Your chain needs regular lubrication to prevent dryness causing friction between moving parts and the dreaded orange hue of rust.
There are various different styles of chain lube – the clearest distinction being between wet and dry lube.
As a rule, wet lube is used in wet weather. It is thick and gloopy, and keeps water from getting into the chain and causing rust.
The disadvantage of wet lube is that in dry, dusty conditions, the thick gloop picks up grime.
Dry lubes are not as thick, and don’t pick up as much muck from the road, but they will wash off more quickly in wet conditions.
Wax lube, which maintains a waxy residue, doesn’t pick up as much road grit, but does need re-applying as frequently as every 50 miles or so.
Finally, Ceramic lube is long lasting even in damp conditions, without picking up too much grime - it’s generally a couple of pounds more expensive, but won’t break the bank.
All chain lubes need to be applied to a degreased and dry chain – applying them to a dirty chain effectively creates an exfoliator for your drivetrain - not good.
Here are some of the best bike lubes…
Muc-Off Bio Wet Lube - £4 for 50ml
This wet lube from market leaders Muc-Off is formulated to keep going on long, wet and muddy rides. It’s suitable for mountain biking, cyclcrossing, and road riding – and repels water to help keep shifting smooth in the wet. This biodegradable product will break down over time, so you know you and your bike aren’t leaving traces of lube on the roads and trails for evermore. A pipette application system should make it easy not to overspread.
Muc-Off Bio Dry Lube - £4 for 50ml
The dry lube Muc-Off offer comes in equally swanky looking packaging and this time efforts are concentrated into creating a lube that penetrates the chain links where it’s really needed, without sitting on the surface of the chain. The same pipette system and biodegradable promises apply.
Juice Lubes Chain Juice Ceramic - £10 for 130ml
Suitable for all styles of riding, from road to MTB and BMX, this Chain Juice Ceramic offering from Juice Lubes is designed for dry to damp conditions. The ‘chain juice’ (also great for those who feel weird having lube sitting in the porch) forms a laminar plate over the chain which reduces friction, rust and corrosion, without providing a magnet for grime.
Juice Lubes – Viking Juice - £10 for 130ml
Ideal for any style of riding, this Viking lube received an epic review from Singletrack magazine, following a 400 mile XC ride when they called it: “the holy grail of chain lubes". It is designed to cope in wet and dry conditions, so if you’re after just one bottle to meet all needs, this could be it.
Finish line Wet Lube - £5.99 for 120ml
The Wet Lube from Finish Line has been an industry favourite for years, and it’s often on display in your local bike shop for loyal users. Finish Line’s Wet lube is super durable even when the rain hammers down, and as the ‘cross country’ name suggests, it will keep going as long as you do. This lube uses 100% synthetic oils with anti-wear additives to create a resilient mixture.
Finish Line Dry Teflon Lube - £6.27 for 120ml
The Finish Line Dry Lube doesn’t attract grime like a wet lube, and works its way into the chain links to offer protection where it is needed. Synthetics oils are used and this lube resists water, to avoid rust.
Squirt Chain Lube - £7.99 for 120ml
This (interestingly named) wax based lubricant is a dry lube that has been developed for road and MTB use, in a range of conditions – and they claim this lube doesn't require a good degrease before application. This is due to the composition which does not promote the build-up of dirt – so it might be the one for you if you’re not big on bike cleaning!
Lube is one part of the process - a clean bike runs smoothly, check out our hints and tips for cleaning your bike.