How to Choose the Right Lubricants
An overview of 3 essential types of lubrication, complete with brand recommendations.
In today’s tutorial we’ll take a look at lubricants. Please keep in mind that none of these companies are paying me to recommend their products… these are all brands that I trust and recommend after years of heavy use in the bike shop. There are three main types of lubrication you should have: light oil, chain oil, and grease.
When I talk about light oils, I’m referring to a product called TriFlow. There are many other types of traditional light oil available, but a lot of these are vegetable based and tend to gum up. TriFlow is synthetic, teflon-based, and comes with a lubrication tube that makes it easy to lube inside cable housings, pivot points, and other hard-to-reach areas. TriFlow will penetrate quickly and thoroughly, so you only need a few drops of it.
For chain lubrication I recommend a product called Finish Line Cross Country. I’ve tried a lot of different brands and found this to be the longest lasting lubricant. It’s a synthetic “wet-style” lubricant capable of sustaining high torque pedaling over long distances and nasty riding conditions. See the chain cleaning and lubrication tutorial for some more tips on applying it.
Another highly recommended chain oil is called Phil Tenacious Oil. It also works great as a lubricant and water repellent, but some people find it a bit too thick for chains. I find it is best used to lubricate the inside of internal gear hubs like Sturmey-Archer 3-speeds. If you have an older bike with a 3-speed internal gear hub, Phil Wood should be all you need for both your chain and hub.
A third type of chain lubricants are wax-based and are best for very dry climates. The best brand I’ve used is called Boeshield T-9. While wax-based lubes don’t collect as much dirt, they are a lot of hassle to apply correctly. You have to make sure your drivetrain is spotless clean before you apply it, which usually requires soaking your chain in cleaning solvent first. Then after you apply it you have to wait 2 hours before riding. It’s also important to remember that wax is simply not as good a lubricant as oil.
You should always have some waterproof grease handy for overhauling bearings and greasing threads. There are so many different brands available. You can get it in a tub for shop use or in a smaller tube for occasional home use. You can use the tube along with a grease gun for squirting oil into tight spaces like bearing cages. Another thing you can do is keep some grease in a film container with a small brush, which makes it easy to quickly grease threads.
Discuss this topic in the Lubrication Forums
Hi guys, Totally new to bike maintenance. I recently moved countries and had to disassemble my bike to move it. I'm putting it back together now and need to make sure I've got all the tools I need to do a decent job. The fork had a thick white substance on the silver metal in the attached pictures. I'm not sure what this is and need to find a replacement. Any idea what lube I need for that? ...Read more
hey just thought id share with you since you are all repairing these parts, i came across some grease last weeknd being sold at a small bike festival in manchetser and theres a range of different greases for the bikes. i spoke to them about it they said its a new range but it expected big things due to the standard of the grease so like you do i purchased some, i then took all my bearings out clea...Read more
I have an old Raleigh from 1969 with a "AW three speed hub". It is the type of gear hub with oil cap. I ordered a bottle of "Finish Line Ceramic Wet Lube"; after reading about the additives and how silent it can make the chain run I had to try it. I wondered if teflon and ceramic (boron nitride) in a synthetic oil would be be worth testing in the hub too. There might be an advantage to the basic m...Read more
My bike is fitted with Shimano BRIM 70 roller brakes. After about 2 1/2 years the rear brake has started to squeal. So I left the bike into a LBS for maintenance. I then proceeded to do some research on the brake and discovered that you should use a special shimano grease for these brakes. I contacted LBS and they said they had already used high temperature copper grease which would be just as go...Read more
There are a lot of diverse recommendations out there on the right oil to drip through the plastic oil cap of Sturmey 3 speed hubs. Based on my own experience at Pedal Depot tearing down quite a few, the biggest problem encountered (other than no oil..) is oil that is too sticky for the pawls and planets. Phil's Tenacious Oil, though a good oil elsewhere on the bike, is a bad choice here - it is ...Read more
Does anyone remember ( I think it was Pedro's ) screw-on freehub lubricator? It fitted in the front of the unit ( off the hub ) and it was used to flush out the old lube and really worked. I volunteer at a shop that gets old bikes that are ready for the skip and rebuild them for the disenfranchised for transport. We get a lot of tight screw-ons and instead of trashing them all. that luber would ...Read more
There is a product used in major tool rooms I have been in as an engineer for 34 years. It is called Kroil. I think you would have to get it off the web though, but believe me it is the BEST I have seen..... Penetrating-Lubricating Oils Loosens Frozen Metal Parts! ... Nothing Works Like Kroil Kroil - An industry proven penetrating oil that has no equal. Used by 480 of the Fortune 500 companies! ...Read more
Hello, I'm wanting to switch to a different grease in my grease gun. So I assume I'll need to clean the gun. How would I go about doing this? I'm switching from Finish Line mulit-purpose teflon grease to Rock n' Roll Red Devil to re-grease my DMR V8 pedals. The only thing I have as a degreaser is WD40, if I was to say, blast it with WD40 then thoroughly rinse it with hot water, would that be ok...Read more
Hi all! I just bought a cute little buttercup yellow Schwinn Breeze today. I put new tires on it and need to do some cleaning of the chain and gear hub and other bits. But the gears are pretty sticky and I'm not sure what's best to use... also noticed that there is a little capped hole in the hub and I'm wondering if I need to put something in there??? Thanks, BG...Read more
I used engine oil for chain and auto bearing grease for all bearings, including freewheel. If engine oil is OK for motorcycle chains, why not for bicycle? If grease is designed for bearing, why not to use it for bicycle bearings? Black grease is the best, because it has graphite in it, but it is too "dirty", I used yellow one. Freewheel "teeth" don't click anymore, which I think is good as long a...Read more
Hi guys, Does anyone know of any place in the UK that sells Super Lube Multi-Purpose Grease as shown in Alex's How to Choose the Right Lubricants video? Or any place in the US that will ship it to the UK (relatively cheaply!) I particularly want the tub rather than the tube. Or if not, are there any greases available in the UK that are just as good as this or similar? Cheers kindly...Read more
Hello, Any good ways to take wax lube off a chain? I tried it out on the recommendation of my local bikeshop owner, and I don't really like it, and would rather just return to the lube I've been using for a few years now. Anything special I need to do to get it off, or before I return to my old lube? Thanks....Read more
Has anyone had any luck with homemade chain oil? im looking for some recipes, a lot include motor oil and mineral spirits any good?...Read more
Hey, ive seen a few threads round here saying what kind of lubrication to use and why etc so i thought id take time to do a write up to explain why what and where, i'll name each type of oil/grease and what its useful for so here goes: Bearings (hubs, cranks and headsets): For bearings I highly recommend grease, any grease is suitable as long as its meant for bearings, some popular ones are marin...Read more
.....SINGER SEWING MACHINE OIL, Thats right the stuff made for sewing machines,i picked up a tin of this from a sewing shop for £2.20,Ive tested this for a period of 3 months on my chain, cables, derailers and brake pivots,i also use this stuff for cleaning my rims heres the pros & cons: Pros: Cheap Effective Doesn't pick up as much dust as other lubricants Comes in a easy applicator Cons...Read more