35. How to Choose the Right Lubricants
An overview of 3 essential types of lubrication, complete with brand recommendations.
In today’s tutorial we’ll take a look at lubricants. Please keep in mind that none of these companies are paying me to recommend their products… these are all brands that I trust and recommend after years of heavy use in the bike shop. There are three main types of lubrication you should have: light oil, chain oil, and grease.
When I talk about light oils, I’m referring to a product called TriFlow. There are many other types of traditional light oil available, but a lot of these are vegetable based and tend to gum up. TriFlow is synthetic, teflon-based, and comes with a lubrication tube that makes it easy to lube inside cable housings, pivot points, and other hard-to-reach areas. TriFlow will penetrate quickly and thoroughly, so you only need a few drops of it.
For chain lubrication I recommend a product called Finish Line Cross Country. I’ve tried a lot of different brands and found this to be the longest lasting lubricant. It’s a synthetic “wet-style” lubricant capable of sustaining high torque pedaling over long distances and nasty riding conditions. See the chain cleaning and lubrication tutorial for some more tips on applying it.
Another highly recommended chain oil is called Phil Tenacious Oil. It also works great as a lubricant and water repellent, but some people find it a bit too thick for chains. I find it is best used to lubricate the inside of internal gear hubs like Sturmey-Archer 3-speeds. If you have an older bike with a 3-speed internal gear hub, Phil Wood should be all you need for both your chain and hub.
A third type of chain lubricants are wax-based and are best for very dry climates. The best brand I’ve used is called Boeshield T-9. While wax-based lubes don’t collect as much dirt, they are a lot of hassle to apply correctly. You have to make sure your drivetrain is spotless clean before you apply it, which usually requires soaking your chain in cleaning solvent first. Then after you apply it you have to wait 2 hours before riding. It’s also important to remember that wax is simply not as good a lubricant as oil.
You should always have some waterproof grease handy for overhauling bearings and greasing threads. There are so many different brands available. You can get it in a tub for shop use or in a smaller tube for occasional home use. You can use the tube along with a grease gun for squirting oil into tight spaces like bearing cages. Another thing you can do is keep some grease in a film container with a small brush, which makes it easy to quickly grease threads.
My bike is fitted with Shimano BRIM 70 roller brakes. After about 2 1/2 years the rear brake has started to squeal. So I left the bike into a LBS for maintenance. I then proceeded to do some research on the brake and discovered that you should use a special shimano grease for these brakes. I contacted LBS and they said they had already used high temperature copper grease which would be just as good. Further research seems to indicate that copper grease should not be used for lubrication of bearings as it contains fine copper particles, however it is used to prevent seizing. Does anyone know i... Read more >>
There are a lot of diverse recommendations out there on the right oil to drip through the plastic oil cap of Sturmey 3 speed hubs. Based on my own experience at Pedal Depot tearing down quite a few, the biggest problem encountered (other than no oil..) is oil that is too sticky for the pawls and planets. Phil's Tenacious Oil, though a good oil elsewhere on the bike, is a bad choice here - it is way stickier than the official Sturmey Archer oil that used to be sold in small cans with a spout at bicycle shops. With a (protected from the weather) internal gear hub, you need a renewed thin oil ... Read more >>
Does anyone remember ( I think it was Pedro's ) screw-on freehub lubricator? It fitted in the front of the unit ( off the hub ) and it was used to flush out the old lube and really worked. I volunteer at a shop that gets old bikes that are ready for the skip and rebuild them for the disenfranchised for transport. We get a lot of tight screw-ons and instead of trashing them all. that luber would do it. Do they still make them in the US? If anyone knows about one please reply. I would love to buy one. Thanks for a great site!... Read more >>
There is a product used in major tool rooms I have been in as an engineer for 34 years. It is called Kroil. I think you would have to get it off the web though, but believe me it is the BEST I have seen..... Penetrating-Lubricating Oils Loosens Frozen Metal Parts! ... Nothing Works Like Kroil Kroil - An industry proven penetrating oil that has no equal. Used by 480 of the Fortune 500 companies! http://www.kanolabs.com Penetrating Engine Cleaners MSDS Lubricants Specialties Emergency... Read more >>
Hello, I'm wanting to switch to a different grease in my grease gun. So I assume I'll need to clean the gun. How would I go about doing this? I'm switching from Finish Line mulit-purpose teflon grease to Rock n' Roll Red Devil to re-grease my DMR V8 pedals. The only thing I have as a degreaser is WD40, if I was to say, blast it with WD40 then thoroughly rinse it with hot water, would that be ok? Cheers Si... Read more >>
Hi all! I just bought a cute little buttercup yellow Schwinn Breeze today. I put new tires on it and need to do some cleaning of the chain and gear hub and other bits. But the gears are pretty sticky and I'm not sure what's best to use... also noticed that there is a little capped hole in the hub and I'm wondering if I need to put something in there??? Thanks, BG... Read more >>
I used engine oil for chain and auto bearing grease for all bearings, including freewheel. If engine oil is OK for motorcycle chains, why not for bicycle? If grease is designed for bearing, why not to use it for bicycle bearings? Black grease is the best, because it has graphite in it, but it is too "dirty", I used yellow one. Freewheel "teeth" don't click anymore, which I think is good as long as freewheel works fine. Is there any reason not to use auto oil and grease?... Read more >>
Hi guys, Does anyone know of any place in the UK that sells Super Lube Multi-Purpose Grease as shown in Alex's How to Choose the Right Lubricants video? Or any place in the US that will ship it to the UK (relatively cheaply!) I particularly want the tub rather than the tube. Or if not, are there any greases available in the UK that are just as good as this or similar? Cheers kindly... Read more >>
Hello, Any good ways to take wax lube off a chain? I tried it out on the recommendation of my local bikeshop owner, and I don't really like it, and would rather just return to the lube I've been using for a few years now. Anything special I need to do to get it off, or before I return to my old lube? Thanks.... Read more >>
Has anyone had any luck with homemade chain oil? im looking for some recipes, a lot include motor oil and mineral spirits any good?... Read more >>
Hey, ive seen a few threads round here saying what kind of lubrication to use and why etc so i thought id take time to do a write up to explain why what and where, i'll name each type of oil/grease and what its useful for so here goes:
Bearings (hubs, cranks and headsets):
For bearings I highly recommend grease, any grease is suitable as long as its meant for bearings, some popular ones are marine grease and automobile grease
The reason you need grease is because its metal on metal and at high speed you want something that will last long and be water resistant.
.....SINGER SEWING MACHINE OIL, Thats right the stuff made for sewing machines,i picked up a tin of this from a sewing shop for £2.20,Ive tested this for a period of 3 months on my chain, cables, derailers and brake pivots,i also use this stuff for cleaning my rims heres the pros & cons: Pros: Cheap Effective Doesn't pick up as much dust as other lubricants Comes in a easy applicator Cons: Not entirely water resistant* *If riding in wet conditions i recommend applying this every 2 days or so to exposed parts. If anyone has had experience with this let me... Read more >>
Went round town today for some bike parts from halfords and called into wilkos and saw some max-c bicycle oil in a 100ml bottle for £1.17 so i grabbed a bottle then went into the poundshop and got some mean machine-pedal power bike oil, has anyone had experience with these oils and are they any good?... Read more >>
What's the deal with triflow soy? Is it acceptable to use in place of regular triflow superior?... Read more >>
Anyone have a thought or has used Power steering fluid as an oil for a freewheel?... Read more >>