How Important Is Chain Lube For Mountain Bikes?

By: Olivia Anderson

Your bicycle’s chain is its most important component. At a normal pedaling speed, the chain interacts with the rest of the drivetrain components causing a lot of metal-on-metal contacts.

Chain lube ensures proper engagement of cassette sprockets or chain rings and smooths shifting. As a result, corrosion is prevented, friction is reduced, and drivetrain wear is reduced.

If a chain is not properly lubricated, too much metal-on-metal contact can increase friction. A well-lubricated chain, however, will attract dirt and other grit, increasing friction and wear. The right approach is crucial.

Chain oils are available from many brands, so finding the right one can be challenging.

Here are all the options for the best bicycle chain lube, along with their pros and cons.


Generally, cyclists think of lubrication as a way to reduce friction and increase efficiency. Efficiency, however, is not the only factor to consider. In the drivetrain, friction and wear are closely related.

When drivetrains are cleaned in a laboratory, it is likely that viscous oils will decrease wear rates.

It is possible for dirt and other contaminants to enter the equation in the real world. You can build up a paste of these contaminants in your drivetrain.

To ensure long-lasting parts and maximum efficiency, it is imperative to avoid contamination of the drivetrain. It is not an easy task. A dirty or wet front wheel can spray a lot of contaminants onto your chain. However, the damage may be mitigated by good mudguards. You can only restore balance by thoroughly cleaning your drivetrain. A clean and well-lubricated drivetrain will benefit racers. The efficiency of a drivetrain can be reduced by as much as 1% if the chain is poorly lubricated.


Bicycle-specific oils include wet lubes and dry lubes. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages. The intended use of each will also be discussed. The majority of lubricants are made up of synthetic oils. As well as friction-reducing additives like Teflon (PTFE), they also contain fluids that evaporate when applied. With increased testing data and popularity, waxed-based oils have become increasingly popular with performance-minded cyclists.


As the name implies, dry lubes are designed for use in dry conditions. Typically, they contain 10% lubricant (synthetic oils and additives) and 90% carrier fluid. Some companies refer to wax-based lubes as ‘dry’, but we will discuss them separately. Compared to liquid lubricants, dry lubricants have lower friction and attract fewer contaminants.

The moisture in rain and puddles can easily wash away dry lubes. According to Zero Friction Cycling (ZFC), dry lubes are often cleaner than they actually are because they don’t contain enough lubricant. Testing conducted by ZFC reveals that they often cause friction and wear due to this. And this is best for adult hybrid bike If that’s the case, your money is being spent mostly on carrier fluid that dissolves into thin air.


The use of wet lubes is not limited to riding in wet conditions. Synthetic oils contain higher viscosities and additives like PTFE.

There is more lubricant per milliliter in this type of lubricant. This type of oil will last longer and be less likely to be washed off your chain by water because of its increased viscosity and durability.

There is a downside to wet lubes. Due to these properties, it attracts dirt and grime, especially if it is used excessively. Because of the extra viscosity, thicker lubricants are also less efficient than thinner ones.

Chain links should be lubricated sparingly with this type of lube. Any excess should be wiped off after riding.

Maintaining maximum performance requires regular cleaning of your drivetrain. Oil contamination can cause drivetrain wear.


The ceramic lube market has been growing rapidly over the past few years, with bold claims of increased performance and higher prices. It’s not always easy to tell what they are or what advantages they provide over other types.

Wet and dry ceramic lubes are available from Muc-Off. The company claims that its ceramic lube contains tiny ceramic particles that reduce friction over synthetic oils. The cost of these lubes can be higher, but they are also cheaper. Your drivetrain should last longer and cost you less money as a result.

The ZFC, however, claims that there are not enough data to support the claims that ceramic oils provide the claimed effects, and therefore does not recommend them. Before ceramic lubricants are proven to work as advertised, it’s difficult to recommend them over cheaper alternatives.


The popularity of paraffin wax lubricants has increased tremendously over the years. Tests conducted by independent laboratories have shown that they are extremely efficient, long-lasting, and resistant to contamination.

A wax-based lubricant consists of a mixture of paraffin wax particles and additives like PTFE, as well as a carrier fluid.

Two of the most popular wax lubes are Smoove and Squirt. During the testing process, both received more than four-and-a-half stars.

The wax’s high performance is due to its ability to form a hard, almost-dry layer of low friction grease when applied correctly.


Initially, this might seem like a lot. At least to you.

We have found that the initial chain cleaning is the most challenging part of immersive waxing.

The factory grease can be difficult to remove even if you have a new chain. You will need strong solvents or degreasers to properly remove factory grease. Additionally, you’ll need to dispose of some waste chemicals.

After they have been cleaned and treated properly, waxed chains are highly resistant to dirt and grime.

Dirt cannot stick to them because they are so dry. If you don’t ride in the rain, you won’t need to clean your drivetrain for 300-400km.

Paraffin wax is a highly refined wax that contains almost no oil. Wet rides make waxed chains more susceptible to rust. After each ride, the chain should be cleaned and waxed. By using a wax-based drip lubricant or immersion waxing every 300km, chains can last up to 15,000km. It can greatly extend the life expectancy of other expensive components, such as cassettes and chainrings.

Chain lubrication is essential for smooth rides and long-term durability.



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