apply lube bike chain

How Often Should You Lube Your Road Bike Chain & How To Do It Properly

Lubing your road bike chain is essential if you want to experience optimal performance and prolong the chain’s lifespan. If you are sure about how to go about it, worry no more. The below article will address the topics’ how often should I lube my bike chain?’ and ‘how to lube a road bike chain.’ Read on to get a detailed insight.

How Often Should I Lube My Bike Chain?

How Often Should I Lube My Bike Chain?

You should lube you’re your bike regularly throughout the week if you ride your bike frequently. Among all bicycle parts, the drive chain receives the most wear because the chain is always in constant motion, grinding against the other components of the drive train. Since the chain is open, it gets exposed to many elements like dirt and grit that can damage it.

Therefore, you should adequately lubricate the road bike chain to optimize performance and protect the drive train (derailleurs, rear-wheel gear, and crankset) from wear. If you ride your road bike under challenging conditions, like riding in the rain or off-road biking, you should clean and lubricate your bike’s drive chain after use.

It is also good maintenance practice to clean and lube the drive chain if it sounds noisy, the chain links bind, or it becomes dry. If you do not use the road bike regularly, make sure you lube the chain at least once every month.

When To Lube Bike Chain

When to lube your road bike chain depends on a variety of factors, including;

  • The condition of the road bike chain – If you hear a squeaking sound when pedaling, or notice rust on some parts of the chain, then you must lube the chain.
  • After riding under challenging conditions. If you ride through mud or dust or under rainfall, cleaning and lubing the bike chain is necessary to remove all the dirt residue.
  • Suppose you have stored your bike for a long time. Maybe you had traveled abroad for your extended holiday, and you are now back to your routine. Make sure you lube the chain because long storage may render existing lube useless.
  • Lube the bike chain if you replace the old one with a new one.

The best time to lube your bike is after riding. You get ample time to degrease, clean, and lube the chain. Park the road bike and let the lube penetrate the drive chain. If you lube before riding, you may do it in a hurry and end up applying the lube unevenly.

when to lube bike chain

When to Lube the Chain for Regular Bike Commuters

If you commute regularly using your road bike, you should lube your bike at least twice throughout the month to maintain maximum protection and optimal performance. However, how often you lube your road bike largely depends on the weather conditions and terrain you ride in. 

If you ride your bike in urban areas, there is minimal chance of attracting much dirt so that the lube will last longer.

When to Lube the Bike Chain for Other Types of Road Cycling

If you indulge in high-performance off-road cycling, the chain will likely attract more dirt, and you will have to lube your bike several times throughout the month.

person riding bike forest when to lube bike chain

Beach riding also requires you to clean and lube your road bike chain regularly to remove the sand. If you are a professional rider, your bike has to deliver optimally all the time when you are indulging in routine training or competing.  

Benefits of Lubricating Your Road Bike Chain

The benefits of lubricating your bike chain include;

1. You Extend the Lifespan of the Chain

The main chain issue is friction between the chain and cassette, plates, rollers, crank rings. Lubricating eliminates this and helps prevent fast wear and tear. You get to extend the chain’s lifespan and save money to acquire another chain.

2. Added Protection from Environmental Conditions

The condition of the terrain and the weather conditions work against your chain. Sand and mud increase friction and wear. On the other hand, snow, rain, and climate or road salt will make the chain rust. Lubing regularly helps protect the chain from the above conditions.

3. Reduce Chain Noise

The first and most obvious sign of a dry chain is its noise. When the lubricant runs dry, you hear a squeaking sound when pedaling. Make the chain quiet by cleaning and lubricating.

4. Better Gear Shifting

Proper shifting of gears is a key performance factor. A dry chain will undermine the shifting process, reducing efficiency and thus making you slower while on the road. Regularly check the lube and apply if necessary.

Should You Oil Your Bike Chain?

It would be best to oil your bike chain because it ensures that the moving parts of the drivetrain get to move smoothly, reducing friction, hence tear and wear. Lubing makes your road bike less chunky. Additionally, you get to shift the gears more efficiently, making the overall riding experience more enjoyable.

How to Lube a Bike Chain

What to Use to Lube Bike Chain

There is a wide variety of bike-specific lubes, including dry, wax, wet, and ceramic lubes.

1. Wet Lube

Wet lube is ideal if you ride in wet conditions. However, you can apply it throughout the year, regardless of riding conditions. It contains a mixture of large proportions of high viscosity synthetic oils and additives. Wet lube lasts longer and cannot get washed off if you encounter water.

man riding bike puddle wet lube bike chain

2. Dry Lube

If you regularly ride your bike in dry conditions, dry lube is ideal for your bike chain. It is composed of 90 percent fluid and 10 percent lubricant (additives and synthetic oil). Since dry lube is a lower viscosity lubricant, it reduces friction as it attracts fewer contaminants.

bike on dirt dry lube bike chain

3. Ceramic Lubes

Ceramic lubes feature both dry ceramic and wet lubes that help reduces friction.

4. Wax Lubes

Wax lubes are composed of paraffin wax mixed with a carrier fluid and additives like PTFE. When applied, wax lube settles to form an almost dry layer that enhances low friction on the chain.

Can I Use WD-40 As Chain Lube?

You can apply WD-40 on your road bike chain. This water-based lubricant offers the right proportions of lubrication that help keep the chain rust and corrosion-free. It is light in nature and lasts longer if you are riding in dry conditions.

Additional use of WD-40 for your chain includes washing the chain before lubricating and removing rust from the drive chain. WD-40 is easy to apply because you only have to spray the lube between the chain’s components.

