Table of Contents
- 5 Best Lube For Bike Chains
- Why Use Bike Chain Lube?
- When Is It Right to Clean and Lube Your Bike Chain
- What is an Ideal Bicycle Chain Lubricant?
- Types Of Chain Lube
- Can You Use Bike Chain Lubricant Substitutes
- Different Chain Lube Alternatives You Can Use
- Bicycle Chain Lube Alternatives to Avoid
- Disadvantages of Using Bike Chain Oils Substitutes
- Final Thought
Are you trying to maintain your bike’s chain? You can retain the longevity of the bike chain and nip many problems in the bud with timely chain lubrication. Some chain lube alternatives are considered better than standard chain lubricants, while some are not advisable.
Therefore, it’s significant to choose the ideal one to prevent damage to your bike chains. This article evaluates many types of lubes and substitutes you can find in your home.
5 Best Lube For Bike Chains
Why Use Bike Chain Lube?
Bike chains require frequent lubrication to prevent rust damage and decrease friction. Bike chains are more likely to break because of wear and tear, so taking proper care of them guarantees the optimum functionality of your bike. It also lessens the probability of your chain breaking. Exclusively-made lubricants include greasy, light oils, spray-type, and wax chain lubricants.
A new bike chain comes greased, which, if maintained properly assures longevity. However, some of the grease alternatives can further degrade the original lubricant of the chain. So, aside from standard bike chain lube, people usually prefer a range of alternatives used for similar purposes.
When Is It Right to Clean and Lube Your Bike Chain
It’s essential to clean your bike and lube it for the best functionality:
Regular, On-Bike Cleanings
You should examine your bike chain regularly by standing near your bike and holding the back wheel above the ground. Rotate the nearest pedal, examining each chain links for dirt buildup, or rust formation. These links do not bend as they pass through the rear derailleur causing damage to your bike.
Ensure suitable lubrication by paying attention to squeaks while riding. If you find any of these conditions, your chain requires instant cleaning. To spot-clean the chain while it’s still on your bike:
- Brush out the chain links using a firm brush.
- Relubricate the links with a quality chain lubricant.
- Wipe off the extra chain lubricant with a clean, dry rag. Overlubricating can draw new dirt.
- For a more detailed cleaning, use a chain-cleaning tool. Connect it to your chain for quick, deep cleaning.
Occasional Off-Bike Cleanings
Every few months or so, remove your chain with a chain-removal tool. Clean it using a brush and dip it in an exclusive chain solvent to remove stubborn grime.
Submerge the chain until the dirt is removed from the links and bushings. Dry the chain using a clean rag. Ensure that the solvent has vaporized before relubricating and re-installing the chain.
What is an Ideal Bicycle Chain Lubricant?
An ideal bicycle lube offers additional coverage that can separate metal-to-metal contact between the chain. The primary procedure for decreasing drivetrain resistance is by developing a single layer of lubricant molecules.
A proper bike chain lube must be thick enough to prevent any metal-to-metal interaction but still thin enough to permeate through the interior of a bike chain. If lube is too thick (high viscosity), the function decreases as the drag force is improved, which not only makes the bicycle slower but also improves the rate at which your chain will stretch or wear.
Types Of Chain Lube
There are many distinct types of bicycle-specific lubes. Each has its benefits, drawbacks, and intended use. Most chain lubes contain, synthetic oils and friction-reducing supplements like carrier fluids that vanish after application.
Wet Bike Lube
Wet bike chain lube is more viscous and has incredible resistance against wet conditions, like being washed off. But, it also sometimes acts like an adhesive and attract more grime and dirt to your chain.
It can cause premature wear and tear on your drivetrain as it fastens the grit and grime.
It’s enticing to use it more frequently as it doesn’t require applying frequently. But it makes your bike parts to function imperfectly and damages your bits quicker.
Most people don’t have enough confidence in dry lube because of its watery consistency. Dry chain lube acts by penetrating things incredibly.
In contrast to what people believe, it’s not only the exterior parts of a chain that require lube the most. The pins, rollers, and interior areas of the chain plates require lube. As derailleurs keep advancing these days, the fact is more true than ever.
Dry lube requires to be applied more often and by a lot more people. It needs to be applied to a cleaned, and dried chain after using a rag with degreaser, which makes the process more hectic as compared to using a wet lube.
