As bike mechanics, we know that it becomes necessary to have 'the talk' with developing cyclists. You know the symptoms: high pitched squeaking, rusty discoloration/discharge and if left untreated for extended periods, total parts failure. Perhaps you as a rider once lived in a more mild climate or had been attended to by a well-meaning bike mechanic who treated you kindly but perhaps never had the guts to break down the situation in great detail. Here at 21st Avenue Bikes we don't shy away from having 'the talk' about proper chain lubrication. Because we care. Here are three different flavors of chain lube we sell and recommend...
Tri-Flow: Superior Lubricant
Tri-Flow is a light oil with PTFE, a teflon additive. When you apply it to your chain you add a thin layer of protective film to the metal moving surfaces. Before you use it, shake the bottle thoroughly to disperse the PTFE additive that sinks to the bottom. The bottle comes with a handy plastic applicator tube. It is the only chain lube we sell that comes in a black bottle.
Kurt: "It's affordable. You will need to reapply any lube you buy. It is what bike shops smell like and possibly made out of bananas."
Prolink and Prolink Xtreme chain lube: with MFR Technology
Do you like cleaning your chain? Probably not. Prolink likes to clean your chain. The patented M etal F riction R educer magic works great. After you apply Prolink, wipe down your chain with a clean rag and witness the amazing cleaning action of MFR tech. It does not smell like bananas.
Ben: "Prolink's solvent action lubes, cleans and protects in one step. Lube on, wipe off and... all done. I like that it does not have a disturbing food smell."
Dumonde Tech Lite Chain Lube
This is heavier and more viscous than your average chain lubricant. This means more staying power in wet'n nasty riding conditions. Dumonde recommends that you thoroughly clean your chain before applying this lube. Many people believe that it carries the odor of a delightful cave-aged blue cheese. You decide.
Jerry: "Built by science for nerds."
What about other chain lubes? And whats the deal with chain wax? I heard it is the best.
There are many fine chain lubrication products on the market. As the old joke goes, ask two bike mechanics which lube they like and you'll get two answers and a third that both of them hate. The most important feature of any chain lubricant is that you use it regularly. Wet Portland riding conditions will wash even the stickiest lube off your chain so be prepared to reapply your lube of choice following a rainy ride. That could mean lubing up three to five times a week!
Products that are powered by "Ice", "Lightning" or "Honey Bees" are generally wax or silicone-based chain lubricants. These products coat the chain surface with, you guessed it, the waxy stuff. Over time, wax lubricants migrate away from the surfaces they are meant to protect and accumulate on nearby surfaces. In dry riding conditions this takes a fairly long time and as a result wax lubes don't need to reapplied very often.
In sloppy, rainy Portland conditions these wax lubes wear off fast and gunk up drive parts. Chain cleaners and normal solvents don't break down these compounds making them very difficult to clean. The best way to remove wax from chains is boiling them in a pot of water, which can be a real drag. Different strokes for different folks, different lubes for different tudes'...but you've been warned.