What kind of chain lubricant do I need?

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Last month we wrote about how to apply best apply lubricant to your chain.  This month we would like to talk to you about choosing the right product for your bicycle.

Different riders need different lubricant…

Every rider will get a cover a different amount of mileage out of their chain before it needs to be replaced.  That mileage is determined by many factors based on; the rider, the bicycle, where the bike is ridden, which gear combinations are favored, and most importantly what chain lubricant they use and how often they use it . A road cyclist places different demands on the chain than a mountain biker will. Just as a rider who lives in Southern California have different concerns than someone in the Pacific Northwest. Fortunately there are several different products out there to keep your chain protected.  

Wet Lubricants

Wet lube is formulated to work best in wet, muddy, or high mileage conditions. Wet lubricants are heavier and more viscous than a dry lubricant.  They provide a tenacious coating that will repel moisture and grime and prolong the lifespan of your drivetrain. They are great for the roadie putting in long hours in the saddle, the mountain biker getting down and dirty, or the casual cyclist who lives or rides near the coast and wants to keep rust at bay Reapplication of a wet lube is recommended every 80-100 road miles or 30-50 off-road miles. With wet lubes a little goes a long way so remember to remove as much excess as you can after applying it.  

Dry Lubricant

Dry lube is formulated to work best in dry, dusty, and low mileage conditions. Dry lubricant is a lightweight solid encapsulated in a low viscosity fluid that will quickly evaporate after application.   This leaves a dry film to protect your chain and repel dirt and dust. It is great for the mountain biker shredding in the desert, the roadie doing a recovery ride, or the urban cyclist who commutes to work.  Apply generously to wash away any dirt and debris on the chain and remove an visible excess lubricant with a clean rag. Application of dry lube is recommended every 30-60 road miles or 20-30 off road miles.  

What about wax-based lubricants?

Wax based lubricants are not suitable for the majority of the cycling population. Wax based lubricants are known to leave a sticky residue that builds up on the entirety of your drivetrain..  They require frequent reapplication and a lot of cleaning, which if not done in a timely manner will actually wear out your drivetrain faster than with no lube what-so-ever. When switching to a wax based lube, one must first degrease the chain, wait for it to dry off, and then apply the lube. This is why any potential benefits are negated by the extra preparation required.    Unless you are storing or riding your bicycle in very sandy or marine environments you probably don’t want to use this product on your chain

Paraffin wax is a different kind of lubricant that needs to be melted onto the chain.  It has been found to be the most efficient but does not last very long and is really only suitable for race day applications.  Paraffin wax also requires a special product to remove the old wax and will negatively react with any remaining lubricant on the chain.  

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What is ABR’s favorite lubricant?

We here at Anywhere Bicycle Repair use WD40 Bike lubricants on nearly all of our customers bicycles and on our own bikes too.  WD40 is a San Diego based company with many many millions of dollars invested in the research and development. In We do not receive any compensation from them to promote or use their products and have requested that our wholesalers stock the product.  In our collective experience here we have found their products to keep chains running cleanly and quietly longer than any of the other products we have tried.

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