It seems like it should be simple, but it’s not. You can’t just grab any random bottle of bike chain lube and expect it to work well in all conditions.

You need to choose the best chain lube for your bike and your riding conditions. Here’s how.

How to Pick The Right Chain Lube

Different conditions call for different chain lubes. Mountain bikers will need different lube than road bikers, and then it still depends on how wet and muddy or dusty the conditions are. To top things off, personal preference and price will play a role, too.

To help you choose a good lube for your riding conditions, here are two simple guidelines:

  1. Dry conditions call for a “dry” lube.
  2. Wet conditions call for a “wet” lube.

It’s actually pretty simple, because a lot of lubes say “wet” or “dry” right on the label.

Dry Lubes

Let’s start with dry lubes. Dry lubes are usually thin lubricants and are sometimes wax-based. You drip or spray them onto your chain and then wipe off the excess – your chain should be fairly dry after applying and wiping off the lube.

Dry lubes are great because they don’t pick up dust or grit, so your chain stays clean. Unfortunately, they wash off easily in the rain.

The wax-based dry lubes also require great attention to detail if you want them to stick properly. They need to be applied to a very, very clean chain. You also don’t want to apply too much or they could build up too much gunk in your drivetrain.

Who should use dry lube: road cyclists who ride in dry weather; mountain bikers who spend most of their time in the desert or on dusty dirt roads.

Good choices for dry lube: Dumonde Tech Lite, ProGold Prolink, Boeshield T9, Finish Line Dry, Pedro’s Extra Dry, Rock ‘N Roll Absolute Dry.

Wet Lubes

If that’s not you, then you probably need a wet lube. Wet lubes are a little thicker and heavier than dry lubes so they are less likely to be displaced by water. You should still saturate your chain with a wet lube and wipe off the excess, but your chain will still appear wet.

Wet lubes will last longer in wet and muddy conditions, but they will also pick up more dirt and grime if you use them in dry conditions. (And attracting extra dirt into your drivetrain is not a good idea!)

Who should use wet lube: road bikers who usually ride in pouring rain; mountain bikers who ride through wet, muddy conditions, including rain, mud puddles, and stream crossings.

Good choices for wet lube: Dumonde Tech, Finish Line Wet, Tri Flow, Pedro’s Chainj.

Now you just have to try out the lubes that fit your riding conditions and see which one you like!

Just make sure you apply the lube properly!

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