how to choose lube for bicycle chain

How to Choose Lube for Bicycle Chain | Buyers Guide 2022

Owning a bicycle is easy but maintaining it to enjoy the best riding experience is another thing. There are many steps and aspects of a bicycle maintenance routine, and lubricating the chain is among them.

A well-lubed chain not only offers phenomenal performance but also lasts for a long time without suffering from wear and tear. If you are eager to buy but don't know how to choose lube for bicycle chain, you have come to the right place.

In this article, we have explained every little detail so that you can choose the most suitable one without any difficulty.

How to Choose Lube for Bicycle Chain: Everything You Should Know

What is a Bike Chain Lube Made of?

Before discussing the ingredients of a chain lube, you must know that different types available in the market to maintain chain and drivetrain perfectly. And as there are different types, the ingredients in these lubes vary quite often.

For instance, Teflon based lube (mostly labeled as PTFE or polytetrafluoroethylene) contains a complex mixture of perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) with Teflon to provide that slip and smoothness in the chain.

This lube usually has a low coefficient of friction when used between two solid objects and, therefore, doesn’t cause wear and tear on the chain as quickly.

On the other hand, Wax-based lubricants come in different mixtures depending on the surface you intend to use it on. However, the main ingredient remains the same, which is wax.

Wax-based lubricants are usually a mix of highly refined paraffin wax particles with additives, including PTFE and a carrier fluid.

This type of lube keeps away dirt and dust and keeps running smoothly for an extended period.

Additionally, the oil-based bicycle lubricants are usually a mixture of different oil types and heavier than the other types of lubes out there.

What Are the Different Types of Lube?

We have mentioned earlier that there are different types of lubes available in the market to choose from. Below, we have talked about types in detail to understand them better and pick the right one for you.

Dry Chain Lube

Dry Chain Lube

As the name suggests, dry lubes are specially formulated for riding in dry, dusty conditions.  Even though this wax-based lubricant is wet when you first apply it to the chains, it dries out super quickly to smoothen the chain without resulting in any greasiness and oiliness.

One advantage of this lube is that it is super lightweight and therefore, it doesn’t stick dirt and dust on the chain, which helps to run smoothly in favorable riding conditions.

However, this lube is less durable and can be easily washed away in the rain or with water.

Wet Chain Lube

Wet Chain Lube

Unlike the dry lube, wet lubricants are oil-based (combined with anti-friction components) and never dries out; this specially designed lube remains wet on the chain and works exceptionally well in wetter riding conditions.

If you are someone who loves to ride in the rain or on icy, wet roads, then this is just the right one for you. It repels water and helps to keep the chain away from grime and eventual rust.

One disadvantage of wet lube is that it accumulates dirt and dust easily and doesn’t keep the drivetrain clean. You need to clean your drivetrain regularly and lubricate it again for the best performance.

Ceramic Lube

Ceramic Lube

The third type is a mixture of both the dry and wet ones is ceramic lube. Even though this particular kind of lube is the most expensive one available in the market right now, they offer the best properties to the users.

The ceramic lube's chemical composition makes sure that it doesn’t wash away quickly and actually remains on the chain for more extended performance.

It is also a low friction lubricant, which means that it causes less friction between the chain components and limits to wear and tear.

Wet or Dry: Which Chain Lube Should You Use? : Wet Lube Vs. Dry Lube

Even though both of these lubricants have the same ultimate goal of providing lubrication for the bicycle chain, the wet and dry lube has very different properties and formulations.

For instance, a dry lube is a wax-based formula that is designed, keeping in mind the dry riding conditions. As a result, it dries out quickly on the chain and offers less friction for long-lasting performance. This special feature decreases pedal efficiency and makes it easier for you to ride, even with high speed.

However, this lubricant doesn’t last for long and needs frequent application. Also, as it takes time to dry out, you just cannot apply it and take your bike for a ride immediately afterward.

