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How to Lubricate a Bicycle Chain

By Laurel-Lea Shannon

Once you’ve cleaned your bicycle chain, lubricating it is easy. But there are a few tricks to doing it right:


Step One: Before lubricating your bicycle chain you must have the correct oil. Buy a lubricating oil that is made specifically for bicycle chains. Do not use WD-40 or all-purpose oils like 3-in-1. I use Tri-Flow. Sheila Ascroft likes ProLink chain lube (pro gold). We’ve both used White Lightening, and don’t recommend it for chains. It’s good for oiling pedals but it leaves a waxy residue on the chain that tends to attract dirt. Your local bike shop can show you a variety of chain oils, and the pros and cons of each.

Step Two: Have you CLEANED the chain? If not, read How To Clean a Bicycle Chain, and clean the chain first. Adding oil to a dirty chain just attracts more grit.

Step Three: After cleaning your bike chain, slowly rotate the back wheel and put a drop of oil on each of the chain links between the plates. You don’t want a lot of lubrication on the outside of the chain as this just attracts more dirt.

Step Four: Wrap a clean rag around the chain as you slowly turn the pedals backward to wipe off excess oil.

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