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2 parents 3f611f0 + 9ee2f24 commit c4408dd99484ba57725408658cea7668660ac639 @zackham zackham committed Jan 9, 2013
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+layout: post
+title: "Quick Tip: The when, how, and what for lubing"
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+Last week I wrote a quick tip post on how to wash your bike when you don't have a hose. The post sparked some great conversation about the importance of lubing your bike. Due to the conversation I thought it would be a good opportunity to do a follow up piece on that topic. I thought that it would be good to get a professional opinion on the topic, so I reached out to a long time bike mechanic and friend, Thom Kneeland, to get his input.
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+Here's what he had to say on the topic:
+
+When it comes to lubes, there are many beliefs, superstitions, processes, "secret" tricks that exist. Working at, then managing, then owning my own shop, I can tell you that every customer is looking for the magical elixir that allows them to sloppily apply lube whenever they like, however much they want, and have it last forever, run cleanly with zero maintenance, and cost nothing or as close to it as possible. Unfortunately nothing like that exists. Whenever people say they have found the perfect lube and it sounds to good to be true, it is. Most people that have success with any alternative lube system usually achieve their success by finally having a system they follow that provides better results than their previous lack of effort and thought they put into maintaining their chain. It's like dieting. Most people do okay with whatever fad diet that is out there because they are finally paying attention to what actually goes into their body and that alone produces results, albeit short lived and sometimes to harmful effect.
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+Chains are made up of links, pins, and rollers. That's it. The only part that needs lubrication is the space inside the rollers that the pins reside in. Nothing else. Motorcycles use o-ring not to seal out contaminates, but to seal in lube. Most people use too much lube, too often and at the wrong time and without wiping it off as much as possible after lubing.
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+All lubes (heavy, winter, ATB, wet, road, dry, wax, light, whatever) are basically made up of two main components. One is the actual lube. The other is an evaporative carrier. The evaporative carrier essentially thins the lubricant and allows it to penetrate into the rollers and pins and between any and all nooks and crannies. The evaporative carrier then does it's job (evaporates) and leaves the lube to do it's job. Heavier lubes use more lubricant and less carrier. Lighter lubes use more carrier and less lube. Whatever lube you use, the evaporative carrier needs time to dry up and go away, or else it keeps the lube in too thin a state and doesn't allow it to stay in the places it needs to live. pedaling will force the lube to the outer portions of the chain and once there, two things will happen. One is the inner parts of the chain will dry out faster and need to more frequent lubing. Two the now wet with lube outer parts will attract dirt and grime and become the black disgusting messes you see. One more thing about grime on the outside of the chain. A lot of riders will say, "So what? As long as my chain has lube on it, I don't care if it's dirty." Well, all that oily gunk on the outside of the chain does a couple things. It acts as a great cutting compound, wearing your drivetrain components much faster than they should. It also pulls any lube inside the chain to the out side, where it doesn't do any good. Think of throwing kitty litter on an oil spill. It soaks up the oil on the driveway, and not just the surface stuff, but oil down in the concrete. Dirt on outside of the chain works the same way.
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+This is where I always get someone bringing up the Spring Classics bikes, where the mechanics seal in a lubed chain with grease. "They don't care about a black, oily mess of a chain, then why should I?" Because those chains only have to work one day and then they are thrown away. As a bike shop owner, I'd gladly do that for any customer, but I don't think any of them want to pay that much.
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+<img class="postimage" width="700" src="/images/post_images/lube_1.JPG">
+
+Chain lube works best when applied AFTER a ride, to a clean chain. You don't have to remove it and soak it in solvent if you do your chain lubing this way. I never do anything to clean my chain other than run it through a rag after a ride for a few pedal revolutions and my chains are clean and quiet. Shift the bike into the big ring and the small cog. Now put one drop per roller on the chain. Run the chain around a few times after doing so and then give it another wipe with your rag. Thats it. If you need pictures, I'll send you some of my mountain bike after a full season of OBRA mtb racing and my cross bike after a full season of cross. Also, the time to lube a chain that hasn't been washed is whenever you hear it. It can look dry and even feel dry, but if it doesn't sound dry, then don't lube it. If you wash a bike with soap and water (like Dawn, or something that cuts grease) or it gets the pro mechanic pressure wash, then let it dry and lube it then. Otherwise, don't sweat it.
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+The lube manufacturers bank on riders forgetting to deal with their bike until right before they ride and so they always market chain lubes as super clean, or self cleaning, or shit like that. All that means is the lube falls off the chain easier, taking the dirt with it. Wax is the best at falling off a chain, that's why so many riders swear by it. It does actually kinda clean the chain as you ride. It also does a pretty crappy job of lubing. The good ones use the wax in the evaporative carrier and if you apply it after your ride, the wax will stay on the outside of the chain. If you put it on before your ride, all the lube and wax will fling off your chain, leaving it clean, but squeaky and you'll have a waxy build up all over your bike, chainrings, pulleys, and derailleurs.
+
+Pledge is a cheap, over the counter, aerosol form of wax based lubes with a pretty fast acting evaporative. It also, like all aerosols, goes everywhere and is really good at messing up disc brakes and pads. Its a dry climates answer to the PNW's home brew lubes of motor oil cut with mineral oil.
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+<img class="postimage" width="700" src="/images/post_images/lube_2.JPG">
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+I like a heavier lube and my favorite is the Motorex Wet. I use it on everything and all over Oregon's climates and soils without ever changing my process. It lasted through a wet 3hrs of the Mudslinger which was the wettest, muddiest mtb race I've ever done and it lasted through all the dry, dusty Bend mtb races. No squeaks. But ultimately, you could use most anything. The lighter stuff won't last as long as the wet and the wax ones are basically just light lube with a built in feel good for the dust. I think they are pretty much snake oil, but if you have a system that works for you because you adhere to it, then by all means, go ahead. Just don't expect to walk into the dollar store and walk out with a lemon scented genie in a bottle that will cure all your chain woes. Cleaning and lubing a chain is just like dealing with your bathroom. Do it often and it's easy and doesn't take long. Let it go and it's a nasty job.
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+Thom
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+After reading Thom's thoughts I realized that I am currently or have been guilty of most of what he described. Also, there's a lot more to this topic than I had previously considered and really good food for thought. I hope that it helps you with keeping your bike rolling smoothly and quietly!
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+You can find out more about Thom and his shop by checking out his website: <a href="http://sc-velo.com/">Service Course Velo</a>, and following him on Twitter at <a href="https://twitter.com/SCVelo">@SCVelo</a>.
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+If you have any questions about *{{ page.title }}* email us at <a href="mailto:info@ridewithgps.com">info@ridewithgps.com</a>
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