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Cleaning & Lubing

Whether you are wondering how to true a wheel, how to fix that clicking sound or simply maintain your bike for the long haul, the Workshop & Maintenance forum is your one-stop online mechanic shop.

Moderator: Pricey_sky

Cleaning & Lubing

31 Aug 2015 19:30

starting off with some basic stuff targeting those who may be new to cycling
perhaps a sticky?

keep your bike clean and properly lubricated

Cleaning & Degreasing:-
Bike cleaning fluids are generally divided into two types – degreasers which act to break down and remove old grease and gunk from moving parts prior to reapplication of lube or grease; and general cleaners which are used to bring non-moving parts (frame, wheels etc) up to a nice shine, and which are specially formulated to be kind to modern frame materials such as carbon fibre.

Your chain and other transmission parts (chainrings, cassette, jockey wheels) should be clean before any lubricant is applied. Dried mud can be brushed off with a semi-stiff brush and surface grime removed with a clean, dry cloth. Once this is done regularly you should avoid the need to 'deep clean' your chain too often – removing the old lube and the dirt it has gathered – but if you do, you will need a degreaser to break up the old, gunky lube/dirt paste, after which it can be rinsed away.

Degreasing liquid is strong stuff so make sure to keep it well away from bearings in the headset, bottom bracket and wheel hubs, and from the disc brake rotors. Do not spray indiscriminately – use a brush or cloth to apply to where it's needed – chain, chainrings and cassette - leave it to do its job, and clean off. You can use a cloth to clean down a degreased chain, or a hose to rinse it off, but be careful when hosing. Never direct high-pressure washers or hose jets directly at bearings as they can wash out the grease.

Bike cleaners
Degreasing liquids when used as bike cleaners can damage paintwork and anodizing on frames and parts. Some concentrated products are used neat as transmission degreasers, but are intended to be diluted for use as as general bike cleaners. Look for cleaners that are formulated without the use of sodium hydroxide, other acids or solvents – or at the very least do not leave cleaning on your frame for too long before hosing off.

For chain cleaning you can also buy a special chain cleaning device to make the job easier. This is a small plastic box which fits around the chain and contains a series of rollers and brushes. Fill the tank with degreaser, rotate the chain through the device and the result should be a sparking chain and a box of dirty degreaser to dispose of.

Go green?
Speaking of disposal – most bike lubes, degreasers and cleaners historically contained nasty ingredients such as heavy metals and chlorine that were harmful to the environment – not nice stuff to be pouring down the drain or depositing in your local stream as you splash through it.

Some still do, but thankfully there are many more manufacturers offering 'green' bike lubes and liquids which are made from non-toxic, biodegradable ingredients that protect the environment without compromising performance.

Lubricants & Grease:-
Bike lubricants are designed to keep the moving parts of your bicycle… well, moving. Lubricating key parts – including transmission (chain/chainrings/cassette), pivot points (brake pivots, suspension pivots, derailleur pivots), cables and clipless pedals – will ensure that they work smoothly, and prolong their life.

Bike grease is a type of lubricant but is generally heavier/thicker than lube for moving parts. You will find grease packed into bearings – hub and pedal axle bearings, headset bearings and bottom bracket bearings – to keep them rotating smoothly (non-cartridge bearings will need to be periodically dismantled, cleaned and packed with fresh grease). A light smear of grease is also used on many threaded parts – stem bolts, disc rotor bolts etc – to prevent them from seizing.

Lubes help to prevent friction between the moving parts of the chain – the rollers, plates and rivets that make up each link – which prevents wear and prolongs its life, and also protect the chain from contamination or corrosion (rust).

Lubes work by penetrating deep into the chain's moving parts and clinging to the metal, providing a protective layer.

They are typically made up of a carrier fluid which contains particles that act to reduce friction.

There are three main types of lubes – wet, dry and all-purpose.

• Wet lubes are designed to work in wet conditions and feature a carrier fluid with a higher viscosity. What this means is that they stay wet when applied to the chain, and cling better, being less likely to be washed off. The downside of wet lubes is that they tend to pick up dirt and muck more easily than dry lubes, eventually covering your chain and transmission in that grinding black paste. If you ride in wet conditions you will need a wet lube but remember to regularly tend to your chain, cleaning it as necessary (see Cleaning for using degreasers for a 'deep' clean) and reapplying lubricant if needed.

