Learning how to lube your chain is one of the most important maintenance tasks that you can do for your bike. Establishing a regular chain lubrication routine does wonders for not only ensuring a quiet, efficient drivetrain but also to achieve the maximum lifespan out of your equipment.
Less is more
The primary thing to remember about chain lubrication is “less is more”. In fact, each rivet/bushing of the chain just needs one drop of lube. Lathering the chain with a gratuitous amount of lube just makes it that much easier for dirt and grime to built up on the chain – which is exactly what you don’t want. That is also why we prefer a lube in liquid form, as opposed to a spray applicator, for the ultimate in precision application.
A tip to make sure you make a complete revolution through the chain is to start the lube application process at the chain’s master link (if your chain has one) and then back pedal the chain as you lube until the master link appears again. It’s easiest to perform this task if the bike’s in a workstand, but it can also be done with the bike leaning against a wall as well. If your chain doesn’t have a master link, it takes approximately 3 full revolutions of the crank arm to run the chain completely through its course.
Wipe off excess
Once lube has been applied, use a clean rag to wipe off any excess lube on the chain and then shift through your gears to make sure the lube makes its way thoroughly into the drivetrain.
Whether you use a wet or dry lube, the application process is the same. The wet lube, opimized for wet/sloppy/muddy/more extreme conditions, will remain wet on the chain while a dry lube, perfect for dry/dusty conditions, utilizes an alchol base that dries and leaves a film on the chain. Ideally, you’ll let a dry-lubed chain sit a few hours before riding after application to ensure the chain is dry and fully set.
How often should you lube your chain?
That depends on your mileage as well as the conditions. When riding lower mileage in dry conditions, you may be able to go multiple weeks while harsher conditions – wet and/or muddy – warrants more regular attention.