bike 101: how to oil your bicycle chain (and what to use)
I recently received this reader question…
i follow your blog with interest and of late really enjoying the what to do without a bicycle lock post.
i would like you to survey the readers as to what chain oil they use please. so many options.
i thank you in advance for considering this topic.
Sure, Steve, I hope that others can chime in with their tips on what they use to oil their bike chain! My husband and I use the same 5W30 oil that we have for our cars on our bike chain as well. I also use that same oil to refill the gear hub of my vintage Raleigh Sports, which needs oil added to it about once a month. We use a small plastic syringe to get the oil on the chain and into the hub. We are, however, no experts on the topic and some sites on bike maintanance actually say not to use motor oil or 3in1 oil (more on that below the video).
The always illustrious Sheldon Brown notes that “Chain maintenance is one of the most controversial aspects of bicycle mechanics”. You can read his extensive and informative post on chain maintanance here, which includes tips on how to oil your chain, but makes no such statement as what not to use. He does note that Phil Wood Tenacious oil is his favorite.
Here, by the way, is a short but useful video on how to oil your bicycle chain, in case you’re more of a visual learner…
This post on Bicycle Tutor cautions against using WD-40 to lubricate your bike chain, explaining how it could actually do more damage than good. They recommend mineral based chain oils such as Finishi Line Cross Country or Phil Wood Tenacious Oil, either of which should be available at your local bike shop. I actually hadn’t given the choice of oil much thought and have not had any problem using the motor oil already there in our garage on our bike chains as well.
How about you, dear readers? What do you use to oil your bike chain and what informed that decision? Please leave your recommendations in the comments below!