How To Lube A Bike Chain | GCN Tech’s Guide To Oiling Your Bicycle Chain

How To Lube A Bike Chain | GCN Tech’s Guide To Oiling Your Bicycle Chain

(upbeat music) – Lubricating your
chain is not necessarily as easy as it may sound, certainly not for everybody out there. So the purpose of lubricating your chain is basically to have more
efficient drivetrains, that means a lower friction, as well as reducing the
chance of any corrosion, plus the chance of
wearing out prematurely. So today we’re gonna
look at various methods of lubricating your chain, as well as different lubes for it. (upbeat music) Well firstly let’s talk about Wet Lube. So as the name says, it’s
wet when you apply it, and basically it’s designed
for poor weather conditions. So it does attract generally
a little bit more dirt, grime, dust, that kind of thing. But importantly, it stays in place when the heavens open and
the rain starts coming down. Doesn’t wash off, therefore giving you a squeaky bike. Well worth it for the winter. Then for dry conditions,
we’ve got Dry Lube. All sounds logical, doesn’t it? Although it’s not strictly dry is it, because look, there’s
some liquid in there. Although if you apply it
properly onto your chain, after a few hours basically it leaves a dry film-like coating
across the chain links and also the rollers too. If you don’t apply it properly, it’s just gonna attract a
lot of extra dirt on there. Now if you use this in the wet, it is going to wash off pretty easily giving you a loud squeaking noise, and basically annoying
everybody as well as yourself, and importantly not giving you
the efficiency you deserve, as well as possibly wearing out too fast. Now there are various
different specialist lubricants out there on the market. Basically the purpose
behind them is exactly like the previous two we’ve just mentioned, but generally they are gonna give you a lower friction when
you’re pedaling along, therefore allowing you
to go a little bit faster but for less effort. So for example, you’ve got
UFO Drip from CeramicSpeed, you’ve got TS Bicycle Chain Lube, Race Day Spray from Rex, Chain Lube from Rex as well, plus all importantly
that chain waxing video I did a little while ago where basically I submerged a chain in some melting wax, revealed it, and the results speak for themselves. But how to apply it? This is probably where I’m
at my absolute fussiest when it comes to bike maintenance. So important to remember
is to basically have your drivetrain as clean as possible, so wipe away any excess lubricant, use a degreaser and get
it absolutely spotless. Then find your joining pin, or link, and then rotate the chain backwards until essentially you
find that joining pin in the bottom run of the chain, that’s quite important to remember. And then I prefer to use
a lubricant from a bottle, because I find it easier to apply, don’t have the steadiest of hands. That way as well you can also control how much comes out as you’re going along. And then I start at that joining pin, and basically only apply lubricant to each individual roller. And then as I’m going along, just turn that pedal backwards, and then so forth, until that joining pin comes
all the way back round, then you know you’ve
completed a full revolution. Allow it to settle in for a little while, so just 20, 30 seconds, and then pedal it backwards maybe for about 30 seconds this time, and allowing the lubricant to work its way fully into those rollers and pins. Then in a couple of hours, just wipe away any
excess that you may well have gotten outside of the chain links because you don’t need it there. The only place you need that lubricant is inside of the rollers and pins. Let’s not forget though about aerosols, because they are a very,
very popular choice out there for lubricants. Personally I don’t find
them as easy to use as that of something in a bottle, that’s probably just
because I’ve always tended to use a drop-on type roller
rather than an aerosol. But with a little bit of caution, they can work just as well. But firstly, what are we gonna do. Well if you’ve got disc rotors or calipers on the bike, you’re gonna wanna try and protect them from any wayward spray from the aerosol. So get yourself some cloth and basically cover them up. And the same goes for
braking surfaces too, so try and work away from a rim brake so basically you don’t have poor braking after you’ve lubed your chain. Now there’s a couple of
different techniques here that we can use. The first one, and my preferred one, is find yourself a friend and essentially get them to backpedal whilst you loosely grasp
the chain with a cloth, and then with the aerosol
you spray each roller. And then they’re doing the
hard work for you really, pedaling that backwards. Again, just like with the
lubricant from a bottle, start and finish at the same place on the lower run of chain. The other method is to do it yourself, it’s slightly more labor intensive, although let’s face it, it’s not really much work there is it. So again you would just hold
it and spray, spray, spray, and then backpedal, spray, spray, spray, and so forth. Does take a little bit longer, but hey, it’s not that fun is it. Now some of you out
there will be wondering why on earth I’m not just spraying backwards and forwards, and spinning the cranks around, and using up half a can or
half a bottle at a time. Well, it’s for that exact reason, wastage. And also, you’re not knowing where exactly it’s going that way, are you? Be accurate, and that bottle of lubricant or that aerosol of lubricant
is gonna last you a lot longer. Now just like the other methods, spin the cranks round a couple of times before wiping away any excess, and then you’re good
to go out riding again. But what I want to know is
how do you oil your chain? What’s your preferred method, from a bottle, from a can, or do you wax it, who knows? Let me know in the comments
section down below. Also, remember to like and share this video with your friends, especially if you ride with someone and they’ve got a squeaky chain. My pet hate. Now remember as well to
check out the GCN shop at And now for another video, this time when I waxed a chain, that’s right, I dipped a chain in hot wax, click just down here.

About the Author: Michael Flood


  1. I use “squirt” a wax based liquid in a bottle that works just like your hot waxing and is way easier, I also meticulously clean and one drop precise application
    (Damn right precisely as it $18 ca/bottle)

  2. I live in Colorado where they salt the roads in the winter. Basically have to buy a new chain every spring.

  3. Cleaning and lubing my chain is one of my favorite things to do. Some of my OCD tendencies: using a toothbrush to work in the degreaser, using a handful of Q Tips to push out the gunk from between the links, a spray bottle of water to gently rinse the remaining gunk and degreaser off before drying and lube. And yes, dry lube from a bottle with one dab per roller. 🙌🏼

  4. Thanks Jon! I apply my lube the same as you do. My friend told me he rotates his crank 50x to work the lube in, so I rotate mine 100x 🤷‍♂️
    I have always wiped my chain from excess lube right away, but always wondered if I should let it dry first then wipe clean. I'll give your method a go!
    PS you used to be sponsored by MucOff and I gave them a go and have not looked back!!! I've tried the WD brand of bike lubes but don't really like the chain lube….

  5. After scrubbing the gears and degreasing the chain, rinsing, and drying, I use rock 'n' roll gold according to the directions on the bottle, applying over the cassette while backpedaling, then backpedaling for a bit, then wiping the chain with every last clean surface of a rag until the chain leaves nothing behind. No matter how much I clean and how spotless it is before the lube, the solvent in rock 'n' roll gold always finds a little more grime to wash out.

  6. I individually crush an olive and slowly let the oil drip onto each chain link. One olive per link. A bit time consuming but works well and leaves your chain smelling great.

  7. The oiling the chain roadie OCD test! If you do not obsessively oil your chain you anger the cycling gods…or something like that.

  8. I always seem to lose track of the pin where I started and even though I start with individual rollers I end up squirting and spinning. From a bottle.😩

  9. 2 chain cleaners! One full of brake cleaner Anderson the other with either pro-link or WD-40 lithium grease(for wet conditions). Fast, easy and always wipe the chain dry after!

  10. Waxing for the win. Homemade wax from candles and paraffin oil in an old rice cooker. Squirt wax lube in between proper waxing if needed. No more oily mess all over the bike and hands! (I am way to lazy to oil my chain in a way that does not make a mess)

  11. Hi Jon. I live in the UK. When I use the one drop per roller method I often get a rusty residue on the chain plates a few days later. Because of that, I also use Si's method of spraying the chain with a little WD40 after washing it. Is that ok? Any other tips to stop the corrosion?

  12. So no discussion of intervals between lubrication, yeah I know it depends…… but how do YOU determine that a chain needs relubing?

  13. I've got a question regarding cranksets and frontmech. Is it possible to combine a Campi record carbon crankset with Shimano Ultegra Di2 front mech? Big fan of the carbon cranksets but can not say my Di2 goodbye. Doesn't necessarily have to be Campi carbon though, these just caught my eye.

  14. I've started using Squirt lube (wax based) after reading ppl sharing about it online. Did it the same way, link by link from the master chain ring. Lubed twice this way now, will probably do again soon since have been riding in some wet weather

  15. I do it the same as you but I get my share of rolled eyes from my wife. I wonder could you do a video on the rest of the moving parts ie jockey wheels derailiers etc..?

  16. I use Squirt Lube wax out of a bottle.
    Your drive train stays a lot cleaner and it doesn't atrack durt.
    Other point is that the chain last langer.

  17. Hi everybody,
    My problem is I am doing all that things, when using my dry lube. but after a longer ride my chain is again full of oil and I dont get iti completly dry. Am I may using tu much lube ?

  18. If you don't oil the links they will rust !, I use the drop on method for the rollers, then put some oil on a rag and spin the chain to get a coating of oil on the links

  19. I paraffin wax bath my chains on my mountain bike and cross bike, mainly to keep them cleaner and smoother for longer in a whole mix of conditions.
    My road bike is a good weather only kind of deal (mountain bikes are more fun in the mud) so I use a PTFE based dry lube, just spinning the pedals backwards slowly just to evenly coat the rollers. I don't have the patience to drip each roller, so I'll just deal with using a little bit more lube that I probably should.

  20. I actually got hooked on the waxing thing. Sure it is a bit noisy but that doesn’t really bother me. It’s just incredible how much less maintenance you have to do when you have a waxed chain.

  21. I apply one link at a time one dry lube one wet lube all the way around just in case it rains when I'm out

  22. In between proper cleans, I always clean my chain before every ride by squirting high pressure GT85 through the chain onto a rag, whilst back spinning. It's cheaper than degreaser, it's a lube anyway and the pressure loosens up & pushes all the dirt out. I repeat this until the rag is wiping pretty clean oil, (so I know the dirt is out). I then dry it best I can and apply my chosen lube. (Usually Eat My Dirt Chain oil), before wiping/drying again.

    TIP: I found wiping the chain as it goes round BOTH top & bottom jockey wheels allows you get at the dirt that accumulates on the end/edges of every link!! Hold your rag on the chain as it corners each jockey wheel and you'll cover both sides of each link-end. You'll be extremely surprised at how much dirt is still left on your chain! You're welcome.

  23. I wrap my chain in bacon fat and put in the microwave for about an hour. I also tend to be chased by a lot of dogs.

  24. I use a light gear oil, drip it on from a bottle and then wipe off the excess, I replace the chain each spring on the winter bike because the salt damage and grime is more costly to remove than a new 1/8 inch chain is to buy. I put 10ml of sae 20 or 30 gear oil into the rear hub every 4-6 weeks too, and some into the bottom bracket oiler on the bikes that have them

  25. I use the 12,12,12 method. 12 random drops, back pedal for 12 seconds, wipe down the side plates for 12 seconds.

  26. I do it the way you describe with a dropper. Always the night before. I don't wipe off excess until the next day.

  27. One link at the time? I'll rather just spray it all over the place and with the time I save I can work in something more interesting and have money to buy plenty of lube.

  28. Hi jon. Sorry if you already answered a thousand times : after a general and deep cleaning of my bike, is there a lubrication needed for the rear derailleur ? thanks

  29. Technically, think about where the friction in the chain occurs. It is between the inner and outer link and between the inner link and the pin. The rollers are just there to make the pin thicker, there are even chains (not on bikes) without any rollers, just the pins. the rollers themselves do not spin and so don't need to be lubed. Your method works and it is probably impractical to perform it precisely on a narrow bike chain, but you could also get away with lubing the outside of the chain, as long as the lube gets in the gab between the links. This would keep the rollers dry, attracting less dirt on the chainrings and cassette.

