- How Bike Lube Works
- 8 Best Bike Lubes for Your Chain
- In Summary
Whether you’re riding a sleek carbon road bike on some local hill repeats, hitting the trail with your mountain bike, or just out with the kids on your hybrid cruiser, we all know that bikes get dirty.
Some of this is purely aesthetic, but dirt on a dry bike chain can cause wear and tear that is otherwise quite avoidable. The solution? Chain lube for your bike!
How Bike Lube Works
Hoping to find the best bike lube for your chain? To determine this, it’s important to first understand the various types of chain lube, and how they all work.
Dry lubes are made from materials like Teflon, wax, or ceramic, that are suspended in another liquid that can penetrate the nooks and crannies of your chain. Your dry lube will appear wet at first but dry into a protective layer on your chain within two hours or so.
Wet lube functions differently, by remaining wet and thick after application to your chain. It lasts longer than dry lube and doesn’t require drying time, but does attract dirt and grime. Since its oiliness deters water, it is better for wet and muddy conditions than its dry alternative.
An ideal compromise to save time is an all-around lubricant, which combines the positive and negative elements of dry and wet. You’ll save time switching between the two, and reap many of the benefits, but it is not designed to be perfectly ideal in any particular situation either.
Now that you have a better idea of how these work, let’s take a look at some of the top bike lubricants out there so that you can sort out what the best bike lube for your chain will be.
8 Best Bike Lubes for Your Chain
These are eight of the highest-rated lubricant products out there, that are generally available at most local bike shops and even some hardware stores. We’ve included dry, wet, and hybrid styles of lubricant, so you can get to know the details of each!
Finish Line makes high-quality dry, wet, and synthetic lubricants suitable for a myriad of situations. Their dry lube is renowned for areas with less rain and mud, making it a classic choice among mountain bike enthusiasts.
Their wet lube utilizes a very viscous synthetic oil product that is extremely good at repelling rain and other liquids you may encounter, whether you’re commuting to work on a mountain bike in the winter, or hitting multiple puddles on that post-rain road ride.
Ideal for off-road riding, Dumonde Tech Lite lube is a dry penetrating favorite amongst mountain bikers.
You may have to apply this more than some other lubricants, but its “lite” consistency makes application easier and quicker. It is available at many common stores at a reasonable price as well, so don’t worry if you run out.
This synthetic blend of wet and dry lubricants from stalwart Park Tool is one of the higher-end iterations of an all-around lubricant. The Park Tool brand is seen around bike shops around the world, both in the repair department and available for home use.
They don’t disappoint with CL-1, and it’s a favorite amongst riders who live in parts of the country with fluctuating weather. It lubricates enough for arid conditions, but will also deter water in the event you find yourself caught in the rain mid-ride.
If we want to discuss brand recognition, few of these products come close to WD-40 in maintaining a household name.
Prepare to enhance the longevity of your chain and rear cassette, by using this remarkable wet lubricant. Known around households for decades, WD-40 put their knowledge to good use when making a bike-specific product.
Pedros is another company like Park Tool, that is well known to cyclists and mechanics, even if not quite a household name.
This is an extremely robust mountain bike-specific synthetic lubricant. It’s very high quality, and on their website they even say “go ahead, play in the mud!”
This wax-based dry lube is guaranteed to work in both wet and dry conditions. Squirt’s product dries clear, so your chain and gears won’t become discolored.
Any excess will flake off as you ride, keeping your chain clean but necessitating a more frequent reapplication schedule than wet lubes. Don’t feel bad reapplying it though, as Long Lasting Dry Lube is biodegradable!
While it’s still a good idea to keep your bike clean, this unique offering from White Lightning features a patented self-cleaning technology that can save you some more laborious cleaning.
It is a hybrid, so don’t expect it to be as robust as a more purpose-designed lubricant, but for a quick fix, you can’t go wrong with Easy Lube!
Chain Maintenance Tips and Tricks
Chain maintenance requires two main steps: cleaning and degreasing, then relubricating. This process ranges from quick to a little more time-consuming, depending on how thorough you want to be.
To be as thorough as possible, it’s best to first remove your wheel and chain. This can make it easier to access the nitty-gritty parts of your chain, and protect your wheel from getting an excess of cleaning products on it.
If you’re in a rush, and/or cleaning your chain more often, you can leave it on and rotate the crank back to keep it moving through a towel and brush to get the dirt and grime off. There are also special chain cleaning kits to make this process easier and smoother.
After cleaning, rinse your chain down to get any remaining dirt off. Once it is dry, apply your lubricant of choice to the chain, and wait for it to dry (with dry lubes), or simply hit the road!
The biggest choice for you to make is whether to opt for a dry, wet, or hybrid lubricant. After that, one of the offerings above should be perfect for your bicycle. Happy trails!
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