Chain Lubes

Archon2 Posts: 462 Member
I've been using synthetic motor oil on my chains for ... well forever. I never put any stock into using any bike specific products for lube. I just figured the bike lubes were mostly hype.

But now I'm wondering if I am wrong. With motor oil, it is a little thin. It protects from rust real well, but I have to clean the chain pretty often. It does repel water well. But it picks up dirt and dust and gets black fast.

I was thinking of trying something more modern. Perhaps a water resistant dry lube? My new mountain bike hobby has also made me realize that I might need something different in that environment. The trails I'm on are pretty muddy and wet at times. Does dry lube wash right off with a little rain or muddy water?

I'm interested to hear what you ladies and gentlemen use and why it is good. Or bad :)


  • lpherman01
    lpherman01 Posts: 212 Member
    I was using Finish Line Dry Ceramic lube in the summer, and Pro-lube in the winter because the dry lube gets too thick when it is below 60 degrees. Lately though I have been staying with the Pro-lube just because there is no wax buildup and a quick wipe with a rag & paint thinner easily cleans all of the external dirt off of the chain.
  • KaktusJaque
    KaktusJaque Posts: 141 Member
    Yeah the motor oil is going to attract dirt and sand. Those are the enemies of chains as the grit works it's way into the links and cause wear and tear, not to mention a black ugly mess after awhile. I would recommend cleaning your chain with a H2O mixture of simple green or dawn dish soap real good to remove all the oil. If you have a tool to remove the chain (or have a link that allows hand removal) it's best to do this off the bike, but can be done on the bike too. If you have a chance, clean the cogs and sprockets up real good as well. I’ve been using Pedro’s Ice Wax for many years and love the product. Here is a link to the product website


    I think any PTFE type lube such as the pedro’s would work fine. PTFE is good for just about any situation, hot, cold, wet dry, sandy, muddy, road or MTB (in my case both) Most bike shops should have some. I usually get a big bottle off of ebay and save some bucks.
  • TheBrolympus
    TheBrolympus Posts: 586 Member
    I use the Rock N Roll Extreme chain lube (blue). You apply it and wipe it off and seems to lube and protect my chain really well.

    Like others have said motor oil is going to allow dirt to stick to the chain and will cause damage.
  • kcjchang
    kcjchang Posts: 709 Member
    Been using Tri-Flow since late 80's; mostly on roads but also used it on my mountain bike. Would not recommend use on mountain bike unless you clean regularly (e.g. running through the chain with a rag and liberal application of flow). If you are in the habit of cleaning your chain with soap and water or periodic deep cleaning with solvents (in the bike shops I used to work in, we use diluted Simple Green), I would recommend using a wax based lubricant first before applying lighter oils such as Tri-Flow. The lube used at the shop for that purpose was generic motorcycle-type chain lubes. If possible, try to keep the factory lube as long as possible (light wipe or air) as it is superior to anything that can be purchased over the counter. This include lubing the chain as it dilutes the factory lube. To get anything close to factory lube, you would need to heat a wax based lube so that it permeates all of the internal interstices in the chain. I would not recommend chain cleaning with water/soap or solvents until you have several hundred miles from the factory or it's needed.
  • slocyclist
    slocyclist Posts: 95
    I use a paraffin/beeswax mix in a crock pot. Or if I'm lazy, White Lightning Clean Ride. No dirty oils, nothing for dirt to stick to, and a clean drivetrain.
  • mstripes
    mstripes Posts: 151 Member
    Chain L for long chain life and long miles between lubbing IME.

    Simple green is a bad thing to use to clean chains, as a water soluble degreaser how are you going to rinse it out? It stays behind and then breaks down the new lube.
  • Archon2
    Archon2 Posts: 462 Member
    Will try a Teflon dry lube on the road bike and see how it goes. Just ordered a bottle of Finish Line.

    I just re-lubed the mountain bike with oil after I rinsed off all the mud from my last ride. I had to get it ready as I am riding trails again tonight and the new stuff isn't here yet.

    As for chain cleaning, I usually just wipe it with rags and a little Kerosene.

    Lots of different opinions and ideas on this thread, but all of you seem to agree that my use of synthetic motor oil is no good (lol).

