Which bike lube should I use?

It doesn’t matter where you work or how you sell, if you’re in the cycling industry, one of the most commonly asked questions you will hear is, ‘What type of lube should I use?’ Bike lubricants are easy to work out once you know what you’re looking for, so here are some tips to help you choose the right one for you. 

The first thing you need to know is when you ride, is it wet, or dry?

The first thing you need to know is when you ride, is it wet, or dry?  In the arid climate that we call home here at Pushys, riding in the wet is when you accidentally get hit by a sprinkler, meaning dry lubes are what most Queensland riders almost exclusively use. A dry lube is a ‘thin’ fluid, designed not to hold dirt, perfect for someone riding in dry, dusty conditions.  This fluid acts as an intermediate between your chain and cassette, reducing friction, generally manifesting as heat loss.  This thin fluid is great for repelling dirt, but it wears off quickly, meaning you’ll have to replace it after every couple of rides and immediately after your bike gets wet, because water washes dry lube off easily. 

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Rock ‘N’ Roll is one of the most popular brands of lube; Absolute, pictured above, is their dry lube.

If you’re riding in wet and muddy conditions, a wet lube may be the best option for you.  Wet lubes are a thicker fluid, designed to repel water via a property known as hydrophobicity.  This property allows you to maintain a low friction environment for a longer period of time in the wet.  However, this water resistance comes at a cost: the increased viscosity of the fluid seems to ‘attract’ more dirt and grime.  This a slight misnomer, as wet lubes aren’t a dirt magnet, but the thicker fluid does hold onto dirt more than a thinner dry lube, meaning you will have to clean your chain more regularly, and wet lubes are much harder to clean.

Generally, the best way to lubricate your chain is to run a dry lube in your dry season and swap over to a wet lube once the weather turns more chronically sour.  However, if you’re an all-day endurance rider, even if you’re riding in the dry, a wet lube will be the best option for this type of riding due to its longer lasting action, so you get the added benefits for the whole duration of the ride.

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Ceramic lubricants (above left) are the highest quality lubricants, costing more than twice that of a normal lube (above right: Rock ‘N’ Roll’s wet lube).

Ceramic Lubricants 

Ceramic lubricants are the highest quality lubricants, costing more than twice that of a normal lube.  Designed to ‘fill in’ the natural imperfections that are present on every surface, these lubes give your chain a much smoother surface, taking friction minimisation to the next level.  When companies first came out with ceramic lubes, they said it was like comparing results of lubricant between two files versus two pieces of glass.  Whilst this is an exaggeration, the quality of a ceramic lube is perceivably better. These lubes are available as both wet and dry formulations, so whatever your preference, ceramic lubes are the top of the line.   

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About Tim_Davis@Pushys

I'm a Science Graduate and Medical student at the University of Queensland, specialising in anatomy and physiology. More importantly, I'm all for any type of riding; road, mountain, dirt jumping, I love it all! Let me know if there is anything you want to know about nutrition and health, and I'll do my best to help you out!

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