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About chain lube

Old 03-10-13, 02:15 PM
  #1  
vol
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About chain lube

First, I would appreciate recommendations for a good chain lube, good for the chain, and even better if it's less harmful to health when you breathe it in (I keep and lube my bike inside apartment).

Second, I suppose the chains get minor lubing, say once a week, and a major lubing when one thoroughly cleans the bike (such as after riding in rain). My question, during the frequent "minor" lubing, should I still clean the chain and remove most of the previous lube and dirt? Does it do much harm if I just add new lube on top of the previous one? (apparent, excess dirt will be wiped off first)

The so-called "dry" lube, do you remove it the same way as wet lube?

(If it matters: mine is a hybrid bike and I ride on city streets in NYC)

Last edited by vol; 03-10-13 at 02:27 PM.
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Old 03-10-13, 02:37 PM
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I'll keep my answers general because there's an obvious bias (or conflict of interest).

One should never add a lube, especially a thin solvent laden lube to a dirty chain. That just loosens dirt and carries it in. Always start any re-oil process by dry wiping the chain to remove any loose or semi-loose dirt.

After that it's all over the board. Many follow my method of oiling very infrequently, and dealing with rain pre-emptively with a heavy wet lube that keeps it out of the chain. Others have comparable results relubing often (as often as every ride in some cases).

There's no one answer or perfect chain lube. If there were we'd all be using it, and there wouldn't be so many chain lube threads. As to what works best I'll say mine does, but I'm sure every one who markets a chain lube would say the same about their own stuff. After all if anyone thought a competitor's product were better than his, he'd change his product.

There are many sources for lube reviews on various sites, including some competitive forums (which I'm too polite to mention) which have specific product review pages including lubes.

Search "bicycle chain lube" or "bicycle chain oil" or a similar phrase, or anything "best bicycle ....." make a bag of popcorn and settle down to some reading. There are also a large number of related threads on BF so you can start searching here.
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Old 03-10-13, 03:01 PM
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I always clean the chain, chain rings, and rear cassette prior to oiling, using a dry rag on a best-effort basis to remove as much outside contaminants as possible. Then use a syringe to apply one drop of 75W-90 gear oil to each roller. Give the oil about 10 minutes to seep under the roller, then wipe clean the outside of the chain with a dry rag. Repeat every 100-200 miles. If you hear noise from the chain or see a shiny roller, then it's probably time to re-lube.
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Old 03-10-13, 03:08 PM
  #4  
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I make my own special blend of WD-40 and paraffin.
[runs and hides]
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Old 03-10-13, 03:10 PM
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TrojanHorse
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Well, I just used chain L for the first time last week and I think it's great so far but... If you're going to put it on in your apt then steer clear. It smells like hell. Literally. Brimstone. I reckon it took 4 days for the odor to die down.

My takeaway from the install process was that if you're going to clean your chain, clean it. Off the bike is best if you can swing it. I was surprised at how much muck I got off my chain after only 500 mostly dry miles and a few runs through one of those park chain cleaners. Very ineffective by comparison.
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Old 03-10-13, 03:37 PM
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This only works for single cog setups (ie internal gears, singlespeed, or fixed gear), but:
I "lube" my new chains by dipping them in a bath of melted candle wax once and only once before installing them and then riding them until they snap about 10,000 miles later. And I put "lube" in quotes because I don't believe this actually lubricates the chain at all but simply helps to seal out the dirt so the chains last longer.

On the other hand, lubricating a derailleur chain (which does need to be lubricated due to the misalignment inherent to the shifting mechanism) is a futile task because it attracts so much dirt that you can't really relube it without full removal and soaking in solvent (paint thinner, alcohol, etc)...but instead of doing this most people just throw the chain out after allowing it to be destroyed by dirt particles for 1000-2000 miles. So if that's also what you're going to do it really doesn't matter how you treat your chain just like it doesn't matter how you treat your tires.

Last edited by chucky; 03-10-13 at 03:42 PM.
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Old 03-10-13, 04:01 PM
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vol
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Thanks, everyone, esp. info about the smell--that really matters to me! Has anyone ever tried the Pedalite Green Oil Bike Chain Lube? Sounds more health/environmental-friendly, but wonder if the lubing result is comparable to the other major lubes?
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Old 03-10-13, 05:03 PM
  #8  
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Originally Posted by chucky View Post
This only works for single cog setups (ie internal gears, singlespeed, or fixed gear), but:
I "lube" my new chains by dipping them in a bath of melted candle wax once and only once before installing them and then riding them until they snap about 10,000 miles later. And I put "lube" in quotes because I don't believe this actually lubricates the chain at all but simply helps to seal out the dirt so the chains last longer.

