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Thread: Chain lube

  1. #1
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    Chain lube

    All the misguided comments in CXwrench's "mechaqnic's nightmare" thread prompted me to post this. I know it's been covered over and over, and I know that there are all kinds of preferences out there, but the confusion and misunderstanding seems in need of a refresher.

    use the following technique for successful ProLink or homebrew lube (1 part motor oil to 3-4 parts odorless mineral spirits) application and use:

    1 - wipe the chain, cogs, pulleys, and chain rings clean with a rag. If there is gunk on the cogs, floss between them with a rag wet with OMS.

    2 – shift to the big ring and the smallest cog and drip on lube while pedaling slowly so that the chain just starts to drip lube. Aim the lube between the side plates and between the bushings and the side plates.

    3 - keep pedaling the cranks for a minute or so to loosen all the dirt on the chain and to get full penetration of the lube.

    4 - thoroughly wipe the chain, cogs, pulleys, and chain rings clean with a rag.

    5 - repeat steps 2-4 if the chain was really dirty

    Do this AFTER a ride, as you want to allow time for the solvent to evaporate before you head out on the road. If you do this every 300 miles or so (or when you get caught in the rain or other dirty conditions), you will not get any significant gunky buildup, and you won't have to remove the chain or the cassette to clean it , and no separate cleaning is ever required. This leaves lube on the inside parts, and wipes it off the outside parts, minimizing dirt pickup.

    No lube is "perfect." A bright shiny chain that is clean to the touch but is well lubed and gives long mileage is still not possible. IMO, ProLink/home brew is the best compromise among commercial lubes. Other people have different opinions.

  2. #2
    tlg
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    Sounds like a lot of work. I just use Chain-L lube.
    Apply 1-2 drops per roller.
    Let it soak in a couple hours.
    No worry about mess dripping off chain.
    No spinning the crank for minutes.

    Over 10,000mi logged I've averaged 745mi between re-application. My chains last 5,000mi+
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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kerry Irons View Post

    1 - wipe the chain, cogs, pulleys, and chain rings clean with a rag. If there is gunk on the cogs, floss between them with a rag wet with OMS.

    2 – shift to the big ring and the smallest cog and drip on lube while pedaling slowly so that the chain just starts to drip lube. Aim the lube between the side plates and between the bushings and the side plates.

    3 - keep pedaling the cranks for a minute or so to loosen all the dirt on the chain and to get full penetration of the lube.

    4 - thoroughly wipe the chain, cogs, pulleys, and chain rings clean with a rag.

    5 - repeat steps 2-4 if the chain was really dirty

    Do this AFTER a ride, as you want to allow time for the solvent to evaporate before you head out on the road. If you do this every 300 miles or so (or when you get caught in the rain or other dirty conditions), you will not get any significant gunky buildup, and you won't have to remove the chain or the cassette to clean it , and no separate cleaning is ever required. This leaves lube on the inside parts, and wipes it off the outside parts, minimizing dirt pickup.

    No lube is "perfect." A bright shiny chain that is clean to the touch but is well lubed and gives long mileage is still not possible. IMO, ProLink/home brew is the best compromise among commercial lubes. Other people have different opinions.
    That does seem like a lot of work to only get around 300 miles of use. That is the same reason that I don't bother with waxing either. Degreaser, scrub, rinse & dry with rag. Then drip 1 drop per roller starting at quick-link & then spin a few revolutions & then let sit overnight. Ride day use a rag & wipe chain down before heading out. I'm using Finish Line & get around same mileage as tlg. Every 300 miles would be a lot of work unless every ride is only 5 miles or so long. Ymmv.

  4. #4
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    I have good riding weather and clean road condition year round so that makes a difference.

    Apply Rock N Roll lube that both cleans and lubes and the process takes two or three minutes. All you need is the lube and a rag. Per the mileage, you ride redo as needed.

    After every ride, I wipe the chain off.

    Every couple of months spray on Clean Streak over the drive train.

  5. #5
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    I'm surprised, Kerry; I thought you might be the last cyclist known to still immerse his chain in a vat of boiling paraffin wax every month (don't laugh, people used to actually do this...).
    "L'enfer, c'est les autres"

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    hmm, I'm neither confused nor misunderstanding anything, so count me in as having a 'different opinion.'

    no way I'd waste the time and effort to follow the procedure in the OP. especially not for a paltry 300 miles before having to repeat it...
    Ancient Astronaut theorists say, 'YES!'

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    Quote Originally Posted by tlg View Post
    Sounds like a lot of work. I just use Chain-L lube.
    Apply 1-2 drops per roller.
    Let it soak in a couple hours.
    No worry about mess dripping off chain.
    No spinning the crank for minutes.

