Buyers Guide to the Best Mountain Bike Chain Lubes

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This guide is going to be very much based in The Real World. We’re going to be offering advice for people who don’t really want to spend loads/much/any time actually maintaining their drivetrain like a good human being does.

Chances are, if you’re reading this guide, you aren’t such a person. And if you are such a conscientious person, you very probably already know what chain lube works for you. It’s very probably something involving wax and faff. Crack on.

Best Mountain Bike Chain Lube smoove
Pic: Huw Oliver

Real world advice

This guide is for those of us who should know better (do know better in fact) but singularly fail to look after our drivetrains as well as we probably should do. We don’t want to spend much/any time doing bike maintenance. We have lives. Stupid busy lives. We don’t have spare minutes. And if we do, we spend them actually riding.

But you know what? Since the advent of single-ring drivetrain set-ups, my gears have never worked better, or for longer, without such little in the way of attention. Honestly, a scrape of black plasticine-encased jockey wheels with a small flat blade screwdriver every few weeks and a degrease-clean of the cassette and chainring every few months. It’s fine.

And I’m going to be bold and come out and state that any lube works in nice weather conditions. This guide is for lube that doesn’t mind being subjected to mud, grit and water. A UK lube in other words.

Dry lubes are all well and good in theory but personally I’ve had drivetrains wear out significantly faster when using dry lubes in the theory that dry lubes don’t attract filth and thus don’t wear out your drivetrain. That hasn’t been the case for me. Dry lube disappears after a few miles and leaves me with a squeaky drivetrain that eats itself distressingly fast.

Wet or decent ‘all condition’ lubes are where it’s at. I’d much rather have a slightly furry, black drivetrain that’s quiet and not eating itself than a shiny, squealy, destructive dry lubed set-up.

Best Mountain Bike Chain Lube
Bye bye dry lube

Other useful bits and bobs

Despite wanting an easier life when it comes to lubrication of drivetrains, there are a few things you need to go alongside a decent chain lube. Namely a pair of chain link pliers and some degreaser. You also need to have a rummage around and find some plastic bags and an old toothbrush or two.

The chain link pliers are for removing the chain from the bike easily. The degreaser is for cleaning said chain, and also the cassette (take the wheel out of the bike and tightly wrap a plastic bag around the disc rotor). The toothbrush is for agitating the black stuff off the cassette, chain and chainring.

I’d also recommend buying a few Powerlinks for your flavour of chain. Just in case one breaks, or goes missing during surgery, or is basically knackered.

One last thing!

Try not to leave lubing your chain until the minute before you go riding. Try to remember to lube the chain at the end of a ride. And remember to wipe off the excess lube with a old rag (it will really reduce how mucky your drivetrain ends up).

Best Mountain Bike Chain Lube dirty bike
Typical state of the author’s bike #sorrynotsorry

The following chain lubes have proven their worth over the years and are our go-to choices.

There is a common theme amongst a lot of them: you can buy them in large capacity bottles. Buying dinky bottles of lube is a serious waster of time and money. You will always, always, always need chain lube. Buy big. It’s loads better value.

Best Mountain Bike Chain Lubes:

Rock N Roll Extreme LV Lube

Rock N Roll Extreme LV Lube 16oz (473ml)

Price: £23.95

Summary: “The lube down inside the chain creates a protective membrane to seal out dirt and moisture from the moving parts of the chain. Holding in place the best lube on the planet, for longer chain life, super smooth shifting and pedaling.”

Best Mountain Bike Chain Lube
Renthal All Conditions Chain Lube

Renthal All Conditions Chain Lube 250ml

Price: £12.52

Summary: “The all-new formula Chain Lube is specially designed to penetrate all parts of the chain. The high film strength and stable viscosity, across a range of temperatures, gives superb adhesion and anti-fling properties.”

Best Mountain Bike Chain Lube
Squirt Chain Lube

Squirt Chain Lube 500ml

Price: £46.99

Summary: “Continuous application can be done without having to clean the chain. Excess wax that gets expelled by the chain does not attract dirt, hardens slightly and falls off during riding. