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Bicycle Lubrication: a DIY Guide

Posted by Joe Reichert on July 01, 2011

The simplest maintenance you can perform on your bike (other than airing up your tires) is lubing it. You should always lube your bike 15 hours or so before riding, as quick jobs right before you take off normally doesn't get everything lubed. Some lube jobs will last for more rides, although if things get loud or shifting gets sticky, it's time to lube.

In the shop, we use ProLink on all of our bikes.  Since ProLink doesn't contain solids like Teflon, wax, moly, graphite or plastic, it won't build up or become tacky. We also approve of Finish Line, Pedro's or Tri-Flow.  We do not recommend you use WD40 for anything other than cleaning your chain.

Here is how to lube your bike:

1.  The Chain
Apply approximately one drop of lube per link to your chain while running the pedals backwards. Wear gloves, as a moving chain can cause injury.

2.  Front Derailleur
On the front derailleur, lube the pivots. Use a drop of lube everywhere you can see movement when shifting.

3.  Rear Derailleur
Just like the front derailleur, lube the pivots.  

4.  Pedals
There are some types of clipless pedals that will need to have the release mechanism lubed. You should only lube this mechanism if you have this type of pedal.  Otherwise, do not ever lube a pedal as your feet could slip off.

5.  Everything into motion
Pedal around, shift your gears, and bounce in your seat. If you hear anything squeak, there's a moving part there are it should be lubed.

6.  Wipe it all clean
Once you've lubed everything wipe off any excess. Use a rag to wipe away all the lube you used, including all the lube off the chain. Wiping it away will leave the lube in between the parts but clean it away from everywhere it isn't needed. This will keep your bike from collecting dirt while you ride.


For more bicycle repair guides, check out Park Tool's Big Blue Book of Bicycle Repair.

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