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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 still, when your chain begins to rust or becomes so 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. Read on to find out more, as well as checking out top picks and our answers to your more frequently asked questions.
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 Cleaner and Lubricant came at the top of our list. Providing excellent rust protection and making bicycle maintenance all the easier, Finish Line have 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
- BrandFinish Line
- Weight4 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 an 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
- BrandPhil Wood
- Weight4.8 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 most 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 cyclist 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
- BrandPro Gold Products
- Weight0.8 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. There’s a huge beneficial feature to this bike lube in that it can handle extreme temperatures while providing 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 raise. Overall, however, this bike lube still provides fantastic value for money.
Formulated with PTFE
Works in extreme temperatures
- Weight2.08 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 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
- BrandFinish Line
- Weight3.84 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’s no concerns there.
There’s no build-up with this option, which makes it ideal for those who like to spin their chain as they work on their maintenance. Simply apply liberally and watch as all the dirt and grime sheds from your bike chain before being lubricated, ready for your next journey.
Large volume option
Repels dirt and debris
Cleans and lubricates simultaneously
- Weight8 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 is 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 longer between applications.
Provides a ceramic wax coating
A worldwide favorite among cyclists
Created with extremely high-quality ingredients
- BrandFinish Line
- Weight4.2 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 rag, this cleaning and lubricating kit is ideal for those who like the all-round benefits that wax lubricants bring.
Perfect for road cyclist, 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
- Weight11.2 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
- Weight3.2 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
Best Bike Chain Lube Buying Guide & FAQ
Things to Consider When Buying a Bicycle Chain Lube
The environmental conditions you ride in should make the biggest different 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.
The value of your bike chain lube comes down to how well your bike lubricant holds up against the elements, how well it can repel dirt and debris from the roads of trails and how much the bike chain lubricant costs.
Naturally, bike chain oil that comes cheap is going to be an attractive option. However, if you need to keep reapplying your bike chain lube every few days, then this will likely run out before it’s ever really held any value to you. Instead, opting for a lubricant that has a decent longevity is much preferred, even though it may cost more initially.
With so much competition on the market, manufacturers are now looking at adding in those all-important additional features to help themselves stand out from the crowd. These mostly consist of the ingredients, which can help improve the longevity of your bicycle chain lube – but there are an increasing number that are offering even more.
Being able to repel rust is a big bonus, especially for those who ride in wet conditions or store their bikes in damp areas, for example an old shed. Some will also have specialist ingredients which are designed to improve the lifespan of the chain itself, too. These are a huge bonus for daily riders who need a little extra protection to keep their chain healthy enough to stand constant use, so look out for these.
- 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. As well as creating a lot of waste product, which lowers the overall value of your bike lube, it’s also a real pain to clean up – especially if you have to top up your lubricant in a public place or around the home.
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.
- Bike Lube Reviews
A great way of being able to tell how effective your bike lube will be is to check the reviews. More often than not, you can tell more from the reviews than you can from the description of the item itself. They’re also an absolute goldmine for tips and tricks as to how best to use your new purchase, as well as being a good indicator of how good the customer service is from the product manufacturer.
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 damp conditions, wet lube is perfect for daily riders who know they’re going to headed through muddy or wet areas. If you ride a lot during the colder, wetter months, then this should be the preferred lubricant for you.
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 on 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 lube type if you think you’ll be riding in rain, or simply want a low-maintenance lube for the commute.
The best choice for commuters is wax lube, as it is 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 are 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.
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.
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 3 – 4 weeks, the real answer comes down to how you ride, where you ride and what your preference is.
The biggest symptom that you bike chain will need lubricating is that the chain will start to make a noise, either becoming loud and abrasive or squeaky. This is the first sign that your chain is becoming too dry and a good indicator of when to do some maintenance.
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 more quickly.
Our Top Pick
The 1-Step Bicycle Chain Cleaner & Lubricant from Finish Line came up as our Top Pick thanks to it’s 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 it’s 2-in-1 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 longer 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