Lubricating your bicycle chain is part of cycling because it is essential for the performance of the drivetrain. We often get questions like:
- Why should I lubricate my bicycle chain?
- What do I need to lubricate my chain
- Where should I put lubricant on my bicycle chain?
- How do I put lubricant on my bicycle chain?
- How often should I lubricate my bicycle chain?
After reading this you will know everything you need to know about lubricating your bicycle chain.
Why should I lubricate my bicycle chain?
First the most important question; why should you lubricate your bicycle chain? To answer this question, it is good to know how a bicycle chain works in general.
A chain consists of 4 parts:
- Outer links
- Inner links
At each point where the links are connected, there is a pin with a roller around it. It is enclosed on both sides by first an inner link and then an outer link. When you cycle, you pull the teeth of your chainring against the rollers and thus the teeth against the pin. This creates friction of metal on metal, which causes a lot of resistance and wear. To reduce wear and drag, an oil film should be applied between the pin and the roller, green in the picture. This allows the two parts to move smoothly over each other, and wear is minimal.
Many people think that lubricating your chain is mainly against rust formation. This is not the case. A bicycle chain will not rust very quickly if it is properly maintained. You can do this by:
- Dry your chain with a cloth after a wet ride
- Do not leave your bike in the rain for a long time if it does not have a chain guard
What do I need to lubricate my chain?
To lubricate your chain you need the following items:
- 2 microfibre cloths
- Oil or wax
- Optional: brush
Where should I apply lubricant on my bicycle chain?
Now that you know why you should lubricate, it is important to know where to lubricate. It is not necessary to oil the entire chain. As explained above, it is only Important that the oil or wax is between the pin and the roller. This does not have to be on the inner and outer links between the connection points. Often this only ensures that the oil attracts more dirt there and this creates a kind of sandy black paste that only makes the parts wear faster. This is also why we do not sell chain lubricants in spray form. With a spray you have very quickly that the entire chain and even cassette and chainrings are covered with oil and eventually attract dirt.
How do I put lubricant on my bicycle chain?
When cleaning and maintaining a bicycle chain, we proceed as follows:
Step 1: Cleaning
Thoroughly clean the chain and remove all traces of the previous lubricant or dirt. When using wax, cleaning with a dry cloth is sufficient, with oil it is better to use a good degreaser such as our Drivetrain Detox.
Step 2: Rinse and Dry
Rinse the chain and wipe it with a clean cloth. Then let the chain dry completely. Water and oil or wax repel each other. This means that if there is still water in the chain, no oil or wax can get into those spaces between the pin and roller. Ultimately, you will not have the oil where you want it. So always make sure that the chain is completely dry after cleaning.
Step 3: Apply Lubricant
Apply a drop of lubricant to each roller. As we discussed above, oil only needs to be applied on the connection points, so don’t coat the entire chain with the oil.
Let the lubricant soak in. Depending on which product you have used, this can take 1 to 3 hours.
Step 4: Remove excess lubricant
After the oil or wax has been absorbed, wipe the chain with a dry clean cloth. This way you remove all excess lubricant from your chain.
How often should I lubricate my bicycle chain?
Now that your entire chain is properly lubricated, it’s important to make sure it stays that way as well. How often should you lubricate your chain?
We recommend checking your chain after every ride. If the chain feels very dry or if it squeaks when cycling, lubricate your chain. As a ground rule, lubricate your chain every 200 km.
If you often drive in bad conditions, such as through mud and/or rain, you will have to lubricate a little more often, depending on the lubricant. On the back of the packaging of most of our lubricants you will find the recommended interval after which you must repeat the steps above.