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Best lube for chains(8 posts)

Best lube for chainsdgangi
Oct 26, 2003 6:03 PM
I am looking for a good chain libe for my road bike. For my mountain bike I use Pedros' Extra Dry chain lube. It is formulated to keep the chain running well in dry conditions (I live in Phoenix). And for the dusty conditions of mountain biking, it really excels. The only downfall is that it needs to be reapplied often -- typically before each ride.

Should I also use the Pedros' Extra Dry lube on my road bike? Or is there something better - more specific - for road biking conditions?

At one point I used Pedros' Ice Wax, but benefit of the wax/PTFE coating (longevity) was far outweighed by the absolute pain in the a$$ to remove that stuff after a few months buildup. I switched to the Dry Lube and have been happy with it on my mountain bike.

re: Best lube for chainslyleseven
Oct 26, 2003 8:30 PM
I have had good luck with White Lightning and good ol TriFlow. WL requires more frequent cleaning than TriFlow, but they both work well. Haven't tried Pedro's but sounds like it might be similar to White Lighning.
re: Best lube for chainsdivve
Oct 27, 2003 12:45 AM
On my MTB I use similar stuff but from WL, which works well for relative short 2-3 hour XC sessions. It doesn't however last long enough for the road. Haven't had much luck with their supposedly longer lasting WL Race Day either. Both seem to deteriorate quickly after about 40 miles evidenced by intermediate squeaks.

For the road "Homebrew" appears to be a good compromise between chain gunk build-up and lubrication longevity. I make it from 4 parts mineral spirits and 1 part Mobil1 engine oil. Pour it into a WL or similar drip application bottle and apply it in the same way...basically allowing the lube clean and oil your chain at the same time, wipe off the excess and gunk with a towel, and let it dry a couple of hours before riding (see WL site for more detailed application info).
Wet re: Best lube for chainscharlieboy
Oct 27, 2003 2:25 AM
Branford Bike, Sheldon Brown etc go for a wet lube by preference on road bikes...

Quote Sheldon... 'One of the great controversies of chain maintenance is whether you should oil a chain or not.'

Check out Branford at

and Sheldon at

Branford quote... 'The primary purpose of any chain lube is to form a thin, flexible coating on your chain and sprockets in order to prevent any direct, metal to metal contact. The best chain lubes reduce friction by constantly flowing around and over the intermeshing metal parts of your drive train.

The secondary purpose of a good chain lube is to be low maintenance; not an easy goal to achieve on the open drive train of a bicycle. All of the chain lubes we carry work well as lubricants. Unfortunately there is a direct trade off between low maintenence and the best performance. Wet lubes provide the highest performance but require meticulous cleaning. Dry lubes require more frequent applications but perform well in muddy, wet conditions. Semi-dry chain lubes achieve the best balance between performance and maintenance.'

But this all comes down to local conditions and your preferences - there is no 'right' answer here! FWIW I use oil (Pedros Syn Lube ATB) and wipe a lot.
Best depends on applicationsKerry Irons
Oct 27, 2003 5:20 PM
But if we are talking about road riding, there are three schools of thought: 1) wax lubes (White Lightning is the leading brand), 2) oil lubes (numerous brands, with probably TriFlow and ProLink the leaders), and 3) "magic" lubes that leave some sort of super dooper residue behind (Boeshield). Wax lubes, begun originally by folks soaking their chains in melted paraffin, tend to be clean to the touch, not hold up well in the wet, require relatively frequent application, and in White Lightning's case, are fairly expensive on an annual basis. Oil lubes may have all kinds of secret ingredients and additives, but hold up well in the wet, go long between applications, and if not applied properly, can be really dirty. Type 3 lubes claim that their ingredients leave behind some sort of much superior surface effect than wax or oil, and reported results are mixed. My own preference is for ProLink, which is an oil/additive package diluted perhaps 3X in odorless mineral spirits (OMS). You get a chain cleaning while applying due to the solvent effect, and then if you wipe things clean, oil is left only where needed after the solvent evaporates. TriFlow is just as good a lube, but very hard to wipe your chain clean enough after application to prevent a very messy build up. Some swear by simply diluting 1 part motor oil in 3-4 parts OMS and getting a much cheaper alternative to ProLink (which only costs about $6.5 per 10K miles, IME). Recent simple tests have shown that ProLink leaves behind a more waxy residue than oil/OMS, so it is different than just that.

