Useful Tips

How to lubricate a bicycle chain


Bicycle chain transmission is a rather complex and responsible device, which largely determines the efficiency and ease of use of the bike. The bicycle chain included in its structure is a rather complex mechanism consisting of side plates, rollers (bushings), axles and locking and transitional joints, which operates under rather difficult conditions. It requires constant care and proper periodic maintenance, so the solution to the question of how and the better to lubricate the bicycle chain is of no small importance. One of the aces of cycling said that two drops of oil significantly reduce the effort with which his legs press on the pedals.

During movement, road dust falls on bushings or rollers, which leads to intensive abrasive wear of the teeth of chain sprocket chain wheels. This leads to an increase in its noise and lower efficiency - the cyclist has to spend more muscle energy to bring his vehicle into motion. In order to properly wash, clean and lubricate the chain, it is necessary to know the general rules of care and have information on the applicability of various lubricants in various operating conditions.

Bicycle Chain Service

Any cyclist, from a beginner to a venerable cycling race ace, is absolutely sure that the poor quality of care for the chain drive increases the complexity of pedaling and causes increased wear, reducing its life and leading to more frequent replacements. Given the cost of imported designs, the issue of chain durability is far from prosaic. Of course, owners of bikes bought for trips to work, shopping or evening bike rides that operate their iron two-wheeled horse on asphalt are less likely to worry about the timeliness of caring for a chain drive, but fans of cycling and extreme riding on Russian roads impose a decent amount of time cleaning and lubricating the chain .

It is necessary to make a rule that should be strictly observed - the chain should be cleaned after each trip in rainy weather or after a long trip. The dust accumulated on its links and adhering dirt will cause corrosion and rust will appear on the links of ordinary, cheap chains in a few days.

For washing and cleaning in sporting goods stores and household chemicals, you can purchase specialized cleaning and washing compounds (aerosol "WD40"). However, this tool (given its cost) should be used at a high level of contamination, to remove old dirt or to eliminate dirt that has appeared. And in other cases, white spirit or kerosene is quite suitable. Gasoline and acetone, due to their high volatility, should not be used. Some cyclists use detergent and dishwashing detergent solutions to wash their chains - right down to the widely-advertised Fairy. This is a perfectly acceptable option, however, immediately after cleaning with aqueous solutions of washing powders, the chain should be dried and lubricated.

To wash the chain links, use a toothbrush or a special brush to clean the chain, a foam sponge or a special Cyclotech machine (Sportmaster - Russia), the cost of which does not exceed a thousand rubles. However, its use when washing parts with white spirit may lead to corrosion of the plastic cleaning wheels.

Any cyclist faced the problem of sticking to a dirt chain while overcoming puddles or traveling on dirt roads. An ordinary plastic water bottle in which a hole is pierced will help clean the transmission of dirt. Moreover, the chain should be cleaned immediately after the end of off-road travel - when leaving for asphalt, and the final, fine technical. leave care before arriving home.

Why lubricate a bicycle chain?

In modern bicycles, a chain is a structure that consists of a large number of identical elements called links. Its components are two plates, a roller and a special connecting pin. The operation of the entire unit, its service life, depends on its condition.

Maintenance of this unit is quite a serious procedure: the chain must be kept clean. When using a bicycle on high-quality dirt and asphalt roads in dry weather, it is not particularly difficult to ensure the necessary cleanliness of the chain.

However, the frequent use of this vehicle in difficult weather conditions will require some effort from the owner. The appearance of rust in the links of the chain is the result of its untimely cleaning of the remnants of dirt, sand and clay.

The quality and properties of lubricants must be known to every bike owner in order to properly process the main parts, including its transmission:

  • light oils provide high-quality lubrication of the links of the bicycle chain for trips in dry weather. Good penetration of this type of lubricant in the most inaccessible places of the device increases the service life of its chassis,
  • grease - These are oils of a special composition. They are used in humid climates, in wet rainy weather. To ensure uniform penetration of thick oils into the bearings, you can pre-mix the grease with an easily volatile solvent,
  • in dry climate Bicycle transmission can be treated with wax, which in the molten state penetrates the chain links and dries quickly. In dry weather, wax can remain on the chain for several months. Over time, this lubricant flakes off the surface of the elements of the chain mechanism,
  • use of a lubricant spray allows you to provide a fairly deep processing of the links of the transmission, but its use provides lubrication of rapidly moving elements for a very short time.

Choosing chain lubricant

To increase the service life of such a bicycle, the proper care of all its components affects. One of the main running gears of a bicycle is a chain.

Its wear is accelerated by:

  • poor technical condition of the unit, providing the course of transport,
  • use for cleaning and lubricating the assembly of random and low-quality materials.

To lubricate all components of the bicycle are used grease:

  • a lubricant with a calcium supplement, included in the group of plastic lubricants, is used to process all nodes of a two-wheeled transport structure. The calcium component of Uniol, Solidol lubricants is retained on the surface of structural elements for a long time, while ensuring their high-quality operation,
  • lithium lubricating systems “Fiol”, “LITOL-24”.
  • Grease with lithium. Another type of grease. These include: Litol-24, Fiol, and so on.

In addition to the lubricants presented, cyclists are widely used:

  • special oils the liquid consistency of which allows you to handle the most inaccessible elements of the bicycle, and ensure uninterrupted operation for a fairly long time, since it makes it difficult for adhesion of dirt to the details of the vehicle,
  • two-component aerosol systems for caring for the navigation unit of the transport, thread processing, cables, switches. One of the components of such systems may be kerosene, which helps to flush the joints of parts to be dismantled. Lubricating aerosols include LM40 and LM47 grades. The liquid consistency of the aerosol penetrates into all parts of the nodes, after evaporation of the solvent, the lubricant becomes thick, remaining on the surface of the smallest elements,
  • transmission automotive lubricants are an acceptable material for chain lubrication. Moderate, correct lubrication of the components of the chassis of the unit in dry weather will ensure uninterrupted mileage of vehicles for 200 km or more,
  • liquid lubricating oils in special packaging with a dispenser,
  • grease used only for trips in dirty rainy weather or in winter, as they are highly resistant to washing off by rain and moisture falling on the surface of the site from puddles and streams. However, in dry weather, a lot of dust and dry dirt adheres to such a lubricant,
  • modern teflon oils gained great popularity. This material after lubricating the parts provides them with a neat appearance. The correct use of Teflon grease consists in its preliminary application and subsequent drying at least two hours before the operation of the device. during this time, a strong film should form on the surface of the elements of the treated assembly. Teflon grease is designed for a distance of at least 50 km.

Lubricant manufacturers

For the correct and long-term operation of bicycles, manufacturers prefer to produce means for caring for them in the complex. They offer materials that provide cleaning, lubrication, mixtures for the preventive treatment of a bicycle:

  • a very large assortment of goods needed for bicycles is offered Shimano. She produces goods for the general processing of the bicycle and individual preparations intended for individual nodes,
  • high quality grease L>

In addition, the goods of this company are used to process the transport structure before preserving it for storage.

The prices of manufacturers of cleaners in the form of sprays and packages with dispensers, lubricants in the form of aerosols and other variants of the company provide bike owners in their catalogs. Contacting the company will be ensured by convenient payment and delivery of goods to the specified address. A catalog of products can be requested on the company's website.

How to lubricate the chain most effectively

Hybrid grease made by special technology is very popular. One of the components is an aerosol with a high penetrating ability, the other is a highly viscous oil that adheres firmly to the surface. The solid lubricants that make up create a thin top layer that protects against dust.

  • Silicone Grease

Often found among cycling enthusiasts. It has great dust resistance, reliably protects friction parts and is easy to apply.

