There’s nothing worse, when trying to enjoy a simple trip out on your bike, than hearing your chain grind and squeak below you. Worse yet, when your chain begins to rust or become totally ingrained with dirt, you might suddenly find yourself struggling to pedal like you used to.
Thankfully, there is a solution to that in bike chain lubricant. However, if your chains are old and wearing out, you will be pleased to know that the best bicycle chain lube does so much more than stop annoying noises. So read on to find out more, and check out our top picks — as well as some of our answers to some of the more frequently asked questions about bike chain lube. Let’s proceed.
The Best Bike Chain Lube
Finish Line makes some of the best bike chain lube types out there, so it’s no surprise that the 1-Step Bike Chain Cleaner and Lubricant came at the top of our list. Providing excellent rust protection and making bicycle maintenance all the easier, Finish Line has produced a fantastically effective, bike chain lubricant for occasional users and bikes that have been placed in storage for a long time.
It’s quick and easy to apply too, making it an ideal choice for pit stops and top-ups on the road. While this can be quite messy and may not be ideal for riders who like to be out for long durations, we feel that the effectiveness and value for money of this item places in our number-one spot.
- Cleans and lubes
- Best bike chain lube for road bikes
- Biodegradable formulation
- Brand Finish Line
- Model M00040101
- Weight 4 ounces
Quick and easy to use- ideal for quick pit stops
Works by cleaning the chain before lubricating, in only one step
Helps to repel rust
Not designed for very soiled chains
Can be very messy to use as the spray comes out very quickly
Biodegradable and extremely effective, this option from Phil Wood is one of the top bike chain lubes on the market — and for good reason. This is a bio-lube that provides exceptional coverage and lasts seemingly forever, providing fantastic value for money.
Made entirely from recyclable materials, this lube works for any and all cyclists. From the average commuter to hardcore off-roaders, this is a lube that users love to work with. Just be aware that it can be hard to move once applied, so you’ll need to be extra careful during your application.
- Coats and protects
- Prevents rust from taking hold
- Brand Phil Wood
- Model PW-5100
- Weight 4.8 ounces
A highly effective choice that users love
The coating helps to prevent dirt and grime from eroding your chain
Has 100% 5-star ratings
Can be hard to shift once used
One of the more popular mountain bike chain lube types, the ProLink Chain Lube from Pro Gold Products, works to clean and protect your bike chain from rust and debris. This bike lube flushes out the dirt and grime exceptionally well, with many users noting just how much gunk came off their bikes during their first use.
The applicator is ideal for those cyclists who like to be more precise with their application, and many users note how easy the nozzle was to use on their chains. Overall, this is a great choice for off-roaders and mountain bike riders.
- Both lubes and cleans bike chains
- Restores corroded cables
- Also works to repel rust
- Brand Pro Gold Products
- Weight 0.8 ounces
Works brilliantly to restore efficiency
Refillable applicator nozzle makes for pinpoint application
Thin viscosity that wears relatively quickly
Designed to provide absolute precision during application, this dry lube is fantastic for those looking to get into the smallest areas of their bike. One hugely beneficial feature to this bike lube is that it can handle extreme temperatures and still provide consistent protection.
Perfect for those who live in the sunnier states, this is the ideal choice for dusty, dry areas that cause your bike to require a little extra protection. Tri-Flow is known for being a superior option and that reputation causes a slight price rise. Overall, however, this bike lube still provides fantastic value for money.
- Drip bottle
- Formulated with PTFE
- Works in extreme temperatures
- Brand Tri-Flow
- Model LTF21010C
- Weight 2.08 ounces
Ideal for getting into hard to reach areas
Handles temperature changes and pressure very well
Very wet for a dry lube
Will need to clean your bike chain before using this lubricant
Another option from Finish Line, this dry lube is ideal for off-road cyclists or those road cyclists who are based in dusty areas. Including a Teflon fluoropolymer, this lubricant has been designed to repel contaminants and dirt, therefore increasing the lifespan of your bike chain.
Unfortunately, this option is a little short-lived, so you may need to reapply your bike lube more regularly if you go for this option. With a maximum ride of up to 100 miles, you may wish to take this bottle with you if you are planning a longer trip or do a regular commute to work.
