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  1. #1
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    Mobil 1 75W-90 Synthetic Gear Oil A Fine And Frugale Bicycle Chain Lube

    When i first bought the my 1982 Suzuki G850GL shaft drive motorcycle about 4 years ago, i changed out ALL the fluids to Mobil 1 synthetics. The remaining 6 or so ounces i had of of the 75W-90 Mobil 1 Gear Oil was chosen as a possible bicycle chain lube, and a small amount seems to last forever in my container if applied as i will outline.

    Not only is the viscosity (thickness) about perfect in this application, but it seems to last between re-applications and my chains have never been happier. Silence is golden.

    I use it on every bike i own, and applied as follows VERY clean running!

    I wait a week or two before re-lubing a "new" chain, both because the factory lube is great, and also because i want some of the old lube/grease to work itself out to allow room for a new lube to go. I just did my KMC gold 9 speed chain today, in fact. (using it on my 1x8 speed Serotta "commuter" -

    I wipe down my chain after every ride anyway,....to avoid a heavy accumulation of crud,.....plus it's a lot easier when you do a more thorough cleaning every month or two if you've maintained a wipedown schedule. Before a re-lube is no exception. I rarely have to take the chain off to clean it prior to lubing. The regular wipedowns help a LOT in that regard! Occasionally i'll use my air compressor to blow out loose dirt between the links, but that's infrequent and usually because i've forgotten to do the wipedown after several rides.

    Most of us can find a smaller "convenience" applicator to make it easy to apply new lube. I use and old Hoppe's #9 *** oil bottle with about a 1 inch skinny applicator. When i ran out of *** oil i repurposed the bottle and put a notation on the outside with magic marker to avoid any confusion. The appicator pulls out to refill with more Mobil 1 75W-90 Gear Oil when the time comes, but i have yet to do it after several years on this small 2.5 ounce container!

    In a pinch just add a little into a clean bottle cap, and use a Q-Tip as a transfer applicator,.....just work close to the chain to avoid drips. The Hoppe's *** oil bottle is much easier,....or something similar. A cleaned out Visene bottle maybe,.....for a portable carry in your tool bag?

    I usually do my lubing in my confortable living room,....carpeted floor, and i sit on the couch with the bike flipped upside down and the chain facing me at chest level. Easy to work the crank and rotate the chain as needed also this way.

    I used to add a newspaper under the chain to catch any drips,.....but stopped long ago as i just don't get any! That's right, the Mobil 1 75W-90 weight synthetic gear oil stays put if you use just ONE DROP over the top of the chain in the center roller area. I do maybe 15 links and move the chain left to do another 15 or so links. The viscosity is near perfect, as you can see the drop spread out and obsorb INTO the roller links within 5-10 seconds or so. Gravity works great here.

    I start at the quick connect link to know i have hit each roller. When you get around to it again you are done applying the gear lube,......but NOT done yet.

    I then spin the crank for a minute or so,....to work as much lube into the rollers where it needs to go. At this point the chain is sounding great,...well,....more like not sounding much like anything but QUIET. All good there......

    I then have a bunch of paper towels or napkins handy and SLOWLY work the crank while pinching a section of paper towel repeatedly against the chain to wipe any excess lube out. Keep fingers safe folks!

    The paper towel quicky obsorbs the black-ish oil and i move onto a clean area of paper towel. Do this repeatedly until your paper towel remains fairly clean after running the chain through it.

    I also use a clean paper towel on each of the rear derailleur pulleys and also any chainrings. This removes any fresh oil transfered there as well, and will help to reduce any future dirt sticking to those parts. Once the jocky wheels and chainring is clean,......i give a final wipe(s) to the chain until the paper towel is clean,....and then i'm good for a week or two of noise free riding. My chains last a LONG time this way......and while you're running them they'll be about as friction free as you can get.

    Tired of spending gobs of $$$ on bike chain lube,......go this route and you'll find not only a cheaper way to go,....but imo a better result in chain performance and longevity. Spend your $$$ at your LBS for other things,....we need them for sure.

    Oh,....it takes me all of 8-10 minutes per bike to do this, so certainly reasonable for the result you get.

    ......now if they could only improve the smell of the stuff!
    Last edited by joejeweler; 05-10-13 at 05:26 PM.

  2. #2
    Over forty victim of Fate Cougrrcj's Avatar
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    Hoppes #9 is a solvent, not an oil...

    But other than that, I agree with your chain maintenance regime. A clean chain is a happy chain!
    '75 Fuji S-10S bought new, 45k+ miles and still going!
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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cougrrcj View Post
    Hoppes #9 is a solvent, not an oil...

