Do I need to lubricate a new bike chain

How to lubricate a bicycle chain

Taking care of your drivetrain is what you most often need to do with your bike if you want it to last long and look great. But there are important tricks here.

Cleanliness is the key to health! This expression is true not only for organisms, but also for bicycle transmission. A terrible dream of your bike. black (like night) cassette, chain and system, completely covered with “plasticine” from old grease, dust and poplar fluff.?

In such a favorable environment, “steel-cutters” usually start up. evil microbes, imperceptibly devouring stars, chains and rollers. :).

A well-groomed drivetrain should look “shiny”.

This is the most important and frequent thing you will do with your bike. Ideally, after every 100 km of travel in dry weather, give the transmission 3-5 minutes of time to clean, and lubricate it only when you hear the rustle of a dry chain when driving.

Chain lubrication is one of the most important steps in bike care. The used oil (lubricant) directly affects not only the quality of the transmission, but also the durability of the chain and sprockets on your bike. That is why today I will tell you how and with what you need to lubricate the chain, and how you cannot lubricate it. How is bicycle chain lubricant different from other oils? The bike chain is in motion, with its rollers constantly rubbing against the stars, as well as against the rollers of the rear derailleur. Friction of the chain rollers of the sprocket (external friction). does not lead to “stretching” (increase in length) of the chain. The most intense friction occurs just inside the chain itself. Each link consists of four elements (2 plates, pin and roller). There are about 110 such links in the chain in total.

With its rollers, the new chain slides into the teeth of the new cassette. To understand where the lubricant is most needed in the chain, you need to understand what exactly is wearing out in it. Please note that the pins are firmly seated in the holes of the outer plates, which means there is no friction between them. There is friction between the inner link plates and the pins. It is here that the development of the pin occurs, the inner plates rub the grooves in it, which leads to the lengthening of the chain (they say: “the chain is stretched”). As a result, the rollers do not so accurately fall into the teeth of the stars, and wear them out. Rear derailleur rollers, usually made of plastic, also suffer. In addition, the clarity of gear changes is reduced, noise, clicks, chain slip and other undesirable phenomena occur. Thus, the most undesirable wear on the chain does not occur outside, but inside it.

The task of any chain lubricant is to penetrate inside, and stay there as long as possible: do not dry out, do not wash out with water, do not splash when the chain moves. But on the outside, the lubricant does more harm than good. coupled with dust, it turns into an abrasive paste that does its job perfectly.

The chain must be kept dry on the outside and lubricated on the inside.

After you have applied liquid (!) Lubricant to each roller, you need to wipe the chain dry with a soft cloth. When riding, some of the lubricant still flows out and accumulates dust, so the chain, stars and rollers must be cleaned with a medium-length hard bristle brush. It is best to use special handy brushes for this, which can clean hard-to-reach areas, such as derailleur rollers and the gap between the stars.

With regular cleaning, your transmission will not only look great, it will perform great and last much longer.

A brush alone will not be enough to bring a black “running” transmission back to normal, so you need a chain cleaner. It is also called a “grease remover” (grease remover, from the word de-greaser). This composition washes well stubborn grease with dirt. At worst, WD-40 will help out, but special cleaners work better. If a lot of sand or dirt has got into the chain (for example, after a serious “mud-kneading”), then the brushes are of little help: the chain should be washed. For this purpose, there is no better way than a special chain wash. It allows you to gently wash the bike chain even in the apartment.

New Bike Chain: Packing Grease or Re-Lube Before Use?

The new chain is lubricated when the links are assembled at the factory with a thick but very sticky lubricant. It will be enough for 300-400 km of driving, after which it will be difficult to put grease into the rollers.

need, lubricate, bike, chain

Before the first ride, wipe off the sticky lubricant from the new chain with a soft cloth lightly dampened with solvent. Do not wash out the factory grease from the inside!

If you don’t wipe off the new chain, then very quickly the factory sticky grease will turn your transmission into black pieces of iron. By the way, for some reason, sellers do not talk about this, but this simple procedure will make it easier for you to maintain the transmission in a brilliant form (in every sense). Now let’s take a look at the chain lubricants.

One of the most common mistakes is lubricating the chain with WD-40 aerosol and its analogues.

WD-40 is a highly penetrating liquid designed primarily to unblock acidified compounds and displace moisture. Yes, it contains a small amount of oil, but in essence WD-40 is “carbonated kerosene”, but not a lubricant. “Vedashka”, Anyway (Hado) and other analogs are nevertheless good to use for dissolving old grease if you want to clean well “running” transmission elements. In this case, it is necessary to spray the parts abundantly with a spray, putting a rag so that the composition does not get on the other parts, and wait a little. After that, clean with a brush, wipe dry and grease with a special liquid chain lubricant (about it below).

