The 10 Best Bike Chain Lubes
This wiki has been updated 18 times since it was first published in February of 2017. Your bike can only operate like a well-oiled machine if it is, indeed, well-oiled. This means that you need to take care of that all-important chain by keeping it lubricated and protected against dirt and corrosion. We've put together a list of great options to help you do just that; all you need to do is apply one to your bicycle's drive mechanism, then you'll be ready to hit the road. When users buy our independently chosen editorial selections, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
October 21, 2020:
Chain lubes are often broken down into two categories, "wet" and "dry". This refers not only to the riding conditions they are suitable for, but also what form they take when actually on the chain. Often, "dry" lubes are wax-based, such as Finish Line Dry and White Lightning Clean Ride for example. A great benefit of wax-based lubes is their ability to help to keep chains clean at the same time they offer lubricating properties. Since they aren't as wet as oils, they don't absorb a lot of road dirt and grime. Also, they are designed to flake off as you cycle, taking the dust and dirt that does accumulate along with them.
When it comes to "wet" lubes, like Rock N Roll Gold, Bike Medicine Purple Extreme, and Dumonde Tech Lite, these are going to be extremely water repellent, which means not only will they last longer on chains in rainy conditions, but they provide excellent corrosion resistance as well. Another nice feature about "wet" lubes is how easy they are to apply. Since they are usually less viscous than wax-based options, they spread evenly and seep deeply into the links. A big downside to "wet" lubes, however, is their tendency to attract road dirt and become a gummy grime that affects a chain's performance.
It is worth noting too, that not all lubes fall firmly into one category of the other. Take ProGold Extreme as an example. It contains both oils and waxes, which is why it is said to be suitable for all riding conditions, from rainy streets to dusty deserts. As with any all-purpose solution though, it does compromise a bit and won't perform quite as well in either scenario as a dedicated "wet" or "dry" lube would.
Most serious riders will often switch lube types based on the season, which means they will use a "wet" lube during rainy months, and a "dry" lube during the less rainy months. If you choose to go this route, it is important to thoroughly clean the chain before switching lube types, as they don't play well with each other. Whichever you choose, you'll want to do everything possible to make sure that you have a safe and enjoyable ride, which means always wearing a helmet and, if out at night, attaching a light to your bike.
March 13, 2019:
There is certainly no shortage of available bike chain lubes, and because Gorilla Bike Oil Ultra Premium has become harder to find, we decided to remove it. We still think that White Lightning Clean Ride and Finish Line Dry are top choices; neither is overly expensive, and they both come in smaller and larger sizes, which is helpful depending on how much you ride and how much storage space you have. That said, they are both perhaps better in dry conditions. For those who get out in the rain and muck, we added Boeshield T-9. A waxy film when dry, it stands up against water, meaning that you can rinse it with no worries, too. Plus, it doesn't hurt rubber, fiberglass, paint, or plastic. Finally, we decided to add WD-40 Bike. While most experts agree that regular WD-40 is not a good choice for lubing a chain, this version is specifically formulated to be safe and effective, although it should be said that some users find it overhyped.