Home

Hi peeps,

Just canvassing opinion on what lube to use through winter. I've been using squirt for a few years now, and its great until the gritters come out. I find it just doesn't cut it when the road is salty, and the chain rusts pretty quickly. Especially when commuting as I don't have time to clean it at work. As a summer lube though, its fantastic and my chain has done 3500 miles with only 0.5 stretch. Now onto winter lube recommendations.

A mate of mine swears by gearbox oil, saying it does 50k miles in a car, so why wouldn't it be good on a bike. It is tempting as 1 litre is about £7, and this amount would probably last a lifetime. Anyone any experience of it, or any other lube recommendations? I've tried muc-off wet lubes, and the c3, but found they didn't last long either.
Thanks in advance

24 comments

Avatar
StraelGuy [1403 posts] 7 months ago
0 likes

Interesting question. I tried Morgan Blue syn lube but found it was so thick it attracted enough muck on the jockey wheels to grow potatoes. I've now mixed it two-thirds syn lube and one third EP90 gear oil to thin it down a bit. Only on the first application so far but EP90 is basically an anti-wear oil for high pressure situations so it ought to be good!

Avatar
AKH [44 posts] 7 months ago
0 likes

I've heard a few people recommend it on these forums, so I guess it can't be terrible.

 

I would imagine most 'dedicated' bike lubes are simply commercial grades of lubricant with a few additives specified by whoever buys them anyway.

 

Just to play devils advocate though, a bike’s drivetrain, open to the elements, is not the same as a car’s gearbox. The drivetrain on a bike won’t heat the oil, so is there not always going to be a trade-off between retention on the chain (more viscous) and better penetration of the links (less viscous) at the expense of longevity?

Avatar
Welsh boy [518 posts] 7 months ago
1 like

I have used engine oil in the past and found it to be great for staying on in bad weather but it does get messy.  Depends on your priorities, keeping your bike lubed or easilly cleaned.  Bike specific oil is another example of the power of advertising and the need for the gullible to but the "correct" product.  Protein recovery shakes also spring to mind.

Avatar
StraelGuy [1403 posts] 7 months ago
0 likes

To be honest, if your chain is constantly being sprayed by liquid mud like mine is I don't see how they can last anyway. My winter bike chain has just been replaced at 930 miles, the 0.75% end of the checker dropped through every link and it was fine after the ride before! 

Avatar
srchar [849 posts] 7 months ago
2 likes

The best thing you can do for your chain is to fit mudguards.

Avatar
StraelGuy [1403 posts] 7 months ago
0 likes

The bike has full length mudguards but it's the bow wave that sprays up from either side of the front wheel that sprays the cranks and chain with liquid mud.

Avatar
matthewn5 [1190 posts] 7 months ago
1 like
StraelGuy wrote:

The bike has full length mudguards but it's the bow wave that comes either side of the front wheels that sprays the cranks and chain with liquid mud.

Then you need a proper mud flap.

Avatar
StraelGuy [1403 posts] 7 months ago
0 likes

I might try making one from an old milk carton .

Avatar
abusivemonk [27 posts] 7 months ago
0 likes

Thanks for the comments so far. Full length mudguards are unfortunately not an option for me as I have a full race spec cross bike as my only bike. No mudguard mounts. I do use clip on guards when its truly miserable.

Avatar
davel [2346 posts] 7 months ago
0 likes
Welsh boy wrote:

I have used engine oil in the past and found it to be great for staying on in bad weather but it does get messy.

Yep: I've also used engine oil plenty of times on my commuters; I occasionally run out of chain lube but I've generally got a container of engine oil kicking around.

Sure it does the job for lubrication (not sure about water/rust protection?) but it gunks up pretty quickly. I haven't found a lube that doesn't, during winter commutes, though.

Avatar
Canyon48 [933 posts] 7 months ago
0 likes

Its an interesting one, this.

I commute year round by bike (ok I do tend to drive if it's truly awful, as I can't dry my clothes). I have to clean and relive my chain once a week- more if it's been raining.

Still not sure I'd choose engine oil though.

Avatar
Woldsman [251 posts] 7 months ago
1 like

A fair few folk swear by chainsaw oil, although I’ve never tried it myself. Oh, but you do need a proper bike with mudguards. And flaps, of course. 

 

Avatar
Helmut D. Bate [86 posts] 7 months ago
1 like

Pah, I've used olive oil on my best bike's chain on long summer rides. My chain didn't disintegrate and I wasn't 2% less efficient or whatever the claim of the lube manufacturers is. It felt as smooth as their snake oil.

All things considered, I'd choose something designed for the job, but you're going to accumulate shit on a chain in winter. As others have said, it's about keeping it clean: then there are loads of lubricants up to the job of keeping a clean chain moving.

