If your bike chain is showing rust or squeaks while you ride, it’s definitely time to lube your chain. The good news is it’s an easy bike maintenance job, but how often should one do it? Well… it depends!
When should you lube your bike chain?
- Normally every 100-150 miles or once a week if you are riding most days on pavement in dry conditions. If you are riding mostly in dry conditions on pavement, you probably don’t need to clean your chain every time you lube it. Aim to clean your chain every two to three lubrication jobs.
- For mostly dry riding on pavement, use oil-based lube. Tri-Flow, 3-in-1 Oil, Pro-Link are some commonly used lubes (not WD-40, it’s too light). Use an oil-based lube for winter salt/slush/snow riding as well.
- Lube and clean your chain after every ride if you are riding in wet, snowy, salty, conditions, or conditions where there’s more dirt and especially sand.
- If you are riding in dusty, sandy conditions, you can use dry or Teflon-based lubes, which don’t attract abrasive dirt and sand as much as oil-based lube does.
Why should you lube your bike chain?
That power from your legs when you pedal doesn’t move your bicycle on it’s own; you can thank your bike chain for that! Your bike chain transfers the power from your legs to the wheels so it’s under serious tension when you ride. Because it’s low to the ground, it can also pick up dirt, muck, sand, you name it. Regularly lubing and cleaning your chain will increase the longevity of your bike, and prevent that dreadful squeaky noise. 🥴
Written by Bike New York’s Director of Education, Rich Conroy.