    Over 10,000mi logged I've averaged 745mi between re-application. My chains last 5,000mi+
    Putting 1-2 drops per roller instead of a line on a spinning chain is tedious and takes a lot of time, so I'm not sure what this is about. Not at least using a rag to clean the outside of the chain beforehand and afterwards to remove excess lube is just making more grinding paste to wear the chain.

  8. #8
    tlg
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    Quote Originally Posted by mfdemicco View Post
    Putting 1-2 drops per roller instead of a line on a spinning chain is tedious and takes a lot of time, so I'm not sure what this is about.
    How do you define a lot?
    I don't consider 2-3 min a lot, every 750mi. I'm pretty lazy with maintenance but I can spare that.

    Not at least using a rag to clean the outside of the chain beforehand and afterwards to remove excess lube is just making more grinding paste to wear the chain.
    "grinding paste" is a myth. Maybe if you're riding in sand.
    Like I said, over 5,000 miles on my chains. No elaborate wiping and cleaning.
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  9. #9
    Cleavage Of The Tetons
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    I have been using pro link gold or home brew (4/5 mineral, 1/5 synthetic motor oil) for decades now. They both will create some gunk on (mountain bike) drive trains after repeated applications, but I haven't found anything effective that won't attract a little grime.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by tlg View Post
    Sounds like a lot of work. I just use Chain-L lube.
    Apply 1-2 drops per roller.
    Let it soak in a couple hours.
    No worry about mess dripping off chain.
    No spinning the crank for minutes.

    Over 10,000mi logged I've averaged 745mi between re-application. My chains last 5,000mi+
    This - Chain L last so long - wipe the chain off once in a while between lubes depending on the ride conditions.
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  11. #11
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    Interesting that most here who use home brew use 4:1 mineral spirits to motor oil.

    Mike T. in his write-up on chains uses 1:1, so that is what I started using. I am going to try the higher amount of mineral spirits and see if I get less gunk after the first ride.

    In theory, the mineral spirits is the vehicle used to get the motor oil inside the chain rollers as the motor oil alone is too thick to get into all the necessary areas. Then the mineral spirits evaporates leaving the oil where it needs to be.

    500 mile intervals work for me. I like nice round numbers. Lube the chain when my odometer is on the 0's and 5's.

    Has anyone here ever used gear floss like this:

    https://www.amazon.com/Finish-Line-G.../dp/B07BFJ3C6B
    "With bicycles in particular, you need to separate between what's merely true and what's important."-- DCGriz, RBR.

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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by No Time Toulouse View Post
    I'm surprised, Kerry; I thought you might be the last cyclist known to still immerse his chain in a vat of boiling paraffin wax every month (don't laugh, people used to actually do this...).
    The wax method is preferred by the cyclists who also take a portable typewriter and a record player with LPs to the coffee shop.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lombard View Post
    Interesting that most here who use home brew use 4:1 mineral spirits to motor oil.

    Mike T. in his write-up on chains uses 1:1, so that is what I started using. I am going to try the higher amount of mineral spirits and see if I get less gunk after the first ride.

    In theory, the mineral spirits is the vehicle used to get the motor oil inside the chain rollers as the motor oil alone is too thick to get into all the necessary areas. Then the mineral spirits evaporates leaving the oil where it needs to be.

    500 mile intervals work for me. I like nice round numbers. Lube the chain when my odometer is on the 0's and 5's.

    Has anyone here ever used gear floss like this:

    https://www.amazon.com/Finish-Line-G.../dp/B07BFJ3C6B
    I've got a box that I've been using. It works, I don't know if it works any better than a thin strip ripped from an old t-shirt tho.
    Too old to ride plastic

  14. #14
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    As a homebrew user I wipe the chain down before application with a WD40 damp rag and wipe the excess lube off the exterior of the chain after application. I do this anytime I think it may need it, never waiting till the drivetrain gets noisy. Maybe every 200\300 miles, don't really track the mileage between. The derailleurs and cassette get their cleaning when the wheel is out of the bike for a new tire or some other maintenance.

    It's cheap, it's easy and it takes minutes.

    All that being said I really don't think it matters what lube is used, as long as the chain is maintained within the parameters of the lube being utilized.
    Too old to ride plastic

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    Quote Originally Posted by SPlKE View Post
    The wax method is preferred by the cyclists who also take a portable typewriter and a record player with LPs to the coffee shop.
    And the cyclist who wax their legs can use the same pot of wax and kill two birds with one rock. Talk about convenience.
    Last edited by velodog; 09-21-2018 at 05:39 AM. Reason: spelling
    Too old to ride plastic

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    Quote Originally Posted by tlg View Post
    How do you define a lot?
    I don't consider 2-3 min a lot, every 750mi. I'm pretty lazy with maintenance but I can spare that.

