Chain Lube means using oil or liquid type product on the chain to increase its performance while cycling as well as reduce friction, noise and rustiness.
What does chain lube do?
It does too many things. But most importantly it will reduce the wear off of your drivetrain components and make components free to pedal and move the bicycle.
The main purpose of lube is to keep grit particles away from the contracting chain, and so lowering the chain abrasively.
Is the chain lube necessary?
Of course, it is a very necessary part of your regular cycling. As the chain frequently runs by crank and cassette or freewheel, it always needs to be lubed. Because you don't lube the chain regularly, the friction between the chain and other components will increase. It will reduce cycle performance, make it harder to pedal and move. Moreover, it will decay the teeth of your crank and cassette or freewheel.
Therefore, it's a must to lube your cycle's chain regularly.
Chain Lube Type
There are two types of chain lube very popular among cyclists.
- Dry Lube
- Wet Lube
To wash the waxy lubricant into chains, a volatile carrier is used which later evaporate leaving a solid lubricant.
It is also called solid lubricants that usually goes on wet and dry in a couple of hours to dry chain.
It uses special materials as a formula to provide more protection against dust and dirt.
Paraffin wax or Teflon is suspended as a liquid solvent that easily flows between the pins and rollers of the chain. Some dry lube has a mix of Molybdenum Disulfide (MoS2) and graphite as a part of the original dry lubricant formula of the 1940s.
Pros of Dry Lube
- Perfect for Dry weather and environment
- Low Viscosity (Doesn't hold on to dust or grit)
- Thumbs up for Summer Riding
Cons of Dry Lube
- Take some time to dry usually a couple of hours
- Can't just apply and roll
- Doesn't last long
- Needs more frequent application
- The chain needs to be clean before application
- Doesn't spread to the areas that lost lubrication after flaking off
- More Expensive
Most of the dry lube requires a frequent application. But if happen to ride in wet weather like a rainy day, you might need a more frequent application of dry lube.
When to use Dry Lube?
As mentioned above the dry lube is best for dry weather, it best to use dry lube when you will be riding on sunny summer days. It is very ideal to use in the summertime or in desert type trail.
As it washes off easily, it's best to avoid muddy, or water jammed roads as it will leave chain void of dry lubricant.
Dry lube is not durable, so if you prefer to keep your cycle serviced regularly then dry lube is for you.
Wet Lube uses a kind of sticky type oily liquid type material that is best for wet, muddy and humid weather and environment. it's very thick and sticky that's why lubricant doesn't easily wear off from chain.
Pros of Wet Lube
- Perfect for wet, muddy and humid weather and environment
- Sticks to the chain for much more time
- Requires fewer reapplications
- Suitable for long rides
- Instant application and riding
- Can be used while not optimally cleaned more effectively
- Thumbs up for Winter and Rainy Season riding
Cons of Dry Lube
- Holds more dirt and grime in the chain
- Dirt and dust don't wear off easily
- After application chain cleaning needs more force and time to clean
In Rainy Season or Winter wet lubricant works perfectly because it’s thick and sticky nature allows the lubricant to stick to the chain despite the water splashing.
When to use Wet Lube?
Wet lube is recommended in ride long distances while. It sticks to the chain for a longer time and doesn’t get washed off easily from rain or splashed off from puddles.
If you don’t prefer frequent lube application or you usually forget to lube your cycle chain, probably the best option for you is wet lube.
Moreover, it lasts much longer and doesn’t need time to dry upon re-application.
If you prefer to ride in wet conditions, keep in mind wet lube collects dirt and grit. Thus it is required to clean your bike after riding.
What is the main difference between a wet and dry lubricant?
- Dry lube doesn't hold dirt or dust. But lubricant falls off from the chain as the dirt and grits hit the chain. You might lose lubricant but it will keep grits from hitting your drivetrain.
- Though wet lube doesn't attract dirt it holds dirt. But not to worry, it usually suspends the grit particles. So these won't get affect your drivetrain.
Which one is better?
1. DRY or WET LUBE?
Well, we have discussed the difference between these two lubes earlier. Now the question is which one is better?
Dry lube was developed in the 1940s. Because moving parts were becoming more advance and needed to operate at a higher temperature as part of aircraft and rocket development. So the machine needed more heat resistant lubricant. Dry lube can operate at high temperature and low pressure and doesn't evaporate easily.
Dry lubes are known to have higher coefficients of friction that translates to decreased pedal efficiency. But compare bike-specific dry lubes to wet lubes is presently not much available. Most lubricant manufacturers use proprietary formulas and keep it secret.
Wet lubes lubricate offers better pedal efficiency and last longer in all-weather conditions than dry lube.
Does this make wet lubes better??? No, dry lubricants don’t pick up and hold as much trail debris as wet lube do. This reason outweighs all the combined benefits of wet lubricants.
2. Is Ceramic Lube being an option?
Ceramic lube has gained more popularity recently as a most recent advance in chain lube technology. It is available in both dry and wet versions. It contains nanoparticles that build a protective layer around the chain. Its big charm is that it reduces friction and increases efficiency. It doesn't require more frequent reapplication and provides good longevity. But it is very expensive and isn't available that much.
3. What is the best chain lube for a bike?
Keep in mind that before bicycle-specific lubricants were introduced, Bicycle has run at full efficiency for over a century.
A dirty or dusty drivetrain doesn't even operate at full efficiency. Thus looking for the best lubricant is worthless. But perfect lubricant for perfect weather can make your cycle operate in the perfect condition with the most efficiency.
Many riders and cyclists will still debate on the best type of chain lube based upon weather factors and other variables such as terrain type.
However, the most important thing is to keep your chain clean and lubricated all the time you ride. This will give you a longer-lasting chain and a bicycle that will pedal easily and smoothly no matter what type of lube you use.