You might not think so, but the chain of your bike is probably the most significant part of the entire mechanism.
Without it, you wouldn’t be able to move at all - it is constantly being rotated, and therefore ground against other metals.
As a result, keeping the chain properly lubed is key to maintaining your bike: failure to do so, or use the correct kind, and you could end up with a worn-out drivechain system and a rusty, corroded chain generally. Not good!
Don’t panic. We’ve got you covered here, with a list of various different lubes that suit a wide range of riders, bikes, and budgets.
Rated by cyclists, for cyclists, your chain will be in tip-top condition before you can say “lubricant”.
OUR TOP PICK
As a patented “self-cleaning” formula, not only will Dupont’s dry bike chain lube get you greased up and ready to rock and roll, but it also works fantastically at repelling contaminants and keeping everything free of dust, dirt, and grime.
Offering a thermally stable (not affected by temperature) barrier between the chain itself and other moving parts, it actually reduces unwanted chain stretching and minimizes the amount of cable slop you’ll experience.
Free of all silicones, it’s ideal for high contamination or wet environments: it applies wet itself, then eventually penetrates further to coat every surface with its dry polymer-based wax film.
As such, there’s no absorption of anything unwanted.
Usable on anything with moving parts, from traditional bicycles to motorcycles, ATVs, go-karts and even outdoor gardening equipment, this is one of the most versatile lubes on the market and you won’t regret keeping a bottle handy all the time.
- Handy 4 ounce squeeze bottle for easy application
- Dirt resistant, dry formula that won’t fling off, even at high speeds
- Water resistant and non-staining
- Added Teflon and other polymers for further protection from wear and tear
- Only available in small amounts, though should be used minimally
Designed for use in any condition, this effective and simple lube from WD-40 is the perfect pint-sized bottle to keep in your toolbox or bike kit.
Pick it up in 2.5, 4, 6 or 10-ounce containers, depending on your needs and preferences.
Resisting rust thanks to added corrosion inhibitors, the folks behind WD-40 have invented a lube that really will improve your drivechain’s overall performance and ensure you’re riding optimally at all times.
Preventing damage from the friction created by traveling at high speeds, the no-wax formula never builds up in your chain links or other parts of the drivechain - you can rely on your bike to get you from A to B no matter the weather.
Thanks to the thorough and scientifically backed third party and internal testing, performed by mechanics, cyclists and bike retailers alike, this formula is proven to work at a professional level and won’t let you down.
- Great for any bike, making maintenance easy
- Super easy to apply with a patented nozzle
- Community approved - made by cyclists, for cyclists
- Available in a four pack for added value
- Reviews indicate it can serve as more of a degreaser than a lube
Gone are the days of needing a whole afternoon to service your bike chain.
Now, with one easy squeeze bottle, this wet lube from Finish Line combines cleaning AND lubing to create a fast and easy process that’s over in minutes.
It doesn’t matter if your chain is dry or dirty - this formula penetrates deep beneath old layers of lube and any debris, flushing away contaminants and providing thorough lubrication to the entire drivechain system.
Also offering plenty of protection from rust, this is great for those who only cycle infrequently that tend to regularly put their bikes into storage, ensuring it’s ready to hop on and ride again at your next convenience.
Having been engineered specifically for those seeking a one-step, combined clean and lube situation, it’s ideal if you’re a commuter or recreational cyclist who has little time to set aside for regular maintenance.
- Several bottle sizes to choose from, including a .4 ounce tiny tester
- Leaves behind a clean film of low friction lube every time
- Simultaneously removes contaminants and lubricates all at once
- Fantastic for newbies to the world of cycling
- Not as efficient as the lube-only formulas
Impressively durable, the state of the art formula inside every bottle of Muc Off has been specifically formulated to help you ride to the best of your abilities, at long distances and in the driest, dustiest of conditions.
Using integral ‘Extreme Pressure Additives’ ensures that every inch of the chain, every individual link, is coated in oil, allowing for smooth as silk gear changes and a drivechain that moves efficiently and optimally during every ride.
Fully biodegradable and a great deal better for the environment than many other lubes out there, Muc Off’s solution treats the planet just as kindly as it treats your bike, so you can apply liberally and guilt free whenever you need.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a mountain biker, a casual commuter or a road bike enthusiast, their dry lube is perfect to protect the chain of absolutely any bike.
A wax based formula ensures that friction is reduced massively and contaminants blocked.
- Creates a durable protective layer on the whole of the chain
- Advanced formula specifically designed to reduce energy consumption and unnecessary friction during rides
- Ideal for not just your chain but cables, shifters and derailleurs too
- Derived from natural ingredients and renewable sources
- For use in dry conditions only - will rinse off in the rain!
With none of that untidy residue left over, White Lightning promises to not only clean your bike chain but lube it up as well.
It promises to self-clean your drivechain system, and can also be used on derailleurs and cables too.
Applying with a dry wax finish, it sheds dirt and grime throughout every ride, ensuring your bike runs smoothly; small particles of the outer wax structure flake off as the chain moves, beginning a cycle of “self-cleaning” that continues every application.
Once dry, it works to prevent every day and more abrasive wear and tear, by letting each part of the drive chain move smoothly with as little friction as possible.
Available in a giant jug, you can stock up for years at a time and save money, too.
Plus, it doesn’t leave any oily film after you’ve used it, so your gears and chains will not only perform better, but there are no abrasive contaminants attracted, so the bike will supposedly last up to three times longer than using traditional lubes.
- Patented product made in the USA
- Works well in any riding conditions - though not regular rain
- Actually self-cleans as the label promises, according to customer reviews
- Especially protective in dry, dusty climates
- Large container is difficult to pour from - may require a funnel
Best Bike Chain Lube Buying Guide
Chain Lube Types - What’s The Difference?