  • Teflon grease

It is characterized by maximum efficiency. Thanks to its low friction polytrafluoroethylene component, it reliably protects contacting parts. However, dilution of such a lubricant with more liquid substances in small quantities (oil, or solvent) is recommended.

  • Wax grease

It is popular due to its low cost and wide distribution. By its characteristics, it is slightly inferior to Teflon. Such a lubricant is allowed to be applied in a thin layer due to excessive density.

Applying a thick layer is fraught with clogging of chain links and bushings. Before lubricating a bicycle chain, it must be cleaned of dirt and old lubricant.

Depending on the location and access to the necessary equipment, cleaning methods can be very different:

  • special machines for cleaning the chain,
  • rags with solvent
  • a basin with water and detergent, and a toothbrush.

It should be noted right away that you can completely and thoroughly clean the chain only by removing it from the bicycle. This method takes more time, but provides high-quality cleaning of both the chain and the sprockets. To do this, a chain is lowered into a container with water and a detergent diluted in it. With the help of a brush, rags and efforts of the hands, all old dirt is washed.

Then the chain is washed with detergent in clean water and dried. Meanwhile, the front and rear sprockets, as well as the tensioner rollers, are washed with the same solution. At the same time, it is recommended to remove the rear wheel in order to be able to get to all elements.

After thorough drying, install the wheel and chain in place. They are ready for lubrication. The method described above is suitable when you are at home or in the garage. For cases when it is necessary to urgently clean the chain, it is recommended to have a toothbrush or a special machine with you.

So, we replaced the wheels and the chain, we have the chain lubricant, now we can proceed directly to the lubrication process.

There is an unwritten procedure for the proper lubrication of the chain, sprockets and other elements:

  • the chain switches to the middle sprockets in front and behind so that a straight line is formed,
  • lubrication is carried out by dripping from a bottle or spraying aerosols on the inside of the chain,
  • each roller and chain roller is lubricated on both sides,
  • pedals are rotated counterclockwise for the most efficient lubricant to enter the chain rollers,
  • droplets and excess grease are removed from the frames, wheels and sprockets of the bicycle.

How often to lubricate a bicycle chain?

Bike lovers are advised to lubricate the chain at least every 100 km. drive. However, there are some signs that make it clear that the time has come.

This is if:

  • There is a hard start. That is, it’s hard to start pedaling.,
  • you hear a crunch and creak of a chain. If you look at the chain at this moment, you can see the adhering dirt.

What else to lubricate?

In addition to the chain, it is recommended to lubricate all moving parts, which include:

  • chain tensioning mechanism
  • ropes
  • main carriage (grease is used),
  • wheel axle bearings,
  • front and rear switches,
  • front fork cushioning system.

A bicycle is a favorite type of relaxation not only for teenagers, but also for adults. There are amateurs who take whole families out on bike rides on weekends. A bicycle is undemanding, unpretentious in maintenance, it does not need as much attention as, say, a car.

But to carry out periodic simple cleaning and maintenance is the responsibility of each owner.

How to lubricate a bicycle chain?

The state of the chain drive must be monitored and lubricated in a timely manner. Recommended vehicle mileage for regular lubrication is not more than 100 km. The bicycle chain and such elements of the undercarriage of the sprocket, cassette can be cleaned in two ways:

  • in a manual way which will require washing the removed chain in hot water with a hard brush (you can use a toothbrush with hard bristles),
  • mechanical cleaning using special devices, allowing to provide faster and better cleaning of the unit without dismantling it.

The sequence of manual cleaning of the transmission will require the allocation of a special place, since this procedure will require dismantling the chain, cleaning with water, detergents and draining the waste water:

  • After water treatment, the chain is wiped with a dry cloth and given time to dry it in air:
  • Well-dried parts must be rinsed with gasoline or kerosene in a solvent. Using a solvent removes any residual grease.
  • Before processing the chain with new grease, make sure that there are no residues of solvent on its links. This stage cannot be excluded, since in this case it is possible to unevenly cover the parts with a protective layer due to its partial destruction by the residues of gasoline or kerosene,
  • the finished assembly must be installed on the bicycle, the pedals of the bicycle should be turned at different speeds to evenly distribute the lubricant over all its elements,
  • excess coating is wiped with a dry, clean cloth.
  • it is necessary that the bulk of the lubricant fall into the gaps between the chain elements, ensuring their easy friction.

