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. 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 one 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.
- Tri-Flow Superior Lube
- Finish Line Wet Chain Lube (Cross Country)
- Phil Wood Tenacious Oil
- Boeshield T-9 Wax Lubricant
- Super Lube White Grease Tube
- Finish Line Grease Gun