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Lubing A Mountain Bike Chain Correctly | GMBN Tech MTB Essentials Ep. 8

Lubing A Mountain Bike Chain Correctly | GMBN Tech MTB Essentials Ep. 8

– This is a GMBN Tech essentials series, our easy to follow guide to setting up and maintaining your bike yourself. In this video, we’re looking
at lubricating the chain, which although does sound
like a very simple thing, it’s something often
approached totally wrong. So, we’re gonna dispel a few myths here today in the video. We’re also gonna explain to
you about all the components of a chain, how they work,
and why it’s relevant when you lubricate the chain. And also we’re gonna take a look at the types of lube that you need to use to make sure your transmission runs nice and smoothly. Now mountain bikes have a
lot of technology on them, a lot of very advanced things going on. Yet they still use the age
old chain to propel them. Something in fact that’s
been around since 1869 on bicycles, but of
course it has developed over the years. It’s got thinner, it’s go lighter, it’s got arguably stronger, and it’s more efficient. Now many people still wonder why mountain bikes continue to use the chain, and in fact bicycles full stop, especially considering this
transmission is out in the open. We ride in muddy, gritty, sandy conditions that typically wears these parts down and makes them consumable items, which means it costs you money when you’re just using the bike. Which is why it’s so important that we take good care of them. But the simple fact is
we’re still using them because it’s still currently
the best way to do this. Now there are bikes
with gear boxes on them, and the gear boxes are definitely gonna be a technology of the
future in mountain biking. But for the moment this is still the most cost effective way of
making a mountain bike work and with the least amount of friction. Now friction of course is
something you wanna reduce as much as possible on a bike because it revolves around
your peddling power. As soon as you got friction, and you’ve gotta peddle around, you’re wasting energy. Ergo, the chain is still
the best tool for the job. Now understanding how a chain works and it’s components are
key in order to lubricating a chain correctly because you quite often see people just pouring, like literally, saturating their chains with
unnecessary amounts of oil, which sometimes can make things worse. Just take a little look at the chain. So first up you can see
these outer plates here. These are the wider stance plates. And then you’ve got the inner plates that are sandwiched by them. And hold the sandwiches
together over a roller that rotates around an inner bush. And a pin punches it all together. Now the roller is really the only part of a chain that needs lubrication. This is the part that rotates. It rotates around the bush on the inside, which of course will wear out and does wear out in time
if it is not lubricated, or if it’s over-lubricated
and there’s loads of muck and grime in there. Just, basically you’re gonna
be turning that around. It’s like sanding it away. Now the name of the game is
to keep everything clean. And to use the correct amount of lube and the correct lube for the
type of riding you’re doing, the duration of riding you’re doing, and the conditions that you ride in. Now when it comes to lubrication, there are a lot of confusing options available on the market. Especially when it comes to road cycling, because they have wax lubes,
they have ceramic lubes, you got spray lubes, you’ve got wet lubes, and you’ve got dry lubes. But really when it comes
to mountain biking, in my honest opinion, there’s only two that actually matter. A good wet lube and a good dry lube. Every mountain biker will
need two options for that, and they vary depending on the conditions that you ride in and the
time of year you go riding. Now a wet lube, as you might think, is a wet lubricant. It’s generally quite thick and viscous and it’s job is to hold the
lubricating particles in place. So there will be lubricating particles floating within the lube, and the idea is that you lube
those rollers on the chain, you allow it to penetrate, but also, you leave a coating of that lubricant on the chain. And as well as keeping
the chain lubricated, it also protects the chain. Some lubricants have corrosion inhibitors built into them and
basically it protects it from the environment. Now whilst wet lubes are
very, very good at their job, if you were to use them
in drier conditions or sandy conditions they can actually make things worse for you because they can attract
all of the worst stuff that you do not want
near your transmission. And this effectively makes up sort of a horrible grinding paste
and as you’re peddling you are literally spending
money on your bike. You are wearing things out. So it’s really important
to only use wet lube in the conditions that you need it in. So the other option you need, perhaps if you’re gonna
have two lubricants, change of season, is the way
I would suggest using them, is a dry lubricant. Now as misleading as the name sounds, a dry lubricant is still actually wet. It’s a solvent lube and
inside that solvent carrier, let’s call that, there
are lubricating particles. It’s a liquid form when
you apply it to the chain. And the liquid solvent
helps those particles get into those rollers
and the pins of the chain where it needs to be. Then typically the solvent will evaporate or dry up filming a, like a
film over the top of the chain. Now the idea of this is the chain then feels dry to the touch but the lubricant is where it needs to be. Now like wet lube, dry lube does have a couple
of downsides as well. Now the first one is if you’re
riding in wet conditions it’s gonna get washed off quite easily. Because it’s not thick and
viscous and water resistant in the same way that wet lube is. So don’t use dry lube in wet conditions. Or if you do have to
use it in wet conditions you’re gonna be applying
it a lot more frequently. And another thing with dry lube is it does wear out faster than wet lube. But the advantages of dry lube of course, you’re not gonna get all that stuff sticking all over your drive train which means your drive train
will run smoother for longer. So, being cyclists of the world, we’re gonna be riding in
various different conditions whether you’re just on your home trails, whether that’s in autumn or fall, summer, spring, trails change. So what I recommend is
having a good quality wet lube and a good quality dry lube. Now general spray lube is very useful and when applied correctly works well. It’s somewhere in the
middle of wet and dry lube. And that’s expected. It’s got some of the traits of both. But it is on the thinner
side of a wet lube so you’re gonna need to
apply it more frequently. However it has got other
uses around a bike. Acts quite well as a water displacer. If you were to spray it and
polish bits of your bike with it afterwards, let’s just say around
pivot points and things, it works quite well as a
little additional barrier. However, if you’re just
using stuff for transmission, I recommend the old fashioned way, just go for a simple wet
and a simple dry lube in a dropper bottle. The reason for that is you can apply vary accurately the
specific amount of lube that you need to teach
roller on the chain. And use it vary sparingly. It’s gonna last you longer. And there’s no chance you’re gonna get it anywhere near those braking surfaces that are so easy to ruin. Now when it comes to
lubricating your chain there’s no point just adding more oil to what’s already there
because you can actually make things worse. You might feel that you’re
just adding more lubricant and it’s gonna run nice and smooth. But if you’ve been out riding and there are particles of grid and sand or anything like that in your drive train you’re just gonna keep
it there by doing that. And that is not what you wanna do. So the best advise when you lube the chain is to clean your transmission. Now my transmission here at a glance does look quite clean. But actually when you go a bit closer and you actually look at those rollers you can see quite a lot of muck on there. Now it would be all too
easy just to run it around with a fresh coat of lube
on there and hit the trails. But that’s not the best practice to do. Now having some kind of
degreaser is really useful because it makes this
next process a lot easier, but it’s not essential because
when you wash your bike a lot of that natural lubricant, provided you look after your
bike on a regular basis, will come out. However, if your chain
is all black and gunky and got loads of stuff on it, you’re gonna need a
degreaser to break that down. Now degreaser is quite nasty stuff. Most bike degreasers you get these days are bio friendly so they’re
