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Attack the Singletrack!, Issue #005 -- Which Bicycle Lubricant is Best for your Mountain Bike Chain?
May 15, 2010

Catch the Buzz on Playing in the Dirt

Attack the Singletrack! Issue #005 -- Which Bicycle Lubricant is Best for your Mountain Bike Chain?

Attack the Singletrack brings you mountain bike tips to help you become a better rider and enjoy mountain biking more.

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In this Issue...

1) Tip of the Month -- Want to know one thing you can do to significantly improve the performance of your mountain bike without spending a cent?

Click here or scroll down for an essential tip...

2) Which Bicycle Lubricant is Best for your Mountain Bike Chain? -- Got a black, gunky chain? Having shifting problems? Got lots of clunking or squeaking? There may be an easy solution. You may be using the wrong type of bike lube.

Click here or scroll down to find out what which bike lube is best for your riding conditions...

3) What's New on Mountain Bike Buzz -- Click on the links below to learn about new information that has been recently added to the site...

What are Giant Mountain Bikes?
- Information on Giant Mountain Bikes, including descriptions of their bicycle technology and features, different bike model options, and company history and information...

Is your Mountain Bike Chain Trying to Tell you Something?
- Mountain bike chain information: Tips on caring for your bike chain, measuring chain wear without a chain tool, and determining bicycle chain speed...

Tip of the Month:

How to Improve the Performance of your Mountain Bike without Spending a Cent--

Decrease your tire pressure. You will be amazed at what a difference it will make in your ride! Running less air in your tires improves traction and helps your tires grip the ground. It also improves balance and control because it allows a larger part of the tire to have contact with the ground.

Too much air in your tires causes them to lose traction easier. They also will bounce off rocks or other obstacles rather than riding over them.

Try decreasing your tire pressure in small increments, like 5 psi at a time. You will know when you hit the right pressure because it will feel right and you will ride better. This sweet spot varies based on your weight.

You know you have gone too low with your tire pressure if your tire rolls under the rim during hard cornering. Also, be careful that you don't go so low that you get a pinch flat, which is when the tube gets pinched between the rim and a rock or other object. You can tell if it it a pinch flat because your tube will have two holes that look like a snake bite.

For more information on tires, please visit our page on Mountain Bike Tires

Which Bicycle Lubricant is Best for your Mountain Bike Chain?

With all the bicycle lubricants on the market today, are you having trouble deciding which type to use on your chain? Should you buy a drip or aerosol? Should you use a wet, dry, or wax lube?

Drip vs. Aerosol Bike Lube

Bicycle lubricants come in either a drip or aerosol application. I recommend the drip application because it is easier to get the lube directly on the necessary parts of the bicycle chain. The spray lube gets on other parts of the bicycle, which just collects more dust and grime while riding.

Types of Bike Lube

There are several different types of bicycle lubricants. It is important to choose the right kind of bike lubricant to match the conditions you ride in. The following gives you an idea of which types are bike lubes are best for certain riding conditions:

  • Wet lubes: This lube goes on wet and stays wet. Wet bicycle lubricants are great for wet, muddy, or winter riding conditions

    Advantage: They do not wash off when they get wet and you do not have to apply lube as often as the dry or wax lubricants if you ride in wet conditions.

    Disadvantage: Can be messy if you ride in other types of conditions. If you ride in dry dusty conditions, you will get an oily black residue on your chain. With wet lubes, it is more difficult to clean the chain than is the case with other lubes.

  • Dry lubes: This lube goes on wet and then dries. It is great for dry dusty conditions.

    Advantage: Dry bicycle lubricants prevent dirt from sticking to the chain and do not get messy like wet lubes. The key to using this type of bicycle lubricant is to put it on several hours before you ride so it dries and does not collect dirt when riding.

    Disadvantage: Washes off and has to be reapplied if you are doing lots of stream crossings or riding in wetter conditions.

  • Wax lubes: Another option for dry conditions

    Advantage: A wax coating causes the dirt to flake off the chain so it does not have to be cleaned as frequently.

    Disadvantage: Wax bicycle lubricants have to be applied more frequently than oil lubes and do not work well in wet or muddy conditions. There is some controversy as to whether wax lubes are as effective as oil lubricants because the wax is not believed to get in between the necessary moving parts as well as oil lubes.

Important Tips:

There are many different brands of bicycle lubricants on the market. Some riders like to use their own concoctions or products that are not specifically made for bicycle chains. If you decide to do this, it is a good idea to do some research to make sure they will not damage your chain.

It is important that you have a clean bicycle chain before you apply bicycle lube to it. If it is dirty, the lube will work the dirt into the moving parts of the chain, which accelerates chain wear.

For information on how to clean your bicycle chain and other parts of your mountain bike, including the drivetrain please visit our page on Bicycle Cleaning

Click here to see previous issues of Attack the Singletrack!

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