Chain Lube Advice--Wax Based Lube

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17 replies [Last post]
Anonymous's picture

I know there are at least two schools of thought on what kind of lube to use, but on the advice of several people, I am using a wax-based lube made by Pedros.

I degreased the chain, washed it down with water, dried it, and then lubed it. How often do I have to relube it? The container says to relube after every ride. Do I have to degrease and wash before every relube?

Anonymous's picture
Ted (not verified)

I've tried most of them and I found the Pedro's the least sucessful version. Most wax based lubes need more frequent application and are not that great in the wet, additionally they tend to gunk up from over application. Recently I switched over to T-9 and have found it to be a superior product. BTW, you only have to degrease your chain the first time you switch over from standard lubes other than standard cleanings of drivetrain.

Anonymous's picture
Anthony Poole (not verified)
Some swear by White Lightning

Quite a few people swear by White Lightning. I bought two bottles last week, but haven't had a chance to use them.

I'm trying Prolink at the moment, and I've not come to any firm conclusion about it yet, other than it smells horrible. I thoroughly degreased and cleaned the drive train before applying Prolink and after one partially wet ride, it came back filthy. I degreased and applied again, this time with more success, but I'm not won oever by it yet. I've no experience of T-9.

Certainly wax-based lubes do need to be applied more often and are not so good in the rain., which may account for my initial experience with Prolink. Since my last degrease, I have reapplied periodically and when I had to change a flat on my back tyre last week, my hands did not get particularly dirty.

And I agree with Ted that dry lubes do gunk up with over application.

As Ted said, you only need to degrease before the first application of a dry lube, then just need to clean the drive train periodically, and make sure you get any debris and muck out of the cassette.

If you get caught in the rain, you definitely need to clean your drivetrain and relube, otherwise you will soon have a rusty chain.

You might go around to a few stores and find out which dry lube the mechanics prefer in the various stores around the city. If you find a consensus, perhaps you could post something further.

Anonymous's picture
Evan Marks (not verified)
ProLink, stinky? Nahhhh...

"Dumonde Tech beats that easily. ""Use only in a well-ventilated area."" Lemme tell you how well-ventilated a Manhattan apartment can be when you open all the doors and windows in February.

ProLink - degreasing is unnecessary, the whole point is that it cleans and lubes in one step. Saturate the chain, let it drip, wipe it off and ride. After the ride wipe it off again. Good for several hundred miles (unless it rains).

Recently I started using Slick Willy lube (yeah, yeah, go ahead and laugh), a one-step solvent+lube along the same lines as ProLink but quieter. Fair- or foul-weather formulas available at"

Anonymous's picture
"Chainwheel" (not verified)
Never lube a dirty chain

"""ProLink - degreasing is unnecessary, the whole point is that it cleans and lubes in one step.""

This sounds like marketing speak. When oiling a dirty chain, fine grit gets transported to the inside of the chain where it acts like grinding paste. The only way to get the inside really clean is to place the chain in a solvent like mineral spirits and agitate it.

The idea that chains require special bicycle lube at $7 for a 3oz bottle is highly questionable. I did buy a bottle of Pro-link. It does a pretty good job and is easy to apply. But when it's used up, I plan to refill the bottle with motor oil.

Motorcycle chain lube and chainsaw bar oil are other good alternatives to the ""designer"" bike lubes. Always wipe excess oil off the outside of the chain to avoid picking up dirt.

Here's a good link on the whole subject of chain wear and lubrication:


Anonymous's picture
Evan Marks (not verified)
marketing, reality, and Manhattan apartments

True, cleaning the chain while it's still on the bike is a compromise; given that limitation, ProLink and Slick Willy *seem* to do a pretty good job of floating the crud out of the chain to the surface where it can be wiped away. Wiping it away, of course, just grinds it back into the chain again, bringing us back to that same compromise.

I've tried TriFlow, T9, and other lubes - all accumulate crud and require the chain to be cleaned periodically. (Let's not even discuss those chain-cleaning gizmos with rotating brushes. Ugh.) The one-step process of using a solvent+lube *seems* to keep the chain cleaner. How clean is it really, deep down inside where the wear and tear takes place? Dunno. Don't care, either, as long as the chain stays reasonably clean to the touch and to the eye.

