LAST UPDATED: October 23, 2019
Best Bike Chain Lubes: Help Your Bike Run Smooth
You need the right lubricant to keep your bicycle chain moving smoothly
The Review Team
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PUBLISHED ON October 23, 2019
If you ride your bicycle consistently, then you need to care for its chain. If you don’t, it can wear away faster and reduce the performance of your bicycle. You should find a bike chain lube that can protect against water and dirt. Here are some options to consider for your bike.
This is a one-step wet-style cleaner and lubricant for your bike chain that is formulated for commuters and recreational cyclists. It cleans the chain faster by scraping away old lube and contaminants while still lubricating with each application.
This lubricant offers enhanced protection from rust. It comes in bottles of different sizes to make it easy to buy the right amount for your needs. It also excels at preventing dirt buildup on your bike chain.
It will drip for several hours after application. Some users claim that it is not good for offroad use since it attracts a lot of dust.
This lubricant will protect your chain from rust and corrosion by providing a durable coating. The no-wax formula helps it to work under high heat, humidity and prevents friction damage.
The lubricant extends the life of your bike chain. It is also economical, as it comes in a special bottle to prevent wastage.
Users claim that the lube attracts too much dirt. It is also watery and keeps dripping.
For beginner and professional bikers, this is the lube to keep your bike performing optimally without staining your gear. Its formulation ensures enhanced performance in muddy, wet, and other extreme conditions. This lubricant will protect your chain from rust and corrosion by providing a durable coating.
The lubricant protects your bike chain with the intricate chemical formulation. This lube can withstand heat, which can prevent friction damage. The lube smells good.
The spray bottle design is of low quality and may stop working. It does not easily come off hands if touched.
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Benefits of Bike Chain Lubricants
- Extend the chain life. The main problem of moving parts is friction. Friction can quickly wear down the bike chain if not attended to regularly. Regular maintenance using lubricants can extend the chain life by 2-4 times, which will save you money.
- Stop the annoying noise. A dry chain is accompanied by a squeaky and jangling noise, which can be annoying. Applying a lubricant reduces the noise or stops it entirely, so you get a peaceful ride on your evening strolls around the neighborhood.
- Protection from the environment. Silt, mud, and sand are powerful agents of friction and wear. Applying the right lubricant forms an anti-friction layer. This reduces the effects of wear and tear, which in turn increases the life of the chain.
- Energy conservation. Riding a bicycle bogged down with rust is like climbing a hill with a heavy load on your back. With a lubricated chain, your bike is as good as new. You can ride comfortably without exhausting yourself.
- Better shifting. Shifting is a key factor for great performance in a bicycle. Your efficiency is affected if your shifting is bad. If you notice this, the bike is sending you a warning that you need to lubricate the chain.
Types of Bike Chain Lubes
If you love riding a lot and aren’t bothered by the wet weather outside, this might be your ideal lubricant. This type of lubricant is designed to withstand damp conditions like snow, rain, and slush. It’s applied as a liquid and does not change the state. It’s very thick to protect your bike from extreme conditions.
This type of lubricant works by preventing solid debris like dirt, soil, and debris from damaging the chain. It leaves behind a wax-like deposit on the chain. It’s in a liquid state during the application, but it evaporates after some time, leaving behind a lubricating element. The only drawback is that it easily washes away in wet conditions, so you have to reapply it occasionally.
This lubricant lies in between dry and wet lubricants. It offers a high performance by creating a low friction medium on the chain. The chemical formulas also ensure that it’s not affected by weather conditions like rain or snow. They are easy to maintain and offer good performance for the chain.
This is an American-based company with offices in Canada as well. The company is known for manufacturing lubricants, degreasers, and greasers that are preferred by bikers all over the world. The company prides itself on formulating performance chain lubes such as the Tri-Flow TF21010 Superior Lubricant and the Tri-Flow Superior Lubricant - 4oz Aerosol.
