Which bike chain lube is best?
If you’re like most cyclists, nothing grinds your gears like a squeaky drivetrain — or, even worse, the clank and rattle of a dropped chain. That’s why it’s important to pick the right chain lube for your bike. Bike chain lube reduces friction in the drivetrain and makes your pedaling and shifting quieter, easier and more efficient. Even casual riders can benefit from an affordable all-around lubricant like Rock N Roll Gold Lube, and serious cyclists should consider keeping both a dry and a wet variety at home.
What to know before you buy bike chain lube
Dry lube vs. wet lube
There are two kinds of bike chain lube: wet and dry. Wet lube, the original chain lube, is like oil. It goes on wet and stays wet. Dry lube, on the other hand, is more like wax. It goes on wet and then dries. Each type of chain lube has advantages and disadvantages and, depending on the season and the type of riding you do, you should consider carefully which type is best for you.
The climate where you ride
One of the main differences between wet and dry lubes is how they react to rainy or wet conditions. Dry lube washes off easily, and so is generally a better choice for dry climates where it will last longer. Wet lube, on the other hand, clings to the chain even during wet conditions, and will continue to lubricate your drivetrain even after a rain shower or splashing through a puddle.
Ease of application and convenience
Before choosing a dry or wet lube, consider how often you maintain your bike. Dry lube washes off more easily and must be applied to a clean chain; therefore, it requires more frequent application and chain cleaning. Wet lube lasts longer and can be applied to a dirty chain — although it’s a good idea to clean your chain regularly no matter what kind of lube you use.
Dusty, dry roads
If you’re riding in dry conditions on sandy or gravel roads, dry lube is the perfect choice. Without rain or puddles, you don’t have to worry about it washing off. Dry lube also attracts less dirt than wet lube and will keep your chain cleaner by picking up fewer particles as you ride.
Because wet lube sticks to your chain more persistently, it’s the better choice for serious cyclists who often do long rides without stopping to re-lube their chain. After long rides with wet lube, however, it’s important to clean your chain, since it will attract dirt and grime from the road.
Wax lube is essentially an extra-dry dry lube. Wax lubes will keep your chain clean and protect it from dirt and grime, but they don’t last long, especially in wet and muddy conditions. If you’re OK with frequent reapplication and you ride in a dry climate, a wax lube may be a good choice. Another advantage of wax lube is that it leaves very little messy residue, so it’s unlikely to leave black marks on your skin or your clothes.
How much you can expect to spend on bike chain lube
You can expect to spend $7-$20 on a bottle of bike chain lube that should last you for several months, depending on how often you ride.
Bike chain lube FAQ
Can you use WD-40 to lube or clean a bike chain?
A. While it may be tempting if you have it on hand, it’s best to avoid using multipurpose products such as WD-40 on your bike chain. While WD-40 and similar products may provide some short-term lubrication, they will quickly dry out and could leave your bike squeakier than before. For cleaning your drivetrain, most bike mechanics recommend Simple Green or dish soap.
How do you apply bike chain lube?
A. Different lubes have different application techniques, and it’s important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Dry lube needs to sit for at least two hours after application before you can ride the bicycle. Wet lube, on the other hand, doesn’t need to dry, but you will need to wipe off the excess oil with a rag to avoid attracting too much dirt from the road.
What’s the best bike chain lube to buy?
Top bike chain lube
What you need to know: This all-purpose, easy-to-apply wet lube offers a dramatic improvement in shifting and pedaling efficiency.
What you’ll love: If you’re going to buy only one lube for use in all conditions, consider this one. It cleans and lubricates simultaneously, so you never have to worry about scrubbing your chain before applying, and it doesn’t wash off easily, even in wet conditions.
What you should consider: Performance-focused cyclists may benefit from using a more specialized dry or wet lube depending on the conditions.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top bike chain lube for the money
What you need to know: This thick and waxy dry lube extends the life of your drivetrain and keeps your chain spinning smoothly.
What you’ll love: Designed for both road and trail uses, Squirt’s Long-Lasting Dry Lube will keep your chain clean by repelling dirt and dust. Great for desert or dry gravel riding, this lube should last up to 150 miles before reapplication in dry conditions.
What you should consider: Squirt’s dry lube must be applied to a completely clean chain to work well. If it gets wet, it will wash off quickly, so it should only be used in dry conditions.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
What you need to know: Green Oil claims this wet chain lube is effective for up to 125 miles between applications, reducing drivetrain friction and offering a quiet, efficient ride.
What you’ll love: Made in the United Kingdom with plant-based ingredients, Green Oil Wet Chain Lube is 100% biodegradable and free of harmful propellants. It comes with a precision nozzle for convenient application, and the company claims its formula is designed to attract less grime and dirt.
What you should consider: Like most wet lubes, Green Oil Wet Chain lube will attract more dirt and grime than a dry lube would.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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Cody Siler writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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