  30. I melt wax over each individual roller to conserve wax. I then polish it with a silk rag, and repeat until I get the desired shine. It takes a few days but it's worth it.

  31. Full cleaning / degreasing every two weeks and wiping with touch up lubing roller pins every other day

  32. I like the bottle but I’m not as accurate or patient as you. Now I’ll try to be next time. Can you recommend a good style brush for getting in to clean everything?

  33. Where else is it good to regularly lube bike components and good methods to get the job done well and avoid waste?

  34. Also, I used baby wipes to clear the grit and dirt out of the chain once a month. I degrease first, clean each link, and then spray with GT85. Leave it for 10 minutes, wipe it down again and then oil it…. then go to my happy place.

  35. I only ever wax a new chain out of the package. After that I'm too lazy and just use wet lube. I live in Singapore and it rains often. I have given up on dry lubes.

  36. Waxing, the way to go.
    1. Less dirt attracted.
    2. Much less maintenance (lasts 300k+ on the road/cross).
    3. Easy to clean (I am using Connex 11s chain, recommended as can be removed without tools in seconds).
    4. Costs next to nothing.
    5. One minus – takes some practice and heating the parrafin takes some time.

  37. Lubing a chain properly is very simple. There is no excuse for not removing the chain. Using a master link such as those made by Wippermann makes chain removal easy and there's no worry about getting oil on rims or rotors. The very best lubricant is a combination of paraffin and motor oil. The best mixture is one pound of paraffin (Gulf canning wax) and about 9 oz of motor oil. Nine ounces of motor oil is about the maximum the paraffin can absorb. This combination gives excellent shifting and doesn't attract dirt. I haven't cleaned a chain in years. I use a 300 mile maintenance interval. Some have mentioned a build-up of wax on the cogs and chainrings that they don't like. This doesn't affect shifting at all so it's not really a problem. The buildup can be avoided by making sure the paraffin/motor oil solution is hot enough so that excess lubricant drips readily off the chain. The chain should be left to soak in the lube long enough that the chain reaches the same temperature as the lubricant. A good indication of this is when the chain is removed from the lube bath, the lubricant is crystal clear.

  38. I use sawing machine oil 😛 couldn't be bothered with going to a LBS to get a specialized oil. Works ok, a lot more liquid than I would prefer

  39. In Canada with the 70% humidity +35 celcius in the summer we all use the Wet Lube mix. If we use the dry lube the chain will start making noises. The wet mix lube does attract more road dust so I clean the chain every 50 km.

  40. I use a bottle, back pedal fairly slow while gently squeezing the lube out the bottle. It's quite accurate and only takes a few seconds

  41. i keep my chain in the big ring and biggest cog while lubricate to be able to whipe of any excess lube from each tooth and between in back and front with kitchen paper. Leave it there till lube worked its way into links, whipe of excess from chain and teeth before any shifting, done.

  42. Instead of starting at the joining pin, I take a yellow highlighting marker and colour a link. It comes off easily and is a lot more visible when you're staring at link after link after link after link…

  43. Once or twice weekly, WD40 soaked rag bit getting grime off, then a bit of T9 dry lube. If I get too much grime buildup once a month or less, run cut-in-half q-tips through chain gaps and go for harder WD/T9 treatment. Always try to wipe off excess lube. Since this part of California is wet season/ dry season climate it all happens much more during the wet. Campy chains and I do get good mileage but replace chain after 4K miles even when (nearly always) it still runs fine and rohloff gauge still says it’s not too stretched.

  44. I just spit on the chain every time it starts squeaking. Works even better after eating fatty junk food.

  45. It's like: Me: "Yeah, let's just use aerosol lubricant for my chain!" GCN: "First tip when using aerosol: Find yourself a friend." Me: "Ok, I'm out…"

  46. Which grease/lubricant/oil would be the healthiest (to the bicycle or vehicles' parts) and safest to both humans and Environment/Nature?

