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Chain Lube 101(5 posts)

Chain Lube 101shamelessgearwhore
Mar 21, 2003 8:49 AM
OK, I'm interested in what people know about chain lubes. Most of my life I've used oily stuff like tri-flow. Once I tried White Lightning but it left wax all over the place. I recently had a bike overhauled at my LBS and he used White Lightning on it, but it looked completely dry. He explained that you have to wipe off the excess after application. I was prepared to go and buy another bottle when yesterday I rode to work in the rain (only 4 days since overhaul) and the chain was squeaking on me all the way back home.

- Do the wax based lubes require constant application in rainy weather (I live in Seattle)? If so this is WAY more attention than I am willing to give to a commuting bike (twice a day?) If they are all this high maintenance I would prefer something I don't need to really think about.

- Oil based stuff like tri-flow just seems to attract all the crud too easily but it's pretty much what I've always used. If I use Tri-Flow, it lasts about two weeks of moderate use.
re: Chain Lube 101Fez
Mar 21, 2003 9:09 AM
Doing a search will yield the usual opinions by the regulars here and the techniques they use.

White Lightning isn't the greatest, but it goes on neat and keeps everything relatively neat. The waxy stuff that flakes off is not that dirty and easy to wipe off.

Some things you may want to keep in mind with any lube:

a) I would do it every 2nd-4th ride. Two weeks is a little long in between lubes, especially if you are riding every day.

b) Clean the dirt off the chain with a clean rag first. Then lube. Ideally you should do this after a ride, not before, so the lube has time to set. Also, you won't have to worry so much about wiping off any excess.
re: Chain Lube 101Doc Hollywood
Mar 21, 2003 9:59 AM
I agree with Fez, do a search and you will get as much info on chain lube as you want. I also find that chain lube preferences are very personal. Those that lube after every ride prefer different stuff than those that think the lube will last forever.

A couple of Notes: Wax is not a lube, but a sealer/protective layer. In order for a wax to work well on a chain (as a sealer against moisture) it has to be "soft" else it flakes off as it goes around pulleys and such. Soft waxes have more affinity for collecting dirt and holding it than harder waxes.

Olis are lubricating. Lubricating means it flows in between moving pieces and permits easier sliding (less friction). Thin oils hold less dirt than thinner oils, but are more subjected to washout or squeeze out under water or extreme loads. Thicker oils resist washout/sueeze out, but have a higher affinity for holding dirt.

Some companies try to combine wax and oil in there products with mixed success to get the benefits of lubrication and sealing. WL and Pedros Ice Wax are two that come to mind. WL, as some know, is difficult to keep from gunking up your chain/drivetrain and becomes more problematic in the wet and cold weather. Ice Wax dissolves in water due to all of the surfactants that are needed to make the wax water soluble in their product. You have to wonder why a company would make a chain lube that dissolves in water for a bike.

I am partial to the semi-dry chain lubes like Pro-Link and one that is here in the Boston area called Slick Willy. Both are easier to apply, clean your chain as you put it on nad don't attract dirt. Pro-link is a metal friction reducer and not an oil. It is okay in wet weather. Slick Willy is now my favorite (See thread a few days ago) goes on like Pro-Link, but is more tenacious in wet weather. Just a simply wipe down when the chain begins to look dark and it cleans right up.

Like I said, many flavors out there, pick one and use it consistantly and your chain /drivetrain will thank you.

Follow up questionvindicator
Mar 21, 2003 11:44 AM
When wiping off the chain (running it through a rag), should one apply pressure only against the sides of the chain or also against the top and bottom, where the rollers are?

Is the answer the same when just wiping your chain generally as opposed to wiping the excess off of a just-lubed chain?

In other words, does apply pressure on the rag against the rollers take too much fresh lube off of the parts that need it and/or drive dirt into the nooks and crannies of the chain? Or does failing to do so allow excess dirt to build up on the rollers?
Follow up questionDoc Hollywood
Mar 21, 2003 12:28 PM
If you wipe your chain down so that the chain feels just very slightly oily or even "mostly" dry, that is all you need. The critical area where the lube is needed is inside the chain, not on the outside and a good penetrating lube will get into all the nooks and crannies. Excess lube attracts dirt.