Wax and Ceramic Lube
The turn of the millennium witnessed advancements in cycling technology. Many different niches started up. A lot more people started riding bikes. At the same time, they began to be more demanding about their riding.
The lube market is no exception to this improvement. Every few years a new wonder fluid is created in labs that promise to solve all of our oiling distress.
The primary strength of a wax-based lube is in durability on really long rides in dry conditions. It’s somewhat quieter and longer-lasting compared to dry lube. These days ceramic-based lubes are preferred over chain wax.
Ceramic lube is considered the next-generation dry lube. It perforates excellently and coats pretty well too. It’s a bit more expensive but offers a quieter ride and also keeps shifting smooth.
If you’re doing a lot of shifting, panic shifting, or clumsy shifting, ceramic lube is an ideal option for you. Rolling terrain riders or racers appreciate the integrity of ceramic lube. Ceramic lube is a bit more resistant to being washed off than dry lube so it is becoming a popular choice for road riders and racers.
Can You Use Bike Chain Lubricant Substitutes
The chief advantage of using a chain lubricant alternative is convenience. You can immediately acquire certain items from your kitchen or garage and employ them as a lubricant for your bike chain.
Using chain lube alternatives is more inexpensive compared to professional chain wear but bear in mind that these substitutes are not as much cost-effective. In case, you want to instantly ride a bike, and standard lube isn’t available, you are forced to use alternatives.
Different Chain Lube Alternatives You Can Use
Various types of chain lube alternatives are discussed below:
Chainsaw oil can be used to grease a bike chain that requires thick and sticky lubes. Chainsaw oil can also help avoid corrosion. However, such lubricants can attract more dirt therefore, it’s best to use this oil only in rainy weather and in small quantities.
Another product to consider is clipper oil. As clipper oil is light, it may need consistent applications, Therefore, it is bothersome to use. On a more positive note, clipper oils are odorless and prevent rust damage.
As a substitute for a standard bike chain lube, silicone spray acts quite similar to clipper oil, so it has to be reapplied after a wet ride. Many people prefer silicone spray because it dries quickly and is non-toxic. The slipperiness of silicone spray enables it to permeate derailleur and spring pivots effortlessly.
A 3-in-1 oil is a multi-purpose oil used for different purposes, especially the lubrication of bike chains. This oil has surpassed many standard lubricants for power loss and speed.
Moreover, it doesn’t entice dirt and guards your bike chains against various damages. And unlike vegetable oils, it doesn’t impair quickly when the temperature fluctuates, making it one of the best lube alternatives available.
Bicycle Chain Lube Alternatives to Avoid
There are some lube alternatives that most people use that are harmful to your bike chain:
Even though motor oils are used as lube for your bike chains, they can affect your bike’s essential parts due to their acidic properties. Also, since motor oils are quite viscous, therefore, covering all the bike parts with it becomes tough. Application is, therefore, time-consuming. Oils like olive oil, coconut oil, and engine oil should never be used on a bike chain plate.
You should prevent using petroleum jelly as a substitute for regular bicycle chain grease. Vaseline costs more than regular bike lubricants. Plus, it doesn’t last long or work on high-heat elements.
Cooking oil or vegetable oil is a popular household substance. It may seem like a tempting alternative for bike grease, but it is not favorable to be used as an alternative to lube your bike chains. Cooking oils are too thick to be used on parts of your bike chains and tight links. They also oxidize rapidly and will stain your drivetrain.
Some people use WD-40 as a bike chain lube alternative. However, it should only be used as a chain cleaner, not a lube. The WD-40 is strong enough to wear the lubricant your bike chains already have.
Disadvantages of Using Bike Chain Oils Substitutes
Some downsides come with using chain lube alternatives. Since these oils are made for specific purposes, it’s not surprising that they aren’t an ideal fit for your bike chain.
They aren’t favorable for all conditions. You require one type for soggy weather, while the other is ideal for dry conditions. It’s significant to understand, which one works for your bike chain for exceptional results.
Also, you’ll have to reapply these alternatives more often than a regular bike chain lube. So, they are not cost-effective and require regular relubrication.
It’s best to use oils or lubricants that are not quite viscous and effortlessly permeate each link of your bicycle chain. However, a premium bike lubricant can offer incredible power as compared to many of the lubes alternatives.