    But other than that, I agree with your chain maintenance regime. A clean chain is a happy chain!
    I use the Hoppes #9 solvent also on for barrel cleaning,....

    BUT,....i just checked my small bottle that previously held the *** lubricating oil (2-1/2 ounce bottle), and it reads:

    "Hoppe's 9 Lubrication Oil"

    The "9" doesn't have a # sign in front of it, but it's on the bottle.

    I suspect Hoppe's is just making use of the marketing name/number in their top selling solvent here,......but a "9" IS on the oil bottle.

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    I use whatever I have on hand- regular 85W90 gear oil....Rotella....10w40 motor oil.....all seems to work fine. A chain isn't too demanding.....

  5. #5
    Certified Bike Brat Burton's Avatar
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    The choice of lube is perfect, however - if you were to price those little bottles (empty) that are used to package bicycle chain lube - you might feel less exploited about the cost of what you find at the LBS. As is the case on many consumer products - the packaging can cost as much or more than the contents!

  6. #6
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    I don't worry about it because a dinky little bottle of chain lube easily lasts me a year or more.

    I had one fellow discuss how he mixed mineral spirits 4:1 or so with Mobil 1 to make a gallon of chain lube. A GALLON! A gallon would easily last me the rest of my life - provided of course, I started using out of it 50 years ago when I started cycling.

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    Several years ago, I bought a travel-sized shampoo bottle, filled it with Mobil 1 0W-20. I have refilled the bottle 2x, and still have most of the quart. If I don't use it for something else, it should last most of the rest of my life. Not bad for under $6.

    (Spending lots of $$$ on bike maintenance? I buy a new chain & cassette every 2 years, about $40....)

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    Certified Bike Brat Burton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DX-MAN View Post
    Several years ago, I bought a travel-sized shampoo bottle, filled it with Mobil 1 0W-20. I have refilled the bottle 2x, and still have most of the quart. If I don't use it for something else, it should last most of the rest of my life. Not bad for under $6.

    (Spending lots of $$$ on bike maintenance? I buy a new chain & cassette every 2 years, about $40....)
    Maybe I shouldn't mention this but oil does degrade when exposed to air - which of course is what happens with a bottle of oil only half full left on the shelf for years. Probably still better than nothing but - whatever.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DX-MAN View Post
    Several years ago, I bought a travel-sized shampoo bottle, filled it with Mobil 1 0W-20. I have refilled the bottle 2x, and still have most of the quart. If I don't use it for something else, it should last most of the rest of my life. Not bad for under $6.

    (Spending lots of $$$ on bike maintenance? I buy a new chain & cassette every 2 years, about $40....)
    I haven't tested it but i suspect the thinner viscosity of the 0W-20 motor oil would tend to throw off the chain a bit quicker than the Mobil 1 75-90 gear oil i've been using for awhile now and VERY happy with it's ability to cling to the internal roller pivots once it has gotten there.

    ......but then my substantial wipe down after application may be a big part of that. In any case, heavier gear lube can't hurt, and i believe the wear fighting makeup for contact points of the gear oil is a benefit also.


    Quote Originally Posted by Burton View Post
    Maybe I shouldn't mention this but oil does degrade when exposed to air - which of course is what happens with a bottle of oil only half full left on the shelf for years. Probably still better than nothing but - whatever.
    Not sure of this but i'd think the synthetic lubes would be more stable than the Dino oils, so IF that's true then i suppose shelf life may not be an issue.
    Last edited by joejeweler; 05-11-13 at 11:37 PM.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Nermal's Avatar
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    I believe you are right, joe. Crankcases are ventilated, and the environment is severe, but you replace your engine oil because it becomes contaminated, not because it is "worn out".
    Some people are like a Slinky ... not really good for anything, but you still can't help but smile when you shove them down the stairs.

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    Been Around Awhile I-Like-To-Bike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by joejeweler View Post
    I use it on every bike i own, and applied as follows VERY clean running!

    I wait a week or two before re-lubing a "new" chain, both because the factory lube is great, and also because i want some of the old lube/grease to work itself out to allow room for a new lube to go. I just did my KMC gold 9 speed chain today, in fact. (using it on my 1x8 speed Serotta "commuter" -

    I wipe down my chain after every ride anyway,...

    [SKIP the rest of the mucho detailed cleaning and lubing procedures]
    I'd rather replace a $6 chain every month or so with 5 minutes labor, than go through such an obsessive cleaning/lubing procedure on a component that doesn't need it.

    As it is, every month or so so, I squirt a little silicon spray on the chain of my IGH equipped bike. Replace it every 12-18 months (about 5000 miles). No problems.