You cannot use WD-40 alongside any other lubricant because it will remove them. If you wish to apply a different lube, ensure you altogether remove all the WD-40 products.

WD-40 bike chain lube

Is WD-40 Chain Lube Any Good

WD-40 is suitable for your chain because you can use it to clean the bike chain and the primary lube. Clean off dirt, gunk, and grime. Additional advantages of this unique blend of lubricants are that you can use it to eradicate rust and as a degreaser.

Bike Chain Lube, Dry vs. Wet

When choosing the lube to use for your road bike, you should consider the riding conditions of the road or terrain. Dry lubes are clean and easy to apply and have good penetration capabilities. 

They attract less dirt even when you apply them repeatedly. They are ideal to use in dry conditions, especially during summer and spring. Ride through dusty and dry conditions without worrying about dirt accumulation.

On the other hand, you can use wet lubes in all weather conditions. However, they are best suited when riding during winter and autumn because of their water-resistance capabilities. The lube will not get washed off when you are riding through a rainstorm and lasts longer regardless of the condition.

The downside of wet lube is that its sticky nature can attract dirt. If the dirt builds up, it increases the friction between drive chain components, leading to wear. On the other hand, dry lube does not last long, and you will have to apply it regularly.

What Parts Of A Road Bike Should I Lube?

For your bike to deliver top-notch performance, you have to lube various moving parts. They include;

  • Chain
  • Clipless pedals
  • Cables
  • Brakes
  • Suspension fork
  • Pivot points
  • Derailleur pulleys
  • Seatpost
bike chain where to lube

Lubing the above parts ensures smooth movement. Consequently, you reduce the friction and guard the components against wear and tear. The overall advantage is that you prolong the lifespan of the above part and avoid the cost of maintenance.

Steps of How to Lube a Road Bike Chain

Routinely lubing your road bike chain is vital if you want to prolong its lifespan. Follow the below lubing procedure, master it and use it to lube the drive chain routinely.  

1. Choose a Bike Lube

When choosing the type of lube to buy, make sure you take into consideration the riding conditions. Choose between wet, dry, and wax lubes. There is also a list of substitute lubes below in case you run out of the primary lube.

2. Clean the Bike Chain

Follow the below method to clean your bike chain;

  • Spray the degreaser directly toward the chain, and all the dirt falls off. Wipe the chain with a rag to ensure there is no residue left behind.
  • If you don’t want to use a rag, acquire a chain scrubber or toothbrush to rub of dirt.
  • After degreasing, you can clean your bike using water and let it dry completely before applying lube.

3. Apply Lube

apply lube bike chain

First, shake the container containing the lube thoroughly to mix the various ingredients. Secondly, squeeze the lube out of the container and simultaneously apply the lube as you backpedal. Do this several times until the chain is wholly lubed. Afterward, set the lube aside and continue backpedaling to help the lube penetrate through the chain.

How to Degrease and Lube Bike Chain

The whole lubing process includes degreasing, cleaning, and then the actual lubing. To degrease your road bike, spray the degreaser on an old rag, grab the chain in between the rag and rotate the chain. It helps remove all the accumulated particles. Afterward, ensure all the dirt is eliminated by cleaning the chain using soapy water and wiping it with a dry cloth.

After degreasing and cleaning, apply the lube by pouring it onto the chain as you rotate the pedals. Rotate the chain several times when you are using the lubricant and after to ensure proper lubrication.

How to Re-Grease Bike Chain

Re-greasing your bike chain is vital as it removes grit and dirt that have accumulated over time. First, wipe the chain using a dry rag, or scrub off the residue with a toothbrush. Afterward, wash the chain with water to remove any remaining dirt and let the chain dry before applying your lube.

How to Lube Bike Chain Without Stand

It is possible to lube your road bike if it does not have a kickstand. Squat while holding your cycle and spray/ apply the lube to the visible parts of the chain. Afterward, push the bike forward and repeat the process until the entire chain is lubed.

Alternatively, ask your friend for help and have them lift the rear wheel for you. Apply the lube as you rotate the pedals.

Bike Chain Lube Substitutes

If you do not have an alternative for your bike chain lube, you can use vegetable oil, 3-in-one oil, wd-40, machine oil, gear oil, motor oil, or chainsaw oil. Only use these substitutes when your regular lube runs out and you have no other choice. Strive to use only one type of lube for your bike chain.

Bike Chain Lube vs. Grease

Greasing your bike before lubing helps eliminate the dirt and grit that have accumulated on the bike chain. However, after degreasing, rinse the chain with water and let it dry before applying lube to remove any remaining grit. Do not use grease and lube simultaneously because the lube will wear off quickly, undermining the performance of the bike chain.

Do I Need To Lube My New Bike Chain?

When you bike a new bike, the chain comes pre-lubricated. The grease-type lubricant gets installed at the factory. Do not remove the lube immediately after you buy. Do not apply any other lube to the new chain because any other wet lube will dilute the factory lubricant. You can use the lube for several hundred miles before it diminishes.

Lube Bike Chain with Motor Oil

You can lube your bike chain with motor oil, but it is not advisable because it is too thick. It will not penetrate the inner components of the chain. It is also not ideal because the additives in the oil, such as extreme pressure additives, tackiness agents, and deactivators, do not protect against wear. They do not reduce friction, and hence overall performance gets diminished.


The above article has sufficiently covered the topic how often you should lube your road bike chain and how to lube a road bike chain. You can use several types of lubricants, including wet, ceramic, wax, and dry lubes. The most elaborate process of lubing your road bike chain is first degreasing (where necessary), cleaning the chain until it is scorched and then applying the lube as you rotate the chain several times.

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