On the other hand, as the name suggests, the Wet lube is a wet formula with oil. This will never dry off and promises to deliver excellent performance.

Because of its oil-based formulation and never-drying characteristics, this lubricant is suitable for wet conditions and doesn’t wash away quickly, even in heavy rain. But then again, wet lubes tend to attract more dirt and dust and need regular cleaning.

Now that you know the advantages and disadvantages of these two types of lubes and their most suitable riding conditions. It would help if you decided which one you must use on your bike’s chain, depending on your maintenance regimen and the conditions you ride on.

What Factors Affect Bikes Chain Wear?

In addition to time, a few other factors affect the bike chain and cause it to wear faster than usual. Let’s discuss these factors to avoid it precisely to increase the chain's durability and the bicycle as well.

Dirty Chain

When you ride regularly or park it in your garage, it will most definitely accumulate dirt and dust. One of the main reasons chain wears off is because of this accumulated dirt.

The dirt and grime clog cogs and don’t let these cogs gasp as firmly as they would otherwise. This affects the chain’s movement and causes it to wear off quickly.

Riding Style

Another factor that affects the durability and well-being of the chain is your riding style. If you tend to go for long-distance riding regularly, you should keep in mind that the chain will meet and attract a lot of dirt and soil along the way and make it dry.

A dry chain not only makes an annoying sound but also damages quickly.

Why You Need a Bike Chain Lube

Lubricating chain has more benefits than you could have ever imagined. It not only extends the durability and provides a smoother ride. But it has numerous advantages to blow your mind. Some of the most prominent benefits of outlined below:

Why You Need a Bike Chain Lube


One of the most incredible benefits of lubricating your bike chain regularly is that it protects from regular wear and tear and keeps it in precise condition. When you apply the solution, it helps to cause less friction and hence results in less wear as long as the lube lasts.

Extend Durability of the Chain

One of the main problems that chain suffers from is the friction caused by metal on metal; because of this friction, especially in the dry one, the chain wear and tears quickly, causing you to change completely.

But then again, when you lubricate it perfectly, the lube prevents the rubbing of metal actively and, hence, helps extend durability.

Power Saving (in Electric Bicycles)

Another advantage of chain lubrication is that it saves a lot of power in electric bicycles. Even though the pedal-power is provided by the electric motor, it still needs a bit of pedaling to move forward. The chain normally consumes around 20 watts of power when it is dry and not lubricated enough causing your battery to run out quickly.

However, when you lubricate it perfectly, the chain rolls faster with little to no restriction- this helps the pedaling to consume less energy and hence, saves a lot of energy and money.

Reduce Chain Noise While Riding

The first sign of chain dryness is the clicking sound it makes. Then, when it is extremely dried out, it starts to make a loud squeaky sound when you ride the bike- this sound is not only disturbing, but it is also embarrassing, mostly when you ride with peers.

But when you apply a suitable lubricant, it will make it moist and quickly eliminate the dryness. A moist chain will not make any disturbing sound even when you ride at an intense speed.

Prevent Against Harsh Environmental Conditions

Your bicycle chain can get affected severely when you ride through adverse environmental conditions such as on muddy, sandy, and swampy, or waterlogged roads. These roads help the chain accumulate dirt and water and let it suffer from rust and corrosion.

When you use a wet lube before riding through such roads, it not only protects but also keeps away rust and corrosion afterward.

What Should I Consider When Buying Bike Chain Lube?

If you think what’s there to consider when buying a chain lube- a lube is a lube, then you are entirely wrong. There are more than a few factors that you must consider before buying. Let’s discuss these factors in detail...

What Should I Consider When Buying Bike Chain Lube?


One of the significant aspects you should keep in mind when is its application process. As all the lubricants don’t have the same application process, how long it will take and how well your chain will turn depends on how you apply the lube.

While some come in spray bottles, others come in drip bottles. There are also more than a few lubricants that use pads and brushes for the application process. You should choose the one that you think would be most suitable for you.