Engine oil as a chain lubricant is already better, but for the time being it is a “four”. As the name suggests, this oil must work in motors, in a closed environment at high temperatures. Its outstanding motor properties are not needed at all in bicycles. Conversely, engine oil does not “promise” us to penetrate the rollers well, does not dry out for a long time, does not wash off and weakly attract dust. The same can be said about oil for sewing machines, as well as transformer, motorcycle, olive, massage and aromatic oils.)) If you have excellent bicycle oils, there is no point in dripping any other oil into the chain and thinking “what will happen.”.

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Having bought a jar of excellent bicycle chain oil for 100-200 UAH, you will present it to your grandchildren. Does it make sense to look for an alternative?

Only the chain should be lubricated in the bicycle transmission, and in no case the stars.

As mentioned above, the following qualities are important in bicycle chain lubricant:

  • It is good to penetrate the videos;
  • Stay there for a long time, do not dry out and do not leak;
  • Attract as little dust as possible;
  • Resist being washed away by rain.

In principle, motorcycle chain oil will work for us, but it should also not spray out of the rollers when the chain rotates at high speed. Therefore, motorcycle oil is more expensive, and it has more packaging. Bicycle chain lubricants are divided into two main types.

Dry grease. They are often made with Teflon and are designed to be used in dry or not very humid conditions. It has a good dustproof effect due to the large amount of Teflon in the composition. Well protects the chain from short-term moisture ingress. If you get caught in the rain, this smear will protect the chain from corrosion, but as soon as you get home it is better to clean the transmission, wipe it dry, lubricate the chain and wipe it dry again. According to many mechanics, dry weather grease is versatile and can be recommended as an “everyday oil”.

Wet and wet lubricant (Wet). It is made on the basis of synthetic silicone oils, sometimes with the addition of paraffin. The lubricant protects the chain very well against direct and prolonged exposure to moisture. Due to the high content of silicone, it works well in wet and dirty conditions, but is categorically not suitable for use in dry weather due to the high fat content of the composition. We recommend using this type of lubricant on rainy autumn days, early spring, when running marathons in bad weather, and especially in winter.

Ceramic lubricants deserve special attention. According to the manufacturers, they create a ceramic layer of increased strength on the rubbing parts, which is their service life.

Greases with thickeners are also interesting. When grease is applied to the roller, it is very fluid, after which the solvent evaporates from it, and it becomes thick. Thus, it stays inside longer. When lubricating, it is important to wipe off the outside of the chain in time.

The main types of grease packaging are tip bottle and aerosol can. Despite the seeming primitiveness of the bottle, I still recommend it. With it, I apply lubricant directly to each roller, and it takes up less space in the backpack. An aerosol can be taken for a workshop where you need to quickly lubricate more than one chain in a day. Due to spraying, a lot of lubricant is sprayed “by”, the consumption increases. Also, if you are not used to spray, it is easy to stain rims, spokes, frame, brake rotors.

Having bought a jar of excellent bicycle chain oil for 100-200 UAH, you will present it to your grandchildren. Does it make sense to look for an alternative?

To summarize, I advise you not to skimp on lubrication and choose a special oil for bicycle chains. It takes into account all the nuances of the operation of an open bicycle transmission. I recommend choosing a bottle with a spout. If you choose a spray, be sure to put a rag under the stream so that the grease does not get where it should not. You only need to lubricate the chain, and only inside the rollers, only when you begin to hear the “dry” rustle of the chain while driving. Wipe the chain dry after lubrication. Clean the chain, stars, rollers with a brush, avoiding the accumulation of dirt, sand, dust.

Can I lubricate a bicycle chain with sunflower oil

You can if you eat eggs fried in engine oil.

Not every oily fluid is suitable for lubricating bike parts. Sunflower oil as a bicycle chain lubricant is bad because it creates all the conditions for the formation of corrosion. And also particles of dirt and dust adhere very quickly to such oil. As a result, after the first run on clean asphalt, your chain may already be dirty and require cleaning. You need it?

After thorough cleaning, the bike parts should be lubricated with one of the following products:

  • Wax (paraffin) lubricant. Creates a thick layer on the surfaces of parts. It also dries quickly to keep the chain clean. But not for long, because paraffinic grease wears off a little faster than Teflon grease. In general, this oil is super-ideal for wet and cold weather, when it thickens on the chain, and you, looking at it, continue to sit in the chair in front of the TV, lazily sipping strong drinks for the cyclist and stroking the cat.
  • Silicone Grease. Reduces friction of parts, often contains substances that repel dust. A good thing.
  • Graphite oil (not to be confused with modern powder). Due to its consistency, it well protects the chain from wear, corrosion, easily penetrates into hard-to-reach places. But there is a minus: every grain sticks to it. So with graphite oil, be prepared for kilograms of dirt from your bike chain.
  • Gear oils and sewing machine oils. A budget option for oils. In general, they cope with the main tasks of lubrication, but we do not recommend using them either. Although, if you eat eggs, still fried in engine oil.
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If you want your bike chain to last longer. clean it and lubricate it with engine oil

