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Lube question...

Old 05-12-10, 10:25 AM
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undisputed83
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Lube question...

I know there is another forum for stuff like this... but I think this one is more specific to commuters. And it's how often do you lube your drive train? It seems like I have had to every third week or so due to riding in the rain. Is that too often?
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Old 05-12-10, 10:34 AM
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i just keep an eye on the chain, if it looks dry, I lube, if nasty, then clean and lube
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Old 05-12-10, 10:36 AM
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Originally Posted by undisputed83 View Post
I know there is another forum for stuff like this... but I think this one is more specific to commuters. And it's how often do you lube your drive train? It seems like I have had to every third week or so due to riding in the rain. Is that too often?
Chain lube frequency has too many variables to say definitively how often you should do it. I live in dry conditions and use wax lubes that can go for weeks and weeks (probably up to 6) without needing to reapply. If I get caught in the rain, I'll apply lube as soon as the chain is dry. If you are riding a lot in the rain, you'll probably need to use something other than a wax lube and apply it more frequently. 3 weeks between application in wet conditions doesn't seem excessive and may even be too infrequent. The rule of thumb I use is to apply lube when the chain noise changes or when shifting seems to suffer.
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Old 05-12-10, 10:39 AM
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Listen to your chain, when it starts to chirp it's time to lube it. In rainy areas I would use an oil based lube so you don't have to lube it as often as you would with wax based lubes. The bummer is oil based lubes tend to attract dirtmore than wax based so you may want to use a rag to clean it prior to re-lubing. Just set the bike on a wall and pedal it backwards with one hand while holding a rag around the chain with the other. If the rag gets realy dirty, it's working! If you put the rag on the down side of the chain it doesn't "auto-shift" as easily.
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Old 05-12-10, 07:41 PM
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I'm fairly new to commuting and haven't gone through many lube cycles yet but I tend to agree with cyccommute and thegooddoctor. If my chain gets wet/dirty on the way to work, there is a pressure washer I can use there so I give the chain as well as the bike a good wash, then I dry the chain with brake or carb cleaner before applying whatever lube is on hand there, last time it was PB blaster.
I don't have a pressure washer at home, so at home I clean the chain on the bike with kerosene and a toothbrush, rinse/dry with brake cleaner, then apply wax lube. For a less frequent, more thorough cleaning & relube I completely remove the chain of course, clean thoroughly in kerosene, rinse with brakeclean, then submerge in oil overnight, then hang to let excess oil drip off overnight, wipe most of the residual oil off then reinstall.
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Old 05-12-10, 09:26 PM
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pressure washer + bicycle = a sad bicycle later.

Dude, do not use pressure washer on your bike. Leave that for removing stains or moss from your deck and sidings! There are tons of articles on how to wash a bike. Look them up.

Back to OP's question. I clean and relube about once a mth using my own home brew lube. YMMV.
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Old 05-12-10, 09:29 PM
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I live in a pretty dry climate, so I end up lubing my chain about every 100-200 miles. I use Pro-Link.
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Old 05-12-10, 09:31 PM
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Originally Posted by undisputed83 View Post
I know there is another forum for stuff like this... but I think this one is more specific to commuters. And it's how often do you lube your drive train? It seems like I have had to every third week or so due to riding in the rain. Is that too often?
In my experience, *any* time you get caught in the rain, you will need to lube the chain prior to the next ride.

Otherwise, I clean/lube it when I start hearing it while riding.
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Old 05-12-10, 10:11 PM
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Originally Posted by wunderkind View Post
pressure washer + bicycle = a sad bicycle later.