NOTE: When lubricating a chain – ideally a clean one – the key is to allow the lube to penetrate into the inner moving parts, not slather it all over. A drop or two of lube on each roller in a link should suffice – leave for a while to penetrate before using, wipe off any excess and you're good to go.

• Dry lubes are made with a thinner carrier fluid which evaporates after being applied, leaving the friction-reducing particles in place. Dry lubes work well in dry, dusty conditions as they will protect and lubricate your chain without also acting as a magnet for mud, but can easily be washed off once conditions turn damp.

NOTE – To get the best out of dry lubes, apply one layer to a clean chain, and leave to dry. Then apply another, and leave to dry again.

• All-purpose lubes, as the name suggests, are a compromise between wet and dry types and suitable for general mixed conditions or for people who just don’t want to fettle with their bike too much (a general-purpose oil such as 3-in-1 is a typical all-purpose lube). They will lubricate your chain but without the condition-specific advantages outlined above, will require frequent re-application.

NOTE – Remember that it is possible to over-lubricate your chain, with an excess of lube eventually turning into a black, sticky gunk as it attracts particles of dirt. How often to apply lube depends on how much you ride and in what conditions, but if your chain is squeaking or showing evidence of corrosion, it's due a drink. Meanwhile if it continually gets coated in oily paste, lay off the lube.

Finally – when lubing your bike’s moving parts make sure to keep any lubes or grease well away from the braking surfaces. Any oil or lube on brake pads, rotors or rims will significantly impact on braking performance, especially with disc brakes. If you do spill lube on your braking surfaces, use a degreaser to clean it but be prepared for your brakes to take a while to ‘bed in’ again and get back to normal.

As above, bike grease is generally packed into bearings to keep them rotating smoothly and to stop water getting in, or smeared on bolt threads to stop them from corroding and seizing. Bike grease is pretty standard stuff – regular replacement being the most important thing - although some of the more expensive greases use Teflon particles to reduce friction.

Whatever grease you choose to use, be careful not to over-grease bearings or threads as an excess of grease will attract dirt like a magnet. Wipe off any excess after you are finishing greasing or use a grease gun for more precise application.

Suspension Oil
As well as the above-outlined categories of general bike lube and grease, there are a number of lubrication products for specific applications/parts, chief among them suspension oil for forks and rear shocks.

This oil is used inside the shock or fork (typically in the fork leg lowers) where it keeps the bushes and seals lubricated for smooth, friction-free operation.

Your suspension oil will become dirty over time and regular replacement will help prolong the life of your fork/shock and improve performance. As with motor oil, suspension oil is characterised according to its viscosity or ‘weight’, with a 5wt oil being thinner and more free-flowing than a 15wt oil. The weight of the oil used in your suspension will also affect characteristics such as rebound damping (thinner oil will flow quicker through the holes in the rebound cartridges, speeding up the rate of rebound, and vice-versa) so many riders regard the type of oil they use as one more factor in the fine-tuning of their suspension performance.

If in doubt on which type of oil to use in your fork or shock, consult your manufacturer’s manual or an online oil chart.

Carbon paste
Carbon paste is similar in look and feel to conventional bike grease but is not designed to lubricate or reduce friction – rather, the opposite. A light smear of this paste is used when putting together carbon fibre components (for example a carbon handlebar/stem combo or a carbon seatpost) as it helps to improve grip between the two surfaces. This helps to avoid the risk of over-tightening, which could damage the carbon, and prevent parts from slipping under load.

here are a couple of handy yt clips that could be worth watching if you're new to cleaning and lubing your bike
be careful with the high pressure water hose though


User avatar JackRabbitSlims
Posts: 1,466
Joined: 10 Jan 2010 01:06
Location: On The Road.

31 Aug 2015 21:08

I would recommend white Lightening grease. Its clear so you won't get black or any real grease marks and its waterproof and eco friendly, Very innovative and works.


I really don't use lube. I have carbon Chainrings and use Yban self lube chains so no lube. It works fine.
if I did use lube and sometimes I run a some around my jockey wheels, I use a ceramic lube. You need very little and it works really well and very very easy to clean chain and no lube marks on your clothes.

