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Does lubricant prevent chain rust?

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Does lubricant prevent chain rust?

Old 02-25-11, 09:45 AM
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What's the reasoning behind thinning the oil/atf down with mineral spirts?

I've found that a drop of oil or ATF on the roller seems to wick in perfectly fine. If my chain is dirty or I've neglected it, I'll pull it off and clean it separately in mineral spirits.

I think I will try some gear oil on my chain next time though, I was intrigued by it's tenacious nature when I was using it at work. Brackish road spray seems to clean off the chains pretty well. I've since installed a mudflap that barely clears the ground so that's already saved me a cleaning this week!

I still haven't got around to building my chaincase though, but that'll solve all my rain and slush issues for good.
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Old 02-25-11, 10:39 AM
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One cannot underestimate the benefit of proper fenders... I service so many bikes and the ones that are fendered are cleaner and show so much less wear on their drivetrains.

In particlular, the front fender needs to come down as low as possible behind the front fender to prevent the front wheel from throwing water and crud straight into the drive train.

I don;t obsess about chain lubrication... I just do it when it needs to be done.

On mineral spirits... these are what carry the lube into the chain and then they evaporate to just leave the base oil whatever that may be.

Tri flow has teflon which makes it very slick but it does have a tendency to get really black... benefit of tri flow is that it makes cleaning so much easier as it has great dirt shedding properties.
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Old 02-25-11, 10:51 AM
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Originally Posted by albertmoreno
my neighbor sprayed Tri-flow on my chain, actually everywhere...on the cassette and stuff. Man! is that stuff a nightmare it smears black crap all over anything the drive train touches.
Tri-Flow is good;
Your neighbor is an idiot.

First, Tri-Flow contains a solvent that needs to evaporate off before riding the bike.
If you ride it before the solvent is gone, it splatters.
I always wait overnight before riding it.

Second, the Tri-Flow goes on the *chain*, and *only* the chain.
There no sense it putting it on cassette, chainrings, etc, because the only
moving part they encounter is the chain which is already lubed.
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Old 02-25-11, 10:54 AM
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Anything on your chain is better than nothing. If you suddenly notice, "Gee, my chain is sounding squeaky and, o gosh look!, it's rusty," get some oil on it, any oil. All you got is olive oil or vegetable oil in the kitchen? Great, hit it with that.

Then go get some real lube. We use TriFlow in the shop; I use the same at home. Oil about every 2-3 weeks or so; or before the next ride if I put it up wet from rain. If a customer is offroad or riding year round, Pedro's Syn Lube, or we got a sample of Chain-L we're still trying out. Either of these make me want to go get a 5 gallon bucket of chainsaw bar chain oil and repackage it at outrageous pricing...

I've used motor or gear case oil in a pinch on my own bikes, also Marvel Mystery Oil. Really, whatever you got.

Always wipe down after application. Use a drip applicator, not spray. Favorite trick is to use TriFlow with the attached straw, rest a pinky knuckle on the rear der, aim the oil flow between the roller and the inside plate, then backpedal the cranks by hand. You can do this with the bike leaned up against something as long as nothing interferes with crank rotation.
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Old 02-25-11, 10:58 AM
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Originally Posted by albertmoreno
Okay, this might be a dumb question and yes, I've already googled it.
Does lubing a chain frequently in moist and humid weather, i.e. rain, prevent rust?
You can just chime in with a yes or no answer, or more if you have some special insight.

I use White Lightning and I've noticed I have to apply it more often recently or it starts squeaking quietly.
Yes. And wax lubes blow.

Originally Posted by chucky
Oil prevents rust, but not all lubrication necessarily prevents rust.

If you put a lot of miles on an unoiled chain, first it will rust (from riding in the rain) and then the rust will grind to a fine lapping compound. I don't oil or lubricate my chains:
Reality'd ify
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Old 02-26-11, 01:55 AM
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Originally Posted by Sixty Fiver
One cannot underestimate the benefit of proper fenders... I service so many bikes and the ones that are fendered are cleaner and show so much less wear on their drivetrains.