- Very highly rated
- Ingredients include TEFLON fluoropolymer
- Ideal for shorter rides
- Brand Finish Line
- Model T00046601
- Weight 3.84 ounces
Can be used for both road and off-road cyclists
Doesn’t attract contaminants and dirt
Doesn’t last long enough to handle very long rides
Another option from ProGold Products, this 16-ounce chain lube provides amazing value for money. While the wider spray can create a lot of waste when used on the chain itself, you can adjust the nozzle for a more precise spray, so there should be no concerns there.
There’s also no build-up with this option, which makes it ideal for those who like to spin their chain as they work on their maintenance. Apply this lubricant liberally, and watch as all the dirt and grime sheds from your bike chain, ready for your next journey.
- Large volume option
- Repels dirt and debris
- Cleans and lubricates simultaneously
- Brand ProGold
- Model 11030
- Weight 8 ounces
This choice won’t wash off easily and need constant re-application
Nozzle can be twisted to alter the spray type for more direct application
Spray nozzle type means that there can be a lot of waste
Doesn’t clean as well as other options on our list
A slightly more expensive option from the bike chain lubricant behemoths that are Finish Line. This lube comes with a ceramic wax coating that will help your bike chain last much longer than other, more traditional options.
This is a fantastic bike chain lube for off-roaders and those who travel on dustier roads, as the added protection from the ceramic wax will ensure that dirt and debris are repelled — and repelled well. The great thing about this choice is that the more you use it, the more of a ceramic build-up you create over time, meaning you can wait a long time between applications.
- Provides a ceramic wax coating
- A worldwide favorite among cyclists
- Created with extremely high-quality ingredients
- Brand Finish Line
- Model CW0046601
- Weight 4.2 ounces
Creates a ceramic coating over time
Best bike chain lube for off-roading
Not ideal for road users and commuters
Needs a few applications before reaching optimal efficiency
A full kit for those who are just starting out on their bike maintenance journey, the Bike Chain Wax Kit from Wend is a fantastic choice as it gives new riders everything they need to get started. Complete with a rag, this cleaning and lubricating kit is ideal for those who like the all-around benefits that wax lubricants bring.
Perfect for road cyclists, commuters, and occasional off-roading or trail riding, this is a decent kit that provides you with everything you need for a pleasant ride.
- “Rub on” lubricant
- Paraffin-based make-up with Zinc and Teflon
- Complete kit
- Brand Wend
- Model WWWOWO
- Weight 11.2 ounces
An ideal first kit for road cyclists
No mess and no fuss application
Can create a noisy chain
Needs regular applications
Our final option is another bio-lube that is completely biodegradable and made from renewable sources. Created with PTFE, this is a very popular option that is ideal for the eco-conscious cyclist. The only complaint being that this can create a smell of burning rubber — so don’t use this if you’re in constant close quarters with your bike.
Perfect for those who like to do their maintenance while out and about, you won’t need to worry about spilling any of this lube during tune-ups, as the mess will simply degrade without harming the environment.
- Made from renewable sources
- Made with PTFE
- Brand RocRide
- Weight 3.2 ounces
A great choice for the eco-conscious cyclist
Very highly rated with users, with 84% giving this lube 5 stars
Doesn’t smell very nice when applying
Quite expensive for a smaller bottle
A great all-purpose wet lube that works brilliantly for commuters and road cyclists, this option is an affordable and efficient option for those looking for a decent wet lube at a decent price. Working as both a cleaner and a lubricant, this bike chain oil is fantastic at getting any and all dirt and grime off your bike chain before lubricating.
Be aware that this item can be a little messy to apply, so we recommend using this option somewhere that is easy to clean up — and away from any precious items you may have.
- Works as cleaner and lubricant
- Highly rated
- Brand ROCK N ROLL IT!
- Weight 2.15 ounces
Leaves chains looking sparkling clean
Great for quick top-ups
You have to use a lot of the product during cleaning and lubrication
Needs to be used regularly as the lifespan is relatively short
Things to Consider When Buying a Bicycle Chain Lube
The environmental conditions you ride in should make the biggest difference in terms of what lube to buy. There are quite a few different types out there, but the most common lubes are wet and dry types, which we discuss in more detail, below. However, the gist of it is that dry lube is better for dusty conditions, while wet lube works better for road traffic or year-round riding.