Winter chain lubrication

There are frequent cases of using a bicycle in the winter. For winter time, special preparation of equipment is required, since all its open mechanisms in winter work in extreme conditions, which exposes it to rapid wear. This is facilitated by the treatment of roads and sidewalks with sand, salt and chemicals.

Under the influence of precipitation, snow and dirt, the chain under the control of the owner may rust in a short run. Therefore, cleaning and lubricating the chain is determined by the frequency of travel.

Athletes and specialists recommend using Motorex frost-resistant lithium grease for processing bushings, carriages and cassettes in the cold season.

KLS Chain Oil and Weldtite Greases (Teflon grease) are well characterized as a winter protective gear for bicycle transmission. This device can simply be lowered into heated car oil. For this purpose it is good to use Mobil 5v30 engine oil ..

Chain cleaner: useful device or newfangled uselessness?

The bicycle chain is the most vulnerable part of the transmission to external influences. Regular care requires a place to work with her. Therefore, devices that simplify the cleaning procedure attract modern cycling enthusiasts. These are special cars.

The bicycle market offers users a fairly large assortment of them:

  • C&L machine does not require dismantling of the running gear.,
  • Bike Hand YC-791 also applies to appliances, cleaning the chassis of the assembly, but of a higher quality,
  • компания Super Bike Tools представляет надежное устройство для быстрой промывки и чистки велосипедной трансмиссии,
  • цепемойка фирмы Pedro’s Chain Machine. представляет устройство премиум-класса,

Пошаговая инструкция для машинок, всех категорий, предназначенных для мытья трансмиссий велосипедов – одинаковая, достоинством этих устройств является возможность крепления его на велосипеде без демонтажа узла.

The chain is placed and fixed in the machine’s tank, pedals must be used to scroll through the transmission, ensuring the passage of its parts through a system of special brushes and jaws. If necessary, the cleaning can be repeated.

All devices are easy to operate, affordable, their choice and purchase is an individual decision of the user.

For the successful operation of a vehicle - a bicycle, it is necessary to follow simple rules for its operation:

  • timely and regular cleaning and lubrication of the structure,
  • the use of quality bicycle care materials,
  • the use of lubricants of the required category depending on external conditions.

These simple principles will ensure the mileage of vehicles over distances of any range, in any weather and climate conditions.

The procedure for using the washing machine should be read in the manual for it.

If there is no such machine, then you can remove the chain from the bicycle and rinse it in a bath with solvent or detergent, cleaning the hard-to-reach places with a brush (you can use an old toothbrush). If the circuit is detachable, then this is probably the best way. For an integral chain, each operation of opening the link reduces the service life, therefore this method should be left only for deep cleaning, and after riding through the mud it is better to use the machine.

The chain must be lubricated. Again, those who ride in damp / dusty or dusty / sandy terrain have to lubricate the chain more often than those who like asphalt tracks in the park.

What should be lubricated in the chain? Grease must be under chain rollers. Outside, the chain does not need to be lubricated - the lubricant will only pick up a lot of dirt and dust that will penetrate into the chain under the rollers. Therefore, after lubrication, the chain must remain dry outside.

What is a good lubricant? Good lubricant should easily penetrate difficult to reach places such as the space between the rollers and the link axles. (Means, it must be liquid). On the other hand, it should not flow from there. (That means it should be thick.) In addition, a good lubricant should not be washed with water, should not enter into chemical reactions with the metal of which the stars are made, and ... there is a lot to do. That is, good chain lubrication is always a compromise.

