Bike Maintenance 2 Chain Lubrication.

28/10/2012   |   Posted by jeremy


Maintenance 2: Chain lubrication.

Chain maintenance is another one of those jobs that you can do on a bike simply and very cheaply and it will make a tremendous difference to the way a bike performs.

I maintain a lot of people’s bikes and the most common problem I come across with chains is a lack of lubrication. Having a dried out chain will make the bike feel harder to ride and will sound terrible. Some of you may never have oiled a bike chain in your life and so this blog is aimed at you. I will try and keep it as simple as I can.

First thing to do is a visual check. If the sides of the chain look like a dull grey colour but the chain pins (the bits that get pulled across the cogs) are shiny looking and the whole thing is generally looking dry then this would tell you that it is need of some oil. Secondly do a quick audio check. Easiest way is to turn the bike upside down with some protection on the floor so the seat and handlebars don’t get scratched. Turn the pedals and listen to the back end of the bike where the gears are. If it sounds like metal on metal, i.e. a sort of dry squeaky sound then that is also another good indication of a dry chain.

 There are many types of oils out there, some of them are oil based, some are wax based and some are silicone based, it can get very confusing but for the purposes of this article let’s say you have a regular mountain bike or something similar that you just use now and then . For this I would in all honesty go for a can of 3 in 1 oil or something like it.

Top tip, go to your local D.I.Y store and pick up a box of disposable latex gloves. These are great for working on bikes especially when things get oily.

Prop your bike against a wall or somewhere you can turn the pedals backwards all the way round without hitting them on anything. Find yourself a rag that you can hold along the lower length of the chain.

Sit on the floor and put your foot behind the back wheel to stop it rolling when you turn the pedals. Holding the rag in one hand put it against the underside of the lower chain run, with the other hand slowly run oil along the pins on the inside of the lower chain run. Not too much but just enough to give it a coating. Next move your foot in front of the back wheel and hold one hand on the pedals as if trying to move the bike forward so the chain becomes taught. Rub the rag up and down the lower chain run. This will not only get the oil into all the moving parts of the chain but will also get rid of excess oil and clean the chain a bit as it goes.

Next move the chain along to the next section of dry chain and repeat the process. Do this all the way round. Finally put your foot behind the back wheel, wrap the rag around the lower chain loosely and spin the pedals backwards to run the chain through the rag a couple of times to ensure a nice even coating without having too much on there.

Turn the pedals again and there should be a different sound now. The squeaking should have stopped and been replaced by a nice smoother sounding chain.

Top tip, always oil the inside of the chain, this will ensure that as you ride the force will move the oil outwards through the entire chain. If you oil the outside it will simply flick off the chain and do no good. So that’s it chain done.

Another top tip, why not save this for future reference on your computer. Next time I will look at punctures and the best way to fix them.