Anonymous's picture
<a href="">Peter O'Reilly</a> (not verified)
Too Good To Be True Home Brew

"I've used ProLink. Liked it. Then learned it is very similar to, if not the same as a mixture of motor oil and odorless mineral spirits (OMS). I use a ratio of 1:3, more OMS in the summer, less in the winter.

It really does clean the chain as well as lubricate. I end up replacing my chains for fear of breakage, metal fatigue, etc. 3,4,5,..6,000 miles later as there is no measureable ""stretch"". Added bonus - less cassette/chain ring wear.

A good solvent, OMS also works well as a transferring agent allowing the oil to work its way deep into the link plates, the pin and roller. After lubing, the chain is wiped down as much as possible.

For $7 or so, I've got a lifetime of lube. The ProLink container serves as an excellent applicator. This home brew surely gets the Martha Stewart greasy seal of approval."

Anonymous's picture
Anthony Poole (not verified)
I didn't doubt another lube could smell worse

I never doubted that another lub could not smell worse than Prolink, I was just commenting that I don't like the smell of Prolink. I find that after application it continues to smell until I've ridden the bike, then it no longer pongs.

I also agree with Seth's method of application, and with his conclusion that once you use a dry lubricant, you should rarely have to degrease a chain.

During the winter months, I avoid using a dry style lubricant, because of wet roads etc and in the spring, I decide it is time to degrease and revert back to dry style again, or else wait until my cassette and chain need replacing, as happened this spring.

The Prolink is actually working ok, and I'm halfway through my first bottle, and have another in the bike draw, so I will use it up before trying White Lightning. I'd also heard that White Lightning was useless in the rain, which may make Prolink the better choice.

But I definitely do not want to try the really smelly stuff of which Evan speaks.

Anonymous's picture
seth prince (not verified)
I've tried Pedros

I found that WL works much better. you will have to relube after every ride with pedros. I can get a few hundred miles out of WL. If you apply wax lube correctly you will almost never need to degrease the chain. When reapplying lube I wipe down the chain ***VERY*** thouroughly, I wipe down the jockeys in the rear deraleur wipe down the chain-rings as well. I apply the lube liberally and rotate the cranks so the lube penetrates and dries. Then I wipe down the chain, jockeys chainrings and cassette again. This prevents excess wax from clumping up and accumulating grime.

Anonymous's picture
Goon Koch (not verified)

"Seth's experience is consistent with mine, and his procedure for application can probably be recommended as a ""best practice"". Dry, wax-and-solvent lube is the ticket if you love a clean-looking chain.

A caveat: White Lightning lasts roughly ten miles in the rain. I recommend it for bikes ridden in dry conditions.

Old lube does not interfere with new lube per se. The purpose of removing a chain and cleaning by immersion and agitation is not ""degreasing"", but rather to remove accumulated grit from the primary wear surfaces inside the chain.

There are some (Jobst B., most prominently) who argue that lubing a dirty chain will migrate more grit to the wear surfaces, thus speeding up wear. These folks advocate lubing only chains which have been cleaned thoroughly off the bike.

Personally, I am not particularly concerned with chain wear, or the chain's appearance, but I cannot bear a squeaky chain. So I use the heavy oil, relube often, and rotate chains for total cleaning when convenient.

ProLink seems a little light. Boeshield is good stuff. Finish Line Cross Country is a current fave. Some swear by Phil Tenacious, but I once made the mistake of applying it in the bitter cold and the experience tramuatized me (try it some time)."

Anonymous's picture
Bill Vojtech (not verified)
keep it dry

I use White Lightning. Always let it dry completely before riding. Wet lube attracts road grit and transports it into the chain links. This defeats the purpose of dry lubes.

White Lightning makes a cleaner called Clean Streak. This is good for periodic cleanings, like after getting caught in the rain, as well as for degreasing a new chain.

Also, I would not lube with a wax based lube right after rinsing the chain with water. you might trap water in the links. Give it a shot of Clean Streak first to push out the water, or use a hair dryer or park it near a hot radiator to evaporate the water, then lube.

