To ensure both performance and longevity out of your bike, you should understand and regularly perform proper bike maintenance. After investing in a quality bicycle, whether it is a traditional bicycle or electric bike, the last thing you want is to run into issues and have to purchase a new one much sooner than previously expected. One of the keys to proper maintenance is using bike chain oil or bike chain lube. Why is that? Bike lubricants ensure that bicycle chains can operate smoothly and avoid bike chain skipping, while also preventing the chain from wearing or rusting.
There are several different types and brands of bike chain lube on the market, so you must be able to distinguish between them so that you know you are getting the best bike chain lube for your bike. Below we will walk you through where to use bike lubricants, how to lube a bike chain, and the different bike chain lube or oil types.
Where to Use Bicycle Chain Lube
The obvious assumption about bike chain lube is that it is used only on bicycle chains. However, lubricants can greatly benefit any moving part on a bicycle where two pieces of metal rub against one another. The bike chain oil or lube will keep the pieces moving without friction. When maintaining the health and quality of your bike, be sure to use bike chain lube on the chain, clipless pedals, cables, pivot points, derailleur pulleys, and even seat post. Let's walk through these parts individually.
It goes without saying that bicycle chain lube should be used, well, on the chain. This is the lifeblood of a bike—without a fully operational and quality chain, a bike will be difficult to pedal and will not perform the way that it should. Using bike chain oil on it will keep the chain in top condition so that you always get out of it what you expect.
Clipless pedals rely on metal from shoe spikes to connect with the metal on the pedal. The result of this metal-on-metal friction can be detrimental to the performance of the bike. Using bicycle chain oil on clipless pedals will condition them to last longer so that you are not replacing them nearly as frequently.
If a bike chain is the lifeblood of a bicycle, then the cables are the next most important aspect. While they go unnoticed much of the time, these cables are the keys to shifting gears properly as well as stopping, since they connect the braking system. Keeping these metal cables in top condition with bike chain lube is not only going to help them last longer, but it is a safety priority.
To simplify, pivot points on a bike are any places where two metal pieces, typically the derailleurs or brakes. These will cause friction over time, tightening up and making the braking and gear-shifting mechanisms less efficient. Be sure to always keep these lubricated with bike lubricants.
The pulleys on the derailleurs are far too frequently overlooked when it comes to parts on a bike that need to be lubricated. These pulleys, if allowed to wear down or rust, can keep the bike from switching gears properly, leading to many other issues down the road.
When one person is riding a bike and the seat is positioned in the same place for extended amounts of time, it is easy to forget that the seat post is a moving part with metal rubbing against metal. If not properly lubricated, the seat post will be stuck in a single position and not able to move. Use bicycle chain oil to keep this moving so that when you need to move the seat, you are always able.
Bicycle Chain Lube Types
Not all bike chain lubes are created equal. In fact, there are many different types that you should know so that you can understand their advantages and when is the best time to use each. These various types will include dray bicycle chain lube, wet bicycle chain lube, ceramic bicycle chain lube, wax bicycle chain lube, and green bicycle oil. Let’s walk through each of these in more detail.
Dry Bicycle Chain Lube
Do you often ride your bike in dry or dusty conditions? In those scenarios, dry bicycle chain lube is your best option. This type of lube is engineered specifically for those conditions so that the dirt and dust from the road or trail do not cling to the bike or the chain.
Wet Bicycle Chain Lube
Wet bicycle chain lube is exactly what it sounds like: it is designed to remain on your bike or chain even in wet or rainy conditions. If you live in a particularly rainy area or if it’s springtime, this is the best bike chain lube for you.
Ceramic Bicycle Chain Lube
What about those conditions that aren’t exactly wet but also not really dry? That’s when ceramic bicycle chain lube is the best bike chain lube to use. However, use carefully: your bike chain should be dried before applying this lube.
Wax Bicycle Chain Lube
Just like ceramic bike chain lube, wax bicycle chain lube should be used in damp conditions and applied when the chain is dry. The best part about wax bicycle chain lube is its ability to wick moisture from your chain, keeping it from rusting.
Green Bicycle Oil
No, green bicycle oil is not named for its color—this is an environmentally-friendly approach to keeping your bicycle chain lubed.
If you have not yet committed yourself to establishing a thorough and regular bicycle maintenance routine, now is the time to start. Understanding the benefits of bike chain lube or oil, how to lube a bike chain, and what the best bike chain lube is for your needs will help you extend both the performance and longevity of your bike, regardless of whether it is a traditional bicycle or an electric bike.