Cyclescheme is the UK's most popular cycle to work benefit, creating more cyclists than any other provider.

British Cycling: How to lube your bike chain

British Cycling: How to lube your bike chain

Looking after your chain and the other transmission components that come with it - chain-rings, sprockets and jockey wheels - can be a contentious area within cycling with firmly held beliefs and long established ‘folklore' about the way it should be done.

Changing times

I'll try to be pragmatic with my advice and stick to what I believe to be good practice based on engineering principles and experience.

In an ideal world where we were only concerned with long transmission life we would completely contain the chain in an oil rich environment - with the dirt kept out. This approach was popular at one time with Sturmey Archer hub gears and a fully enveloping chain ‘bath'. These days most of us are more concerned with keeping the weight of our bike down and our expensive gear changing mechanisms on show - in order to keep it running efficiently and enhance its useful life. How do we do that? The answer is simple - keep it clean and lubricate it well. This sounds a simple process too but can be contradictory when the lube acts as a dirt-magnet...

A few tips...

  1. Clean your chain often and well - I tend to leave the chain in situ on the bike and use plenty of good quality degreaser to get all the dirt and old oil off. Within the Great Britain team we have found a paint brush coupled with degreaser is the best combination.  We also use a cut off water bottle which can be placed in the seat tube bottle cage, this keeps the degreaser close at hand and also reduces the chance of it getting spilt. Clean the ‘rings, jockey wheels and sprockets too. Wash the degreaser off and dry the chain before lubricating.

  2. Lubricate the chain with a good quality bike-specific lubricant. The Tribologists (people devoted full-time to the science of reducing friction) have developed oils and additives which when used properly will make your drive-train more efficient and last longer. For wet or dry conditions always use a ‘wet' lube. Wet lubes penetrate the chain and get to the crucial roller/pin interface and stay wet resisting rain and mud intrusion to the chain - but they do attract dust (so wipe off any excess). In hot, dry conditions this can lead to a ‘paste' developing which can increase friction and wear - hence the importance of 1.

Get the final two tips from Mark, plus a Q&A on the subject in the British Cycling Insight Zone.


Want more advice like this? The British Cycling Insight Zone is full of comprehensive cycling advice and know-how from British Cycling’s experts, to help you improve your riding. The Insight Zone is available at www.britishcycling.org.uk/insightzone.

British Cycling members have full access to the Insight Zone - become a member today and get 12 months of membership for the price of 9 just for being a Cyclescheme participant* (normally £37), and enjoy:

  • Up to £10m third party liability insurance  - peace of mind insurance to keep you covered every time you ride your bike
  • Free legal support and advice - access to our expert team who can help you in the event of an incident
  • An exclusive weekly members email - packed with offers, news and top tips from the British Cycling experts
  • Discounts on cycling gear - enjoy discounts at Wiggle, Evans Cycles and Halfords
  • And lots more too!

Join British Cycling today

To claim this offer, visit your MyCyclescheme pages to find the exclusive promotional code.

Terms and Conditions

*Offer only available to new British Cycling members paying by Direct Debit.  Offer valid until 30th April 2014. 

Comments: