How To Oil A Bike Chain? If your bike has a chain, it will need to be oiled from time to time. Oiling a bike chain is a relatively simple process, and only takes a few minutes. You will need a rag and some bicycle chain oil.
First, find the spot on the chain where the oil will go. Then, put a small amount of oil on the rag and rub it onto the chain. Be sure to get all the links of the chain, and avoid getting any oil on the wheels or frame of your bike.
Let’s dive into our post to know how to lube a bike chain.
- 1 How To Oil A Bike Chain
- 2 Why Should I Clean My Bicycle Chain?
- 3 Should I Take My Chain Off My Bike To Clean It?
- 4 What Should I Do If My Chain Needs To Stay On?
- 5 I Can Remove My Chain – How Should I Clean It?
- 6 The Lazy Way To Clean A Bicycle Chain
- 7 Can A Chain Be Too Clean?
- 8 Conclusion
How To Oil A Bike Chain
Choose The Right Lube
- If you want to bike in wet weather, pick a wet lube. Dry lubricant on a bike chain can be washed away by rain, snow, and slushy roads. Lube that is wet will be more resilient.
Online or in your neighborhood bike shop, you may discover a variety of bike lubes.
- If you reside in a dry climate, use a dry lube. If you’re going to be riding in dry weather, you don’t need wet lubricant because it attracts more dirt than dry lube. Dry lube will help keep your chain cleaner, but you’ll need to reapply it frequently, typically after 50–100 miles (80–161 km) of riding.
- If you ride a bike to get around, get up some wax lubrication. Wax lube is less messy than other types of bike lubrication, so whether you’re riding your bike to work or the store, it won’t get all over your clothes. Due to the fact that dirt and grit are “shed” from the wax compound, wax lube keeps your bike chain cleaner than other types of lubes.
- Avoid using WD-40 to lubricate your bike chain. Use only lubricants made especially for bicycle chains. The lubricant in WD-40, a solvent that evaporates quickly, is very little. The chain may accumulate dirt and filth as a result of this product.
Cleaning The Bicycle Chain
- Use an old rag to apply degreaser spray or isopropyl alcohol. Use a rag that you aren’t very attached to because the chain will make it soiled. A brief spray of degreaser or alcohol should be sufficient; neither substance needs to be used liberally.
You don’t have isopropyl alcohol or degreaser spray. You might be able to simply wipe out the bike chain you’re lubricating with a dry rag if it isn’t so nasty. You should visit your neighborhood hardware shop to pick up a degreaser spray or isopropyl alcohol if there is still filth and grime after.
- Press a portion of the bike chain with the rag. With one hand, secure the rag in place. The area of the rag where the degreaser or isopropyl alcohol was sprayed should be where the chain is touching.
- Move the chain backward until it passes through the rag. With your free hand, hold onto one of the bike’s pedals and turn the pedals backward. The bike’s chainrings should begin to rotate around the chain.
Once the entire chain has passed through the rag in your palm numerous times, keep reversing direction. As the chain rotates, keep the rag in place.
Avoid getting your fingers caught in the space between the chain and chainrings!
- For a speedy fix, use a chain scrubber. A 2-piece plastic chain scrubber is available for purchase if you don’t want to clean the chain by hand. This tool contains revolving brushes that clean the chain and a reservoir with a degreaser that clamps around the chain. Use it according to the directions on the package.
Typically, two sections are slid around the chain, a degreaser is applied to the bottom half, and the chain is then pedaled backward for ten revolutions.
- If your bike chain comes off, put it back on. Pushing the rear derailleur arm—the metal arm on the back tire—into the handlebars will give the chain some slack. Reposition the rear derailleur arm and put the chain back on the chainrings. You should be all set to go if you just pedal the chain a few times!
As far as chain cleaners go, ultrasonic cleaners will perform the best. Although it will be restored to its original condition, not everyone has an ultrasonic cleaner sitting around the house. If you opt to buy one, it won’t cost you much, and you can use it to clean both your chain and cassette sprockets.
To take apart and replace these parts, though, you’ll need some knowledge of basic bike maintenance and the right equipment. If you do get one, make sure the tank is big enough to cover the full cassette and is both wide and deep.
Every time you use it, you’ll need to refill its reservoir with a fresh degreaser, but because of its ultrasonic deep cleaning action, it works wonders in just a few minutes.
Applying The Lubrication
- Thoroughly shake the lubricant container. Give the lube a vigorous shake to combine all of the ingredients since they may have separated while it was sitting on the shelf.
- Apply the lube by squeezing the bottle and reversing the chain. Hold the lubricant bottle so that the chain’s interior is facing the nozzle of the bottle. To make the chain on the bike move around the chainrings, use your free hand to turn the pedals backward.
Squeeze lubrication into every portion of the chain as it passes by as you repeatedly run the chain around the chainrings. As you backpedal the chain, maintain your grip on the lubricant container.
- Put the lube aside and keep moving the chain backward. This will aid in lubricating the chain. At least ten more times with the chain on the chainrings. After that, softly change gears to distribute the oil to the chainrings and cassette gears.
- Use a towel to remove extra lubrication. Reverse the chain while holding the rag against it. Once all of the extra greases have been removed, wrap the chain several times around the chainrings and through the rag.
Do not omit this phase! Dirt and grime may accumulate on the chain as a result of too much lubricant.
Clean The Surface of The Chain of Any Extra Lube.
Although many riders omit this step, it is crucial if you want to properly lubricate your bike chain. Why is it significant? Since there is friction between the chain links, there is no need for extra lubrication to be applied to their exteriors.
Any extra product draws dirt, which over time causes the chain’s performance to degrade. Use an old band t-shirt as your rag and carefully run the chain through it to remove any extra lubrication from the chain’s surface after letting it sit for the night.
Why Should I Clean My Bicycle Chain?
According to independent testing facility Friction Facts’ Jason Smith, a dirty chain results in a demonstrable loss of efficiency.
“The statistics can vary depending on how ‘dirty’ the chain is, but on average, testing reveals a dirty road chain will lower efficiency by roughly 3 to 5 watts (at 250-watt rider output) – about 2% of power loss,” he explains.
A properly maintained and lubricated chain, for instance, uses roughly 7 watts. A few “clean” road rides can result in an additional 3 watts of frictional losses due to light road grit.
This amount rises with grit, according to Smith, who says that riding multiple road rides without cleaning or relubricating can result in losses of roughly 5 watts. We’ve observed muddy chains provide an additional 12 watts of losses over baseline in extreme situations (MTB or cyclocross, for example).
“The sliding surfaces of each chain link experience increased friction when a chain is not properly cleaned and lubricated. The chain snakes through the drivetrain at 95 pm with a 53t front ring, resulting in 40,280 chain link articulations per minute (an articulation is when a link bends into or out of a ring, cog, or pulley). The friction within the links must be kept to a minimum because there are so many links that are continually articulating.
Should I Take My Chain Off My Bike To Clean It?
Everyone has a slightly different opinion on whether the chain should be on or off the bike for a thorough cleaning, according to the how-tos and forums I’ve read.
It used to be standard procedure to remove a bike chain and shake it in a jar of degreaser, but it isn’t as popular today. Our cleaning methods have had to change as chains get more accurate as more gears are added to modern drivetrains.
The chains were normally made to be installed once and then taken off only when they were worn out when 10-speed drivetrains were the norm.
If the chain has a “connection rivet,” you welcome the creation of a weak link every time you remove and install a new connection rivet, according to Calvin Jones of Park Tool. Even a master connection should ideally be left alone.
The superior master links… This functionality can be disabled by turning it on and off repeatedly. Once more, you are producing a weak link.
SRAM and Shimano advise installing a fresh joining link each time a chain is mounted if your links are (officially) non-reusable.
Nevertheless, despite companies’ objections, many riders successfully reuse these “snap-lock” connectors. A set of master link pliers is the ideal instrument to force these free if you do decide to take the chance.
This may be more contentious for older drivetrains with 7, 8, or 9 gears (or ones with reusable 10- or 11-speed links).
Through the included quick-link, chains from KMC, SRAM, and Wippermann can be simply removed from the bike and reinstalled.
What Should I Do If My Chain Needs To Stay On?
A chain-cleaning tool is advised by the majority of bicycle maintenance product manufacturers, including Park Tool and Muc-Off.
Here, the device has revolving brushes that controllably move the degreaser through the chain as it is backed past. Experience has shown that they all perform very similarly, and the only major difference between them is in the way they are built.
Further advocating the use of a “dummy hub” (also known as a chain keeper) in place of the rear cogs is Jones of Park Tool.
This is a popular practice among WorldTour race mechanics and is done particularly to avoid running degreaser through your freehub and rear hub bearings.
Easy access to the derailleur pulley wheels, where gunk is known to accumulate, is a secondary benefit.
Removing the wheel will also ensure that any oil-filled degreaser stays off your disc rotor if your bike has disc brakes. To go one step further, you can seal your brake caliper using a plastic bag and an elastic band. Read more about how to adjust bike brakes
Follow up with a second wash in warm, soapy water after using a chain scrubber and a degreaser. Any remaining grit is flushed out using two different solvents, advises Jones.
Smith of Friction Facts concurs with Jones and Sampson that the ideal solution if the chain must remain on, is to use chain-cleaning equipment. However, he cautions of possible issues when doing so: The chain cannot be immersed in the cleaning solution, first.
Another important consideration is the chain’s tension, says Smith: “The positive tension prevents the chain from becoming slack even though the tension [provided by the rear derailleur cage spring] is light. A chain that is relaxed allows the cleaner to move through the internals more easily than one that is tight.
It’s preferable to do it outside whether you’re using a stiff-bristled brush, a chain cleaning tool, or the tacky sweater you got for Christmas. Chain cleaning is a filthy activity, and it is not recommended to do it over the carpet or indoor floors.
Diesel, benzene, gasoline, and acetone are among the dangerous degreasers Jones advises against using. There are many solutions that are safer and healthier and will thoroughly clean your chain.
A power washer can also take the grease from your bearings if you point it in the wrong way, so resist the urge to use one as a chain cleaner “unless you are ready to overhaul the bike at the same time,” advises Jones.
I Can Remove My Chain – How Should I Clean It?
You’re in the minority if you don’t need to use the chain-breaking tool and have a reusable master link in your chain, but if you do, you can remove the chain and degrease it.
We advise taking the chain off the bike so you can clean it properly, says Jason Smith. A fast link, like the Wippermann Connex Link, makes removal simple. The chain can be cleaned most effectively by putting it in a straightforward, low-cost ultrasonic machine.
“The internal grit and grime of the links are effectively cleaned by the ultrasonic agitation. The chain can be placed in a sealed container with cleaner and vigorously shaken if an ultrasonic cleaner is not available, according to Smith.
Using Simple Green in conjunction with an ultrasonic cleaner, in our experience, has been successful in cleaning the chain and, more crucially, in removing the tenacious grit from the rollers. However, it usually takes several five-minute cycles (or longer) to thoroughly clean a filthy chain.
If you don’t have time for this, you can return the chain to the bike much faster and achieve results that are nearly identical to those of an ultrasonic cleaner.
If you wish to use the ultrasonic cleaner more quickly, scrape the chain with a stiff-bristled brush to restore the outside luster before putting it through the machine. After finishing, clean it with water and use compressed air to air dry it. After that, your chain will definitely sparkle and be brand new.
Whatever you do, avoid letting your chain soak for a long time (days). Degreasers have been reported to corrode metal and cause surface fissures in some terrifying cases.
The Lazy Way To Clean A Bicycle Chain
If you don’t want to deal with the trouble of deep cleaning your chain, regular lubrication and wiping with a clean, lint-free cloth will do.
Some lubes make the claim to be a cleanser and lube all in one, but we’ve found these to be too thin to provide adequate lubrication during prolonged rides. The procedure is the same for any lubrication, though: wipe off the excess before riding.
According to Smith, it’s preferable to lubricate over a dirty chain than not to lubricate it at all.
“Even if re-lubing over a dirty chain, a rider should at the very least re-lube the chain before each ride.” In order to maximize efficiency, Smith advises re-lubricating a dirty chain rather than doing nothing at all.
You’ll probably avoid a lot of filthy chain problems if you take this tip and then run the chain through a clean towel.
Perhaps the greatest thing to do is to prevent becoming lazy. First, Jones advises using less oil while lubricating. Don’t let lube soak into a chain. Put a drop of lubricant along each joint and each link across the roller using a drip bottle. When you spray lube on your chain, it gets there as well, but it also gets all over the side plates and turns the chain into a dirt collector.
Jones continues, “It takes more time to grease every rivet, but it also allows you to inspect each one, and that will help you catch the ‘weak link’ of a burred, bowed or twisted side plate, a mix-pressed rivet, and a tight link
Simply replacing a soiled chain is the laziest way to clean it. Here, Jones gives straightforward advice to check the chain’s wear before every washing because a worn chain is a waste of effort.
When a chain starts to show symptoms of wear, we remove the old cranks and cassette from the bike and thoroughly clean them in a parts washer. By doing this, a new chain gets a good greeting.
Can A Chain Be Too Clean?
Some individuals think that excessive cleaning of a chain will remove the difficult-to-replace manufacturing oil from the rollers. Although it’s crucial to make sure a chain is properly oiled, there’s no danger in having a chain that’s overly clean.
As long as the chain is properly lubricated after cleaning, Smith says, “We don’t feel a chain can ever be too clean.” In reality, when Friction Facts [the UltraFast Optimization process acquired by CeramicSpeed] was in the business of creating chains, we fully stripped the chain using strong solvents. Prior to the lubricating treatment, a bare metal surface was the desired outcome.
Jones just responded, “No, but at some point, you are cleaning just for the fun of it,” when we asked him the same question.
Smith cautions not to wait too long after cleaning the chain before lubricating it: “This minimizes oxidation of a dry chain.”
What about the actual lubricant? Are the ones applied in factories better?
The idea that aftermarket lubes can’t penetrate the supply chain as thoroughly as factory-applied lubes have been refuted, according to Smith. According to testing results, it takes one minute or less for drip lubrication to completely permeate a rotating chain’s internals.
A 5-watt difference has been observed between the fastest and slowest aftermarket lubes, according to Smith, who claims to have conducted numerous tests on chains using factory and aftermarket lubes. We have never, however, witnessed factory lubrication surpass the quickest aftermarket lubes.
Watch this video to easily follow the process
In summary, to oil a bike chain, start by applying oil to the inside of the chain. Then, use a rag to wipe off any excess oil. Next, apply oil to the outside of the chain, and use a brush to spread it evenly. Finally, use a clean rag to wipe off any excess oil.
We hope that this article can help you know how to properly lubricate a bike chain. Thanks for reading!