Driven by the desire to create advanced bicycle lubricants to enhance performance, Henry Hank Krause founded this company in 1988. Soon after launching its first product onto the market, the company began exploring the best-performing lubricants from different countries. They incorporated these ideas to come up with stellar lubricants that are built for performance. Some of these include the Finish Line E-Bike Chain Lube, 4 oz and the Finish Line 1-Step Bicycle Chain Cleaner & Lubricant.
Innovation is the weapon for the DuPont company to create bike chain lubes that focus on sustainability. The company dates back to 1950 when its founders researched friction-resistant lubricants for bike chains. The company is the manufacturer of the DuPont Teflon Chain-Saver Dry Self-Cleaning Lubricant and the DuPont 4oz Dry Self-Cleaning Lubricant.
Bike Chain Lube Pricing
- $8-$40: Dry bike chain lubricants that lie in this category are some of the cheapest bike chain lubes. They register high performance and are not sticky, hence do not attract dirt. The pricier ones have unique features aimed at prolonging the life of your bicycle chain.
- $8-$90: Wet bike chain lubricants add more efficiency by reducing wear and tear a great deal. That’s why they are the most expensive bike chain lubes. However, their pricing is different across a wide range of companies, as they use different chemical combinations.
- $10-$75: Ceramic lubricants are also known as the next generation dry lube but a better one. These lubricants penetrate the chains very well to reduce chain noise and allow the bike to shift perfectly. They are not that common, though, since they require intricate chemical engineering. Plus, they are more expensive than other types of lube.
How you apply the lubricant to the chain determines how long it will take and how easy the process will be. Lubricants don’t have a universal method of application. Some use a pad or brush that you must buy separately for application. Others come in spray bottles, while others come in drip bottles. Before you make a purchase, choose the applicator that you think will work best for you.
How long do you think you should wait before reapplication? Some riders do it every two weeks, while others will take six months. Some lubricants are good enough to serve your bike chain for many months. However, in some cases, it depends on how you use your bicycle. If you bike in harsh conditions often, you will need to reapply lube more often.
- Dirty Conditions. Bikers who ride in dirty conditions will need to apply lube more frequently to maintain the efficiency of their bicycles. A dirty environment allows the chain to attract dirt, which destroys the chain faster. The lubricants you choose should be self-cleaning to prevent the accumulation of dirt.
- Eco-Friendly. Most lubricants use petroleum, which you may not like if you’re into environmental conservation. There are many options you can choose that use biodegradable vegetable oil but are not super-slippery.
- Long Distance. When going on a long-distance ride, you tend to meet a lot of elements like soil that may get attached to the chains. Wet lubricant does magic here. Although it may attract more dirt in the process, a degreaser will do the trick of cleaning it.
Best Bike Chain Lube Reviews & Recommendations
This product is for those who love riding in extreme conditions and need something that provides maximum protection against wear and rust. It not only lubricates the chain but also flushes out the old lube. It penetrates the chain quickly and easily, making it the top lubricant if you are on the go.
It will serve your bike for a really long time. One application lasts up to 100 miles. Not to mention, it’s also versatile, making it the best for any type of weather. It also has a strong cleaning formula that keeps your chain shiny.
The lubricant is very thin, however, which is a major setback. This makes it drip occasionally after the application. You will also have to reapply it from time to time, which might dig deep into your pockets. Also, it may not be suitable for offroad use as it attracts dust, according to some users.
Tri-Flow Superior Lubricant is a an excellent lube that works perfectly on bike chains. It quickly scrapes away dirt and grime that accumulates on the chain. The good thing is that you don’t need to rinse the chain with water. The lubricant does it all on its own.
The lubricant extends the life of your bike’s chain with a durable coating that prevents rust and corrosion. The chain lube is also affordable. Another advantage of this lube is that it comes in a special bottle to prevent waste. It works perfectly under high heat and humidity, and it also prevents frictional damage.
