A Guide To - Chain Lubes

Take a wander over to the cleaning section of your local bike store, yes they do exist some people clean their bikes. Once you locate it you may find a large selection of bike lubes all with a host of different magical properties written on the front.

But is there a difference between them? Which one do you need? And why are there so many of them?

All good questions and hopefully I will be able to provide adequate answers.

Dry

Starting with the most perishable part of the wheel, the tyres, you will be looking for any cracks in the rubber or other deterioration. If you find some it may be time for some fresh rubber.

Dry lube is for dry weather which is why hardly anyone in the UK uses it, that and the fact it is super watery, like milk watery. It does a very good job though as it actually penetrates the part of the chain that needs lubricating the most. The inner face, rollers and pins are the parts that come into contact with the cogs and are under constant friction which is why they need to be targeted.

The downside of this type of lube is that the chain has to be fully cleaned, degreased and dry before it is applied, and the dry lube will be washed away after a good amount of rain or water.

The plus side of this type of lube is that it will not attract grime from the trail so the chain will appear cleaner for longer. If you do decide to use dry lube it is advisable to take it with you on longer rides and apply more if wet conditions are encountered.

Wet

Wet lube is very water resistant to the point of acting a bit like washing up liquid. It works great in really bad winter and wet conditions but the downside is that it picks up grit and mud like glue.

So as tempting as it is to use wet lube all year round, because let’s face it we have about 1 month of dry weather a year. You may actually be doing more damage to your drivetrain and wearing it out quicker than you should.

By all means use wet lube through winter but make sure you wash your bike down properly to remove all the grit and grime and then re-apply it afterwards. It sounds like a massive hassle and counteractive to why you use Wet lube, but in the long run it is cheaper than a new cassette and chain.

Ceramic

Ceramic lube is like Dry lube version 2, slicker, stronger and more effective now with added Nano-ceramics (not joking). It is just as effective at really penetrating the parts of the chain that need it but it is more resistant to water, making it a great lube for road cyclists or gravel bikes and UK riders in general.

It is not as resistant to water as wet lube however so will be washed off in really bad weather conditions.

The Nano technology included in the lube makes shifting a lot smoother and quieter but also adds a higher price tag.

Wax

Much like Corndogs, Twinkies and saying ‘happy holidays’ wax lube is a gift from our American cousins that did not really catch on over here.

It has a high durability rate and is very long lasting in hot, dry conditions, as mentioned earlier this pretty much rules out the UK.

Since Ceramic lube has arrived on the scene wax lube it seems a little like the geriatric grandad sitting in the corner shouting about how great they were back in their day, when in reality they were never that great.

But if you are after a lube that works well after hours of hot weather and sunshine and hate the idea of Nano technology anywhere near you then this lube is the one for you.

Multi – Purpose

These are usually lubes that can’t decide what they want to be or are the result of the manufacturer trying to appeal to that special market of people who are confused by the other lubes and just want something that works dammit!

The consistency of these lubes is usually a little thicker than dry lubes but not quite as thick or dirt attracting as wet lubes. They are usually aimed at mountain bikers as they are most likely to want an add and forget lube, I know I do. They tend to cost more than dry and wet lubes and are a little cagey about what the ingredients are, usually due to same magical ingredient or cutting edge technology. But if it does what it says on the bottle then it could be the ultimate all season, only lube you will ever need.

So there we have it, pretty much all the lubes you should concern yourself with in relation to bike drivetrains. Which one you go for is completely up to you. And remember any lube on your chain is better than no lube.