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Old Time Bicycle Lube

Old 07-14-22, 12:49 PM
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Colorado Kid
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Old Time Bicycle Lube

I went into the LBS to buy some chain lube for my bicycle. I was blown away at all the types and brands for sale. What did they use ( Back in the good old days.) for bicycle chain lube?
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Old 07-14-22, 11:57 PM
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Things changed, for the better. PTFE was bad because of PFOA, and now it's recognized as bad. So things like safety and other things have really improved! haha. Environmentally speaking, the most environmentally friendly isn't the most efficient lube, and the easiest to apply may not be best. When I had chains, I chose waxed chains, which are a fuss to deal with every 200 miles, but worth the hassle for the quiet ride and ease of cleaning.
My kid has opted for sheep oil for weekly cleaning and lubing, due to environmental concerns.
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Old 07-15-22, 12:19 AM
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I like CHAIN-L. Put it in a needle (small) applicator and one drop per link. Wipe. It is a thick oil and lasts a long time.
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Old 07-15-22, 01:34 AM
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Fifty years ago I was using a Raleigh cycling oil to lube the chain and hubs - very often. Grease in hubs created too much drag on my speedy PX10. When I got a Phil Wood BB it felt like ​​it was "gummed up" . However it was a maintenance dream. I would just inflate my 21 mm tubulars even more to compensate for that extra drag.
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Old 07-15-22, 05:42 AM
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Fifty years ago, we used Mobil 10W-40, as that's what the '69 Chevelle wagon and '78 Dodge Aspen wagon used. Dad changed his own oil and drained the remaining drops of the cans (not plastic bottles) into a Gerber baby food jar. We used a wire he'd filed to a point to put a drop between each side plate. It was a bit tedious for kids.

Grease, since you didn't ask, was from a can of pump grease he picked up years earlier. I'm guessing he still has the can. Hubs on our bikes weren't sealed well so 500 miles was about the limit before repacking was needed. We were still going through cones though, which could be picked up at the nearby Coast to Coast hardware store. Today, hubs are much better sealed, and it gets hard to find replacement cones for anything but the current.
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Old 07-15-22, 08:19 AM
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Which days are the goodest and oldest? Roller chain is contemporary with the petroleum industry so it's always been that kind of stuff.

This being the commuting forum we'd be remiss not to point out that fenders will keep grime and spray off your chain and the lube will last longer.
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Old 07-15-22, 09:05 AM
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50 years ago? Probably Mom's 3-in-1 oil. If Dad was around when we needed to oil our bikes, we might get to use his oil can which was probably filled with leftover Quaker State 30 weight oil when he topped the station wagon up before vacation. Hmm, Quaker State -- was that an early use of paraffin wax on a chain?
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Old 07-15-22, 09:10 AM
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They used snake oil. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snake_oil
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Old 07-16-22, 04:48 AM
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I remember someone from the club using Motorcycle lube. He claimed that it was ( then) the same as bicycle chain lube. True or False?
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Old 07-16-22, 09:58 AM
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I've been on motorcycle forums and they have threads like this. All that's missing is the hot wax. The manual that came with my Suzuki said to use kerosene.
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Old 07-17-22, 05:05 PM
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Nearly any oil is nearly good enough. Each oil has its intrinsic replacement interval with the more viscous ones needing less frequent replacement.
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Old 07-18-22, 12:50 AM
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I agree with the above. I am a long-time motorcyclist and have seen and read extensive chain lube comparisons. There are innumberable products out there for both bicycle and motorcycle chains that mostly just cost more than more common oils like motor oil or gear oil. Sometimes they have some characteristic that promises to make them more appealing for some reason other than lubricating the drive chain -- like the waxes that are supposed to make less mess. Try this or that if you want, but gear oil is about as good as it gets and there is really nothing better for motorcycle or bicycle drive chains. I'm not claiming that some more expensive products aren't just as good, but I've never seen any evidence that they're even the least bit better -- and I've seen a whole lot of evidence. Neither will I claim that gear oil is the neatest product. If that's your criterium, then run the chain dry.
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Old 07-18-22, 07:17 AM
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Originally Posted by MNBikeCommuter View Post
Fifty years ago, we used Mobil 10W-40, as that's what the '69 Chevelle wagon and '78 Dodge Aspen wagon used. Dad changed his own oil and drained the remaining drops of the cans (not plastic bottles) into a Gerber baby food jar. We used a wire he'd filed to a point to put a drop between each side plate. It was a bit tedious for kids.

Grease, since you didn't ask, was from a can of pump grease he picked up years earlier. I'm guessing he still has the can. Hubs on our bikes weren't sealed well so 500 miles was about the limit before repacking was needed. We were still going through cones though, which could be picked up at the nearby Coast to Coast hardware store. Today, hubs are much better sealed, and it gets hard to find replacement cones for anything but the current.
Hey MNBikeCommuter
I think we grew up in the same house! Except it was a 66 Chrysler and a 71 Ford at my house.
I still have a box if old "pitted" cones in the garage somewhere, Like I might use them again sometime**********
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Old 07-19-22, 07:52 AM
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I still use motor oil. Works fine. Nothing I've tried seems to effect the performance or longevity of the chain. Just clean and lube periodically.
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Old 07-19-22, 08:04 AM
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For bikes to be ridden outside, I go with Chain-L No. 9. For bikes I ride on the trainer (I have cats that love to rub against my bike when they see I'm getting ready for a ride and they'd rather I spent the time paying attention to them), I go with hot wax.
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Old 07-19-22, 08:43 AM
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Originally Posted by Colorado Kid View Post
I remember someone from the club using Motorcycle lube. He claimed that it was ( then) the same as bicycle chain lube. True or False?
Which motorcycle lube? Which bicycle chain lube? There have always been multiple kinds available.
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Old 07-20-22, 06:42 PM
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Originally Posted by ThermionicScott View Post
Which motorcycle lube? Which bicycle chain lube? There have always been multiple kinds available.
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