flung off the chain. What I like most about it is that it makes my drivetrain completely silent (I'm running a mis-matched 3/32" drive to a 1/8" SRAM PC-1 chain, simply because the PC-1 is conveniently available at my local Performance shop).

  11. #11
    Senior Member Foldable Two's Avatar
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    Have been using Finish Line Dry this passed year - seems to work very well, but we are not hardcore riders.

  12. #12
    Banned. folder fanatic's Avatar
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    I noticed that not overlubing a chain is more critical in folding bikes since the folded package is more likely to drip or rub off on you than regular bikes. I use a good quality, spay on chain lube and lube only when necessary, taking care to wipe off the excess lube and do the following: more often in wet weather, heavy usage of the bike, etc.

  13. #13
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    I'm currently using Prolink, too, and will be for awhile since I got a deal on 3 bottles. The big plus for me is that it never gets gunky, and if you use it liberally, it will flush the chain fairly clean.

    However, while not as bad as traditional oils, it will still stain skin and clothing--you can't wipe all of it off the chain. Still, I think it's a pretty good compromise.

    It doesn't result in a noiseless drivetrain, something I miss. But for those who aren't dilligent about thoroughly cleaning chains in solvent, I think it will result in maximized drivetrain longevity, both by it's inherent anti-friction properties, and by the lack of grinding paste of the sort that accumulates with regular oil.

    I tried several dry lubes a few years ago, including White Lightening, but was unhappy with the results--didn't last long in dry conditions, didn't last at all in the rain, and the waxy buildup. Maybe I should try some newer formulations.

    Jack

  14. #14
    jur
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    Polaris43, go to the MTBR site and look up what users say about all the various lubes on the market.
    My folding bike photo essays www.dekter.net/

  15. #15
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    At home I always used to use a light sewing machine oil. It worked great in a wet climate, and didn't seem to attract a lot of dirt.

    Here in CA my LBS recommended some stuff called Redline. It certainly keeps the chain clean, but I can't tell if it's actually doing any lubricating. The chain is really noisy. So I think I'm going to try to find some light oil again. I don't care if the chain gets mucky - it's a bike! It's practically supposed to be dirty!
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  16. #16
    Senior member curb hash's Avatar
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    Rock 'n Roll Extreme chain lube. It is an all year, all weather very clean and EXTREMELY slippery lubricant. I also use it around the house, on tools, on my Swiss army knife- whatever it is formulated with it simply out-performs any light lubricant by an enormous margin.
    None are so old as those who have outlived enthusiasm.

  17. #17
    Bicycling Gnome
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    Well - I've tried a few of the above, but I use only a few drops of engine oil on my current bike. I've done over 1100 miles on it in the last eight months and the chain is like new.

    Frankly I got tired of dry lubes on other bikes that vanished in a hint of a shower, and the need to constantly reapply lightweight waxy stuff that was mostly solvent and didn't last five minutes. I just wipe the chain about every couple of hundred miles and apply a smear of oil from an old fashioned oil can onto every link. Then I run the chain backwards in a warm place to encourage it to go inside the links and after a mile or two of ordinary riding, I wipe the chain of surplus oil with a clean rag. It works. I try not to touch it mind, and if I'm going to work, I carry a lint free rag in case I need to touch the chain for any reason - not a frequent event, but if you do, it ain't clean. The upside is that this chain looks like it will last another couple of years, even though I have a new spare waiting.

  18. #18
    Bicycling Gnome
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    Quote Originally Posted by yangmusa
    At home I always used to use a light sewing machine oil. It worked great in a wet climate, and didn't seem to attract a lot of dirt.

    Here in CA my LBS recommended some stuff called Redline. It certainly keeps the chain clean, but I can't tell if it's actually doing any lubricating. The chain is really noisy. So I think I'm going to try to find some light oil again. I don't care if the chain gets mucky - it's a bike! It's practically supposed to be dirty!
    I agree with you on this. I remember chains being really noisy after twenty miles with white lightening - add a bit of rain and they go rusty too.

  19. #19
    Member DaveMaddux's Avatar
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    I use white lightning on my Mt bikes, but I like to use a wet lube on my road bikes. I used to use TriFlow, now I have my own formula. 1 part motor oil, 4 parts odorless mineral spirits. It is very light and runny, I put it liberally on chain, it is thin enough it penetrates chain between rollers and links, then wipe as much off as possible (cleans chain at same time). The mineral spirits evaporate, leaving only little motor oil, mostly on inside of chain. Also have heard others recommend automatic transmission fluid.

  20. #20
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    Anyone try soaking the chain in melted paraffin wax or maxima motorcycle lube?

    I was trying to get a chaincase for my bike, but it seems like it's too much trouble. So instead I'm trying to find a lubricating method that won't stain skin or fabric.
    Last edited by makeinu; 05-13-07 at 07:37 PM.

  21. #21
    Brompton M3L, Strida 5.0
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    I used to soak my road bike (non-folder) chain in wax.

    It was clean and worked well. Less messy than White Lightning. But it was a pain taking the chain off and putting it back on. I didn't have a "master link" chain, so I had to use a breaker.

    I use ProLink now. Happy with it.

  22. #22
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    I know, everyone is happy with the lube they use, but is it clean to the touch? That is, if you touch it with your fingers does it get your fingers dirty or is it clean like a belt drive?

    JackJ above said that ProLink isn't clean to the touch.

    How about Rock'n'Roll or WhiteLightening?

  23. #23
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    I have used Boeshield for the past couple years, and I really like it. After if stopped being imported to Canada, I tracked down a marine shop that carried it. About $20 for a WD-40 sized can. I found you really have to start with a very clean chain, and let it sit after application. Not totally noiseless, but close. It was developed by Boeing to protect aircraft parts from oxidization, whilst providing lubrication where needed. Did I mention it smells really good, can't remember
    Live simply so others may simply live

  24. #24
    Senior Member Nachoman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by makeinu
    I know, everyone is happy with the lube they use, but is it clean to the touch? That is, if you touch it with your fingers does it get your fingers dirty or is it clean like a belt drive?

    JackJ above said that ProLink isn't clean to the touch.

    How about Rock'n'Roll or WhiteLightening?
    Prolink = dirty to the touch. That's actually how I test it. I'll touch the chain with my finger to determine weather I need to re-lube.
    .
    .

    Two wheels good. Four wheels bad.

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