This is by far the most common question when buying a chain lube for your bike.
Which chain lube should I get?
Dry or wet? Perhaps ceramic?
Since chain lubes are designed for a specific usage, it all depends on your type of riding and your local area. Sometimes you need a dry lube, other times wet lube or maybe even ceramic lube.
Buying Guide : The 3 Different Types of Chain Lubes for Bikes
The words PTFE, Teflon, Paraffin wax, boron nitride, wax and ceramic are enough to confuse most of us who's not a science geek. Today, there are hundreds of chain lube choices available. Sometimes, the more choices we have, the more confused we get.
Here's my top 10 picks for road bike chain lubes.
Best Dry Chain Lubes
1. Finish Line Dry Teflon Lube
Finish Line is the absolute standard in the bike chain lube industry. Their chain lubes truly excel in off-road or extreme conditions where you'd expect to be hit with tons of dust and dirt.
You’ll notice that this lube goes on like water, causing you to doubt how effective it really is at keeping your chain clean. But just give it a moment, preferably left overnight to work its magic.
You’ll see the wet film dry into a waxy glue that sticks to your chain but kicks dirt, grime, and dust off.
This is one of the best dry chain lube around today.
2. WD40 All Conditions Lube
Just as the name implies, WD40’s All Condition’s Lube is perfect for those needing a chain lube for everyday, all conditions riding.
Using specialized lubes can get cumbersome if all you need is a chain lube that gets you from A to B without making a mess of your drivetrain system.
After years of being derided as a primordial chain lube, WD40 has re-entered the market with a PTFE-based formula that is worthy of your consideration.
3. Squirt Long Lasting Dry Lube
Biodegradable chain lubes are certainly hard to come by, but Squirt’s Long Lasting Dry Lube gives those concerned with ecological well-being a solid option for keeping the bike clean.
As a wax-based lube, your chain should stay clean for between 80–100 miles before needing a reapplication.
Some cyclists are reporting great use, north of 200 miles per application, making it an incredible value for the money as well as the environment.
Best Wet Chain Lubes
1. Rock n Roll Gold Lube
Rock n Roll calls itself the king of chain lubes, and with a flashy gold package, who could doubt it?
The better question, however, is whether they stand up to the claim or not.
The Rock n Roll Lube is definitely a solid choice, but many cyclists overwhelmingly agree that this just may be the king of wet lubes.
Rock n Roll is best suited as an all-purpose chain lube for both road and mountain bike, making it a great lube choice if you ride both but don’t want to spend on specialized chain lube for each.
2. ProGold Xtreme Chain Lube
The ProGold Xtreme Chain Lube is specifically designed for those super epic days in the saddle that take you across unknown terrains with harsh weather conditions.
Regardless of whether you’re on the road or trail, the ProGold Xtreme definitely won’t let you down.
It can last for hundreds of miles in unpredictable conditions, both wet and dry before wearing off.
3. White Lightning Wet Lube
White Lightning recently rebranded itself, or perhaps they’d prefer the term redesigned, to better reflect their upgraded lube technology.
Their Wet Ride tech is the perfect choice for those long days riding in the rain, the kind of rides your wife asked you to not do.
But, those epic days are the most rewarding, right?
Using premium synthetic oils and repelling polymers, the White Lightning’s Wet Ride is completely waterproof and knocks out all the squeaks, squeals, and creaks from your drivetrain to keep you going.
Best Ceramic Lubes
1. Muc Off C3 Dry Ceramic Lube
You’ve heard of ceramic lube. Your bike mechanic talks it up. The pros talk it up. Cyclings blogs talk it up. Team Sky uses it.
But, is it worth it?
The short answer is a resounding YES.
Moreover, Muc Off’s C3 Ceramic Lube just may have set the standard for this new class of lube tech.
What’s so great about the ceramic lubricant?
For starters, it’s a fully biodegradable dry ceramic lube that also has fantastic weather resistance properties. The tiny bits of boron nitride actually keep your drivetrain clean. But, just like anything that sounds really, really good, there’s always a slight downside.
You’ll need to let Muc Off cure on your chain for at least four hours before riding. Most people leave them overnight before riding the next morning.
2. Finish Line Ceramic Wax Lube
The most trusted name in bike chain lube enters the ceramic lube market with a ceramic and wax combo.
What’s the big deal about combining wax with ceramic lube?
The major complaint aside from curing time that most riders have about ceramic lube is that it needs to be reapplied quite often. In some cases, every 35 to 40 miles, depending on the riding conditions.
Finish Line realised that by adding wax to the mix, they could extend that mileage, sometimes by twice the distance.
3. Ceramic Speed UFO Drip
Ceramic Speed are innovators in the world of chain lube and were amongst the first to introduce ceramic lubes to cyclists worldwide.
This dry ceramic lube not only keeps the gunk off, but it also quietens the drivetrain and prolongs its lifespan by reducing the frictions between parts.
