I know this question has been asked many times on here and other bike forums. I'm struggling to find a proper answer.

The NLGI basically refers to the thickness of a grease.

I have some lithium based grease on hand and the NLGI grade is 3 (consistency of vegetable shortening), so thicker than grade 2 (consistency of peanut butter).

Would a grade 3 grease be fine to use for bicycle hubs?

Thank you for any help!

  • 4
    Any grease is better than no grease. (or worse silicon sealant like I found in a BB once!!) Basically a bicycle is not a high-precision instrument, so the diffferences between thickness will be that thicker ones are more resistant to washing out but add drag, and thinner ones roll faster but don't last as long. The difference will be unnoticeable to normal humans.
    – Criggie
    Aug 16, 2017 at 3:00
  • After noticing that the first page I looked at for an NLGI 3 grease said it was amber colored, I image searched "nlgi 3 grease color" and all of it looks exactly like the kind of brown/amber stuff that comes stock in many hubs. Doesn't mean it is, but it probably is. Aug 16, 2017 at 3:14
  • 1
    If you're not using high end equipment, a lot of people (myself included) use stuff like the generic Valvoline multipurpose grease (which is grade 2) or some marine grease. A grease branded for bicycle hubs would be around grade 2; maybe a bit lighter. I think grade 3 will be too thick. In any case, you can buy something from phil wood or park tool if you're worried about it. I don't know of any bicycle manufacturer who lists this information (you're not dealing with as tough conditions as when used in a car, for example, so not that important; also people want to sell bicycle specific stuff).
    – Batman
    Aug 16, 2017 at 3:30
  • @NathanKnutson - Color doesn't really mean anything. Greases come in all different colors -- I've bought grease of similar consistency in red, blue, grey, etc.
    – Batman
    Aug 16, 2017 at 3:37

1 Answer 1


NLGI 3 is harder than optimal. Shouldn't create a problem, but NLGI 2 should provide better lubrication and still be hard enough to resist being pushed and washed out of the bearings (all else being equal).

Hubs are spinning when used, and at relatively low speed, so no need to worry about lubricant starvation. The harder the grease and the more viscous the base oil, the more chance of lubricant starvation, but, like said, since bicycle hubs see very low rotating speeds (and loads for that matter), the differences are mostly "academic" in my knowledge and experience.

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