  12. #12
    Certified Bike Brat Burton's Avatar
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    I guess it all depends how obcessive you want to be. All oil degrades over time, but regardless - any oil is better than no oil.
    http://www.mobiloil.com/USA-English/...helf_Life.aspx
    ExxonMobil recommends a five year maximum shelf-life for engine oils, including Mobil 1 synthetic.

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    Quote Originally Posted by joejeweler View Post
    I haven't tested it but i suspect the thinner viscosity of the 0W-20 motor oil would tend to throw off the chain a bit quicker than the Mobil 1 75-90 gear oil i've been using for awhile now and VERY happy with it's ability to cling to the internal roller pivots once it has gotten there.

    ......but then my substantial wipe down after application may be a big part of that. In any case, heavier gear lube can't hurt, and i believe the wear fighting makeup for contact points of the gear oil is a benefit also.




    Not sure of this but i'd think the synthetic lubes would be more stable than the Dino oils, so IF that's true then i suppose shelf life may not be an issue.
    Every oil/lube should be wiped from the outer areas of the chain after application; it belongs INSIDE the rollers, which is why you spin it for a minute or so. The rest of the chain is served by only a VERY thin coat, just to control rust/oxidation. THAT, after all, is one of the only two reasons you lube the chain -- the other being to take up the space IN the chain's innards, so dirt can't get to that space. A perfectly clean and dry chain has been proven to be just as efficient as a lubed one.

    Just FTR, I don't get spray off the chain AT ALL.

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    A few years ago, cycling across southern Ontario, my chain became noisey, couldn't find the small bottle of lube that I was sure I had packed. Surprised to come upon a bike shop, stopped to get some chain lube. All they has was their "house" brand. Bought a small bottle, asked what it really was as it's odor was familiar.
    Turns out it was ATF fluid repackaged. It worked fine and finished my 1000 km trip with a quiet chain.
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    Senior Member Nermal's Avatar
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    Thanks for the correction, Burton.
    Some people are like a Slinky ... not really good for anything, but you still can't help but smile when you shove them down the stairs.

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    Senior Member TromboneAl's Avatar
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    I usually do my lubing in my comfortable living room,....carpeted floor, and I sit on the couch with the bike flipped upside down and the chain facing me at chest level.
    I used to add a newspaper under the chain to catch any drips,.....but stopped long ago
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    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cougrrcj View Post
    A clean chain is a happy chain!
    A chain lubed with gear oil won't stay clean for long. It's a dirt magnet. Heck it'll attract cobbles and boulders.

    Frankly, I don't understand this obsession with oily lubes. I clean my chain once...when I install it. I don't have to wipe the chain down before every ride, I don't have chain tattoos, I don't have to worry about fouling the inside of vehicles, etc. In other words, I have time that I can spend on riding and not wasting it on cleaning up oil slicks.

    I use a wax based lube which is perfect for my dry area but works well, based on personal experience, in lots of other parts of the US including the Deep South and New England and rainy Seattle. I don't have to apply the lube before every ride and the lube lasts at least as long as heavy oil lubricants and, apparently, longer than some. I go 4 to 6 weeks (400 to 1000 miles) between application.

    I have used heavy lube in the past (Phil's Tenacious Oil) and it was a horrible mess as was Triflow and, embarrassingly, WD40 before it. I see chains that are lubricated with motor oil every Saturday when I volunteer at my local coop and I hate the stuff. It takes me until about Thursday to get it out of the crags in my fingers.
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    Quote Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike View Post
    I'd rather replace a $6 chain every month or so with 5 minutes labor, than go through such an obsessive cleaning/lubing procedure on a component that doesn't need it.

    As it is, every month or so so, I squirt a little silicon spray on the chain of my IGH equipped bike. Replace it every 12-18 months (about 5000 miles). No problems.
    No matter what,.....your chain NEEDS regular cleaning! (especially if you don't run fenders which keep the front tire kicking up abrasive grit directly onto the chain) That grit eats into your chainring and cog life as well,......so it's not just the chaing you are affecting by a lacking maintainence schedule.

    Frankly,....i enjoy keeping my bike running at their bestand working on them is fun for me . Also, a clean and well lubricated chain is quiet and more efficient to pedal. Some folks just want to run an could care less about getting the most out of their bikes,.....i'm just not one of those folks :-)

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    Quote Originally Posted by TromboneAl View Post
    A single man, are you?
    NO! ,.... but then i own my home outright, and do most of my maintainance when the lady of the house is at work or asleep!

  20. #20
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by joejeweler View Post
    No matter what,.....your chain NEEDS regular cleaning! (especially if you don't run fenders which keep the front tire kicking up abrasive grit directly onto the chain) That grit eats into your chainring and cog life as well,......so it's not just the chaing you are affecting by a lacking maintainence schedule.

