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Thread: Winter oil ???

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    Member clivan78's Avatar
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    Winter oil ???

    Does anyone know if there is a bike chain oil which may be better at not freezing up at lower temps ? I know here in northern sweden we change the oil in our car to a lower rated one or it could freeze and the oil in the gearbox too...so why not the oil on a chain and gear on my bike. Is this madness ??

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    Senior Member ScottNotBombs's Avatar
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    The reason you put thinner oil in your car in winter is because it reaches operating temps faster. I believe oil freezes at a temperature of around -100 celcius, so unless you live in the arctic, you shouldn't have to worry about it. Since your chain lube doesn't need to reach an operating temperature and isn't under the same load as a car motor, It shouldn't make a difference on the weight of oil in summer vs winter. I just use the wet chain lube and use it often and clean my chain often, since the roads are always wet, salty and filthy.
    Last edited by ScottNotBombs; 09-02-11 at 07:03 PM.
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    Member clivan78's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ScottNotBombs View Post
    The reason you put thinner oil in your car in winter is because it reaches operating temps faster. I believe oil freezes at a temperature of around -100 celcius, so unless you live in the arctic, you shouldn't have to worry about it. Since your chain lube doesn't need to reach an operating temperature and isn't under the same load as a car motor, It shouldn't make a difference on the weight of oil in summer vs winter. I just use the wet chain lube and use it often and clean my chain often, since the roads are always wet, salty and filthy.
    Im not sure about that, I do live fairly close to the arctic in northern sweden and we use engine heaters all winter to stop the oil freezing up in the car, even when the car is turned off it remains plugged in. When the temp gets very low I can notice the oil in the gearbox freezing up, it becomes very difficult to move the gear stick when I first get into the car. A 10W oil differs from 5W or 0W in so far as it is rated down to minus 10Celcius for the 10W and minus 30 for the 0W...I dont think it "freezes" like a rock at these temps but gets very thick and not great at lubricating the engine until it warms up. I could be wrong but from what I have read and from what I have seen here this is what I think anyway..

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    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    I use homebrew that is made from 1 part semi synthetic oil and 3 parts mineral spirits or WD40 year round... it flows well in the coldest temperatures and the solvent carries it into the rollers and displaces moisture.

    WD40 by itself is a very poor lube because it contains very little oil and is primarily solvent / mineral spirits but boosting the oil content to 25% makes this mix very effective.

    Will be running the same chain this winter as I did from last fall to early this summer as it has no measureable wear... it is a KMC 1/8 chain and the drive is a 3 speed which gets topped up with semi synthetic to make it run smoothly in the coldest of temperatures and when I say cold I plan for -40C

    I put 3000 km on this drive last year... chain ran smoothly and stayed shiny and clean with no rust with regular lubrication... drivetrain life on a 1 by 1 drive tends to be much better than with a derailleur gear so the lack of wear at 3000km is not surprising and expect to get about 9000km from this chain.

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    Senior Member Slaninar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sixty Fiver View Post
    I use homebrew that is made from 1 part semi synthetic oil and 3 parts mineral spirits or WD40 year round... it flows well in the coldest temperatures and the solvent carries it into the rollers and displaces moisture.

    WD40 by itself is a very poor lube because it contains very little oil and is primarily solvent / mineral spirits but boosting the oil content to 25% makes this mix very effective.
    Sorry to bring an antient thread to life, you seem quite experienced and I have 3 questions.

    1) Would fully synth motor(cycle) oil also be OK?

    2) About WD40. Can it be used on its own on commuter bicycle and is it at least decent?
    I used WD40 on a mountain bike for about a year. Lubed it with WD 40 only. It was great for not sticking any grit/sand/dust on the chain. It all just fell of. Practically I never had to clean the chain, just lube it about every 100 kms (used to do weekend mountain rides of roughly 50 kms per day). However, I didn't know then about chain wear etc and sold the bike before measuring/changing the chain. So I'm not sure if WD40 is good enough, or the chain was almost busted quickly.
    Regular bike oil sold in LBS is too sticky and at least mixing it with WD40 like you did is great idea.


    3) I washed the chain on pressure car cleaner (one that sprays hot water through a jet on a hose - it costs 0.50 e to do it in about 1-2 minutes of spraying). Is that an OK way to clean the chain?
    I immediately took it for a shord ride to dry, then put some WD40. Now the chain seems perfect (probably WD40 mixed with leftovers of old thick oil).