Most of you now I'm a weight weenie " so much carbon" so I just clean my bike with Baby wipes and that's it.
I never use water.
Make sure you keep contact points between Carbon and alloy with a grease barrier to stop galvanic corrosion.
Better still just use carbon or Ti for contact points.
ray j willings
Senior Member
Posts: 2,645
Joined: 04 Aug 2011 18:15

31 Aug 2015 23:24

Another thing. DO NOT use standard WD-40 as a chain lube! It is too fine and causes dirt and other particles to be trapped in the links of the chain, causing it to wear very quickly.

Having said that, it's great for cleaning cassettes, chainrings and getting grease marks off frames. Just remember to clean it ALL off before putting the components back on your bike.
User avatar 42x16ss
Posts: 5,302
Joined: 23 May 2009 04:43
Location: Brisbane, Aus

31 Aug 2015 23:46

good call 42x16ss

WD-40 was developed by the military in the 50s as a rust preventative solvent and de-greaser to protect missile parts. It quickly became a household item when people discovered it had thousands of other uses as a cleaner, rust-prevention agent, squeak-stopper and more. It also works wonders as a light lubricant on small items like hinges, locks, and toys.
Bicycle chains, on the other hand, are far too heavy and fast-moving for the lubricating power of WD-40 to have any effect at all. As a matter of fact, WD-40 will actually strip away any existing lubricant and leave your drivetrain dry - metal on metal. Basically, spraying this stuff on your chain is worse than using no lubricant at all!
User avatar JackRabbitSlims
Posts: 1,466
Joined: 10 Jan 2010 01:06
Location: On The Road.

17 Jul 2017 20:46

some stuff found on the internet cannot be taken as being biblical. WD40 is a lubricant, it doesn't last long as most lubes granted but it does work as a lube, if someone wants to argue about that don't, instead read this: https://www.wired.com/2009/04/st-whatsinside-6/ If by some odd chance you think that web site is lying then try this experiment, spray your rims, or your rotors with WD40 and then try to stop and see what happens. WD40 does wash off fast in the rain though. Now I'm not promoting using WD40 as a chain lube because I think it's too light, but don't say it's not a lube. The company does now sell WD40 bike lubes, wet and dry, I am trying the dry version, still not sure if I like it; comparing it to Rock N Roll Gold. I also use Progold ProLink Xtreme, this stuff is the best wet lube I've ever used, it stays on without splattering, and it doesn't wash off in rain. Dry lube is the where the biggest question marks are for me, so far Rock N Roll seems to the best dry lube I've tried, but the WD40 Dry lube is still being tested.

I have found that after using Park chainbrite solvent in the Park Chain cleaning machine, then wipe it with a cloth, then follow it up with WD40 in the PArk Chain clean machine, then wipe with a cloth, followed by White Lightning Clean Streak spray and wipe of course, it gets the chain extremely clean vs without doing any one of the steps. I've been doing that way now for about 6 months since learning some motorcyclists are cleaning their chains with WD40 before relubing.
New Member
Posts: 48
Joined: 23 Feb 2017 15:52
Location: NE Indiana

22 Jul 2017 01:55

I love Squirt..in my area it lasts pretty good and is easy to keep clean..1 bottle lasts a long time..
Junior Member
Posts: 260
Joined: 05 Sep 2016 00:24

22 Jul 2017 03:00

I'm on the limb when it comes to Squirt, too many people have had poor results, but about an equal amount have had great results, so about 50% disapproval rate which is enough for me to stay away.

The weird thing about all this lube mumbo jumbo is that in Europe they have totally different lubes than Americans have, I wonder why that is? They rave about Juice Lubes Incredible Chain Juice, Fenwicks Wet Weather chain Lube, Purple Harry's Wet Chain Lube, and Crankalicious Science Friction Ceramic Lube; hey I didn't make those names up!

I personally am beginning to believe that if you are using one of the top 10 lubes you won't go wrong because there isn't really any difference between them. Having said that I don't mine trying something new which is what I doing with WD40 Dry bicycle lube
New Member
Posts: 48
Joined: 23 Feb 2017 15:52
Location: NE Indiana

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