In particlular, the front fender needs to come down as low as possible behind the front fender to prevent the front wheel from throwing water and crud straight into the drive train.
That's why SKS came up with their new Longboard model: https://bikeshopgirl.com/2011/02/new-...gboard-fender/ Look at how low he front flap sits on that Rivendell.

They only seem available in the US by now, but will hopefully turn up in Europe soon.
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Old 02-26-11, 08:43 AM
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Originally Posted by mconlonx
Anything on your chain is better than nothing. If you suddenly notice, "Gee, my chain is sounding squeaky and, o gosh look!, it's rusty," get some oil on it, any oil. All you got is olive oil or vegetable oil in the kitchen? Great, hit it with that.
On the contrary I think nothing is better than anything. I've worn out just about every component on this bike (including nonconsumables, such as fatiguing the stem), but the dry chain is still going strong:


Any liquid or semi solid you put on there (oil, teflon solution, peanut butter, etc) is only going to attract dirt which will cause squeaking and wear down the chain, but if you keep it dry from the get go the innards will stay clean and the chain will last a long time.

Originally Posted by skijor
Reality'd ify
No that's the opinion of some ignorant yahoo on the internet. Reality is the picture I posted. Chains do not need lubrication or protection. Although if you're concerned about stains/marks you'll find that a little bit of protective like solid wax (not "wax lube" solutions) will keep the rust at bay so it doesn't stain.
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Old 02-26-11, 09:11 AM
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Originally Posted by chucky
On the contrary I think nothing is better than anything. I've worn out just about every component on this bike (including nonconsumables, such as fatiguing the stem), but the dry chain is still going strong:


Any liquid or semi solid you put on there (oil, teflon solution, peanut butter, etc) is only going to attract dirt which will cause squeaking and wear down the chain, but if you keep it dry from the get go the innards will stay clean and the chain will last a long time.



No that's the opinion of some ignorant yahoo on the internet. Reality is the picture I posted. Chains do not need lubrication or protection. Although if you're concerned about stains/marks you'll find that a little bit of protective like solid wax (not "wax lube" solutions) will keep the rust at bay so it doesn't stain.
Chains are not usually dry from the get-go -- manufacturer usually applies some really great lubricant on assembly. Is your non-lubed chain noisy? Where you located? Ever tried running the chain on a derailleur shifting bike w/o lube?
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Old 02-26-11, 09:18 AM
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Originally Posted by mconlonx
Chains are not usually dry from the get-go -- manufacturer usually applies some really great lubricant on assembly. Is your non-lubed chain noisy? Where you located? Ever tried running the chain on a derailleur shifting bike w/o lube?
Yeah you gotta soak it in mineral spirits to get that stuff off (which to me appears to be just normal marine grease). If I don't ride a bike for a while after putting it away wet then the chain will get a little stiff and noisy from the rust, but it only takes a few miles for the rust to grind down and then it's quiet and smooth.

I'm located in New York and I think derailleurs are an unholy abomination.
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Old 02-26-11, 09:44 AM
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Originally Posted by chucky
Yeah you gotta soak it in mineral spirits to get that stuff off (which to me appears to be just normal marine grease). If I don't ride a bike for a while after putting it away wet then the chain will get a little stiff and noisy from the rust, but it only takes a few miles for the rust to grind down and then it's quiet and smooth.

I'm located in New York and I think derailleurs are an unholy abomination.
So you've never actually tried it on what is by far the most common type of bicycle configuration. Hint: Unlubed chains don't work very well on multispeed bicycles.

For that matter, a lubed chain would almost certainly work better on your bicycle.
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Old 02-26-11, 09:58 AM
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Originally Posted by Arcanum
So you've never actually tried it on what is by far the most common type of bicycle configuration. Hint: Unlubed chains don't work very well on multispeed bicycles.

For that matter, a lubed chain would almost certainly work better on your bicycle.
The bike I posted is multispeed and it absolutely works just as well as it did before I discovered that lubrication is unnecessary.