Ease of Use
Bike lubes that are awkward to use usually end up making a lot of mess as you try to lube your bike chain. Many of the above options offer easier application, either through a general drip-tip or a more precise nozzle. These also help get into the tougher nooks and crannies of your bike, so it’s always worth taking a look at these, even if you aren’t concerned about the mess.
The method you use to apply a lubricant determines how effective it will be. With that in mind, it’s important to note that lubricants don’t just have a universal method of application. In fact, there are numerous different ways a lubricant can be applied. Some use a brush or pad, others come are applied with drip bottles, and some by spray bottles.
Here are some of the best bike chain lubes from the various brands that we use and trust.
Finish Line makes a wide variety of different chain lubes, all using synthetic oils. They manufacture anything from ceramic lubes to dry lubes and wet lubes, all the way through to synthetic based chain oils. To reduce friction and wear and keep your bike’s drivetrain clean, Finish Line will have a product that will keep you on your bike longer.
Pro Gold’s wax lubes and dry chain lubes are some of the best on the market. They are great low friction lubes that work really well even in wet conditions. No longer will you have to put up with a dirty chain or clunky gear changes — just a quick application of any of ProGold’s high-quality lubes and you’ll be off and riding again in no time.
Tri-Flow is an American-based company that manufactures wet chain lube, wax based lube, and other oil based lubes that suit many different weather conditions. Chase down their Superior Lubricant range for best results.
Dry lubes and wet lubes come in at many different price points, here are our recommended products listed by price.
- Finish Line 1-Step Bike Chain Lubricant
- Pro Gold Products ProLink Bike Chain Lube
- Tri-Flow TF21010 Superior Bike Chain Lubricant
- Finish Line DRY Teflon Bicycle Chain Lube
- Finish Line Ceramic Wax Bicycle Chain Lube
- RocRide Eco-X Bicycle Chain Lubricant
Between $10 and $20
Why You Should Lube Your Bike’s Chain
There are lots of reasons why you should lube your bike chain regularly, the main 5 being:
- When your chain isn’t sufficiently lubricated, the many working parts of the chain and components surrounding your chain will wear down quicker. Since they will have constant friction during movement, you can be sure that your chain is far more likely to break if not well lubricated.
- Bike chain lubricant gives an added layer of protection against the elements. Since having dirt and grease will wear down your chain quicker and cause it to slow down, or even break, it’s best to keep your chain clean and well lubricated.
- There are few things more annoying than a squeaky, jangling chain that makes a lot of noise as you cycle. This is the first sign of a dry chain and a sign that you need to apply your bicycle lube as soon as you can.
- Keen cyclists will note that a well lubricated bike chain is much easier to shift. If you notice a clunky feeling or problems occuring when you shift your bike, it’s likely that you need to apply bike chain lube to help iron this problem out.
- You save a lot more energy when your chain lube has been applied. A new, fresh bike chain with lots of bike chain oil will move more smoothly and quickly than one which has been bogged down by rust, dirt and a dry chain.
Types of Bike Chain Lubes
Designed to stay put in rain, snow, slush, and generally very wet weather, wet lube is perfect for daily riders who know they’re going to ride in wet or muddy areas. If you ride a lot during the colder, wetter months, then this should be the preferred lubricant for you. Wet lubes often last longer in the right conditions and will keep a bike’s drivetrain relatively wear and friction free.
Wet lube shouldn’t be used if you’re looking for a bike chain lubricant to use in dry conditions, such as trail riding or mountain biking. This is simply because the wet lube will attract any and all dust and dirt, clogging up your chain and requiring regular clean-ups.
Ideal for off-roaders, dry lube works best as a means to repel dirt, debris, and dust from your bike chain, helping to provide extra longevity and ensuring you get a long, clean ride. This is usually applied as a liquid, which then evaporates, leaving the dry lubricant in its place.
Dry lube needs to be reapplied quite often and can wash away in wet conditions, so it’s best not to opt for this dry lube type if you think you’ll be riding in the rain or simply want a low-maintenance lube that reduces general wear and tear.
The best choice for commuters are wax based lubes, as they are less messy and therefore less likely to appear on your clothes before you arrive at work. They’re also fantastic at repelling dirt and grime, so you’ll find that your bike chain lasts a lot longer than others.
Think of these as somewhat of an all-rounder, whereby the wax bike chain lubricant won’t necessarily excel at anything in particular, in terms of performance. They do, however, need to be regularly reapplied as they can wear fairly quickly in stronger conditions.