How to lubricate? Various types of chain lubricants are sold in bicycle shops, and magazines with relevant content are full of advertisements. It is possible to lubricate with automobile oils, which is often cheaper (but not always better) And not always what is expensive is good.

Aerosol lubricants. Supplied in aerosol cans. For bezryba, you can use domestic UNISMA oil or imported WD40.

Pros - aerosol can penetrate into the most inaccessible places of the lubricated assembly.

Cons - it often turns out that aerosol grease does not get where it is needed, but just the opposite, where it is not needed at all (on the rim, tires, etc.)

Liquid lubricants. Supplied in oil cans. In principle, automotive gear oil can be used.

Pros - point application. Using a medical syringe, you can drip oil precisely into the gaps between the rollers and the side plates of the links.

Cons - not all, but many of these lubricants thicken in the cold, and can not get to the right place in the chain.

Two-component greases. Supplied in oil cans. This is an attempt to kill two birds with one stone and make the grease thick and fluid at the same time. Such an oil is a thick lubricant diluted in a solvent so that it is a liquid (a consistency similar to that of water). When lubricating, such fluid easily flows under the chain rollers. Then the solvent evaporates and a thick grease remains inside.

Pros - as with any liquid lubricant, spot application is possible.

Cons - it takes time for the solvent to dry, that is, after lubrication, you can ride only after a few hours.

An example of a two-component lubricant is White Ligthning. As it is written in the annotation, if you lubricate a clean chain with this oil, then you do not have to wash it before each grease - White Ligthning, having dried, does not let dirt inside. But you need to lubricate often (every 50-100 km)

Thick grease. Supplied in jars or tubes. An example of such a lubricant is LITOL-24. In principle, they can also be used for chains, but such oils have a huge minus - it is very difficult to deliver the oil to the right place in the chain. You can, of course, boil the chain in hot oil, but then you have to, firstly, remove the chain from the bicycle for each grease, and then, before installing, clean it from the outside ... It turns out that thick oils are poorly suited for the chain.

When to lubricate the chain? How to determine what time it is? It's time when the chain starts to creak slightly when the pedals are turned, or every 100-150 km. Depending on what comes first.

How to lubricate a chain? Only a clean chain can be lubricated. For good, it should be washed to a state where the solvent remains transparent, and when the chain is bent in the transverse direction, sand crunch will not be heard. It does not hurt to wash the stars of the system and the cassette. (otherwise the dirt from them will fall into a clean chain)

Then the chain must be dried, or at worst wiped with a clean cloth, because the solvent will destroy fresh oil.

Then you can proceed with lubrication. If we use liquid or two-component grease, then, without removing the chain from the bicycle, drip from the grease fitting or from the medical syringe into the spaces between the rollers and the side plates of the links. This must be done for each link in the chain (turning the pedals back)

Remember which link started lubrication, so as not to go to the second round, or read the lubricated links. If oil gets on a rim, a brake disk, a tire, then remove it with a cloth.

After all the links have been lubricated, turn the pedals in the opposite direction for several minutes, then wipe the chain and cassette sprockets dry with a cloth.

And the right video about the proper lubrication of a bicycle chain:

How to lubricate a bicycle chain: 12 comments

I was very interested in this article. But there are other, more detailed opinions on this subject.
Thanks to the author

I will be glad to these other opinions expressed in the comments :)

The article is correct. If anyone is interested, then I clean and lubricate the chain like that. After each trip, I wipe the stars and chain with a toothbrush and brush them. After 100 km, I wash and lubricate the chain thoroughly. First, my chain with a typewriter (exactly the same as in the photo). I use diesel fuel as a detergent. Then I lubricate with hypoid (used in auto gearboxes) oil, which I drip from the syringe into each roller. Further as in the article: I pedal and wipe with a cloth. I do all this outdoors. At a time, it takes 5 grams of oil and 100 grams of diesel fuel. Yes, the smell of the oil is specific, but cheap and cheerful.
I would be glad if the information is useful to someone.