good for the environment, or they’re not harmful
for the environment. However, they’re very harmful
for your braking surfaces so the same rules apply as would apply with any spray, any sort
of spray around your bike. Any aerosol in fact. Just avoid getting them anywhere
near your braking surfaces. Now the best form of
practice would be to spray some on a rag and then pass
the chain through there just by cycling your
transmission backwards. Of course, make sure the
rag doesn’t get tangled up in any of the sprockets
because it’ll get pulled in and you can also get your
fingers pulled in there as well. Common sense really, just take note of what’s going on. Now another option and a
lot of houses have this is classic WD-40. Now WD-40 is in fact a lubricant, but it also has solvent base to it, which means it can break down lubricant. Now, on a transmission like this, I don’t think I actually need to use degreaser at this stage. I know where I’ve been riding, I know the conditions, and I know it’s still
running pretty smooth. It’s just picked up some muck on the way. So some WD-40 on a rag. And again run the chain through that will actually remove quite
a lot of that nasty stuff. Then I’m free to lubricate the chain and go about my business. Now when it comes to actually
applying the lubricant just have a little think about this first. So we know that dry lubricant needs to get into the rollers, and then effectively it will
dry up around the chain. So technically it doesn’t matter where you lubricate your chain
on your transmission. Now sometimes you see people lubing the chain on the top here. If you’re using wet lube
that’s not good practice. I’ll tell you why in a minute. But for a dry lube, it’s quite acceptable because it’s gonna go into
the chain itself and soak in. But what I recommend
doing is actually the same for wet and dry lube is applying it on the inside of the links. Now the reason for that
is you can cycle the chain backwards through the
transmission as you’re doing this, you can monitor the
chain as it’s going past, it’s very easy to be nice and accurate. For a dry lube it doesn’t
make quite as much difference because it’s still gonna
go into those links and rollers and do its job. But for wet lube, if
you’re applying it here, you need part of the residue of wet lube to remain on the chain. This is the part of the
chain that contacts, like the inside part of the chain, contacts the sprockets all the way around. If you’re lubricating the
outside part of the chain all you’re doing is giving yourself a reason to absorb stuff onto the chain, which is gonna wear it out. Now depending on the
conditions that you ride in a dry lube doesn’t need
anything once it’s been applied because it will naturally,
the solvent will evaporate and dry up. That is job done, ready to ride. But with a wet lube, you’re stuck with a
couple of options here. Now if you’re riding on
a slightly drier day, but you still need wet
lube over a dry lube, sometimes it’s a good
idea to let it soak in and then just wipe off
some of that residue that’s on the outside links, because that also helps
stop grit and mud and muck and all the stuff that
wears it out sticking to it. However, if it’s a really,
really wet horrible day, leave it. You need all the help you can get. You need that lubricant to stay in place. So let it do its job. Just be cautious of the fact
that when you are riding in foul conditions you will need to clean and degrease everything when you get back to make sure it lasts. So there we go, that is
everything you really need to know about lubricating your chain. And like I emphasized from
the beginning of the video all you need is a simple
wet and dry lubricant and some rags. That is the fundamentals. Anything else will improve your experience with the bike. But that is all you really need to make sure your transmission
runs nice and smoothly. Now if you want to find
out how to deep clean your transmission, that
is quite a few steps up, but it’s quite an informative video, click down there. And if you wanna know a bit more about all the different types of greases, lubricants, compounds, et cetera, that are available for bikes, click up there. It’s a bit of a minefield. As always, if you found
this video helpful, give us a thumbs up. And if you love GMBN Tech
and the essential series, please don’t forget to
hit that subscribe button and share it around.

