How-To: Bike Lubes 7

Just like you want to ride with speed and flow, your bike should be silky smooth as well. Proper lubrication is a critical part of maintaining your bike, and should be performed on a regular schedule. Anywhere metal contacts metal will benefit from lubrication, although different parts require different strategies. Here are the crucial procedures to follow and the reasons behind them. Let’s start with chains. There are a few ways to go about lubing chains; however, the most effective and efficient method we’ve found is to take your time and go link by link applying the lube to each roller on the chain. With this method your chain will stay cleaner, be better lubricated—so you don’t have to lube it so often, and you’ll use less lube, which will save you money. When it comes to lubing bearings, we are fans of Shimano Dura Ace grease. It’s thick enough to stay where it should while keeping bearings rolling nice and smooth. To apply this grease to cartridge bearings you’ll need to use a knife to pop off the seals and then use a degreaser followed by WD-40 to clean out the old grease and then blow out any residual water and degreaser. Wipe the bearing down and then apply the Dura Ace grease. There’s no need to jam pack hub bearings for summer riding, just get enough in there to keep everything coated well. For the wetter part of the year, go with heavier waterproof grease like Phil Wood and fill the bearing to the brim. An extra coat of grease on the outside of the bearing seal can help to prevent water from getting past the seal. For suspension cartridge bearings, super thick grease is the way to go. These bearings rarely turn as much as a quarter inch during operation, which puts nearly the entire load on just a few bearings, so they need all of the protection they can get. Thick grease like Pro Gold EPX is great for this application because it not only keeps them turning under heavy loads, it does a good job of keeping water out. When you do go to lube your suspension bearings, be sure to get them turning again before you start, as they tend to get stuck after turning and 1/8 of a turn for a million cycles over a few months of heavy riding. Many components require assembly grease and thicker greases work great here too. A good example of this is headset assemblies. Crown races, bearing races, and compression rings all need grease applied to them to minimize wear and to keep them working quietly. Using thick grease will extend the amount of time required before relubing. Fork seals should be cleaned and lubed or replaced when indicated by the manufacturer. A great way to keep things lubed in the meantime is to apply a fork seal lube like Formula D Suspension Syrup. Wipe the seal clean with a rag, then slide the pointy end of a zip tie between the seal and the stanchion to open up a space to get the lube into the seal. About 10 to 20 drops per seal is all you need. Then cycle the fork and wipe off all of the excess lube. Derailleur pivots and clipless pedals can be lubed with a light chain lube like TriFlow. Just a drop or two at each contact point within the assembly is all it takes. This lube should be done about once a month. Shifters should be lubed about twice a year. A quick half-second shot of Boeshield T9 is all you need to do to keep them shifting smoothly and accurately.

Credit: Art's Cyclery / Vital MTB
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7 comments
  • Big Bird

    12/18/2014 9:06 AM

    I've never considered that suspension seal trick. I'd be worried about damaging the seal. I've always just done it as part of suspension service while the lowers are off the bike.

  • Art's Cyclery

    12/18/2014 9:36 AM

    Ideally everyone would service their forks at the interval suggested by the manufacturer and lube their seals at that point, but let's face it, virtually no one does that. So, for people who don't service their fork on time (or ever in some cases) Formula D can offer some real benefits.

  • KingDevin

    12/18/2014 11:01 AM

    Thanks for that zip tie trick. Ill be sure to pass it on to customers that may benefit from it.

  • mp

    12/18/2014 7:11 AM

    Also, cool video series. I think folks will learn lots.

  • mp

    12/18/2014 7:10 AM

    Going the minimal route: boeshield t9 and phil wood usually do the trick for me. a bit of 5wt suspension oil to lube the suspension seals.

  • Reinforcer

    12/18/2014 3:55 AM

    So many brand of lubricant!

  • abzillah

    12/17/2014 8:10 PM

    Thanks!