One of the most basic bike maintenance tasks every cyclist should know is lubing their chain correctly. A clean and well-lubed drivetrain will ensure a quiet and smooth riding experience.
This article discusses the basics of lubing a bicycle chain.
How often should I lube the bike chain?
Ideally, you want to lube the chain every time you clean and degrease it. However, some cyclists don’t clean their chains regularly and only top up the lube.
If that’s the case, you want to lube the chain after a wet ride or when you hear a noisy and squeaky drivetrain. Keep in mind that the more lube on the chain, the more dirt and grime it’ll attract.
What’s the difference between dry and wet lubes?
Dry lubes are best for dry riding conditions, such as during the summer. They’re less viscous, and attract less dirt but don’t last long, especially for longer rides above 100 miles. In the rain, they get washed off quickly.
Wet lubes are known as all-weather conditions lube and are ideal for autumn, winter, and early spring. Because they’re more viscous, they last much longer and don’t get washed off when riding in the wet. The downside is that they quickly attract dirt and grime, causing the chain to turn grey/black.
How to lube a bike chain
- Thoroughly clean and degrease the bike chain to remove dirt, grime, and old lube.
- Locate the master link (if your chain uses one), rotate the pedal backward, and have the master link sitting below the chainstay. The master link will serve as the lubing process starting point.
- If there’s no master link, you’ll need to visually remember where you start the lubing process.
- Start with the master link, and slowly apply one drop of lube for each chain link (not the chain plate).
- Once done, rotate the pedal backward and let the lube penetrate the chain links.
- Use a clean and dry rag and gently wipe off any excess lube after a few minutes.
What if I over-lubed the chain?
One of the biggest mistakes cyclists makes is to use too much lube, thinking that the more lube, the quieter and smoother the drivetrain is.
In reality, it’s quite the contrary. You want to use just enough lube (one drop per chain link). Any excess lube will overflow from the chain links and attract more dirt and grime quickly.