Lubricant and grease
- Chain lubricant. This is an absolute essential. Everybody has a favourite type: with me it’s Finish Line Cross-Country. Ask the mechanics in your local bike shop what they use. Different lubes work in different climates. If you ride in a very wet and muddy place, you’ll need a different lube from someone that rides in hot, dry climates. A dry climate requires a dry lubricant, to keep the drivetrain running smoothly while attracting minimal muck. In muddy, wet conditions you need a wet lube. These are stickier so they stay on in extreme conditions, but attract more dirt so you must be conscientious in your cleaning routine. The important thing about chain lubes is that they should be applied to clean chains. Putting oil on a dirty chain is the first step towards creating a sticky paste that eats expensive drivetrain components for breakfast. If you haven’t got time to clean your chain first, you haven’t got time to oil it. Whatever you use for oiling the chain will also do as a more general-purpose lubricant for cables, brake pivots and derailleur pivots – anywhere two bits of metal need to move smoothly over each other. We would recommend drip oil rather than spray oil. Spray is messy and wasteful, and it’s too easy to get it on rims and disc rotors by mistake, which makes your brakes slippery rather than sticky.
- Grease. Confusion surrounds the difference between grease and oil. Essentially, they’re both lubricants, but grease is solid and oil is liquid. Grease is stickier and can’t be used on exposed parts of the bike; dirt sticks to the grease, forms a grinding paste and wears out the bike rather than making it run more smoothly. Grease is used inside sealed components, like hubs. You don’t get in there often so the stuff is required to last longer and remain cleaner. In an emergency almost any grease will do, but as you don’t need much, get the good stuff from your local bike shop. As your confidence grows, invest in a grease gun. This will keep your hands and grease stock clean. For a clean and simple system, use the ones that screw on to the top of a tube of grease. To get the last bit out, though, you usually abandon the gun and cut open the tube.