In order for the bike to serve you longer, you need to clean it and lubricate all working parts in a timely manner. After. you need to remove the remnants of grease and dirt. You can’t do this with plain water. It is better to use a cloth and a brush with a special cleaner. For the most effective cleaning of the chain, it is recommended to remove it and soak it for a while in a container with the same cleaner. Or try the following way:

Regardless of which oil you use, do your bike maintenance on time and use sunflower oil exclusively for food. And not only the bike, but also the body will last longer.

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Useful to pay attention

A bicycle chain drive is a rather complex and responsible device, which largely determines the efficiency and ease of use of a bicycle. The bicycle chain included in it is a rather complex mechanism, consisting of side plates, rollers (bushings), axles and locking and transitional connections, which works in rather difficult conditions. It requires constant care and correct periodic maintenance, so deciding how and what better to lubricate the bike chain is of no small importance. One of the cycling aces said that two drops of oil significantly reduces the force with which his feet press on the pedals.

While driving, road dust enters the bushings or rollers, which leads to intense abrasive wear of the teeth of the chain sprockets.

What to do with the new chain.

The new chain is lubricated when the links are assembled at the factory with a thick but very sticky lubricant. It will be enough for 300-400 km of driving, after which it will be difficult to put grease into the rollers.

Before the first ride, wipe off the sticky lubricant from the new chain with a soft cloth lightly dampened with solvent. Do not wash out the factory grease from the inside!

If you don’t wipe off the new chain, then very quickly the factory sticky grease will turn your transmission into black pieces of iron. By the way, for some reason, sellers do not talk about this, but this simple procedure will make it easier for you to maintain the transmission in a brilliant form (in every sense). Now let’s take a look at the chain lubricants.

Can I lubricate the bike chain with machine oil


The most common option. The cartridge contains Teflon or graphite particles mixed with silicone. The substance easily gets into the most remote and hard-to-reach places, but it very stains the parts of the vehicle.

Chain lubrication in winter

There are frequent cases of using a bicycle in the winter. For the winter time, special preparation of the equipment is required, since all its open mechanisms in winter work in extreme conditions, which exposes it to rapid wear. This is facilitated by the treatment of roads and sidewalks with sand, salt and chemicals.

Precipitation, snow and mud can cause the chain owner’s control to rust in a short distance. Therefore, the cleaning and lubrication of the chain is determined by the frequency of travel.

Athletes and experts recommend using the frost-resistant lithium grease Motorrex for treating bushings, carriages and cassettes during the cold season.

KLS Chain Oil and Weldtite (Teflon grease) are well characterized as a winter protective agent for bicycle transmissions. This device can simply be dipped in heated car oil. It is good to use Mobil 5v30 engine oil for this purpose.

Cleaning the chain before lubricating

First of all, maintenance of parts involves cleaning them, this procedure is especially important for the transmission. When cycling, dirt and dirt from the road mixes with the lubricant and remains on the links of the system.

A viscous, hard-to-wash black mass is formed, which is ready to stain everything around. In addition, it spoils the surface of mechanisms made of metal.

There are three simple steps to cleaning and greasing your bike chain and sprockets:

  • remove large lumps of dirt and grease;
  • use a special machine to clean the transmission to a normal state;
  • completely treat the elements with special substances to remove even fine dirt.

The specific shape of the chain does not allow wiping it with a simple cloth or sponge. The links, the gaps between them and the non-fixed position cause a lot of trouble for the cyclist. Therefore, high-quality manual cleaning sometimes takes a lot of time and effort.

Engineers have come up with special devices for this procedure. They consist of gears and brushes with a chain between them. Like any device, the machine has its pros and cons. Most importantly, it cleans it quickly and efficiently. But at the same time:

  • the device also needs difficult cleaning after work;
  • the materials used are unreliable and constant use will quickly break the product. And cleaning brushes cannot be replaced with new ones in case of breakage;
  • even a special mechanism will not relieve a person of the need to walk along the chain with a rag.

As noted earlier, a special machine cannot remove 100% of the dirt; to get to the smallest parts in the links, you will have to use liquid. There are special substances designed to clean the links.
A more efficient and simpler way:

  • Pour solvent into a basin. It will remove any dirt, just put the system in the liquid and remove any visible dirt.
  • Washing. Dissolve soap or powder in warm water. Residual solvent must be removed, otherwise the grease may react unpredictably with it.
  • The chain can be dried with a cloth, but it is best to leave it outdoors. The washing procedure is quite painstaking, but you should not neglect it.