Dude, do not use pressure washer on your bike. Leave that for removing stains or moss from your deck and sidings! There are tons of articles on how to wash a bike. Look them up.
Thanks for your concern; I suppose I should have explained a little better. I'm not using the full force of the nozzle up close on the paint or mechanicals, nor inundating the entire bike with spray or aiming directly at any of the bearings. The spray I use is no more intense than riding in the rain; the pressure washer is the quickest handiest method at work to remove sand and dirt after riding in the rain versus riding it home in that condition. I did mention that I flush the chain with cleaner before relubing.
This is my rain bike by the way, the others don't get exposed to rain or wet roads. However, I do take care to keep it clean and lubed, and it rides every bit as smoothly and quietly as the others.
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Old 05-13-10, 08:38 AM
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To the OP - that sounds reasonable. I tend to go 2-4 weeks between chain lubes depending on weather conditions. I use Finish Line wet, and clean the cogs, between the gogs, and the rear derailleur w/ a rag, too. (Park Tools cleaning brush is in the mail and will hopefully aid significantly). When it's really sloppy, I've occasionally done it with as little as one week between lubes, but I was using crappier lube then and didn't have fenders yet.

As others have said, if it's chirping or looks really dry, those are also signs it's time for another lube.
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Old 05-13-10, 10:41 AM
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You can't over lube, you just get more cleanup if you do.
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Old 05-13-10, 11:04 AM
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Originally Posted by undisputed83 View Post
I know there is another forum for stuff like this... but I think this one is more specific to commuters. And it's how often do you lube your drive train? It seems like I have had to every third week or so due to riding in the rain. Is that too often?
when it squeaks; the rain has to stop for me to hear the squeaking, so I can go weeks in the winter w/o needing to lube even though it would squeak if it ever dried out.
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Old 05-13-10, 11:06 AM
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Wait, so is a wax lube like Blue Lightening better for dry climates?
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Old 05-13-10, 11:08 AM
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I lube mine when I hear it squeak.
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Old 05-13-10, 11:11 AM
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I use wet lube and re-apply approximately every two weeks. The trick that took me a long time to figure out was to wipe excess lube off the chain right after applying. This has really reduced the amount of grime, especially in the pulley wheels.

I recently bought a snap-on chain cleaning device (Park Cyclone) and I find it to be super-effective at de-gunking seriously gunked chains. My LBS recommended kerosene as a solvent. That struck me as effective but slightly reckless, so I use Simple Green. It works fine for me.
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Old 05-13-10, 11:11 AM
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You can go as far as you want whenever you want until the chain breaks if that's your style. Then you can shorten it a link and go some more! Your chain may not last as long as a lubed chain but it's all about the ride isn't it? I used to tour with a guy who was always sprating water from his water bottle on his chain, pedals etc. to get rid of squeaks and we had many fun tours together. I was the nerd always fussing with my bike, he was the ape-mam always laughing and talking. It was a hoot and we still ride together a bunch, 30 years later.
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Old 05-13-10, 11:16 AM
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Originally Posted by old's'cool View Post
For a less frequent, more thorough cleaning & relube I completely remove the chain of course, clean thoroughly in kerosene, rinse with brakeclean, then submerge in oil overnight, then hang to let excess oil drip off overnight, wipe most of the residual oil off then reinstall.
I watched my wife go through that whole process once. Then she lovingly applied a wax based lube so she could have a clean chain for a while. One week of riding and looked just like it did before she went through all that. Didn't seem to me like it was worth the effort. I just spray GT-85 on my chain every couple of weeks. It gets gooey and black and greasy but it's quiet and seems quite happy that way. When I finally do break down and clean the bike, I douse the chain with Dawn detergent and scrub it with a $2 scrub brush which I toss when done because the brush is ruined. Rinse it and wipe with an old rag and it looks nice and shiny. For a week. Then it is black and gooey again, which leaves one wondering why one should bother with cleaning it at all.
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Old 05-13-10, 11:55 AM
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Heck, in some weather conditions, I've had to lube daily, and even that wasn't enough. In the summer if I happen to hit nice dry conditions all the time, I might only lube once every 3 or 4 weeks.

I ride on 4 miles of gravel road each way, and if it's wet, the chain gets covered with mud, if it's dry, dust.
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Old 05-13-10, 12:17 PM
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This is always a touchy topic, but I'm going to breech it anyway.

