“Oils ain’t oils,” … Yes that simple yet brilliant three-word-slogan will remain in the vernacular forever.
The term is perfectly appropriate not just for engine oil, but chain lube for bikes as well. Continuing this month’s bike maintenance theme in conjunction with Finish Line, the world leader in bicycle lubricants, maintenance and cleaning products, we’re taking a look at the the range of chain lubes on offer.
Choosing Your Lube
If your local bike shop is anything like mine, there’s a fair chance that somewhere near the counter you’ll see a wide-range of chain lubes on display. Sure the staff can help with the right choice (or choices) for your needs, but here are some tips to start things off.
Dry Lubes – Despite the name, these go on wet and set dry. Finish Line’s dry lube (in the red bottle) provides penetrating lubrication and is made from a mix of synthetic oils and Teflon. Finish Line dry is a versatile lube that can be used on chains, shifters, brake pivot points and derailleurs. Dry lubes generally need to be applied more often and obviously perform best on a clean chain.
Wet Lubes – Generally a longer-term and harder-wearing lubricant, a quality wet lube can withstand the rigours of a long day in the saddle including rides of 150+km. This is more suitable for wet conditions and extreme riding situations such as racing and ultra endurance missions. Finish Line’s Wet bike lubricant is in a green bottle and features super-durable synthetic oils, special polymers and anti-wear agents. With pro teams such as Orica-Scott, Trek Factory Racing and BMC Racing Team using it, you can be sure this is of supreme quality.
Wax Lubes – Devised by Finish Line and chemical giant DuPont, the Wax lube (in the silver / grey bottle) uses a mix of high-tech polymers to fight friction and repel dirt & grit. Soon after application you are left with a dry wax film – it’s oil-free and perfect for dry and dusty conditions. If you’re the type of rider who loves to keep your cassette, chain rings and chain in showroom condition, this is the lube for you.
Ceramic Lubes – “There’s no ceramic in my drive train,” you might say. No, the ceramic is one of the ingredients of this range of top-shelf lube options from Finish Line. Ceramic Wet chain lube is enhanced with microscopic platelets & particles of boron nitride and flouropolymers. These create a ceramic coating on the drivetrain and offer the smoothest, quietest and most efficient lubrication system available.
Ceramic Wax lube is similar to the above but applies as a wax. Finish Line claim this wax film (that can and should be recoated) drastically reduces abrasive wear, runs ultra smooth and is long-lasting. Ceramic wax is non-sticky and an ultra clean lubricant that leaves your drivetrain looking like new.
Just how often a rider should clean their chain depends on numerous factors – wet or dry conditions, the state of the road surface, the amount of dust or dirt around and so on. As a rule the chain should be at least wiped clean and re-lubed every 3 to 5 rides. Obviously this should be increased if you’re covering higher than average kilometres or according to riding conditions. As a general rule, as we said in part 1 of this series, if it’s dirty clean it and if it moves lube it.