Keeping your bike well lubricated is probably one of those maintenance tasks that too frequently gets forgotten. But why does it matter? Which lubricant should you be applying? How frequently? Where? How much lube does a bike need?
Why should I bother to apply lubricant?
We’ve all been told we should keep our bike chains well lubricated. However, without knowing why, it’s too easy to think: “Nah, I don’t think I’ll bother with that fuss”. The benefit of lubricants is that they reduce the friction between the moving parts of your bike. Essentially making them last longer.
The main parts that wear away are the chain and the cassette. Replacing them both costs around £40 for the parts and at least another £30 for labour, if you are using a bike shop for the repair.
Also, a bike lube normally makes things a lot less squeaky providing you with that dreamy silent bike that glides through London.
Which bike lubricant should you be applying?
Right, so you know why bike lube is important (saving money) and now you need to know which lube to buy. Off you run to the nearest bike shop to buy bike lube but then you are presented with another problem. There are both dry and wet lubes available. Which one do you need? Afraid to look silly in the bike shop you turn to your favourite cycling blog; London Cyclist.
Essentially, during the winter you need a wet lube. This is ideal for rainy places like London. For a tube that will last you about 2-3 years you’ll pay £3.99 on Wiggle or £8.48 on Amazon. Or you can head in to your local bike shop armed with the knowledge of which lube you need.
If you are reading this blog post from a beach sipping on a piña colada and tanning your big cycling thighs then the chances are you’ll need a dry lube. These are ideal for drier climates and in dusty conditions. These bike lubes penetrate quickly and repel dust. The only downside is that in the rain they’ll wash away far more quickly than a wet lube. I recommend the Finish Line Dry Teflon Lube which costs £3.99 for the small bottle of 60ml or £6.99 for the 120ml.
As a general rule: Wet lube = winter. Dry lube = summer.
Alright, Andreas I’ll do it! How long is this going to take?
The problem with applying lube is it needs to be applied on a clean bike. Otherwise, the lube will just attract dirt and soon you’ll be wearing out your bike worse than if you just left it as it is. Therefore, lubricating your bike also means giving it a thorough clean. Fortunately, we’ve got a good article on how to do this. Once your bike is clean (20-25 minute job) and dry then lubricating it will take about 2 minutes.
How frequently should you apply lube?
Little and often is the quick answer. Some people will do this after every ride where the bike gathers muck but once every two weeks would be great, depending on how much riding you do and the conditions (winter = more often). The best thing to do is to put a recurring reminder with an alarm in your calendar and that will remind you it’s time to give the bike a quick once over.
How much lube should you apply to your bike?
Less than you think. Normally people put way too much and the lube ends up getting on your clothes and your bike gets really dirty as all the road muck starts sticking to the lube.
Where should you apply lubricant?
Starting at the chain apply a small amount of lubricant in to each link. Back pedal the chain so that the lubricant spreads around. Then, use a rag to wipe away any excess lube that hasn’t seeped in to the links.
Apply a little bit of lube with your fingers to the front and rear derailleurs.
Also apply a little to the rear derailleur’s jockey wheels.
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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.