Reapplication Time

Another thing that you must keep in mind while purchasing a lube is how long it lasts and how often you should reapply it to enjoy phenomenal services. Some lubricants serve your bike chain for months, while others last for a couple of weeks.

If you are someone who loves to take care of their bicycle every week or every other week, lube with a shorter lifespan would be the perfect choice for you.

Boiling Point and Freezing Point

You must always remember that heat is always formed when metal parts move and contact one another. Therefore, when you ride rigorously, the chain uses more power and generates more heat to work properly.

If you ride intensely more often than not, then a lube with a high boiling point and low freezing temperature would be the best pick for you because it would not melt away and keep the chain moist and running even when you are riding very high speed.


Viscosity measures the density of the oil. With the viscosity, we determine how thick the oil is. If you ride in dryland or dusty conditions, then light oil (with lower viscosity) would be the right choice for your bike chain because it would keep lubricated but won’t attract dirt and dust towards it.

On the other hand, when you love to ride on wet and muddy roads, you must choose a lubricant with high viscosity as it can repel water and keep the chain away from rust and corrosion for extended durability.

Thermal Stability

While buying, make sure that it comes with thermal stability. This is because both low and high temperature has the potential to damage.

A lube with thermal stability will keep the temperature stable and won’t damage the chain even when there is a fluctuation in the heat level.

Hydraulic Stability

Hydraulic stability is the ability of lubricants to remain intact when it comes in contact with water. Buy a lube that has excellent hydraulic stability because, otherwise, the water might get inside the chain and damage it eventually.


Demulsibility is the ability of an object to release water. When the lube comes in contact with water, it can absorb the water because of its demusibility.

If the bike lube is not demulasiable, it will start to form foam when it comes to water and causes the chain to wear rapidly. That’s why you must choose a lube with excellent demusibility to extend durability.

Corrosion Prevention

You must check if the components in it are corrosion resistant or not. Then, choose the one that is corrosion resistant to keep corrosion and rust at arm’s length.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Often Should You Lube Your Bike Chain?

How often you should lube entirely depends on your riding style and your maintenance routine.

However, it would be best if you remembered that regular lubrication is the key to maintaining durability and reliability. If you clean and lube it more often than not, the chain will not only provide excellent performance but at the same time would also make sure that it doesn’t suffer from any wear and tear.

Therefore, we would suggest you lubricate regularly to maintain its phenomenal performance.

Is WD40 Good for Bicycle Chains?

First, you must know that the WD40 is a degreaser, and the solvent that is used loosen any tight spots on the chain. It is an excellent option if you want to get your bike moving on an emergency basis.

However, before using this solvent, remember that it leaves behind a dirty, dry chain that is very hard to move when it evaporates from the bike surface.

Because of such a prominent drawback, we would advise not to use the Wd40 if it is not extremely necessary.

Can I Use Other Types of Lubes on My Bike Chain?

Aside from dry, wet and ceramic lubes, few other types of lubes like aerosol and grease are available in the market to run smoothly.

But we don’t recommend using either the grease or the aerosol lubricant on it because of the set of cons they come with. While grease is too thick and doesn’t penetrate the chain precisely, the aerosol lubes are difficult to apply perfectly.

And because of such drawbacks, it is not advisable to use other types of lubes on the chain if you want to maintain its longevity.

Wrapping Up

It doesn’t matter what type of bicycle you own or your riding style; the right lubricant will always help you maintain it perfectly. So that it lasts for an extended period and provides you an excellent riding experience every time you ride.

With the above guide's help, find the right chain lube for your favorite bicycle and enjoy it fully.

About the Author Zachary Anderson

Hi, I am Zach who is behind I am a fitness geek. I love to ride bicycle regularly to be fit everyday. In winter when riding is impossible in cold then I love to workout at home using indoor exercise equipment. I also love to write in blog to share my knowledge in cycling & workout segment. I hope my articles will help you to be fit in any weather.Thanks!

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