On the other hand, lubricating a derailleur chain (which does need to be lubricated due to the misalignment inherent to the shifting mechanism) is a futile task because it attracts so much dirt that you can't really relube it without full removal and soaking in solvent (paint thinner, alcohol, etc)...but instead of doing this most people just throw the chain out after allowing it to be destroyed by dirt particles for 1000-2000 miles. So if that's also what you're going to do it really doesn't matter how you treat your chain just like it doesn't matter how you treat your tires.
Melted parafin is also a good lube for derailleur chains. It is completely and totally clean, but a PITA to use properly, requires very frequent applications and is no good in wet conditions.

Wet lubes applied with some care can make a chain last a long time and it is not necessary, or desirable, to routinely solvent soak them first. If chucky's chains are ".....destroyed by dirt particles for 1000-2000 miles" he is doing something quitte wrong. My chains routinely last 7,500-8,000 miles before they have "stretched' over 0.5%.

And, yes. Chain-L is an effective and durable chain lube but the smell is very noticable.
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Old 03-10-13, 05:09 PM
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Originally Posted by vol View Post
First, I would appreciate recommendations for a good chain lube, good for the chain, and even better if it's less harmful to health when you breathe it in (I keep and lube my bike inside apartment).

Second, I suppose the chains get minor lubing, say once a week, and a major lubing when one thoroughly cleans the bike (such as after riding in rain). My question, during the frequent "minor" lubing, should I still clean the chain and remove most of the previous lube and dirt? Does it do much harm if I just add new lube on top of the previous one? (apparent, excess dirt will be wiped off first)

The so-called "dry" lube, do you remove it the same way as wet lube?

(If it matters: mine is a hybrid bike and I ride on city streets in NYC)
In your case, I'd use something like Finish Line's One Step. It's a product that both cleans and lubes your chain and eliminates the need to use a citrus-based degreaser to clean your chain and a separate lube. If you use it regularly, say every 3 rides or so, and use it sparingly, your chain doesn't get dirty and will run well.

As an aside, since this thread comes up in the forum a lot, I thought I'd mention that while watching Paris-Nice this weekend, I noticed an ad for a new line of WD-40 products that are specifically designed for bikes. The "variety" looks to be much like the various products in Finish Line's lineup.
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Old 03-10-13, 05:58 PM
  #10  
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https://draco.nac.uci.edu/rbfaq/FAQ/8d.2.html
I keep my bikes in the house. I lube my chains with 4pts unscented mineral spirits to 1pt chainsaw bar oil. I clean and lube the chains in my garage and wipe off the excess. If I ride in the rain I don't worry about it unless the chain squeeks.
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Old 03-10-13, 06:55 PM
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any medium weight oil will do just fine. I like Triflow in the dropper bottle, not aerosol. wipe the chain off, one small drop on the inside of each roller, spin it around a few times, wipe it off again, good to go. once in awhile, the chain comes off and gets cleaned in a kerosene bath (coffee can with 2" of kerosene or bulk wd40, agitate well, hang chain to drip dry. if its really grody, get in there with a parts cleaner brush (or toothbrush) and said kerosene, but thats getting messier as you'll likely spatter chain muck about.
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Old 03-10-13, 09:10 PM
  #12  
Chris Chicago
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Wd40 smells pretty good to me. But you'd have to apply it so frequently wouldgetexpensive
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Old 03-11-13, 04:31 AM
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Simple, use Chain L and be done with it.
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Old 03-12-13, 09:27 AM
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Chain lubing is completely subjective - I have learnt from a wise man on this forum that you must choose a lube and a routine that suits your own needs. There is no known "best".

How much do you value your time? What would you pay *yourself* per hour. I'm expensive - as is proper lube, chains are cheap. I give them a half interested wipe and lube of some sort occasionally - enough to keep them quiet and still changing OK. With my winter mountain bike, which always lives outside leaning against the fence, it's spin the cranks and a squirt of motor oil before each ride. The bike gets ridden once a week coming back with clay mud and grit swathed over every surface including the chain, which usually has started surface rust by the next ride. While I wonder how much shorter the chain life is due to my lazy profligacy, I know how much longer my personal life is as a result: it's a lot.

Of course if you actually enjoy carefully tending to, cleaning and maintaining stuff then there's a nobility in that - and you don't have to price or deduct the time from your life.
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Old 03-12-13, 09:58 AM
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I keep it simple.

Pro-link Pro-gold on pavement only bikes. Only apply every 150 miles or so.

White Lightning or pedros ice wax on everything that sees dirt or the limestone trails. Reapply after EVERY ride.

Feel free to substitute your favorite lube in there. I wont tell anyone what to use, I use what works for me. I use mineral spirits to clean the chains with. Soak it, and let drip dry. Simple.
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Old 03-13-13, 06:36 AM
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I know the question was "suggest how I might lube the chain on my existing bike within my apartment".

However, if the bike isn't for racing or in some other way precious then another option to consider is changing to a rubber belt drive bike. No horrible chain issues to deal with inside the apartment.
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