How To Oil A Bike Chain

how to lube a bike chain

Bike’s don’t require a great deal of maintenance for the most part, but the drivetrain does need some special attention from time to time, ensuring that everything is shifting and driving properly. 

One of the easiest and most important bike maintenance steps you can do is ensure that the chain is properly lubricated.

If a chain gets too dry, it can end up causing unnecessary stress on both your chain and your cogs, which not only stretches the chain, but wears down the cog’s teeth as well. 

This guide will take you through the very quick process of oiling the chain.

A Few Quick Things Beforehand

As a kid, many of us used WD-40 to lube our chains (I know I did.) While this seems like an obvious choice for some, WD-40 is actually the last thing you want to put on your chain.

​​​​It doesn’t properly lubricate it, and also attracts way too much dirt onto the chain. 

It may be tempting to use any lubricant you have laying around, but don’t.

Always use bike lube.

As for lube type, you do have some choices, and they are dependent on your riding environment. 

If you plan on riding in wet weather, you’ll need wet lube, as it’s more resistant to water, ice, snow -- any moisture. If you’re in a dry climate, you should get dry lube, as it is thinner and resists attracting dirt. 

How to Properly Lube a Chain

Start by either leaning your bike against a wall, or use a kickstand. If you have a fixed gear, or any bike that can’t pedal backwards while stationary, turn in upside down.

Take an old rag, and apply some degreaser if you have some lying around. If not, a damp rag will work. Run the chain backwards with the pedal, while lightly covering the chain. Repeat until all the dirt and grime is removed.

Once the chain is clean and dry, get out your lube, and hold the top of the bottle over the chain. Gently squeeze the bottle while you turn the pedals, ensuring a small bit of lube falls onto each chain link.

Once you’ve lubed the chain, continue turning the chain for about a minute to ensure the lube is properly distributed. If there is any excess, gently dab it off with a dry rag. 

That’s it! Your chain is lubed and ready to go. 

how to oil a bike chain


There really isn’t a specific time table for when to lube your chain.

It’s best to just to periodically check on it to see if it looks dry, or if it’s built up too much dirt and grime. Don’t wait until it’s too dirty, as accumulated dirt can be hard to get out, and will cause your chain to fail over time. 

By keeping tabs on your chain, you can ensure a long life for it, along with seamless shifting. Good luck!

This post was last updated on June 5th, 2018 at 02:05 pm

About the Author Max Shumpert

Over the last few years, I’ve taken my love of the outdoors, hiking, skiing, trekking and exploring to the next level by starting this site. I started a bike shop in Denver, CO, and have seen amazing growth over the last few years. Getting paid to do what I love has been a dream come true for me. That’s also what led me to start In my shop, I spend a large amount of time helping people find the perfect bike for them and the style of biking they’re going to be doing. It only made sense that I expanded my reach and got online, making it possible for me to help people all over the world. If biking and staying fit is your priority, too, you’ve come to the right place.

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