You’ve spent hard-earned money on your bike so how do you protect your investment? Lubricating your bicycle is the easiest, most inexpensive maintenance you’ll routinely do next to pumping up your tyres. Lubrication, or “lube”, is as much of a component as your chainset parts but without the high cost so it makes sense to protect those pricy parts against the elements. The fastest, cheapest way to do this takes only 15 minutes and the right supplies. Here’s how to lubricate your bike:
What you’ll need
- Degreaser and a brush – You’ll want to clean your chain before you lube it. A brush and a good degreaser will make it easier to get the gunk out of your chainset.
- A bottle of lube – Bike lubes are available in a range of solutions, like environmentally-friendly or synthetic, and a variety of viscosities. The conditions where you ride (wet, dry, muddy, dusty etc.) will determine which lube is best for your bike.
- Synthetic grease – Use synthetic grease on the interior of brake and shifting cable housing.
- Clean, dry cloths – Excess lube attracts dirt and other contaminants, so you’ll need clean, dry cloths to wipe it away.
Bike workstand (optional) – Having a way to suspend your bike makes it a lot easier to lube your chainset parts.
Start by shifting the chain into the large chainring and applying degreaser to your chain and sprockets. If you’re not in a rush, wait a few minutes to let the degreaser break down the grease. Using your brush and a little water, scrub the chain, chainrings, and front and rear derailleur mechs. Dry with a clean, dry cloth.
Angle the nozzle on your bottle of lube so that it lightly touches the top part of the chain. If you are using a workstand, “pedal” the cranks forward, otherwise rotate the cranks backward. Now do the chain’s interior by touching the lube nozzle to the lower section of chain. Massage lube into each link and wipe off excess lube.
Tip: It’s a good idea to lube the chain when it’s making noise or when it’s dry to the touch. Repeat the above process if you ride frequently, after a long ride, or when you’ve been out in the rain. It’s always easier to keep your chain clean instead of cleaning it after it gets dirty.
Next, lube each of the jockey wheels simply by touching the lube nozzle to the wheel and turning the cranks backward for a few complete rotations. Rotating the jockey wheels backward draws lube into the bearings.
If you don’t know where your derailleur mech’s pivot points are, shift your mech and watch it move to identify its pivot points. Use either a small brush or the bottle nozzle to apply the lube. Lube each pivot point on both the front and rear mechs. Don’t forget to wipe off any excess lube.
If you have mechanical brakes, disengage them from their housing and apply a small amount of synthetic grease to the section where they enter the housing. Work the cable back and forth to spread the grease. Follow the same process for shifter cables. Only use a small amount of grease!
These moving parts often get overlooked but they suffer wear and overuse just as much as your bike’s other components. Apply a drop of lube to the joints of your brake arms and shifter levers. Be careful to avoid contaminating your brake pads and wheel rims with lube because this can drastically compromise your stopping power. Squeeze the brake levers a few times to work the lube into the joints.
Some final tips for how to lubricate your bike that will help it last even longer:
- Don’t overlube because excess lube attracts dirt, which wears down your components even faster, plus it’s harder to clean a dirty bike.
- Instead of lubricating your parts one-by-one, lube them all at once and remember the order in which you applied the lube. Then repeat that order to wipe off excess lube, that way you’ll give it some time to soak in.
- Clean and lube your chain after you return from a ride and let the lube work its way into the parts. Wipe off any excess lube before you head out for your next ride.