    Did a bit a research and Googling and it seems lots of bikers use motor oil, but always mix it with mineral oils to get it to penetrate and then evaporate, leaving the oil in the chain internals.
  • veloman21
    veloman21 Posts: 418 Member
    I think it all depends on the type of riding you do. Motor oil is ok if you ride primarily on dry clean roads and you clean your mech often. It's not good for mountain biking or cycloscross as it attracts dirt and grit to easily and gums up the chain internals.

    Using diluted Simple Green is fine as a degreaser providing you thoroughly rinse and dry the components. For me this means always removing the cassette and chain at minimum.

    I agree on using the wax/ptfe based dry lubes. I'd love to know what Sram is using on their pre-lubed chains, it works really well for me.
  • cloggsy71
    cloggsy71 Posts: 2,208 Member
    I've been using this stuff:


    Seems to work well enough!
  • kcjchang
    kcjchang Posts: 709 Member
    Chain L for long chain life and long miles between lubbing IME.

    Simple green is a bad thing to use to clean chains, as a water soluble degreaser how are you going to rinse it out? It stays behind and then breaks down the new lube.

    Not saying it's the best but that was what we used in two out of three bike shop. The other used solvent. The pro shops I used to work in also used compressed air to blow most out and let sit in a bowl filled with lubricant under a heat lamp for at least an hour, solvent and simple green. The other was a campus ran enterprise so the attention we gave was the best most of the bikes will see in it's live time. That's one of the reason we used motorcycle-type chain lubes since they tend to stay around longer even if it's tougher to get into the inaccessible areas where it really counts.

    On mine, I only Tri-Flow for cleaning. If I had the space and setup, I wouldn't mind using simple green.

    See, he has a good post on chain maintenance (and why motor oil is not a good idea).
  • ihadabadidea
    ihadabadidea Posts: 50 Member
    Oil is no good because it doesn't do anything to shield the metal from contaminants. 3-in-1 is still advertised as a chain lube, but it's slightly acidic and is a dust magnet.

    I use White Lightning because the dirt around here adhears to anything else I've tried, even other wax lubes.

    When I get a new project bike (presumably something that hasn't seen chain lube in 20+ years,) I always take the chain off, put it in a container and hose it down with PB Blaster. A quick wipe gets any remaining gunk off.
  • cowbellsandcoffee
    cowbellsandcoffee Posts: 2,975 Member
    Been using Tri Flow since the 80's. Works for me.

  • Archon2
    Archon2 Posts: 462 Member
    What I'm now thinking is I need "wet" oil based lube on the MTB, since it is so muddy and wet where I have been going I have to clean all the grunge off the bike every time and re-lube. Bought some Tri-flow to start with. Will use the "dry" lube on the roadie. That's the plan so far!
  • Archon2
    Archon2 Posts: 462 Member
    By the way...

    I am discovering that mountain biking in my area forest trails is a little bit of a PITA insofar as the post-ride stuff goes. I have to wash mud, grit, leaves and sticks and junk off the bike and out of the drivetrain and shoes/cleats/pedals each time which also means I have wipe down, dry, and re-lube everything EVERY TIME. Sigh.

    First time using Tri Flow this morning instead of Mobil One (heh). The main difference thing I noticed was: Mobil One smells engine smell. Not particularly pleasant. Whereas Tri Flow smells delicious!! Like it would be to drink! :drinker:

    I'll review the Finish Line Dry when I use it for a while on the road bike.

    --The Bike Lube Newb
  • KaktusJaque
    KaktusJaque Posts: 141 Member
    I really dont have to worry about mud and such around here. But I do know what you are saying. I dont clean off my bike every time, but it does get dirty with all the dry dirt and sand around here. Maybe every other time I will clean it though. But is all the fun you have riding on these trails worth all the cleaning? sound like fun riding to me anyway. I would like to get my tires on different ground than the same ol dirt and jagged rocks that I have around here. I could if I packed up everything and traveled North a bit.
  • Archon2
    Archon2 Posts: 462 Member
    Oh yeah, its a lot of fun! It is worth it, just something I didn't think about much when I wanted to get into that kind of riding. Just used to road riding where you don't need to bring a lot of "stuff" and you do not have to wash the bike off more than a couple times a season.

    Just got back from a short MTB ride this morning. A little less mud too :)