Use the following technique for successful ProLink or homebrew lube (1 part motor oil to 3-4 parts odorless mineral spirits) application and use:
1 - wipe the chain, cogs, pulleys, and chainrings clean with a rag.
2 - drip on lube while pedaling (forward is better) so that the chain just starts to drip lube. Aim the lube between the side plates and between the bushings and the side plates.
3 - run through all the gears several times, front and back.
4 - wipe the chain, cogs, pulleys, and chainrings clean with a rag.
5 - repeat 2-4 if the chain was really dirty

If you do this every 300 miles or so, you will not get any significant gunky buildup, and you won't have to clean the chain. Also, you'll only need one 4 oz. bottle of ProLink for every 5-10K miles. However, no lube is "perfect." A brite shiny chain that is clean to the touch but is well lubed and gives long mileage is still not possible. IMO, ProLink is the best compromise.
Homebrew - a few questionsdgangi
Oct 27, 2003 7:20 PM
When you say "OMS" are you referring to the standard mineral spirits I have in my storage room? The 1-gallon steel can that I use to clean my paint brushes? Or is OMS a special mineral spirits that I have to specifically ask for? If it is special, where do I get it?

What about the viscosity of the motor oil? 30wt? 40wt? Does it matter?

Do you recommend removing the chain to lube it instead of leaving the chain on the bike and running the wet chain through the gears? I hate geting the chain oily, wiping it down with a rag, and then having to deal with cleaning the goop off the cogset, front rings, derailleur, etc. That part sucks...

Of course, I have a Shimano chain so removal is not trivial (will get an SRAM chain next so this won't be an issue).

clean and lube...C-40
Oct 28, 2003 6:01 AM
The mineral spirits does not have to be the odorless type. It cost twice as much and so little is used for chain lubrication that I see no advantage to it. If using synthetic motor oil, all are multiweight, between 5-30 and 15-50. The heavier weight may be desirable, if you apply infrequently. Now that I ride on dusty roads in Denver, I relube after every ride, so the oil weight is not important. Here's how I mix and apply it:

I use a mixture of 4 to 5 parts mineral spirits to one part synthetic motor oil to "clean and lube" the chain. Apply the mixture heavily, to the lower section of chain between the rear derailleur and the crank. An old Prolink bottle or contact lens solution bottle work great as applicators. Catch the excess with a paper towel, folded 8 layers thick, held under the chain. Wipe each section of the chain, before rotating the crank to the next section. When the entire chain has been lubed, spin the cranks several turns, wiping with the wet towel. The wet towel can also be used to clean the cogs, derailleur pulleys and chainrings. Follow up with a dry towel. The whole process takes less than 5 minutes. If done at least once a week (more often in dirty conditions), the chain will never need removal for additional cleaning and there will never be any lubricant build-up. If you happen to neglect the chain for more than a week, apply the lube twice, to enhance the cleaning effect. The lubing should be done after riding, to allow time for the mineral spirits to evaporate (leaving only a thin coating of oil) before the next ride. This stuff is a wet lube, so expect a slight wet/black look to the chain after riding. A wipe with a dry towel after each ride will keep the chain looking good.

I apply the mix every other ride, which is probably excessive, but I don't get a buildup problem and my chains show virtually no elongation after 3000 miles. I probably use a quart of this mixture every season.
Slick Willy is best IMODoc Hollywood
Oct 28, 2003 8:56 PM
I use Slick Willy Products and have been extremely happy with their performance. I have tried a lot of lubes, and Slick Willy is, IMHO, the best. Clean, long lasting (even in wet), and easy to apply. In very dry conditions I sometimes get 500 miles/application.

Pro-Link is pretty good too, but it does not last in wet conditions. I think Slick Willy last longer in dry conditions too.

Homebrew is a cheap lube and it is pretty good. Depending on the ratio of oil to Mineral Spirits, you can get a long lasting lube or really clean lube. An all purpose mix is 3 Parts Mineral Spirits (Odorless) to 1 part synthetic oil.

Others have stated the application directions, so I won't list them here.

Oh yeah, FYI, Pedro's Ice Wax dissolves in water and Wax is not really a good lubricating material.