  47. I once degreased the chain and then applied PTFE spray grease once a year, but i've just switched to PAG 46 aircon oil, a drop for each roller, about 2mL for the entire chain, and right now it feels like some ceramic lube… i'll see if it functions as a wet or dry lube but it seems to leave a very resistant film on everything it touches.

  48. I have experimented with all kinds of products and methods of drivetrain cleaning and lubing over the years and have found the following to be the most effective at keeping grime to a minimum and everything lubed properly – the whole process takes around 20 min –
    Deep clean your entire drivetrain with a quality degreaser (Muc Off or Elbow Grease etc) and use a Parktool chain cleaner for your chain with said degreaser.
    Rinse chain and the rest of your drivetrain with hot water then dry thoroughly with a microfiber cloth
    Then apply one or two coats of 'metal of honour' to the chain – this is a metal specific car detailers wax to stop corrosion which also repels water and grime
    Lubricate chain sparingly and occasionally with 3 in 1 oil or more frequently with a dry lube.
    Use 3 in 1 oil for derailleur pivots and jockey wheel bearings etc

  49. As a general rule most lubricants you can buy in your LBS are a massive rip off. It seems that shrinking the container down to 50ml and adding the word "chain" is 10 times the expense. As many people have found you can buy chemically identical lubricants from your local auto parts store. Having said that, the WD40 chain lube used in this video is pretty cheap although I'm a bit dubious as to how different it is from the standard WD40, maybe a bit thicker.

  50. no need apply link by linkworks just as we'll when you spin the crank and drip line on for about 2 full rotations of the chain

  51. I lubed my bike chain today and it goes everywhere the liquid it dirties my bike and it’s annoying do I wash it off and/or clean it with a towel? I need to know soon

  52. It's a con, a chain doesn't need to be oiled! The problems that a chain faces are rust, corrosion and the build-up of grime from oil which wasn't needed in the first instance. Cyclist need a drive belt and not a chain!

  53. When I was a mere LAD it seems as though we never lubed our wheels or inflated our tires on a regular basis. Where bikes built better with more steel and durable parts back then some 40-50 years ago?

  54. before i wised up and learn't a clean chain that's is still the same colour as when you bought it was better I just used to spray it with wd-40 or something similar till it turned black and I was good to go lol. but now I have my first road bike I did its first proper de grease and re lube just dripping some dry lube on every link. 1 guy at work still says i need to lube my chain even after i show it is lubed by putting my fingers on it showing it's not dry.

  55. I soak a rag in 3 in 1 oil, and run the chain through it, but this is just to clean the chain. Then I have a cheap oil can, and I put oil on each link, then I clean the oil off the chain.

  56. 400g of paraffin, 100g bee wax, 250ml of transmission mineral SAE250 GL1 oil. After cooking chain in it, you clean an extra wax from outside by any towel. Lubricant has great water retention and no dust on the chain. Bike rides like a charm.
    Or you can use bee wax and some sunflower oil. Chain smells superior. But natural oil oxidizes over the time in two weeks and solidifies. And became difficult to clean the chaing.

  57. I understand you're trying to compensate for poor lighting but omg turn down that ISO the exposure in the highlights are so over blown. Lol

  58. I use wet lube and foam, i ride shortly after lubricating then wipe again with foam to remove excess then it's good to go

  59. I put drop by drop on each link, but on the outside of some of the links it rusted! So what do you mean all you want is to oil the inside of the link!

  60. Dot each individual link? Seems like a time waster, especially for volatile dry lube. I put the tip of the bottle nozzle against the inside of the chain and squeeze bottle while turning the crank backwards. Repeat for both sides. Then wipe up as specified..

  61. Wet lube – per roller – after I spend darn 20 minutes scrubbing with shop cloth and degreaser to get all the crud out… ugh

  62. I just spray the shit out of it, then wipe much off of it as possible. Then after I've gone tired of doing so, there's just enough lube to not make a mess when riding.

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