Consider WD-40 and do it more often. Some will jump in and say: "It is not really a lube, it dries up." I believed this for many years until I read a story by a motorcyclist who ignored that "wisdom" and used it anway. He just oiled it every couple thousand miles and he got over 30,000 miles out of his motorcycle chain, and the typical chain life is more like 15,000. (they are O-ring chains, unlike our traditional ones) He phrased it well when he responded to the "It's not a lube!" argument with: "That doesn't change the fact that my chain went 33,000 miles while using it."

The thing about WD-40 is that it is a lube AND a water displacer. (hence the WD) I am using it on more and more things.

The lube that came on the chain of my new TriCross is some kind of sticky oil. After only a few rides, it has bits of sand stuck to it. That can't be good for it. I'm going to clean that crap off with kerosene and apply WD-40. It is so easy, I can do it weekly or even more frequently. It is cheap. Since it mostly evaporates, it doesn't attract dirt & grit once dry.

I started using it on my garage door wheels; works great there too.

Just something to consider before you go with an expensive, bike-specific product that needs to be re-applied frequently anyhow.
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Old 05-13-10, 12:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Sentinel04 View Post
Wait, so is a wax lube like White Lightning better for dry climates?
Yes. I've been using it since it came out...about 15 years ago...to good effect. I've even used it in other places where it is wetter without any issues.
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Old 05-13-10, 12:49 PM
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I gave up on being very meticulous about my chain, because of the gravel and sand I ride on, on rainy days it's dirty instantly and the rollers get full of sand half a mile from home. Cleaning does no good. I experimentally was very meticulous, removed and cleaned the chain every time it got dirty, lubed it often, I must have spent an extra 2 or 3 hours over the life of the chain cleaning and lubing it, and the chain lasted about 1900 miles. When I just ignore the chain for the most part, power wash it when it gets so caked with mud that it will hardly bend anymore, and lube it when it starts to squeak, it lasts 1800 miles.

An extra 100 miles out of a chain isn't worth 2 or 3 hours of my time.

Also, last time I put on a new chain, I started to get skipping, so the cassette is dead. But it works just fine with an old, stretched chain, so I put my best worn chain back on it and rode it for about 1000 miles, then put my next best chain on, and I've ridden that about 800 miles so far. I'm kind of curious to see what will happen if I just leave the same old super-stretched chain on, keep it lubed and see how long it lasts. I figure what the hell, the drivetrain is shot anyway, I can't hurt it any more, and so far it works totally fine.
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Old 05-13-10, 01:02 PM
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I like White Lightning Clean Ride most of the time (8-9 months out of the year). As a couple others have said, I mostly reapply lube when the chain "chirps". I don't remember where I read it, but supposedly wax-based lubes are good for about 300 miles per application, cut in half for particularly dirty environments, and in half again for particularly wet environments.

My area can be somewhat wet at times, but I haven't had any particular problem.

I used Finish Line Wet through the winter. It was...ok, I guess, but attracted a crazy amount of grit and got grimy and gummy pretty quickly. I'm not sure I'm going to use it again this winter.
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Old 05-13-10, 02:04 PM
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Originally Posted by JeremyZ View Post
The lube that came on the chain of my new TriCross is some kind of sticky oil. After only a few rides, it has bits of sand stuck to it.
Gleitmo.
The good news is that it is outstanding as a lubricant.
The bad news is that it is outstanding as a flypaper.
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Old 05-13-10, 03:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Shimagnolo View Post
Gleitmo.
The good news is that it is outstanding as a lubricant.
The bad news is that it is outstanding as a flypaper.
^ LOL!

It is always tricky to lube something that will be exposed to anything. On motorcycles, it has to not eat O-rings and be fling resistant. Chain Wax is the most popular.

In woodworking machines, it should not attract sawdust. Johnson's Furniture Wax is the most popular, followed by WD-40.
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Old 05-14-10, 11:13 AM
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Originally Posted by Shimagnolo View Post
Gleitmo.
The good news is that it is outstanding as a lubricant.
The bad news is that it is outstanding as a flypaper.
Can you buy that off-the-shelf?
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