Don’t be fooled into thinking every lube is the same. Otherwise, you’d be using Durex on your bike and WD-40 in the bedroom!
Which, by the way, we absolutely do not advise. So - how are lubes differentiated? Let’s take a look...
Created for those cyclists heading out in normal or wetter than average conditions, wet lubes are typically thicker and more viscous than their dry counterparts (more on those in a moment) usually featuring additional synthetic oils and other chemicals.
With a wet lube, you get more bang for your buck (or more lube per millimeter if we’re being specific), because its thickness helps a little go a long way, whilst the added oils prevent the lube from being rinsed off in rainy riding conditions.
However, because it repels water in this way, a wet lube can attract more than the usual amount of grease and grime to your bike chain, as well as create a little more friction between the chain and the other metals present.
This can lead to less efficient cycling, particularly if you’re a little bit overzealous and add too much lube.
Try and use as little as you can get away with, being sure to use a clean damp cloth to remove any unwanted excess to finish things off.
When you’re committed to riding in wetter weather, it’s even more important than ever to make sure you’re regularly cleaning the entire drivechain, to avoid a reduction in speed and ensure the chain lasts as long as possible.
On the contrary, dry lube - as the name suggests - is for preparing to ride in dry conditions.
As a result, they are traditionally composed of approximately ten percent or less lubricant, with the rest of the formula being carrier fluid, an adhesive solvent.
Being thinner and less viscous than their wet counterparts, it is believed that dry lubes offer a lower-friction ride that preserves your drivechain and allows you to perform more efficiently however hard you pedal.
They are also a lot less likely to attract any unwanted muck, dirt, or other contaminants, which means cleaning the drivechain will be a lot easier and have to be performed on a less regular basis.
A downside of their thinner formula, however, is that it is a lot easier for a sudden bout of rain or rushing through a big puddle to rinse the lube off.
This requires being more liberal with your application and therefore less value for money overall.
Most cyclists would argue that with dry lube, a lot of your money is being spent on the carrier fluid, which is only present to help the lube stick and actually evaporates once applied.
Depending on your preferences, you might agree!
Using paraffin wax as their primary ingredients, wax lubes have a lot more in common with your household candles than their wet and dry counterparts.
Though it’s a newer product, it has definitely proven very popular over the last few years.
Typically combining very, very reduced paraffin wax particles with the same carrier fluid from dry lube and possibly an additive like PTFE (Polytetrafluoroethylene) which helps to reduce any friction between the chain and its surrounding.
Research and testing from experts seem to indicate that wax lube is fantastic at repelling unwanted contaminants, as well as helping to improve the lifespan of the chain generally, as it doesn’t create the drag that more viscous formulas do.
It may be a result of the fact that if you properly lube up a chain using wax, it will actually dry to form an almost invisible layer of consistent lubricant on the chain - that isn’t quite wet and not completely dry, either.
As a result, it is great at blocking dirt from entering the drivechain… but the downside is that your chain needs to be absolutely spotless before you apply wax lube, otherwise it’s not going to stick.
Even a previously unopened chain warrants a scrub!
Another recent arrival in the world of lube formulas is ceramic, which promises to not only keep your chain running beautifully smooth, but also potentially improve your overall riding performance as well. Big words for the new kid on the block!
Whilst it’s not quite obvious what ingredients ceramic lubes prioritize or how they work better than others on the market, the manufacturers certainly have no qualms making these claims, as well as adding a significant increase to their price tags.
As a result, we would recommend sticking to a more traditional lube for your bike chain unless you’re happy to risk its longevity.
At least, that is, until some proper research is conducted into the success of ceramic lubes over other options!
Although you can purchase aerosol style wet, dry and wax lubes, it’s advised that you avoid these spray varieties.
This is because unfortunately, they are super tricky to apply a thorough coat of, meaning you never really get your full money’s worth.
Likewise, there’s also a chance you might get lube where you don’t really want it, such as in the brake pads, which is a big problem you really must avoid.
It could impact or even damage them, so aerosols aren’t worth the risk in our opinion.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it okay to use WD40 on a bike chain?
Nope! Unless you’re using their very specific bike lubricant products, which are clearly marketed as such, then you should actually avoid putting regular WD40 on your bike chain - it won’t do the job of a traditional lube.
This is because the typical formula is actually designed to be used as a solvent for grease and grime, as well as removing any traces of rust, although it can have the added benefit of lubricating squeaky hinges amongst other things.
If you put it on your bike chain, it will probably just strip off the existing lube built up (as well as any dirt and debris) which has the opposite effect of what you’re trying to achieve. Get yourself some proper lube, or pay the price!
Can I use olive oil to lube my bike chain?You could… but it won’t do as good a job as actual lube itself and could actually cause problems with efficiency further down the line.
As a short-term fix when you have no oil available to you, it’ll definitely work fine and be better than nothing.
That being said, you will have to completely clean your chain before you apply a fresh coat of proper bike chain lube over the top, so consider whether time saved not going to the store is actually worth it.
Likewise, it’s likely to pick up and drag with it any dirt or debris that your chain comes into contact with.
As a result, over time, the whole thing is at risk of becoming gummed up or clogged with contaminants.
Get lube if you can, but don’t worry if not - it will work okay in a pinch and clean off fine when you’re restocked.
What can I use as an emergency bike lubricant?
There are very few substances that mimic lubricant efficiently, so it isn’t right to recommend anything to you.
In the event you have a dry, squeaky chain and nothing to slick it up with, you’re better off running to the store or trying to borrow some lube.
When it’s not possible to access anything, then you should postpone your ride rather than trying to use something inappropriate on your chain.
Though it saves you hassle in the short term, it will only create more issues for you in the future. Trust us!