Saturday, April 18, 2009

How-To: Lube your chain

I know what you're thinking. C'mon lube my chain? Well I like to cover the basics because even the basics can have little tricks that can help you save time and get the job done right. I have been experimenting with different lubes (insert sexually explicit joke of your choice here). I remember the Finish Line mechanic showing me his preferred method a couple years ago. I haven't been 100% happy with my current setup which was strictly an application of Finish Line Teflon lube. I would apply to both top and bottom of chain semi liberally and then wipe off the excess. I have found whenever the chain gets wet it quickly removes the Teflon and the chain starts to dry out. So that led me back to what I learned from the Finish Line guy and I thought I would try to put it into practice. I have experimented with different quantities and I think I have found a good balance.

What you need:
Finish Line Cross Country Wet Lube (Green Lid)
Finish Line Teflon (Red Lid)
Step 1: Always start with a clean drive train. There is no point in slathering more lube over dirt, it's gotta be clean. My bike has been used and has been dirty, this is not a brand spankin' new drive train. So you know it is possible to get a drive train this clean and it's really not that hard. Click here for How-To: Clean your drive train :-)

Step 2: Apply a thin bead of Cross Country (green lid). Do this by holding the bottle to the chain and gently squeeze the bottle while simultaneously spinning the cranks backwards. You'll see a thin line of lube coming out and onto the moving chain. Do this for roughly two whole revolutions of the chain being careful not to apply too much. Too much of this lube will make your chain more vulnerable to dirt. The lube will glob up around your cassette and chain rings and pulley wheels and just keep attracting dirt. Apply the same thin bead to the other side of the chain under the chain stay.
Step 3: Work the Cross Country lube into the chain by rubbing it in with your fingers while spinning the cranks backwards.

Step 4: Apply a more liberal amount of Teflon lube (red lid). Again hold the bottle to the chain while simultaneously squeezing the bottle gently and spinning the cranks backwards.

Apply the same liberal bead to the other side of the chain under the chain stay.

Step 5: Gently wipe the chain with a clean rag to get rid of the excess Teflon lube. Focus on applying more pressure to the side of the chain when wiping and a small amount of pressure on the top and bottom. This will help to leave the Teflon lube on the outside while not stripping the small amount of Cross Country lube off.

That's all there is to it. Your chain shouldn't look too globby but will have a nice lubricated sheen. Go out and enjoy your superstar lube job. Comments, suggestions, tips, all welcome.


  1. Would you use the same method on a road bike or would you replace the Cross Country with something else? Would you still apply the Teflon?


  2. Same method for road. I use the same lubes as well.

  3. great articles. Can you maybe do a how to on determining the proper chain length? Thanks!