How Often Should You Lube Your Bike Chain – Wet Lube Vs Dry Lube To Lube My Chain Properly

It’s neither the pedals, nor the frame, but the performance of your bike depends on the drive chain! Furthermore, the drive chain often receives the most wear, thus keeping it in the best shape is indispensable. And a popular way to take care of the chain is lubrication.

How often should I lube my bike chain? You should lube the bike chain at least once every month. To be precise, you should lube the chain every 150-200 miles to get optimum performance from your bike.  

Now you know how often to lube. But how to lube a bike chain? What type of lube is best for your bike’s drive system? Below in this article, you’ll find all information related to lubricating the bike’s chain and drive system.

how often lube bike chain

Downsides If You Don’t Lube Your Bike Chain

Is chain lube just a scam? Not really! In fact, using a chain lube enhances the lifespan of the drive system while you get better performance from the bike.

Just like every other part of your bike, the chain also experiences wear, and the metal parts are also prone to corrosion. Moreover, a chain wrapped in dust and rust can snap anytime and make your bike unrideable. 

By applying chain lube, you can decrease the friction, and it’ll become easier to push the pedals. Moreover, you’ll see a drastic change in the ride quality after lubing the chain properly.

What Type of Lubricant Should I Use To Lube My Bike Chain

As you know, the advantages of lubing and what can possibly go wrong if you don’t use good-quality chain lube. It’s time to know about the types of chain lubes you can use. 

Well, there are just two types of bike chain lubes available, i.e., dry and wet. While the components of both lubes can be almost similar, their consistency affects their usability. 

Wet Lube 

Wet lube, as the name suggests, is perfect for wet environments. If you ride in an area with a damp environment, lubricating the chain with a wet lube is a good idea.

The lube remains wet and thus, offers maximum protection against water and rust. Moreover, these lubricants do not let moisture penetrate in the rollers and chainplates, making the ride smoother.

However, there are a few downsides to using a wet lube. Since it remains wet, so there will be more accumulation of dust and debris around the chain and the drive system. Moreover, if you try to check the chain, the lube will certainly spread over your hands. 

It is often not the best idea when lubricating your mountain bike chain to use wet lube. As an added tip, wet lube is best reserved for when you have time for it to dry after you lube your chain. This would help chain links to avoid accumulating debris.

I recommend “WD-40 Specialist Bike Chain Lube”, as it’s specially formulated for muddy, wet, and extreme conditions. Moreover, it’s easy to apply and lasts really long. 

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Note: To avoid the chain from catching dust and debris, I wash it frequently, especially after riding the bike on a dusty landscape. Don’t use a lot of shampoos, as it’ll wash away the lube. 

Dry Lube 

If you know a mountain biker, you’ll surely see dry chain lubes in their bike care regimen. The reason why these bikers lube mountain bike chains with dry lubes is because of the dusty environment. 

Unlike wet chain lubes, dry lubes do not catch dust and offer amazing lubrication for longer. Some of these lubes also contain wax that resists water and prevents the penetration of moisture in the rollers. 

On your road bike chain, dry lube can be a very accommodating option on the go. This works best for those doing longer trips and to prevent the bicycle chain from snagging. Since these trips take longer, the wear and tear is higher, but the lube would make this less of an issue.

If you prefer riding the bike in challenging environments, choose a dry lube. 

I recommend Squirt Long Lasting Dry Lube because of its wax-based emulsion consistency. The lube is perfect for rough terrains and trials, including sandy mountains.

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Note: After applying dry lube to the chain, leave it for around 3-4 hours so that the lube settles properly. Also, apply it evenly on the entire chain covering the rollers and other components.

Pros and Cons: Wet vs. Dry Lube 

Type of Chain LubeProsCons
Dry LubeLess accumulation of dirtEasy to apply No hassles of spills and leaks  Requires frequent application It takes time to dry properly 
Wet LubeProtects the chain and components from a moisture It stays in place for longer High resistance against slush, water, and snow Catches more dust The lube may splash on your pants if applied in abundance. 

How to Lube a Bike Chain: The Official Chain Lube Guide For A Mountain And Road Bike

Now you are aware of how often lube a bike chain, when to lube a bike chain, and the type of lubes to use! Let’s talk about how to lube a bike chain properly! There is a series of steps that you need to follow in order to make the lube work effectively and last longer. 

Here’s how I lube my bike chain. Moreover, I’ve attached a video, in case you want a visual representation of the process. 

Step 1: Gather Everything in One Place 

You need a few tools and things to lube the bike properly and conveniently. Below-mentioned are the things you need in one place.

  • A bike chain lube (wet or dry)
  • Degreasing liquid 
  • Clean rags 
  • Bike-repair stand
  • Nitrile gloves 
  • Sponge 

Step 2: Clean the Bike Chain 

Put your bike on a durable repair stand, so that you can use both hands to clean the chain. Grab a pedal and slowly spin it. Now dribble degreaser over the chain, and make sure to cover it entirely. 

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Make sure to wear nitrile gloves when degreasing the chain so you don’t end up with stains on your hands. Next, clean the degreased chain with a clean rag. 

Once done, rinse the chain, and rub it with a sponge with some olive oil over it. 

Step 3: Apply Lube Carefully 

Bring the lube’s bottle tip closer to the drive system, and squeeze it gently. Make sure to move the pedals so that the chain gets coated evenly. Keep rotating the chain so that all links get drenched in the lube.

Also, add some lube over the rollers and chainplates. Clean the excess lube with a clean rag, as it may accumulate dust and debris. 

Step 4: Inspect the Chain 

Clean up the mess, and then inspect the chain properly. Look for any signs of wear, and pedal the bike to test the performance. 

How To Lube A Bike Chain | GCN Tech's Guide To Oiling Your Bicycle Chain

Frequently Asked Questions 

Is it okay to lube a chain with WD-40?

Yes, WD-40 is a fantastic bike lube chain that lubricates the chain well and enhances its lifespan. 

Is Vaseline good for bike chains?

You can use Vaseline or any other petroleum jelly to lubricate the bike chain, but there are a few downsides. As Vaseline is highly viscous, it does not spread evenly. Moreover, it’s sticky, so it catches a lot of dust. Only use Vaseline if you are left with no other option.

However, motor oil might not be the best option if you don’t have time for it to dry.

Does too much lubing harm the chain?

Applying too much chain lube will make the chain sticky, so you have to clean the dust and gunk frequently. Always read the directions of the product to use it properly.

What’s the difference between chain lube and chain wax?

A lube keeps the chain lubricated, whereas wax safeguards the chain from environmental wear. While wax also smoothens the ride but applying it is daunting.

The reason why bike riders prefer lube is because it’s easy to apply and improves the bike’s ride quality.

Final Thoughts 

I hope you’ve got all answers to “how often should I lube a bike chain.” Keeping the chain well lubricated curtails the chances of snapping when you push the bike to its limits. 

Always choose a good-quality lube, and apply it properly following the steps listed in this article. Lastly, lube the chain irrespective of the bike you own, and inspect the chain after every few days.

Enjoy Riding! 

About Martin

I am Martin, I am the author of this blog. My main interests include cycling. That's why this blog was created. I have always been interested in technology and how bicycles are made, so I built one myself.

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