If it doesn't work with the common configuration then I guess that's an indictment against the common configuration. Although in the case of the derailleur perhaps the word "vulgar" might be more accurate (cheap and vulgar).
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Old 02-26-11, 02:06 PM
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Originally Posted by chucky
On the contrary I think nothing is better than anything. I've worn out just about every component on this bike (including nonconsumables, such as fatiguing the stem), but the dry chain is still going strong:

No that's the opinion of some ignorant yahoo on the internet. Reality is the picture I posted. Chains do not need lubrication or protection. Although if you're concerned about stains/marks you'll find that a little bit of protective like solid wax (not "wax lube" solutions) will keep the rust at bay so it doesn't stain.


Chains are fairly low cost consumables and if you ride in death valley and never see a speck of rain you might get away with this.

But for everyone else on the planet... do use a suitable lubricant to keep the many hundreds of metal on metal interfaces running smoothly and can prevent some heinous bike damage.

I was away for 6 weeks and pulled my winter bike out yesterday... it was put away wet and has undergone many freeze / thaw cycles and there was a spot of rust at the bb spindle (should have rubbed those down with a little oil) but the chain, cog, and steel chain ring were still shiny and had nary a speck of rust.

And the bike was smooth as buttah.

I dare you to try this trick with an un lubed chain.
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Old 02-26-11, 02:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Sixty Fiver
One cannot underestimate the benefit of proper fenders... I service so many bikes and the ones that are fendered are cleaner and show so much less wear on their drivetrains.

In particlular, the front fender needs to come down as low as possible behind the front fender to prevent the front wheel from throwing water and crud straight into the drive train...

On mineral spirits... these are what carry the lube into the chain and then they evaporate to just leave the base oil whatever that may be....
Proper fenders do help drivetrain components last longer. There's a bunch of junk thrown up from the front tire directly into your crank/chain constantly. I think a good front fender would make a big difference for off-pavement riding, or riding in coastal areas (sandy soils). Fenders benefits are not limited to rain protection.

Regarding the DIY lube and mineral spirits -the paint thinner does more than simply dilute and spread the oil component to drivetrain surfaces.

At least the way I do it, the mineral spirits diluent also (and more importantly) washes debris out of the chain. I apply my DIY lube lightly, drip-wise to the top of the lower chain run (longer and fewer interferences). I catch run-off in a paper towel below, using a solvent-resistant glove. So, I clean/lube in a single step. The DIY lube washes the chain nearly as clean as removing it and immersing in solvent, except you don't have to remove it. It's the cleaning aspect that makes DIY chain lube such a brilliant alternative to conventional bike lubes, cleaning solutions, and chain scrubbing gadgets. I tried all these methods before making my final move to DIY lube. I've stuck with it because it works best, and is very economical.

This actually works very well and I encourage others to try it. Just mix whatever motor oil you have around with mineral spirits aka paint thinner (you can buy both a walmart). Mix ratio is 1 part oil to 5-10 parts mineral spirits. It helps if you can mix and apply from a drip-style plastic bottle that allows you to limit volume; I use an old White Lightning container for this purpose.

The only negative to DIY lube is you're adding some solvent vapor to the air - probably less pollutants involved than operating a motor vehicle for five seconds. However, this vapor does stink like solvent (paint thinner), and you shouldn't breath it. If you keep your bike indoors, then you need to apply lube immediately before riding, outdoors. Wipe chain down to prevent excess from slinging off. I keep my bike in a garage, and I find most of the paint thinner is evaporated after an hour or so. I just open the garage door a few inches to vent.
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Old 02-26-11, 03:43 PM
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Another good thing about fenders is that when you ride through puddles... it isn't always just water that is getting thrown all over you.

I have a lot of bikes... only a couple do not have fenders and tis is because they tend to be for special purposes... like my road bike and mtb.
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Old 02-26-11, 04:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Sixty Fiver
Chains are fairly low cost consumables and if you ride in death valley and never see a speck of rain you might get away with this.

But for everyone else on the planet... do use a suitable lubricant to keep the many hundreds of metal on metal interfaces running smoothly and can prevent some heinous bike damage.
My area gets an average of 45 inches of rain annually. That makes it the wettest US metro area north of the Mason-Dixon Line (with more rain than Seattle, more than Portland, and almost three times as much as Edmonton Canada). The local municipalities are also quite fond of road salting (my father actually made his career out of selling it to them).

