Your bicycle chain is one of the most important parts of your bicycle: it’s what transfers energy from your pedals to your rear wheel and gets you moving. Properly lubing your bicycle chain can dramatically extend its lifespan and keep your bike running better.

Lube your chain regularly to keep it working well for youIt’s easy to determine whether or not the chain needs to be lubed: do the “finger test.” Lightly touch the chain with your fingers and then rub them together. This should produce a slightly slick feeling, not dry or wet or clumpy. A slightly slick chain is properly lubed. If your fingers get wet or clumpy, you may need to clean your chain. If the finger test comes up dry, then it is time to lubricate.


If your chain needs cleaning, option 1) Wipe your chain with a dry rag to get off as much as possible. Do not apply lube until the finger test says to.

Option 2). Remove the chain from the bike, soak it in solvent and scrub it with a brush. When most or all the crud is off, blow it dry with compressed air to get all the solvent out of the chains bushings. Then you can reinstall the chain on the bike and lubricate it.
We strongly recommend against using one of the handy chain cleaners that connects to the bike and scrubs your chain with fluid and brushes. These leave the chain soaked with the solvent or cleaning fluid. This fluid will generally take a few days to drip off or evaporate and in that time, it will destroy any lube you apply to your chain! This will cause your chain to squeak, requiring more lube. Repeat until your chain is thick with gooey crud that needs to be cleaned off again. The cleaning fluid can also drip into your drivetrain bearings, washing the grease out and causing premature, and expensive, failure.


When it’s time to lube your chain, it’s important to use a bike lube as opposed to something household like WD40. WD40 is actually primarily a solvent, and will strip all the lube from your chain causing it to run dry which can damage the chain and sprockets. It can also get into your bearings and cause damage to the rest of your bicycle.

Bike chain lubes come in three varieties; oil-based, wax-based, and synthetic. They will each work to lube your chain, but each has strengths and weaknesses.


Oil-based lubes like Lava Flow Chain Lube tend to be inexpensive and you can use very little, making them very cost-effective. If you use the correct amount then it will help to keep your chain clean and will require very infrequent re-lubing. However, if you use  too much, it will pick up all the dirt and grime and make your chain very messy. Use the finger test and if it feels dry then wipe the chain with a dry rag and use a total of 8-10 drops of Lava Flow on the entire chain. On average, you will only need to do this once every 3-5 weeks.


Wax-based lubes like White Lightning require more to be applied for the same effect as oil-based lubes. Wax-based lube also needs to be reapplied regularly. This can be expensive over time. They tend to not pick up a lot of grit and grime no matter how much you apply. Wipe the chain with a dry rag and then place a drop of lube on each link. Check weekly.


Synthetic lubes like Tri-Flow are very similar to the wax based lubes in that you can over lube without it causing much problem and they are more expensive than the oil lubes. Tri flow has an added benefit of being Teflon based. Teflon-based lube works best on Teflon-coated cables, keeping everything smooth. Lubing procedure is the same as wax lubes.

Or keep it simple-

If this all seems just too complicated and messy, drop by Goldstream Bicycles any time. We’ll be happy to lube your chain for for free. We’ll pump your tires to the correct pressure while we’re at it.