Mother Grove, IMHO - the time spent on SUCH care is much more expensive than changing the chain every 150 km%)

Good to see real expertise on dislpay. Your contribution is most welcome.

Thanks to the author! Very helpful article. If we talk about lubrication, then I do it somewhere on the street. When storing a folded e-bike -, do not scroll the chain in limbo. To do this, there is always a little litol applied to cellophane on the way. It is enough to wipe the chain with a cloth and unfold the cellophane. Walk on the inside of the chain with cellophane, without getting your hands dirty, a moment's work. Although there are always cellophane gloves in the glove compartment, grease is also stored there. After getting into the rain and drying out, I do the lubrication, regardless of the kilometers traveled. With such a primitive departure (without flushing), the Baltic chain that stands on an electric motor passed more than 7,500 km on asphalt.

I lubricated easily! I took engine oil to drip onto the sprockets and switched it, wiped the chain with a slightly damp cloth, then I put oil on it and wiped the chain and stopped skirping it appeared after 600 km

But what kind of muzlo plays in the vidos? nnaa

only one clarification
starting with french
WD40 is not a lubricant but a cleaner / solvent
Yes, it leaves an oily film, but only locks may be suitable for lubrication, only for those who just got around
went to try to smear the chain with silicone

Types of bicycle lubricants

Two mutually exclusive requirements are imposed on bicycle grease:

  • in order to penetrate through the smallest gaps between the sleeve (roller) and the axis, it must have high fluidity,
  • the grease must prevent its leakage from the gaps between the rubbing pair in the joint.

In addition, it must have protective, anticorrosive properties and be inert to the metal from which individual parts of the chain are made.

Currently, in sporting goods stores selling consumables for cycling bikes, you can find three types of chain lubrication:

  • compositions for the operation of a chain transmission in conditions of high humidity,
  • lubricants for dry weather and dusty environments,
  • innovative wax greases with wide versatility.

Moisture resistant

Moisture-resistant lubricants - Daytona and Nanoprotech (Russia) or Shimano Wet Lube (Netherlands) are resistant to contact with the aquatic environment and are successfully used in off-season and rainy weather. They are indispensable for cycling when a bicycle moves along dewy grass or a cyclist overcomes shallow rivers and streams on it. The frequency of its application is 50.0 kilometers. In addition to the lubricating properties, these moisture-resistant lubricants have a protective effect against various chemicals, for example, snow melting accelerators.

The disadvantages include high viscosity, which contributes to the adhesion and coking of dust in dry weather. Removing these lubricants requires special cleaners or a lot of cleaning work.

For dry weather

Dry weather lubricants are produced under the same brands as moisture-resistant compounds and have a liquid consistency and are often available in aerosol containers. They penetrate the hinges, without remaining on the surface of the chain plates and bushings (rollers), adhesion to the dust chain is minimal. A prerequisite for their use is that they are applied to the chain drive several hours before departure, which allows them to dry on the outer surfaces of the chain in contact with the environment. However, when exposed to rain, these compounds are immediately washed away, which requires updating after each trip.

Wax based

Innovative wax-based lubricants - Squirt (Russia), Star (Italy), Pedro's (USA) or Teflon - Weldtite (Great Britain) or Bikeid (Sweden) form a protective layer on the surface of chain parts rubbing parts from direct contact with negative environmental factors. They have dust and water repellent properties and have wide versatility.

Most bicycle greases are available in packs that are convenient enough for use — liquid greases and cleaners — in aerosol cans, and greases — in tubes with tips, allowing you to get to the most “secluded” places of the chain drive.


Timely lubrication of the bicycle chain is the key to its long-term operation, reliable operation and comfortable ride safety. At the same time, the timeliness and periodicity of those. care. If you plan to lubricate the chain once a year, then it’s better not to do this at all, but just go to the store and buy a new chain, which is enough for one season.