    "grinding paste" is a myth. Maybe if you're riding in sand.
    Like I said, over 5,000 miles on my chains. No elaborate wiping and cleaning.
    5000 miles and how much stretch? That's also not that many miles. I wouldn't be too proud of that, and there is a definite correlation between dirt on the chain and wear. What do you think causes the wear? https://www.sheldonbrown.com/brandt/chain-care.html

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    Quote Originally Posted by mfdemicco View Post
    5000 miles and how much stretch? That's also not that many miles. I wouldn't be too proud of that, and there is a definite correlation between dirt on the chain and wear. What do you think causes the wear? https://www.sheldonbrown.com/brandt/chain-care.html
    As long as Sheldon Brown is here...

    https://www.sheldonbrown.com/chainclean.html
    Too old to ride plastic

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by mfdemicco View Post
    5000 miles and how much stretch? That's also not that many miles. I wouldn't be too proud of that, and there is a definite correlation between dirt on the chain and wear. What do you think causes the wear? https://www.sheldonbrown.com/brandt/chain-care.html
    Hmmm. Well if dirt causes chain wear, what does insufficient lubrication cause?

    Now, if the secret to chain longevity is keeping it as clean as possible, then why not just clean it of all lubricants and not re-lube it? After all, it's lube that attracts dirt and a dry chain won't attract dirt and therefore will never wear out - NOT!!!!!!!
    "With bicycles in particular, you need to separate between what's merely true and what's important."-- DCGriz, RBR.

    “Statistics are like bikinis. What they reveal is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital.” -- Aaron Levenstein



  19. #19
    tlg
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    Quote Originally Posted by mfdemicco View Post
    5000 miles and how much stretch? That's also not that many miles.[/url]
    I said over 5000.
    Chain wear is under 1/16" over a 12"

    I don't need to be proud. I get significantly more miles than most people who are constantly cleaning and lubing their chain every couple hundred miles.


    Great link from 'ol Sheldon! Everything I've been saying.
    "Chain wear is caused almost exclusively by road grit that enters the chain when it is oiled. "
    Since I oil my chain less often, less grit is entering.

    Did you catch his #1 rule?
    Primitive rule #1: Never oil a chain on the bike.
    Sheldon also agrees with why I don't bother with all that wiping down the chain.
    "Grit adheres to the outside of chains in the ugly black stuff that can get on one's leg, but external grime has little functional effect, being on the outside where it does the chain no harm."
    Sheldon also says
    The downside of oiling a chain is that the oil may carry grit into the interior of the chain, and that this grit-mixed-with-oil will act as grinding compound, causing accelerated wear. Many experts whose judgment I highly respect hold this opinion, but I do not believe that this is always the case. I have no doubt that this "grinding-compound" effect can occur, but the severity of the risk depends upon the sort of dust/soil prevalent in a given area, and, particularly, the oiling technique used -- and on whether the chain is relubricated before it gets very dirty.
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  20. #20
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    Chain lube

    Quote Originally Posted by Lombard View Post
    Hmmm. Well if dirt causes chain wear, what does insufficient lubrication cause?

    Now, if the secret to chain longevity is keeping it as clean as possible, then why not just clean it of all lubricants and not re-lube it? After all, it's lube that attracts dirt and a dry chain won't attract dirt and therefore will never wear out - NOT!!!!!!!
    Actually there was a lubricant and chain wear test done for a bike mag many years ago (I've got a copy of it somewhere; if I find it I'll make a scan of it and post it) where they went without lubricant and measured the wear. Surprisingly little. Lots of noise and friction and galling I suspect, which makes it impractical. They said wax gave the best longevity. They used lubes available at the time like motor oil and gear oil and grease. The thicker the lube the more the wear which they surmised because they attracted the most dirt.

  21. #21
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    Chain lube

    Quote Originally Posted by tlg View Post
    I said over 5000.
    Chain wear is under 1/16" over a 12"

    I don't need to be proud. I get significantly more miles than most people who are constantly cleaning and lubing their chain every couple hundred miles.


    Great link from 'ol Sheldon! Everything I've been saying.

    Since I oil my chain less often, less grit is entering.

    Did you catch his #1 rule?


    Sheldon also agrees with why I don't bother with all that wiping down the chain.


    Sheldon also says
    Yes, putting lube on a dirty chain shortens its life. That's been my experience. Unfortunately, it's a pain and time consuming to clean and degrease the chain, so I don't do it that often and my chain life suffers.

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