Wax based

Innovative wax-based lubricants. Squirt (Russia), Star (Italy), Pedro’s (USA) or Teflon. Weldtite (Great Britain) or Bikeid (Sweden) form a protective layer on the surface of chain parts. rubbing parts from direct contact with negative environmental factors. They are dust and water repellent and have a wide range of versatility.

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Most bicycle lubricants are available in convenient enough packaging. liquid lubricants and cleaners. in aerosol cans, greases. in tubes with tips, allowing you to get into the most “secluded” places of the chain drive.

Wet environment oils

This oil is thick enough to stay on the chain and thin enough to penetrate all the small moving parts, and will remain damp (feels like) while everything is being cleaned or washed. This oil cleans, lubricates and protects the chain from corrosion.

The best place to use this type of lubricant is in dirty or humid conditions where there is not a lot of dust. Be careful, though, because there are some wet oils that work well for moving parts of a bike, but are too thick to lubricate a bike chain.

Phil Wood Tenaciou and Finish Line Cross Country are examples of such thick oils. The downside to using wet engine oils is that they stay wet on the chain and pick up a lot of dirt and debris that remains on all metal fragments and slowly wear out the chain drive as you drive. As the chain collects more dirt, the drive will break down faster. Therefore, it is really important to use wet engine oil only when the conditions call for it.

Some really good wet machine oils to recommend are Tri Flow and DuMonde Tech. I would recommend wet oils for cyclists who either do not lubricate their bike chain often, or for those who ride in wet or muddy climates, because this lubricant will stay on the chain longer.

Bicycle Chain Lubrication Guide

Do I need to lubricate the new chain?

New chains come with the lubricant already applied to them. This lubricant was originally more of a retarder or rust inhibitor than a lubricant and manufacturers recommended removing it before installing the chain. Now, it is not only a rust inhibitor, but also a really good lubricant and manufacturers recommend leaving the lubricant on the chain. Sometimes the new chain has a little excess lubricant, you need to remove the excess lubricant, so it won’t collect a lot of dirt on the chain, but be careful not to remove too much.

Types of bicycle lubricants

The first step is choosing the right oil. There are two types of lubricant designed for bicycles: wet oils and dry oils.

There are also automotive oils and general utility oils, and none of them work well for bicycles. As an example, oils for general utility use WD-40. This light alcohol-based oil is designed to eliminate minor squeaks as well as lubricate non-moving parts. However, it is too light for a bicycle chain, which also leaves a waxy coating on the chain, leading to faster chain wear.

Engine oil, on the other hand, is too thick to penetrate all small and inaccessible areas of the bike chain in a proper manner. In addition, the engine oil is too sticky and collects a lot of dirt, which also causes chain wear. So take my advice and use oils made for bicycles.

Ask a Mechanic: Properly Lubing a New Chain

Drip and aerosol lubrication

There are two ways you can apply the lubricant. You can use either aerosol lubricant or drip lubricant. Both are a similar product, but for chain lubrication applications I recommend using a drip lubricant instead of a spray lubricant. Drip lubrication allows oil to more easily penetrate each link in the chain without lubricating other parts of the bike.

In aerosol lubrication, it is difficult to control the amount of sprayed oil and the spray is very easy to come into contact with other parts of the bike, such as the brakes or the rotor on the rear wheel.

Aerosol lubricants are useful for other objects, but I would recommend paying special attention to where the spray can be used.

How to apply machine oil?

The best way to use chain lubricant is to put one drop of oil in each rivet / bushing (metal cylinder in the middle of the chain) while pedaling backward. It takes about 3.5 crank rotations to go through the entire chain. If the bike is on a stand, it is best to set all gears in motion and allow the oil to reach all the nooks and crannies and chain links (be careful, if you put too much oil on the chain, it will spray all over the bike as it travels). After running through all the mechanisms, use a rag to wipe off any excess grease. If you are using dry lubricant, leave the bike alone for a few hours until the oil is completely dry.

Dry oils

Dry oil on the other hand is an alcohol based lubricant that dries on the chain and leaves a waxy layer that protects and lubricates the chain. Most dry oils take about 3-4 hours to dry and should be used well before traveling. The main advantage of dry lubrication is that it does not collect a lot of dirt.

On the reverse side, dry engine oils soften quickly, especially in wet or dirty conditions. On top of that, some dry engine oils leave a coating on the chain that is extremely difficult to remove. Pro Link and Boshield T9 are recommended for cyclists interested in dry lubrication. Both of these lubricants are excellent and will not leave any coating on the chain. The oil is great for mountain and road bikes. In dry conditions, this lubricant works great because it does not collect all the dust and dirt on the chain and as long as there is no excess moisture, the lubricant remains intact.