Avatar
beezus fufoon [973 posts] 7 months ago
1 like
Helmut D. Bate wrote:

Pah, I've used olive oil on my best bike's chain on long summer rides. My chain didn't disintegrate and I wasn't 2% less efficient or whatever the claim of the lube manufacturers is. It felt as smooth as their snake oil. All things considered, I'd choose something designed for the job, but you're going to accumulate shit on a chain in winter. As others have said, it's about keeping it clean: then there are loads of lubricants up to the job of keeping a clean chain moving.

extra virgin?

Avatar
Helmut D. Bate [86 posts] 7 months ago
1 like
beezus fufoon wrote:
Helmut D. Bate wrote:

Pah, I've used olive oil on my best bike's chain on long summer rides. My chain didn't disintegrate and I wasn't 2% less efficient or whatever the claim of the lube manufacturers is. It felt as smooth as their snake oil. All things considered, I'd choose something designed for the job, but you're going to accumulate shit on a chain in winter. As others have said, it's about keeping it clean: then there are loads of lubricants up to the job of keeping a clean chain moving.

extra virgin?

Natch: I always go for the first pressing.

Avatar
abusivemonk [27 posts] 7 months ago
0 likes

Looks like I can use pretty much anything over winter then, and there is no miracle snake oil that will both keep the drivetrains clean and keep of lubed. Better invest in some elbow grease and use the various lubes I've accumulated over the years. At least elbow grease is free

Avatar
CXR94Di2 [2080 posts] 7 months ago
0 likes

I use chain saw oil, after first clean from new.  I drop my chain into a tub of gunk and use a small ultrasonic bath to agitate all the road grime out of the inner surfaces, clean in fresh water whilst again ultrsonic action.  so far 4 mins of work.  I then dry chain with a rag and drop it into 1 litre container of fresh chain saw oil, hang dry, 10 mins now.  Wipe off excess and fit chain to bike, wipe down again and leave over night.  Next day oil has gone sticky and doesnt fly off.  Ride several hundred miles, repeat.  End of year buy new chain and do it again.

Avatar
PRSboy [227 posts] 7 months ago
1 like

A chain lube is doing quite a specific job... it should provide protection by carrying the dirt away from the chain, which means it should disappear and be re-applied regularly (which I understand is the whole point of Squirt).

A sticky oil which remains attached to your chain will provide anti rust protection, but also will attract dirt into a paste which grinds away at your drivetrain.

So its a bit of compromise.

Gearbox oils presumably are designed to work well at higher temperatures and pressures, and as a sealed unit, corrosion should be less of an issue in a gearbox.

Avatar
kevvjj [384 posts] 7 months ago
1 like

WD40 every few rides. 

Avatar
hawkinspeter [1867 posts] 7 months ago
4 likes
kevvjj wrote:

WD40 every few rides. 

Heretic!

Avatar
drjohn [52 posts] 7 months ago
1 like

I just rebuilt a bike as a 2x8 speed commuter for the winter. New chain fitted (KMC Z8, about £6) so I'm starting from new and I'm having great success with a 500ml tub of petroleum jelly from Poundworld and an oily rag.

This should come as no surprise though. A new chain comes soaked in hot paraffin wax, AKA petroleum jelly. The chain manufacturers will tell you it's the best lube you'll get and why would they pay more? It does attract dust but that's not such a problem in winter. 

But here's the best thing, it's a pure product with no soaps, perfumes or solvents. So it doesn't irritate my skin, which is important to me because I get contact dermatitis. Apparently you should wipe your chain after every ride. I've never fancied that before now but actually the new regime keeps the chain ridiculously slick and easy to run through aforementioned oily rag, which is now free of light solvents. Previously I've used white spirit (hell's own solvent) and WD40 or GT85 (mist of doom).

Who knew?

 

Avatar
abusivemonk [27 posts] 7 months ago
0 likes

I've just done a check of the amount of lubes I've tried and used in the past. It's safe to sat I won't go without this winter. I have 8 more of less full bottles of lube to go at. I have a mixture of dry, wet, wax and ceramic to have go at. I won't buy any more until I've used these up.

Avatar
Welsh boy [518 posts] 7 months ago
5 likes
abusivemonk wrote:

I've just done a check of the amount of lubes I've tried and used in the past. It's safe to sat I won't go without this winter. I have 8 more of less full bottles of lube to go at. I have a mixture of dry, wet, wax and ceramic to have go at. I won't buy any more until I've used these up.

Mix them all together and you have one lube which does it all!  Put it in a very small bottle, give it a stupid name and charge a stupid amount of money for it and we are both (yes, I want a cut of the proceeds) rich beyond our wildest dreams.

Avatar
Simon E [3299 posts] 7 months ago
0 likes

I've used Green Oil year-round, applied sparingly with an old toothbrush to the inside run of the chain. Clean it up with a squirt of WD-40 on an old t-shirt then reapply the lube. Regular lubing, and not putting the bike away soaking wet overnight, seems to keep rust away through the winter. But I might try olive oil now, or even petroleum jelly...