On the downside, some users claim that the lube attracts too much dirt, so it’s not suitable for off-road usage. It is also watery and drips a lot, so you will have to keep reapplying it every now and then to achieve maximum performance.
This WD-40 bike lubricant is one of the highest quality lubes on the market. It creates a durable coating on the chain, making it perfect for muddy, wet, and other extreme weather conditions. The formula avoids friction damage, which extends the life of the chain. Apart from preventing friction, this lube will protect your chain from rust and corrosion, enhancing its performance and extending its life.
The lube can withstand heat to prevent your bike from friction damage. The lube smells good, so you don’t have to worry about the bad odor that most other lubes produce. Additionally, the lubricant does not stain your riding gear, making it suitable for both professional and amateur users.
While the product is a good chain lube and cleaner, the spray bottle design is low quality and may stop working over time. It also does not easily come off your hands.
This lube is a semi-dry formula that uses silicone technology to lubricate and protect your chain in a wide variety of riding conditions. The formula is a combination of non-petroleum-based synthetic oils. There are several bottle sizes, so you can buy an amount ranging from two to 32 ounces.
The beauty of this lube is that the semi-dry formula makes it cleaner to apply than wet lubes. It’s also more durable than wax options. The silicone compounds give you reliable performance in all weather conditions. It’s even effective at protecting your chain and other bicycle components when riding in coastal areas.
Unfortunately, the bottle style has a child safety cap. While this is important for safety, it’s not watertight and can leak. If you put it on a dirty chain, then the lubricant turns into a lumpy black goo.
This aerosol can of lubricant from DuPont is a wax-based chain lubricant. The aerosol version comes in 3.5 and 14-ounce bottles. You can also buy a 4-ounce squeeze bottle. The lubricant formula contains both Moly and Teflon to protect your chain from wear. This lubricant can be used on any chain-driven vehicle, so you can use it on your bicycle, motorcycle, dirt bike, go kart, ATV, or lawnmower.
You’ll appreciate how protective this lube is. It’s resistant to water and non-staining. Combine this with the no-fling-off formula, and you’ll never have to worry about black marks on your hands and legs again. It’s also dirt resistant, so there's no worry about creating a gunky goo while riding.
Unfortunately, this isn't a generalized lubricant and is designed for high-revving vehicles. You may also discover limited functionality with the aerosol can version. The can will feel like there is still a product inside, but the pressurized gasses are depleted, so you can’t get the remaining product out of the can.
This bicycle chain lube comes in a 4-ounce bottle, but you can buy packs with multiple bottles if this isn’t enough. It’s designed for use in tough environments when you need a lube that will actively repel slop, dust, and dirt.
If you ride in extreme conditions, such as on trails, then this is the lubricant for you. The small squeeze bottle is easy to use and is great to have on hand while you're on the go. It excels when you ride in wet conditions. What’s really nice is that you don’t have to clean your chain first. Just apply, wipe clean, and you’re ready to ride.
However, make sure you buy a bottle that is new. This lubricant will separate if left on the shelf. If it isn’t too old, you can shake it to re-mix everything, but if the bottle is too old, the wax becomes a solid chunk at the bottom of the bottle and no amount of shaking will re-mix it. You’ll also find it collects too much dirt and dust when on your chain.
This Purple Extreme bicycle lubricant is a synthetic formula that is meant for long-distance rides. It works in a wide range of riding conditions, including colder weather. It won’t harden when temperatures drop and has a usable temperature range of -100 to 400 degrees. It’s also designed to stay in place and won't fling or shed.
This lube stands out for its durability and long performance life. It isn’t uncommon to regularly achieve 400-plus-mile rides between applications. One bottle of Purple Extreme will last longer than other brands of similar size.
Unfortunately, the long useful life claim is only applicable in the most ideal road conditions. Your actual riding conditions may result in a much shorter useful life. This lube tends to dry quickly, so if you live in a more arid or dusty climate, this lube isn’t ideal and won’t perform well.
