Best Chain Lube For Mountain Bikes
High-quality lubrication is essential for mountain bikes. It helps to keep your gears changing smoothly, prevents friction between moving parts and stops rust from developing.
Because mountain bikes are often in dusty, muddy and wet environments, the lubrication used must be tougher than the standard types of bike lube. Mountain bikers often have to use a variety of lubricants to match the different conditions they ride in.
To help you understand more about mountain bike lubrication, this article will explain the types of lube available. Then, we’ll review some of the best chain lubes for mountain bikes.
What Are The Different Types of Lubrication?
Traditionally, there are two broad categories for mountain bike chain lubrication — wet lube and dry lube.
Wet lube tends to be quite thick and gelatinous. It is effective at repaying water and should be used in wet or muddy conditions. They are usually oil based lubes, because as we all know — oil and water don’t mix! However, a thick and gelatinous lube will collect dirt fairly rapidly on dry trails.
These are waxy lubes that should be used in dry or dusty riding conditions. They don’t attract dirt and grime as much as the thicker wet lubes. These kinds of lubes take longer to penetrate into the chain, so riders often wipe them on after they have had a ride — giving them time to penetrate before the next ride.
Because wax lubes don’t attract as much debris, your chain will only need to be cleaned and/or lubricated every 80-100kms.
A Tricky Choice!
If you ride on a dusty trail with a wet lube, you will notice that the lubrication becomes dirty very quickly. If you ride on a wet trail with a dry lube, you will notice it washes off your drivetrain faster!
Thankfully, some modern forms of lubricants are more adaptable and can be used in both wet or dry conditions. In many cases, these new types of lube are ceramic or teflon solutions. They do not pick up dirt and grime like wet lube and don’t wash off quickly like dry lube. They are sometimes more expensive, but many riders find the additional cost to be worthwhile.
Ideally, lube should be applied to a degreased chain that has had time to dry. Otherwise, grime will build up in the lube over time and it will become very rough on your drivetrain.
The Best Chain Lubes For Mountain Bikes
Here are some of the most effective chain lubes on the market!
Finish Line Dry Teflon
White Lightning is a wax lube that comes in an easy-to-use drip bottle. The manufacturers claim it is the industry’s first self-cleaning lubrication that will repel grime from your drivetrain after you apply it. Presumably, this self-cleaning component is a degreaser mixed into the lube.
Applying this lubricant is very easy. Shake the bottle then apply it to each chain link while spinning the crank. It is a fairly thin lube that can splash around, so it is best to use some newspaper under your bike to catch drips. The manufacturer recommends that you give the lube some time to dry (15-20 minutes) before going for a ride. This gives the lube time to penetrate the chain.
Despite being a wax lube, White Lightning does well in all conditions. We tested it on some wet trails and it remained effective for the entire ride. The degreaser did appear to push some dirty grease from the chain, but you will need to remove it manually with a clean cloth after the ride.
- The degreaser appears to work
- Great performance in dry conditions
- Applicator is simple to use
- Very runny and messy to apply
- Can be used in the wet, but is not ideal for wet riding
White Lightning Clean Ride Drip Squeeze Bottle
This is one of the most popular bike lubes on the market. It is a wax-like synthetic film that contains oils and Teflon. It performs best as a dry lube, but the synthetic ingredients also make it usable in damp conditions.
Finish Line Dry is available as both a spray bottle and a drip bottle. The drip bottle allows for more accurate applications while the spray can make it easier to apply lube in hard-to-reach places.
It is a very clean lube that does not pick up much grime. It has the characteristics of a wax lube without the same disadvantages. Finish Line Dry Teflon is simple to use and keeps the chain lubricated for a long time — a great choice for the rider who doesn’t want to regularly lubricate their bike.
- Behaves like a dry lube and does not attract dirt
- Lasts a long time
- Multiple ways to apply it
- A versatile lube that can work in damp conditions
- It takes time to penetrate into the chain
- Will wash off in heavy rain or very muddy environments
Eco Sheep — Mountain Sheep Oil Based Biodegradable Bike Chain Lube
This is a relatively new entrant into the market and a great choice for anyone concerned about the environment. Unlike many other types of lube, it does not contain any synthetic or potentially toxic ingredients. It is made from sheep oil, a substance that is 100% Biodegradable, 100% renewable, and 100% non-toxic.
The manufacturer claims that this lube offers better performance than petroleum-based products and delivers very smooth gear shifting. It contains no petroleum distillates or hydrocarbon fillers. It also uses a metal can instead of a plastic bottle that is made used non-biodegradable plastic.
Mountain sheep oil is applied via a brush applicator which is quick and simple to use. Simply brush it on the components that you are lubricating — no more accidentally dripping, spraying or squirting lube over the wrong components!
If you are concerned about toxic petroleum-based lubricants washing from your bike’s drivetrain into the beautiful natural environments where you ride, this is a great choice.
- Great for the environment!
- Easy application technique
- Works like a wet lube, but doesn’t attract much dirt
- Not as long-lasting as some synthetic lubes, so will require more regular applications
Tri-Flow Superior Lubricant Drip
Another very popular and well-known product amongst mountain bike riders! Tri-Flow is a hardy oil-based lubricant that excels in all types of conditions. It uses very light viscosity oils to reduce the amount of dirt attracted by the lubricant while repelling water. This light oil also has the ability to penetrate deeper into the drivetrain.
It contains additives to provide added protection against corrosion, metal-on-metal wear and rust. This is a very long-lasting lube ideal for riders who don’t want to frequently maintain their bike. It is available in both drip bottles and spray cans.
- Long lasting
- Proven effectiveness
- Works in all weather conditions
- Contains a solvent to help remove dirty grease from
- Not quite as effective as some other dedicated dry lubes
Boeshield T-9 Waterproof Lubrication
This is thin, waxy lubricant which was developed by the Boeing company for the lubrication of aircraft components. It is a hardy industrial lubricant that contains additives which can loosen rusty parts, flush out dirt, displace moisture and penetrate moving parts.
After the lubricant has dried to a waxy film, it can lubricate components for many months. It is a true “set and forget” form of lubrication. The waxy film also helps to protect parts from dirt, corrosion and rust. This is a very flexible product that can be used in any environment.
- A simple to use lubricant that will work in wet or dry environments
- Excellent rust protection!
- Despite being an oil-based lubricant, it does not pick up much dirt
- Must be left to dry before riding for it to be really effective
- If you frequently ride in wet environments, it should be applied more often