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I ride less than 200 miles a week, and I'm at about the 200 mile mark on my new road bike. Most of my riding is done on the road in an urban city, so there is a lot of odd, unnatural debris. My LBS told me to lube my chain every 150 miles, but I've read conflicting opinions.

How often should I be lubing my chain?

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And what sort of lube should you use? –  Amos Aug 25 '10 at 21:58
    
A question is already open on lube types: bicycles.stackexchange.com/questions/3/… –  Kevin Aug 25 '10 at 22:22

5 Answers 5

up vote 15 down vote accepted

Lubricate when needed. I don't think it's possible to put a mile marker on when to lube. I think most people add chain lube too often. Too much can cause debris to build up on the chain. Too little can cause unnecessary friction but you'll know pretty quickly by the looks (and possibly sound) of it if you have too little

Hints:

  1. wipe your chain off before you add more lube.*
  2. is the color black?
  3. is it greasy?
  4. wipe all that cr*p off until it is looking dry
  5. add lube while rotating cranks

Tips:

  1. Lube the night before you ride - it gives the lube a chance to 'spread'
  2. Wipe the excess off immediately before you ride - but not until dry as above.

*Wiping off the chain is best done in a work stand or while the bike is in a position where you can rotate the crankarm such that you can hold a rag to the chain while the chain is moving.

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2  
Wiping is not always best thing to do, because you can unintentinally take dirt from outside (where it is harmless) to the inside. The chain might look clean, but a lot of dirt would be inside. Best thing to do, IMO, is to remove it, submerge in some solvent (I use kerosene), and shake vigorously. –  heltonbiker Mar 1 '12 at 1:08

I ride 250KM a week and I give it a squirt just before my long ride on the weekends. You can't really damage it by over lubing the chain. Sure if you store it inside too much lube can make the chain drip. If you do it just before a ride then no dripping in the house.

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I would say that it is best to clean and lube your chain after every ride. The better you maintain your chain the longer it will last.

To clean your chain you can either use a chain cleaning tool, I use this one from Park Tool which is excellent:

Park Tool Chain Cleaning Tool

The alternative is to put a SRAM powerlink in your chain: SRAM powerlink

and remove your chain and clean it in with a solvent like paraffin.

The choice of lubricant is also debatable, speak to someone at your LBS and get their recommendations for your riding conditions.

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5  
So I can minute bike ride to the local shops then spend 30 minutes cleaning the chain? –  Ian Aug 26 '10 at 18:13
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I agree if you have been out in the mud, or a long trip on dust roads. If you like me are commuting to work each day on dry asphalt I think cleaning it each day is a bit of overkill. Thanks for the powerlink tips. –  Rickard Lindroth Aug 27 '10 at 9:04
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+1 for an interesting suggestion and good equipment links however I think that this is excessive. –  sixtyfootersdude Aug 30 '10 at 1:57
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Note that many of the powerlink-type gizomos aren't reusable! –  Duncan McGregor Jan 19 '11 at 12:48
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SRAM 10 speed chains user a "PowerLock", not a "PowerLink" which are not reusable. KMC makes a reusable link that is compatible with SRAM 10 speed chains. –  James Schek Nov 26 '11 at 7:41

Every 150 miles sounds like an awful lot, but then I guess I don't cycle as much as you. "Little & Often" is the best advice I've heard.

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Definitely lube the bike after cleaning the drivetrain, or after riding in the rain. In terms of adding lube in between cleanings, every week or two should be fine, more often if the drivetrain is getting noisy. Just a few drops of lube should be enough, unless you ride on very dirty roads.

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