If you want to waste your time and money then feel free to lube anything you want. However, these things seem to get along just fine without all of their metal on metal interfaces being lubed:
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Old 02-26-11, 04:38 PM
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Originally Posted by chucky
these things seem to get along just fine without all of their metal on metal interfaces being lubed:
You are very much mistaken. Virtually any rotational metal-on-metal contact (such as wheel bearings) in a mechanical environment are going to be oiled or greased. It reduces friction, which also prevents them from heating up and binding, and protects from water, which prevents rust.
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Old 02-26-11, 04:57 PM
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Originally Posted by chucky
My area gets an average of 45 inches of rain annually. That makes it the wettest US metro area north of the Mason-Dixon Line (with more rain than Seattle, more than Portland, and almost three times as much as Edmonton Canada). The local municipalities are also quite fond of road salting (my father actually made his career out of selling it to them).

If you want to waste your time and money then feel free to lube anything you want. However, these things seem to get along just fine without all of their metal on metal interfaces being lubed:
So, you don't ride in the rain then... that's fine.

My friend works for the railway.. his job is to replace the train's wheels as they are subjected to epic amounts of abuse and wear and he is never without a great deal of work to do.
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Old 02-26-11, 10:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Arcanum
You are very much mistaken. Virtually any rotational metal-on-metal contact (such as wheel bearings) in a mechanical environment are going to be oiled or greased. It reduces friction, which also prevents them from heating up and binding, and protects from water, which prevents rust.
You are very much blind. That is a picture of a steel wheel rolling a steel rail without any lubrication (or rust) between the two. You know, rolling as in "roller chain". Surfaces that are somewhat protected from the elements (such as wheel bearings) are an entirely different matter and irrelevant to radically exposed systems such as bicycle chains.

Originally Posted by Sixty Fiver
So, you don't ride in the rain then... that's fine.

My friend works for the railway.. his job is to replace the train's wheels as they are subjected to epic amounts of abuse and wear and he is never without a great deal of work to do.
On the contrary I ride through every single one of those 45 inches, 365 days a year (366 on leap year), rain or shine. I have to because it's my only means of transportation. So yeah, if a relatively fair weather rider like yourself ever wanted to know about riding in real wet conditions I'd be the first person you should ask and if you say "pretty please" then you might even get an answer.

In the mean time I suggest you ask your friend if he ever lubricates the wheels where they contact the tracks. Maybe you'll learn something, unless you suffer from that uniquely persistent misunderstanding of all things mechanical that afflicts most bike "mechanics".

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Old 02-27-11, 12:20 AM
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Originally Posted by chucky
You are very much blind. That is a picture of a steel wheel rolling a steel rail without any lubrication (or rust) between the two. You know, rolling as in "roller chain". Surfaces that are somewhat protected from the elements (such as wheel bearings) are an entirely different matter and irrelevant to radically exposed systems such as bicycle chains.
...You want friction between wheels and the surface they run on, otherwise they slide rather than roll. The rollers inside a chain are more like axles or bearings. In fact, bicycle chains are a form of roller chain, that is a chain made up of bushings, which are a type of bearing. Bearings operate best when lubricated, and suffer more rapid wear when unlubricated.

While someone in the conversation suffers from a "uniquely persistent misunderstanding of all things mechanical", it's clearly not SixtyFiver and I. We, after all, know the difference between a wheel and a bearing.
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Old 02-27-11, 01:09 AM
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Originally Posted by chucky
You are very much blind. That is a picture of a steel wheel rolling a steel rail without any lubrication (or rust) between the two. You know, rolling as in "roller chain". Surfaces that are somewhat protected from the elements (such as wheel bearings) are an entirely different matter and irrelevant to radically exposed systems such as bicycle chains.

On the contrary I ride through every single one of those 45 inches, 365 days a year (366 on leap year), rain or shine. I have to because it's my only means of transportation. So yeah, if a relatively fair weather rider like yourself ever wanted to know about riding in real wet conditions I'd be the first person you should ask and if you say "pretty please" then you might even get an answer.

