Comparing Bike Lubes

Oiling-a-rusty-chain-on-a-bike
This is the way you should apply your oil NOT with a spray can. Spray-on oils can get overspray all over your rear rim which causes brake failure. Photo courtesy http://www.123rf.com/

Because wet winter roads covered with salt are really harsh on chains and the rest of your bike, one of the most common questions we get in the bike shop is what type of lube is best to use. The short anwer is that dry lubes are for dry conditions and wet lubes are for wet conditions.

Dry lubricants go on wet but dry to a wax. The wax is resistant to dust or dirt and therefore works good in conditions when there is a lot of dust and dirt present. Off-road riders especially will benefit from a wax lube when the ground is dry and dusty.  These types of lubes do not hold up to  wet conditions and will wash off with prolonged exposure to water.

We sell the following dry lubricants:

  • Tri-Flow Superior Dry Lubricant – affordable and easy to use. Apply and go.
  • Boeshield’s T-9 -higher performance dry lube that will also protect better in wet conditions. However, this lube should be allowed to set up for a couple hours after application. It is a bit more expensive.

Wet lubricants go on wet and stay wet after application. They are great for rainy and wet conditions and won’t wash away(as quickly) but attract dirt and debris and therefore should be avoided in dry, dusty conditions.

We sell the following wet lubricants:

  • Tri-Flow Superior Lubricant – thin, wet lubricant for average conditions. Penetrates easily and quickly. Good for most types of riding during summer and fall months.
  • Tri-Flow Soy Lubricant – used for same conditions as the Superior Lubricant. This is an environmentally friendly lube that is formulated with natural soy oil and  biodegrades rapidly. It does require more frequent application.
  • Pedro’s SynLube – thick, wet lubricant. Great for extremely wet and sloppy conditions. Our number one choice for winter riding, as it doesn’t wash off as quickly as other wet lubes. The higher viscosity means it takes a little longer to penetrate into tight places.

    Tri-Flow lubes
    We stock both wet and dry Tri-Flow lubes shown here.

For the best results of any lubricant it is important to start with a clean chain. With any lube you should give it a minute to penetrate after application and then wipe off the excess so it doesn’t get all over the rim of your bike (which can cause your rear brakes to stop working), your pants, your carpeting, etc.  A dripping-wet chain also attracts more grime leading to a real nasty chain that wears out your whole drivetrain much faster than a clean one.

A lighter lube like the Tri-Flow Superior Lubricant, is excellent for keeping other components of your bike lubricated and help prevent them from seizing up.  We recommend a drop of this lube on the pivots or hinges of your derailleurs (the things that shift your gears) and your brake pivot bolts (NOT your brake pads!) to keep them moving smoothly.  Salt water can and will get inside your brake and shift cables and cause them to get  sticky or completely seize from rust and ice, so a little Tri-Flow inside the cable housing will help keep them sliding smoothly.

Finally, Tri-Flow is excellent for bringing a rusty or sticky lock mechanism back to life.  It’ll also help keep it from freezing up by chasing out water.
Stop by the shop any time and we’ll look your bike over for no charge and give you more specific recommendations and estimates for getting it back in shape for spring!

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Author: Melissa

Store Manager at MSU Bikes Service Center.

3 thoughts on “Comparing Bike Lubes”

  1. Have you tried NFS lube? Works best if you wipe the chain down after every ride, but it’s the best lube I’ve found. They’ll have a booth at NAHBS or you can order online. Silca also has it.

  2. Glad to see your recommendation of Pedro’s SynLube! Great product
    Have you tried any of their other products? Ice Wax (wax based lube) and Green Fizz (cleaner) are two of my favorites 🙂

    1. Glad you enjoyed the review. We use Pedro’s Orange Peelz for our main degreaser in the shop and need to reorder it for our retail customers. We don’t have a lot of space for these types of items so we need to keep our offerings limited to what we use.

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