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How do I know when to relubricate the chain?

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How do I know when to relubricate the chain?

Old 12-03-14, 02:57 PM
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reggieray
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How do I know when to relubricate the chain?

Chain-L user here.

Recently started commuting and find myself riding in the rain much more than before.

Hearing light grinding/crunching noises on a completely clean and lubricated chain, primarily from the front of the drive train, after 24 miles in the rain (12 each way).

When I get home, I wipe the outside of the chain with a rag that has a light spray of GT-85 on it and that quiets the chain considerably.

The Chain-L bottle says to relube after riding in the rain...do I need to reapply after each ride on wet roads?
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Old 12-03-14, 03:34 PM
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this review is positive for that lube commuting in the rain
Kent's Bike Blog: Chain-L: The Best Chain Lube You Probably Are Not Using

I was going to write that if you hear the chain making new noises then it's time, or better to do some periodic maintenance before hearing any noise. After doing some quick research, plus my memory, commuting in the rain, makes for lots of grime buildup everywhere and so keeping your chain wiped and lubed more frequently than in dry weather can be expected.

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Old 12-03-14, 03:34 PM
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I go by whether the chain is getting noisy, or the rollers are getting a mirror finish. I may lube less often than some because I feel too much lube just causes problems.
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Old 12-03-14, 06:18 PM
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Originally Posted by reggieray View Post
Chain-L user here.

Recently started commuting and find myself riding in the rain much more than before.

Hearing light grinding/crunching noises on a completely clean and lubricated chain, primarily from the front of the drive train, after 24 miles in the rain (12 each way).

When I get home, I wipe the outside of the chain with a rag that has a light spray of GT-85 on it and that quiets the chain considerably.

The Chain-L bottle says to relube after riding in the rain...do I need to reapply after each ride on wet roads?
What you are probably hearing is grit that has gotten between the chain and chainring, not a big concern, and spraying with GT-85 might serve to dilute and wash out the Chain-L. I'm not an expert on these things, but generally clean and relube my chain (also with Chain-L) when it starts sounding dry and rattly. Which is hard to quantify, but doesn't happen to me before 500 miles. (I like to wipe off the chainring(s) and cog(s) with a paper towel when the chain is off, and that helps with any gritchy noises. )
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Old 12-03-14, 07:26 PM
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The instruction reference to the rain is partly the result of editing to fit. Before cutting it down to fit, it said after many miles of riding in the rain.

There's no need to relube after a typical rainy commute. In fact Chain-L rarely needs reapplication even after a hundred or more rainy miles. After a rainy ride I simply let the bike drip dry, then ride it the next day with zero service.

As T-Scott aid, the grit you hear is probably between the chain and sprockets, and will go away with a few turns after the chain is dry. The normal action will move whatever is there to the edge of engagement merging into the scallop pattern at the base of the teeth.

As to when to relube, it's hard to say, but you'll get a sense of it either by sound, or the shifting getting a bit wonky, or in the winter when you get a bit of rust around the edges of the plates.

Personally, I don't have a rule, and relube when I think that maybe it's time, following the logic that too soon is better than too late.
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Old 12-03-14, 08:28 PM
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When I first started using Chain L, I didn't think I had a noisy chain, but it was still noticeably quieter after my first application.
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Old 12-03-14, 08:57 PM
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i wipe the dirt and grit off the chain before every ride. that's usually every day. then lube, it takes about 1 minute. so i guess i engage in a pre-emptive strike.

OTOH, i have one beater bike that rarely gets any kind of attention, on it, i've had reason to oil the chain when i feel the grit on the chain through the pedals. (you may think i'm kidding... i'm not)

Last edited by hueyhoolihan; 12-03-14 at 09:21 PM.
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Old 12-04-14, 12:37 AM
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It depends so much on conditions. If I've been riding on fairly clean, wet pavement, I might just wipe the chain and rings dry with a rag. If there is a lot of dirt and gunk, I'll wipe the chain down and relube with my wet lube, Dupont Multi-Purpose Synthetic.

Other than that, I'll go with what others have said. Lube when your chain gets noisy or you notice shifting issues.
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Old 12-04-14, 07:20 AM
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I wipe the chain and apply chain-L when I start hearing the chain getting noisy (clicking and rattling faintly), which tends to be about every two months during the winter. When I'm fixing something else on my bike, I may also lube. Probably works out to once every month and a half.
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Old 12-04-14, 08:50 AM
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I dry wipe the chain before each ride too, and when very little oil and dirt comes off, I re-lube. Also as others have stated, a chain that needs oil starts to get noisy.
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Old 12-05-14, 09:53 AM
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The first time I used Chain-L, the chain developed surface rust before it started squeaking or shifting poorly. That was after about 1,200 miles, IIRC, including a fair number of wet rides.

The grinding sound isn't good; if there's grit in the interior of the chain, where you can hear the grinding, it'll wear the chain. If a wipe down will clear it, that's good. Otherwise, the chain must undergo cleaning, and the need for re-lube depends on how thorough the cleaning is. Wipe with a thinner on the rag? Don't worry about it. On-bike brush cleaner, or off-bike soak, and the chain needs more lube.
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