    Frankly,....i enjoy keeping my bike running at their bestand working on them is fun for me . Also, a clean and well lubricated chain is quiet and more efficient to pedal. Some folks just want to run an could care less about getting the most out of their bikes,.....i'm just not one of those folks :-)
    No. YOUR chain needs regular cleaning because you use a product that holds sand and grit. That sand...mostly quartz and harder than the steel of the chain...grinds the metal away and wears it out.

    MY chain needs no such regular cleaning because I use a product that doesn't hold sand and grit against the metal. I assure you that my bikes work as well or better than most bikes you are likely to run across but I don't have to spend a whole lot of time cleaning them. I spend that time riding them...which is the point.

    And lubrication has little to do with the efficiency of the chain according to a study by John Hopkins.

    As I've stated above, I've already tried something close to gear oil and found it lacking. I'd propose that you do a little experimentation to see if your method really is better. Try a wax based lube (I prefer White Lightning) after you clean a new chain and see how little you have to clean the chain and the bike when using it.
    Last edited by cyccommute; 05-14-13 at 09:05 AM.
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  21. #21
    Senior Member Garfield Cat's Avatar
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    You spend a lot on paper towels.

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    Been Around Awhile I-Like-To-Bike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Garfield Cat View Post
    You spend a lot on paper towels.
    As well as a LOT of time on cleaning components that don't need to be that clean; the chain is not a soup spoon.

    I'm with cyccommute on this: bicycles are for riding, not unnecessary OCD-like futzing with in the garage.

    BTW OP, install some fenders and save yourself time and energy for more cycling.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
    No. YOUR chain needs regular cleaning because you use a product that holds sand and grit. That sand...mostly quartz and harder than the steel of the chain...grinds the metal away and wears it out.

    MY chain needs no such regular cleaning because I use a product that doesn't hold sand and grit against the metal. I assure you that my bikes work as well or better than most bikes you are likely to run across but I don't have to spend a whole lot of time cleaning them. I spend that time riding them...which is the point.

    And lubrication has little to do with the efficiency of the chain according to a study by John Hopkins.

    As I've stated above, I've already tried something close to gear oil and found it lacking. I'd propose that you do a little experimentation to see if your method really is better. Try a wax based lube (I prefer White Lightning) after you clean a new chain and see how little you have to clean the chain and the bike when using it.

    I say bullsheet! I've used the dry lubes, the teflon stuff,...and frankly NONE of that gives me any confidence in it's ability to "lubricate" the inner roller area as well as a real oil. A chain, when wiped down after an oil application, is ALWAYS going to run quieter and last longer imo.

    The dry stuff is handy for lazy folks not wanting to spend 10 SECONDS with a napkin or paper towel after a ride to quickly give a wipe to the chain.

    Quote Originally Posted by Garfield Cat View Post
    You spend a lot on paper towels.


    OH,.....and NO, i don't spend a lot on papertowels. I get all the FREE napkins i want as i eat at Wendy's daily, and always have a few left over from every meal. :-)

    .....and the thought of paying the exorbinant dry lube prices a bit of a turn off also :-(
    Last edited by joejeweler; 05-14-13 at 11:33 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike View Post
    As well as a LOT of time on cleaning components that don't need to be that clean; the chain is not a soup spoon.

    I'm with cyccommute on this: bicycles are for riding, not unnecessary OCD-like futzing with in the garage.

    BTW OP, install some fenders and save yourself time and energy for more cycling.

    I have several bikes with fenders and racks and bells and lights,....etc. But a few i keep as light as possible for the nicer days for riding. So on those it's nice to have the better acceleration of a lighter ride, and just deal with the bit of thrown up front tire grit with a regular 10 secong wipedown. (and occasionally i use my air compressor to blow out between the links,....once a week maybe :-)

  25. #25
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by joejeweler View Post
    I say bullsheet! I've used the dry lubes, the teflon stuff,...and frankly NONE of that gives me any confidence in it's ability to "lubricate" the inner roller area as well as a real oil. A chain, when wiped down after an oil application, is ALWAYS going to run quieter and last longer imo.

    The dry stuff is handy for lazy folks not wanting to spend 10 SECONDS with a napkin or paper towel after a ride to quickly give a wipe to the chain.(
    How often do you replace chains? My chains last for thousands of miles and years at a time. I don't see excess wear while using it. I did see lots of wear when using heavy oils because the sand acts as a grinding paste held in place by the oil.

    And the dry lubes aren't for "lazy folks". I don't NEED to wipe the chain down after (or before) a ride because there is nothing to wipe down. My lube actually stays inside the chain instead of seeping out all the time.
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