Ceramic lube lies somewhere in between dry lube and wet lube. Ceramic lube offers a high performance option that is long lasting, low friction, and spreads far per application. Its chemical formula also means it’s not affected by rough or extreme riding conditions like dusty dry conditions or rainy wet conditions. Ceramic lube is also fantastic for alleviating high-friction areas and is a great long lasting option.
Best Bike Chain Lube FAQ:
Q: What is the bicycle chain lubricant made of?
A: Different lube types are based on different materials. Dry lubricants usually have a base of paraffin wax, or PTFE (Teflon) — or even a little bit of both. These are very dry, however, and — as much as they can deflect dirt — they are also rather difficult to grip to a bike. Thus, they are usually suspended in a number of other, smaller ingredients which then evaporate, leaving only the dry lube behind.
Wet lubricants use an oil base and may or may not come with some additional ingredients which are designed to adjust the viscosity or provide an additional feature. The type of oil the wet lube is based on will also affect the viscosity of your bike lubricant, so always check to see which one best suits your needs.
Q: How do I use the chain lube?
A: Every cyclist has a preferred method of using chain lube, however, there are two common methods that seem to be the favorite options. The first is that the lube is carefully dripped or rubbed onto each part of the cycle, ensuring that every link is well-oiled and nearby components are checked at the same time as the lubricant is applied.
The second option is to place your bike upside down, and liberally spray the lubricant as you spin your chain with the pedals. This is a much messier way to apply your bike lube but can be just as efficient — as long as you are able to get into the hard-to-reach areas around the bike chain.
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Q: How often should I lube my bike chain?
A: Regular lubrication is key to maintaining your chain’s longevity and reliability. While the average cyclist will lubricate their bike chain roughly once every three-to-four weeks, the real answer comes down to how you ride, where you ride, and what your overall preference is.
The biggest indicator that your bike chain needs lubricating is when the chain starts to make a noise, either becoming loud and abrasive or squeaky. This is the first sign that your chain is becoming too dry and needs some maintenance work.
Another good sign is that you notice the chain is becoming harder to shift and the bike generally feels a little more difficult to ride. If you find exerting more effort than you previously did, you might want to try some bike chain lube and see if that makes your ride any smoother.
Q: Is wd40 good for bicycle chains?
A: It’s important to note that WD40 is actually a degreaser and solvent, so using this might seem like a good way to get out of a tight spot. And if you’re in an emergency, it can certainly work in the short-term. However, once the liquid has evaporated, you’re left with a dirty, dry bike chain. This is especially true as WD40 actually attracts dirt and regular use will cause your chain to dry out even quicker.
Q: What can I use instead of chain lube?
There are a few different options people reach for when they are looking for chain lube alternatives. Some include olive oil, castor oil, cooking oil, or household-based greases. These will work for a time, however, they often aren’t as long lasting and will need an application before every ride.
Q: What household items can I use to clean my bike chain?
There are a number of household items that will clean a bike chain quite well. Products like orange citrus degreaser are best, although, Shelite, a white spirit based metal cleaner is also good. Kerosene will also work coupled with a soft rag and wire brush.
Q: Can you use silicone spray on a bike chain?
Yes, silicone based lube will leave a relatively clean chain. Specialized wax based lubes or wet and dry lubes do work best but a quality silicone lube coupled with a clean rag and wire brush will act as a suitable lube for your bike.
Q: Can I use wd 40 as a chain lube?
No, WD 40 isn’t one of the best chain lubes. It’s not a true lubricant and should only be used as a solvent or rust dissolver. WD 40 will only attract dirt, making the chain quite sticky and gritty. For best results, instead, use a quality specialized all conditions lube.
Our Top Pick
The 1-Step Bicycle Chain Cleaner & Lubricant from Finish Line came up as our Top Pick thanks to its ease-of-use, effectiveness, and value for money. Designed more for occasional users and family cyclists over commuters and long-distance riders, we still feel that this is a great choice for bringing along on your trips for quick top-ups and maintenance.
Highly rated thanks to its two-in-one ability to both clean and lubricate, this is a quick and easy choice for many, while being small enough to bring on the road during long rides. Thus, it was clear to see that this option from Finish Line simply had to be our number one choice.
- Quick Guide to Bicycle Chain Oils and Lubes – TotalWomensCycling