    If I had 2 bikes and more time, I'd do an experiment myself. One more thing that confuses me is that my first chain on current bicycle went busted in some 1500 kms (september to march). I lubed it with thicker LBS recommended oil. Didn't clean in regularely though, perhaps that was what killed it. The new chain is at 50% said the LBS man. That is after about 1000 kms. And this one was both lubed and cleaned. Am I doing something wrong, or is 2000 kms out of a chain normal? Sprockets look great, as well as freewheels.
    Last edited by Slaninar; 10-21-11 at 08:00 AM.
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    WD40 is a lousy lubricant, like 65er said.

    You say you relubed every 100km. That's very diligent of you and probably why your chain stayed in decent condition. It also doesn't sound like you were doing enough miles to have worn out your chain.

    I apply oil to my chain probably once every 5-600km - more frequently in very wet weather. I find chains last 8-10000km.

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    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    Slaninar - Full synthetic oil would be fine... thing with any oil is that it does not penetrate well enough on it's own and tends to be very sticky so you end up with a lot of residue on the outside of the chain or it gets flung off and makes a mess of your bike and the environment.

    The mineral spirits are a carrier which takes the oil where it needs to be.

    By itself, WD40 is a poor lubricant... the WD stands for water displacement so it is a good product for cleaning / drying out a fouled chain but that treatment needs to get followed up with proper lubrication.

    I used to spend a lot more time cleaning chains but with the homebrew I just re-apply and wipe the chain down and it comes up looking shiny and new... if a chain gets really nasty I will soak it in mineral spirits overnight and then wipe it down.

    A pressure washer is a great tool for driving dirt and particles into a chain... they should never be brought within ten feet of a bicycle as at close range they can also create damage to bearings by driving water into them.

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    What would be the ideal oil to use with mineral spirits? Also do you recommend and particular spirits? I'm planning on using my Dahon Speed D7 this winter.

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    Any oil ( engine oil ) mixed with the right ammount of mineral spirits ( I recommend odorless ) will work fine.

    I used to mix 10w30 or 5w30 with mineral spirits and it was a great chain "grease",

    I also were using pneumatic tools oil ( Stanley-Bostitch ) with great results,

    Latelly, Im using Boeshield T9 and I love it.

    On other hand, it's hard to tell which oil works the best or how a big difference is between them if any... I don't thing it was ever tested...
    Poor chain fluid is better than no fluid at all for sure.
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    What about sprockets? I clean the chain with WD-40 and wipe it down with a rag and re-oil with 3-in-1 oil. Seems to be fine for the chain but the rear freewheel on my old steel road bike (Fuji S-12S) gets a lot of junk from the road over the course of some weeks. I cleaned it once with WD-40 also, but this is getting expensive. The WD-40 spray does well to mechanically and chemically clean things, but I don't want to keep going through this.

    You said the other poster should not use a pressure washer. What about a large nylon bristle brush with some hot water and soap? After clean, dry it with rags, and re-oil? Can this screw up with lube in the hubs?

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    Senior Member Slaninar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoePeri View Post
    What about sprockets? I clean the chain with WD-40 and wipe it down with a rag and re-oil with 3-in-1 oil. Seems to be fine for the chain but the rear freewheel on my old steel road bike (Fuji S-12S) gets a lot of junk from the road over the course of some weeks. I cleaned it once with WD-40 also, but this is getting expensive. The WD-40 spray does well to mechanically and chemically clean things, but I don't want to keep going through this.

    You said the other poster should not use a pressure washer. What about a large nylon bristle brush with some hot water and soap? After clean, dry it with rags, and re-oil? Can this screw up with lube in the hubs?

    I tried Sixtyfiver's recipe: took some old (unused) motor oil and mixed it with WD40. It shouldn't glue so much black goo on the chain and sprockets. It is in the first week of testing - will see in a few weeks time how it works.

    My tip would be not to overdoo it. Better an almost dry chain, than a too oiled one.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slaninar View Post
    Better an almost dry chain, than a too oiled one.
    Definitely not if your winter riding is in very wet conditions. The rain we get here can strip every bit of oil from a chain in a couple of hours of riding. The bare chain then rusts amazingly quickly (a lot of salt is used on the roads in winter here).

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    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    This is what my chains look like after they have been used for a Canadian winter... after 6000 km there is still no measurable wear and have done nothing but lube and wipe it down when it needs it which could be every few days in the crappiest / wettest weather (spring and fall) or might go weeks and many hundreds of km when it is dry and cold.

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