I've had the same chain on my bike for over 5,000 miles and it runs smooth and does not seem worn.

Anonymous's picture
JP (not verified)

Greetings All,

I switched last year from While Lightning back to Tri Flow.

White L is fine, except in cold weather and in the wet. And it must be applied nearly every ride.

Tri Flow is year round is year round. Yes, it, and any grease based lube, will attract dirt.

Solution: apply Tri to a cleaned chain, running backwards, on the bottom, as the chain leaves the bottom rear pulley. Work it in by running the chain backwards and let it soak in, overnight if possible. Wipe the chain down and the chain is ready. As you ride, you will pick up grit, but the oil in the chain will also bleed, and carry the grit away a bit. Wipe the chain down after a ride, you are set again. Usually, the chain is slightly dirty to the touch after a wiping, depending on how compulsive you are, but it should never soak your fingers when touched.

Eventually, new lube is needed. When? It really depends on the conditions. As a general rule, after every ride for me, maybe two rides, if shorter. Certainly after rain or mud. Ideally, you should clean the chain completely, let it dry and re-apply the lube. However, you can wipe the chain down really well and use q-tips between the links as a quick-clean. Again, how compulsive are you about it?


Anonymous's picture
"Chainwheel" (not verified)

"You make some good points.

First, I think some folks get overly concerned about the outside of the chain looking shiny clean. That's really not the most important thing.

Second, chains are really not that expensive. If you spend an hour a week thoroughly cleaning and lubing your chain you MIGHT extend its life by 1000 miles. But is that really worth the effort?

There is little or no advantage in buying ""top of the line"" chains. The SRAM PC-59 chain (with the quick disconnect link) is inexpensive and can make chain removal easy. The Shimano HG-53 is another good choice for a 9-speed chain (currently on sale for $12.95 at Nashbar).


Anonymous's picture
Chaim Caron (not verified)
What about Teflon-based Lubes?

Thanks to everyone for all your replies. Someone suggested I check with bike shops so when I was in Piermont today, I asked the mechanic about White Lightning. He was very insistent that Finish Line/Teflon-Plus is far superior to wax-based lubes because teflon-based lubes attract less dirt and grit than wax-based lubes. Any opinions on this?

He also recommended to degrease and lube every 100 miles and every other time, degrease also (that is, degrease and lube every 200 miles, lube every 100 miles). He said that one major purpose of degreasing is to clean out the grit that accumulates on the chain. Also, degreasing is necessary before switching lube type (for example, from wax-based to teflon-based).

Any opinions on teflon-based lube vs wax-based?

Anonymous's picture
Chaim Caron (not verified)
Typo in Previous Message

Sorry about the typo, the 1st sentence of the 2nd paragraph of the previous message should have read:

He also recommended to lube every 100 miles and every other time, degrease also (that is, degrease and lube every 200 miles, lube every 100 miles).

Anonymous's picture
Bill Vojtech (not verified)

I got to talking to a print shop supply salesman about lubes. He scoffed at wax based lubes. He's got something that sprays on, soaks in and dries to a teflon or silicon surface impregnation, (had the talk about 6 months ago, not all details clear).

The stuff is used on the driving chains on big high speed printing presses that operate under way more load than any human can exert on a chain. Apparently, wear is virtually eliminated.

The stuff only comes in cases. 10 or 12 cans to a case. It costs around $10 or $12/ can. I was interested in trying it, but did not want to order a whole case.

If I can find a few other experimentally minded cyclists, I'd get in touch with the salesman and see about placing an order.

e-mail me if interested.

Anonymous's picture
Evan Marks (not verified)

That's been done already:

What happens when the teflon starts to flake off?

If it's silicon I might be interested in trying it.

But, apples-to-apples or apples-to-oranges? Industrial chains are built for strength - weight isn't a concern. Bike chains have to be flexible to shift gears - also not a concern for industrial chain. Even motorcycle chains, arguably operated under the same adverse conditions as bike chains, are not required to perform side-to-side shifting. It might work great, but I'm skeptical about the suitablity of an industrial product for a bicycling application.

Anonymous's picture
Bill Vojtech (not verified)

I'll check into it after the weekend.

cycling trips