79 comments on “Lubing A Mountain Bike Chain Correctly | GMBN Tech MTB Essentials Ep. 8

  1. When buying lube and degreaser think about adding a few $currency$ to get a pack of single use nitrile rubber gloves.
    Your skin will be thankful and after you are finished you just toss them and walk off with clean hands.

  2. I can highly recommend the park tool chain cleaner with a biodegradable degreaser. Then I use mucoff wet or dry lubes after drying the chain. All done the night before.
    I would like to see a ceramic bearing chain would only need little lube.

  3. My friend says he uses a petrol soak to clean and degrease his chain and drive train.
    Does this work and is it ok for the drivetrain?

  4. since i use liquid wax instead of the oil mess, the problems go a way, all over the year in all conditions like snow with salt, mud, dust etc.

  5. Used all sorts and the only lube in my experience that vill keep the chain clean for real is a waxbased lube such as Squirtlube. The chain looks shiny when the rest of the drivetrain looks nasty. No more degreaser, only water. Less friction and shifts smooth. Only downside is it can stiffen the links in subzero(celsius) weather if there is too much vax on, Just take excess off the outer with dry rag. Never going back from Squirtlube. Can't understand why people( including gmbn) don't see it's not only for road.

  6. I'm using WD 40 chain wax at moment, it's Awesome.. doing them in Aldi for £2.99 at moment… buying one every week , as they are selling them quickly …

  7. Always go and clean your cassette and chain rings too as you take care of the chain – no use to cleaning the chain only to have it running on mucky surfaces picking up dirt right away!

  8. Before watching this, I’m extremely perplexed as to why it would take 12 minutes to teach people how to lube a chain

  9. I'm not a mountain biker – just a leisurely cyclist. I'd love internal gear hubs to become the norm. Don't you think they could become a better solution for you guys? …stronger chains, no more broken derailleurs/hangers. And for those of us who don't care about weight, a full chain guard & maybe even an oil bath – no maintenance req'd.

  10. Can you please touch upon wheel flop as I have just got a bike with a slacker head angle and have only now felt this sensation for the first time and found out about what it is, and if possible how to possibly ease this sensation. Would wider bars help, as I'm only riding 740mm bars. #AskGMBNTech

  11. how do I take off my chain and then put that same chain back on my bike? i have a chaintool but that only seems to be usefull for taking of the chain… is there any way i can put a chain back on the bike once taken off?

  12. One word- Squirt. Then on days when I don't lube, I do this-
    ps- long live Paul Sherwen.

  13. Hey Doddy! What do you think of Prolink Chain Lube? I have been using this product for some years. It claims that it lubes and cleans my transmission in any weather and any terrain. It claims to be environmentally friendly and non-staining. It does lubricate my chain but it can look dark on my chain too.

  14. How I lube my Chain:
    1. Clean the chain with a jet washer
    2. Wipe off the chain
    3. Apply dish soap on the chain
    Dish soap is a very good lubricant because it is slippery and slides well
    4. Let it dry 10h then you can go ride your bike 😀

  15. I have a question about how often to clean the chain. I also want to ask about if having high end jockey wheels worth it

  16. RE: lube outside vs inside of chain → one word: GRAVITY. It doesn't matter, because gravity. You can even watch it and see it doesn't matter. The lube goes on, it flows into the gap between the plates and the roller to the pins, (presumably BETWEEN THE ROLLER AND PIN via cappilary action) and it flows around the outside of the roller itself and collects into a drip on the bottom side of the roller.

  17. Hi doddy.
    I have made my own chain lube out of household parafin wax candles and parafin.
    I heat the candles in an old rice cooker then add parafin to the melted wax after giving the chain very deep clean I just drop the chain in the melted wax and parafin, I then let it 'cook' for about 10 minutes, I then take the chain out and let it cool, I wipe the excess wax from the chain whilst it's still warm, I then put the chain back on the bike, I use this method all year long in all weathers, I have never had any dirt and grime stick to the chain, the secret is to clean all of the parts your chain comes into contact with before you re install the chain.
    I repeat this method about every 500 miles on a road bike and approximately 300 miles on a mountain bike and cyclo-cross bike.


  18. if it's not too bad I just lube the chain and let the fresh lube work its way trough and spin the cranks few times, and wipe off the access and the old dirt lube will come off, if needed I lube the chain one more time, and wipe off, but if it's really nasty mess I clean my bike too, and clean my chain with degreaser, I use Muc-Off dry degreaser which also works great for cleaning the rotors, but as you mentioned some degreasers are oily/slippery and has to be washed off with water.
    I lube the chain quite differently than most, I keep the chain in the smallest cog, and pedal backwards, and lube the links so lube go to the rollers in the chain fast, without making a mess, and I can lube it more securely/accurate/stable and use frame as support for holding the lube bottle steady, I've been doing this for years, other methods will be messier, easier to apply too much lube, make a mess on the floor, drop the bottle and other things.
    I get the chain perfectly lubed, and clean.
    this method does not seem to be common, but this is what works the best for me, I haven't seen anyone use my method yet.