Ceramic Speed made some interesting claims that the UFO drip lube will have 46% decreased drivetrain wear and can last up to 130miles per application.
Will CeramicSpeed’s UFO Lube make you ride faster?
Well, you’ll need to try a bottle out to discover that for yourself, but their lab reports look good.
1. Molten Speed Wax
The special mention going to Molten Speed Wax. This is an innovative chain lube for those looking to get the best out of their bike gear and legs.
Molten Speed Wax calls this a hot wax lubricant. It needs to be heated up before application, but once on, it stays on for a long time and repels much more than other lubes.
If you don’t mind a bit of prep, this one’s worth it.
Buying Guide - 3 Types of Chain Lubes
If you thought that all chain lubes are created equal, think again!
In the not so distant past, most people figured that WD40 did the trick to get the drivetrain running smoothly.
After all, it was just about getting that squeak out, right?
1. Dry Chain Lube
As the name implies, dry lube is meant to be used in dry conditions.
They're ideal for spring and summer. Ideally, you'd want to lube the chain the night before your ride so that it can penetrate and coat the chain links thoroughly.
There are 2 types of dry lubes : Wax (Paraffin) and Teflon (PTFE).
Teflon is found in most dry lubes today. Even though they do collect more dirt and dust wax lubes , they've a very low friction coefficient, giving you a very smooth chain.
2. Wet Chain Lube
Wet lube is meant for use in wet conditions.
If you live in a damp and humid environment that sees a lot of blustery weather or winter time snow, then consider going the wet lube route.
Wet lubes are usually oil-based. They're thick, sticky and water-resistant. Thicker wet lubes are more water-resistant, but they also attract more dirt.
3. Ceramic Lube
Ceramic lube is the next generation of bike chain lube.
The ceramic lube need to thoroughly penetrate (preferably left overnight) the small bits of your chain such as the pins and rollers. Those are the pieces that need to be cleansed and protected.
Nothing does the job quite like ceramic lube which uses microscopic pieces of boron nitride to keep your drivetrain clean and as frictionless as possible.
Ceramic lubes cost a little bit more than the usual dry and wet lubes. But if you’re running an expensive drivetrain or just care a lot about your road bike, the extra cost is well worth it.
If you want to be really ahead of the curve, then there is ceramic wax lube, a very effective way to keep your drivetrain nice and neat with the best of both chain lube worlds, ceramic and wax.
1. What is the bike chain lube made of?
The ingredients of the chain lube is often a secret. Manufacturers consider them their secret sauce which differentiates them to their competitors.
Having said that, there are several common ingredients are boron nitride, synthetic oils, Paraffin (wax) and Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE). PTFE is more commonly known as Teflon, which is a registered trademark owned by DuPont Co.
Teflon is the same chemical used to coat the non-stick frying pans.
2. How do I apply the chain lube?
Ideally, you'd want to lube your chain when it's clean. But realistically, this doesn't always happen especially if you're using dry lubes.
The chain lubricant might dry off and your drivetrain starts to squeak before the next time you clean your bike.
So here are 3 easy steps to lube your road bike chain.
- 1Use a clean rag and wipe off any grime from the chain. Wrap the rag around the chain and spin your pedal backwards. Use a chain cleaner to get even better results.
- 2Apply a drop of chain lube on every roller (not the face plate).
- 3Wipe off any excess with a rag.
3. How often do I need to lube my bike chain?
It all depends on where you ride. As mentioned above, dry lubes would need more relubing as compared to wet lubes.
As a rule of thumb, you'd want to wipe your chain every 80 to 100 miles if possible. The more you ride, the more cleaning and lubing is needed.
If you start hearing squeaks, then it's time to relube the chain before the squeaks get louder. This is very common especially if you ride in the rain as the rain water tend to wash the lube off the chain.
4. Can I use other types of lubes on my bike chain?
It's not recommended. That's why we've chain lubes for road bikes.
Many beginners made the mistake of using WD-40 to lube their bike chain. Afterall, WD-40 prevents squeaks right?
You'd want to stick with bike lubes if you want to squeeze every bit of mileage from your drivetrain. Avoid motor oils such as engine and gear oils, as they tend to be much heavier than a wet lube and attract a lot of dirt very easily.
5. What factors affect a chain wear?
The main factors that affects a bike chain wear include:
- 1Dirty Chain. The most common factor that affects chain wear is a dirty chain. Keep you chain clean and well-lubed after every ride.
- 2Usage Conditions. Dirt, mud, sand and water can lead to increased friction between the chain links and cogs, leading to faster chain wear.
- 3Drivetrain Conditions. A new chain useed with a worn out cassette/chainring will wear very quickly, and vice versa.
- 4Riding Style. If you pedal with a lot of torque (think of low rpm) or power (think of climbing), the chain will wear quicker. That's why the pros use up to 10 chains throughout the 3 weeks Tour de France.
The best way to extend the chain's lifespan is to have it well lubed and cleaned whenever it's dirty.
You might also want to consider getting a chain checker as part of your bike tool kit.