In last months bicycle maintenance post I discussed the most important bit of maintenance you can do. Keeping your bike clean. The second most important is keeping it well lubricated. Yet, this is an area where many people make errors that can cause damage to their bikes.
The first most common error is to use WD-40 as a bicycle lubricant. I am ashamed to say that when I first started maintaining my own bike I made this error.
Luckily I soon changed to something much more suitable. The Finish Line wet lubricant. This is the one most experts recommend and has served me very well. It is only £3.50 for a small bottle and it lasts absolutely ages. This can be used on most the moving parts of the bike.
I also use grease for sealed components such as bearings.
Before you read on make sure you clean your bike. If you apply lube to a dirty bike it will simply cause more dirt to stick to it and will wear out your drivetrain.
The chain is what should be lubricated most often. At winter, if you are cycling in the rain for a long period of time you should lubricate your chain as soon as you get home. (After having dried it of course)
In the summer, if you are riding every day, I would lubricate the chain once or twice a month.
To lubricate the chain spin it whilst dripping small amounts of lubricant on chain links. Then shift through all the gears and spin the chain so that it works its way around the different components. Leave the chain to dry and wipe off any excess. The chain should feel only slightly moist to touch.
You won’t need to lubricate the rest of the components as often as the chain but when they start to feel dry or become noisy it is time to add some lubricant.
Brake arms lubrication
With the brake arms you need to be careful not get any lube on the wheel rims or brake pads as this will reduce stopping power. Lubricate the parts demonstrated by the arrows. Apply lube by dripping some on and then working it in with your fingers.
Lubricating the levers
The brake levers should be lubricated as shown. Again only drop small amounts of lube and work it in using your fingers. Move the brake lever to allow the lube to work its way in.
Lubricate the cables
If possible remove cables from their housing and work in some lube using your fingers.
Lubricate the rear derailleur
Apply small amounts of lube to the rear derailleur at the points shown. Then move the derailleur around using your hand to work in the lube.
Lubricating the jockey wheel
The jockey wheel picks up a lot of lube from the chain but it is a good idea to add a tiny bit more onto it. Make sure you spin the chain once you have applied some lube so it can work its way around.
Lubricating the front mech
Lubricate the front mech on the limit screws and pivot points.
Finally wipe off any excess
Bikes really don’t need that much lubricant and any that is needed will sink into the components. The excess will just gather dust and cause problems. This is one of the common errors made by beginners that think more is better. Use a cloth to wipe away any excess.
Just do it!
Don’t just read this blog post and store it away as interesting, new-found knowledge: grab yourself some good lubricant, give your bike a quick clean and re-lube all the parts. It will make it last much longer and run smoother.
- Finish line lubricant on Amazon
- Finish line lubricant on Wiggle
- How to clean your bike
- More bike maintenance tips
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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.