  19. This channel vs every other channel on the web differs – attention to detail which I love!! Keep up the great work!!! Really appreciate the detail analysis!!

  20. Look. Just carry creamy peanut butter. If it squeeks put some peanut butter on it. If you get hungry eat it. Peanutbutter ftw!!!!!!

  21. I used to use the park tool degreaser tool after every ride and then relube with Muc-off dry.
    After 300 miles I bought a cheap chain stretch checker which simply dropped in, thinking it was £2 wasted i threw it over my shoulder.
    After 600 miles I had to replace the drivetrain as the chain had worn so much it's buggered everything else.

    The KMC chain replacement instructions says not to degrease the chain at all as it removes the lube deep within the rollers. makes sense really doesn't it.
    Simply clean it ( i use the muc off bike wash ) then dry and apply a drop of lube to each roller ( not the over lube one miss one Doddy was doing there ) spin it round through every gear to get some lube on the teeth and then wipe off the excess, even with dry lube.

    No sign of wear this time.

  22. I was going to comment about wax but looks like I am about 10,000th in line. I'm in Oz so never have to worry about it washing off, only issue is dust (really fine bull dust). I just like the cleanliness of wax, can't beat being able to put the chain back on without getting dirty fingers. Dropping in hot wax is the best but squirt lube is a cracking backup when you can't be bothered/don't have the time.

  23. Only Doddy could present a 12 minute video on the extremely basic task of lubing a chain, and still make it fun and informative. As far as i'm concerned, he is the god of all things tech and maintenance.

  24. I personally use wax even on my MTB. Also for my commuter that probably sees more rain and muck than my mtb
    Yes, corrosion resistance isn't great, but it attracts almost no grit/grime and stays silent even after some really wet rides
    And efficiency is top notch as well. Might be more work, but i have like 4 spare chains readily waxed

  25. What do you think of this product:

    I been using it for years on my MTB. It's been suggested by my LBS.

    Also, what do you think of a chain scrubber? The ones where you attach it to the chain and spin the cranks backwards to clean the chain.


  26. Thanks Doddy, I've always lubed my chain at the cassette. Makes total since to lube the chain under the chain stay. Cheers!

  27. What lube to use for indoor trainer? I usually wax my chains, but it flakes a lot and is difficult to clean my trainer and my mat. Even if not sticky, the flakes do still stick a bit. And to wax the chain, I have to break it, and it dirty process. I consider using a dry lube for indoors, I can cleanly reapply it multiple times. But I can also use a wet lube, it doesn't have dirt and dust to collect. It will last longer but will need an occasional degrease. P.S. The bike at the trainer doesn't leave the trainer.

  28. Hi, I come from a motocross back ground and now mountain bike 5 times a week so I buy 4 Sram GX 12 speed chains and then buy a chain wax that you can boil from putoline and heat on a gas stove and then hang the chains above the hot oil to drip and wipe off excess and when it goes hard put each chain back in there box and then change the chain every two rides or in the summer 3 rides and then re boil, and I get very little chain stretch and less wear on my chain ring and cassette. My last cassette lasted 5000mls with 2 chainrings and no idler wheels and a total off 6 chains in rotation.

  29. I'm a weekend rider. I usually clean and lube my chain a day or two before my ride. I recently finished a ride and since my bike was covered in mud, I cleaned and lubed my bike when I got home. My next ride is in three weeks. How long can I leave my bike unridden with fresh lube before I should lube again? I use dry lube so will it dry out? #askgmbn

  30. Great video and excellent series "Essentials". How much time before the ride should we apply the lube? For either wet or dry lube.

  31. Don't I need to clean the gears before I lube the chain? What to clean em with? If I use degreaser and a rag, the rag gets frayed and bits of cloth are sucked in.

  32. I use olives, I squeeze one whole olive per link, sure it's time-consuming but it makes your chain smell lovely.

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