Chain Lubrication

chain-lubes

I currently have five different chain lubes on my shelf at the moment. I’m not sure why I have accumulated so many. But, it gives me something to review.

GT-85

gt-85You will find GT-85  in many bike shops and is one of the most popular thin water-displacers. It is excellent as a water displacer and thin lubricant. It is easy to spray on and will prevent rust. After a wet ride, I will give a good spray and spin the chain, allowing water to come off. GT-85 is quite economical, a large 400ml can last quite a long time. However, because it is quite thin, it doesn’t give too much ‘lube’ to chains and as a result, if you rely on it to lube your chain, you can wear through chains quite quick.

It is best not to use this as a lube, but it is good to have around for other purposes.

GT-85 is one of the best sprays for brakes and cables – It helps resist rust, keeps things moving and won’t attract too much dirt. It doesn’t leave much of a residue.

Also, GT-85 makes an excellent way to clean and polish your frame, spray some on, and give a quick polish. You will be pleasantly surprised at how clean it may get. Also, if you do spray on the bike and components, it makes it easier to clean next time.

Great for cleaning, water displacing and using on components, but don’t rely on for overall lubrication.

GT-85 £3.49 (wiggle.co.uk)

TF2 Lubricant

I bought this from Reg Taylor when they recommended as a better chain lube than GT-85 (which I was using at the time). It is a bit denser and stays on the chain well, making it better for long-distance cycling. The added ingredient of Teflon helps to prevent the accumulation of dirt. You can also get this lubricant in non spray form. It is a good all-rounder, if you wanted to get just one chain lube TF2 would fit many of your needs.

I was using this over a wet winter in England, and to be honest, it required quite frequent reapplications. The chain on my commuting bike would often get dry and rusty – despite using chain. On training bike, the chain also ended up quite dry and a little noisy. I’ve seen people claim one lube can last 400 miles, I couldn’t verify this over winter. I would have been better off with a heavier ‘wet ride’ chainlube. On the positive side the chain remains clean and easy to handle.

It will be fine for commuting bike except during very wet winter months.

TF2- Lubricant £6 from Chain Reaction cycles

White Lightning Clean Ride

white-lightning-cleanWhite Lightning Clean Ride markets itself as a self-cleaning chain. It has properties which attract itself to dirt on the chain and then drop off. The advantage is that if you use this chain lubrication, you may not have to clean your chain. This is probably what attracted me to the product in the first place. I never clean my chain – I only scrape off accumulated dirt from rear dérailleur wheels and cassette cogs. It works quite well in keeping the chain clean and lubricated, though you have to keep reapplying to maintain the film. Some of the chain cleaning properties may be lost, if you mix with oil based lubricants.

Make sure you shake well before use, because it separates into layers. Then when applying be careful not to lose too much as it is quite thin and can easily slip off chain. It does give a good feel to the chain and it makes it quite smooth to ride. You can ride through a wet winter, thought it will need more re-applications. White Lightning offer an Epic Version for wet weather.

White Lightning £9.99 at Wiggle

Extra Dry Lube Morgan Blue

extra-dry-lube-morganI was going to buy a Finish Line Dry Lube, but Kurk at Beeline recommended this instead. Apparantely, it is used by up to 50% of the pro peleton, and is one of the most popular dry lubes. It is quite thick and after use applies a layer of water and dirt repelling water and dirt.

I found it it a little cumbersome to get out of the bottle. It’s difficult to finesse and put a small drop on; it tends to squirt out. It is good solid lube for general riding, as long as it is not too wet.

I also use a dry lube in my speedplay cleats to prevent excess wear, whilst trying to avoid picking up too much dirt.

Extra Dry lube Morgan Blue £8.50 at Wiggle

 Muc Off – Hydro Dynamic

This was sent as a free sample. I’ve used on my TT bike, though for long-term review of chain wear I can’t say. It comes embedded in packaging proudly sharing its association with Team Sky. It will certainly be a good marketing tool – if it is good enough for Team Sky’s Marginal Gains, it’s good enough for me. Muc Off claim that this new model is 15.5 percent more efficient than the brand’s C3 Wet Lube and 27 percent more efficient than the competition. I can’t verify this claim. In fact it is always hard to measure efficiency of chain lube.

It is petroleum free and uses synthetic polymers for long distance performance. It is easy to carefully add on the chain. They even give you an UV light so you can see what % of the chain is covered in the brightly coloured lube. Nice touch.

muc-off-lube

Distinctive blue lube

The price is really quite high at £16.00 for a relatively small bottle. If you want every marginal gain, it may be worth it. It’s a tough one because chain lubrication is potentially quite important – especially when you’re using expensive chains. But, is it twice as good as cheaper lubes?

Conclusion

My approach to chain lubrication has been a bit hit and miss. Writing this review has made me realise I ought to be a little more careful in the chain lubrication that I use. For a long time, my philosophy has been simply to spray the chain with something when it’s wet. I’m making a resolution to be more disciplined about lubricating chain properly. I will use all the Muc-Off  Hydrodynamic bottle that I got sent and see how I get on. When it comes to buying my own, I’m not sure whether I will fork out and spend £16. I may choose a cheaper Dry Lube, like the Morgan Blue.

Also, next winter, I will get a proper wet lubrication for those 3-4 months of really wet weather.

Sheldon Brown once noted how working out the best way to lube a bike chain can be quite a contentious issue amongst cyclists. Each mechanic and cyclist will have is preferred method and lube. Of course there is no right answer, but some very basic principles will be accepted by most cyclists

  • At least, do use some spray before and after wet to prevent rust
  • It is generally advised NOT to use WD-40 as it drives away moisture but strips away any lubrication of chain. Something like GT-85 is a safer rust-prevention spray.
  • For most of the year, choose a good general or dry lubrication to keep the chain clean and improve friction.
  • In very wet months, a more heavy duty specialist wet weather Lubrication is worth investing in.
  • If you clean the chain with water, reapply lube afterwords.
  • If you do keep a good lubrication regime, then the chain will last longer and you will improve the efficiency of your drive-train.
  • It is advisable to change the chain frequently so that you can longer use of cassettes

3 Responses to Chain Lubrication

  1. Peter April 7, 2015 at 1:25 pm #

    I’m surprised as a dedicated TT-er that you’ve not seen the tests that suggest the fastest lubrication is paraffin wax. A tiny saving, and doesn’t last long, but that’s besides the point, surely…

    • tejvan April 7, 2015 at 4:30 pm #

      Never tried paraffin wax.

  2. Simon E April 19, 2015 at 9:39 pm #

    Am currently trying normal vegetable oil (for cooking) on my commuting/training bike.

    It’s a bit thin so doesn’t last very long but so far it seems to work fine and is a great deal cheaper than any branded chain lube.

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