When it comes to protecting all of your gears, chains, and moving mechanical parts, this do-it-all lubricant is a great choice. This lube protects against rust and corrosion while ensuring smooth operation. It’s compatible for use in a wide variety of applications, such as automotive, marine, and aviation. You can also use it on bicycles, RVs, and tools. The lube goes on wet to flush out and loosen corrosion and dirt. Then it dries to a thin, protective waxy layer.
When it comes to innovative advancement, this lubricant is the leader. It was originally formulated by Boeing for lubricating and protecting aircraft components. What’s nice about this product is that you can use it for a wide variety of applications, so you don’t have to buy several different lubricants for all of your vehicles.
Unfortunately, the aerosol design of the can could use some improvement. It’s common to find that the propellant stops working long before the can is out of lubricant. This lubricant may also be overkill for your bicycle as its original intended use was for aeronautics.
This dry lube claims to last longer so that you can ride further between each application. It’s formulated with Micro Resistant Complex Compounds to create a lightweight viscosity lube. To use this product, wash and clean your bicycle well before application. This will help it seal to your chain and other components and lock out dust and dirt.
The small size of the 2-ounce bottle makes it perfect for portability. This is ideal if you ride long distances or plan to travel with your bicycle. The Pro-X version of this lube is meant for riders who are looking to tackle extreme conditions. Mountain bikers and cyclo riders will benefit from this product the most.
Unfortunately, you may find that this lube becomes sticky, black, and gooey. This will be a gross and tedious mess to clean. The color of this product is clear, which makes it challenging to know how much to put on. This can contribute to the first problem of it being overly gunky.
This 4.23-ounce bottle of chain lube is a complex blend of heavy-duty lubricants. It will easily penetrate your chain to flush out the dirt and keep it running smoothly. The lube goes on wet, and you’ll wipe it completely dry to create a strong yet thin barrier of lubricant.
When shopping for bicycle lubes, you’ll find yourself choosing between dry and wet options. This lubricant is a combination of the two. This lets you enjoy reduced friction and smooth operation.
One drawback to this product is that you need to wait at least eight hours before riding your bicycle after application. This will ensure the best performance, but it also means you’re restricted from riding. It’s also more expensive than comparable lubricants.
- Think about the environment that you plan to ride in. You need to choose between “wet” and “dry” lubricants. Dry lubricants have a thinner consistency to make them perform better in dry climates. Wet lubricants are thicker to protect against the increased moisture. A third option is to buy an all-purpose lubricant that will give you protection in both types of climates.
- Lubricants come in both a spray and solid form. The spray versions are easier to work with, as you point and spray to apply them. The solid form will have a harder time getting into the hard-to-reach places.
- You will see some products called lubricant and others called wax. While the formulations are different, they both protect your chain. The one you choose is purely based on your preferences. One isn’t inherently better than the other.
Q: Why do I need to lubricate my chain?
A: Your bicycle chain is made up of several metal pieces linked together. The lubricant helps the links move against each other without creating friction or wear. Without the lubricant, you’ll notice that the links in your chain start to wear down and rust.
Q: How do I lubricate my chain?
A: To care for your chain, brush the links with a firm brush to remove the loose dirt. Apply the lubricant along the entire length of the chain. Allow it to soak into the links. Then use a cloth to wipe off any excess lubricant. Leaving too much lubricant on the links can cause more dirt buildup.
Q: How do I know I need to lubricate my chain?
A: You should inspect your chain on a regular basis. Look at each link in the chain for dirt buildup, rust, or tight links. Another sign to look for is squeaking coming from your chain while riding the bike. If any of these conditions happen, then it’s time to care for your bike chain.
The Finish Line Dry Teflon Bicycle Chain Lube is one of the best chain lubricants for preventing buildup and dirt from gathering on the chain.
For a more budget-friendly option, the White Lightning Epic Ride is an excellent option.