In the mean time I suggest you ask your friend if he ever lubricates the wheels where they contact the tracks. Maybe you'll learn something, unless you suffer from that uniquely persistent misunderstanding of all things mechanical that afflicts most bike "mechanics".
I just spent 6 weeks in the rainy wet Pacific Northwest and am now back in Canada and can say that short of riding in plus 100 degree temperatures I ride in everything.

I wrote an interesting article called Winter Cycling 101... check my sig for a link and pour yourself a big cup of htfu before you do a read through.

Pretty please.
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Old 02-27-11, 01:10 AM
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Originally Posted by Arcanum
...You want friction between wheels and the surface they run on, otherwise they slide rather than roll. The rollers inside a chain are more like axles or bearings. In fact, bicycle chains are a form of roller chain, that is a chain made up of bushings, which are a type of bearing. Bearings operate best when lubricated, and suffer more rapid wear when unlubricated.

While someone in the conversation suffers from a "uniquely persistent misunderstanding of all things mechanical", it's clearly not SixtyFiver and I. We, after all, know the difference between a wheel and a bearing.
No, no, no....aaand no. Rollers and bushings are separate chain components with separate functions (with the roller functioning as a wheel and the bushing functioning as bearing). More accurately they were separate components since most bicycle chains don't even have bushings anymore. That leaves the wheel part which you yourself said should not be lubricated.

I hate to break it to you, son, but there is one person in this conversation that has the knowledge and real world experience to back up his claims and the pictures to prove it and two people who are haven't a clue. You can argue till you're blue in the face, but it won't make you right because the fact is that unlubricated chains work. So your only choices are to either try to understand why they work or to make yourself look stupid by insisting that the Pope isn't catholic. Here's a start:
https://www.chain-guide.com
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Old 02-27-11, 01:12 AM
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Chucky... you really need to oil your chain... it appears to have some rust forming.
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Old 02-27-11, 01:15 AM
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Hey Chucky...

From chainguide.com

"Two types of chain are especially useful at lower temperatures. KT-specification chain is specially heat-treated to withstand very cold environments. SS-specification chain, which is made of 304 stainless steel, may also be used at low temperatures. Low-temperature brittleness does not occur in austenitic stainless steel.

These chains cannot fix the problems of solidification of the lubricant or stiff joints caused by frost or ice. Use cold-temperature oil or grease and apply it to the inner clearances and the outside of the chain.
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Old 02-27-11, 01:16 AM
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5.4.1 Use in Wet Conditions

When metal chains are splashed with water or go through heated vapor, the following problems may occur:

Increase in wear due to improper or insufficient lubrication.
Decrease in strength due to corrosive attack.
Shortened chain life due to rust or corrosion of the chain.
You can take the following steps to reduce the effect of wet conditions in several ways:

Use larger-sized chains to decrease the bearing pressure and increase wear resistance.
Allow for the corrosive-reduction factor in your calculations.
Use plated steel or stainless steel chain.
Wear of engineered plastic chains may increase if they are used in water. In wet applications, stainless steel chains will wear less than engineered plastic chains.
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Old 02-27-11, 01:38 AM
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For the record, I use synthetic oil as a base in my home brew as I need it to work in extremely low temperatures... have ridden in conditions where the ambient temperature was -46C and have never had a chain issue.

All my lubricants are synthetic... I also run an internal gear hub in the winter and it runs far more smoothly when the oil can actually flow freely and lubricate the many moving parts inside... regular oils turn to honey at very low temperatures.

For those who would like to try the lube-less approach, know that if you ride a derailleur equipped bike, a seized chain can get caught in the derailleur and tear it off the bike which can destroy the hanger and in some cases pull the broken derailleur into the rear spokes.

I have seen this and it is not pretty.

Besides being a "lowly" bike mechanic I also work as a frame builder and have a background in the industrial manufacturing of high precision parts, bearings, and equipment and understanding the function of lubricants in highly demanding applications was crucial.

Bikes are easy.
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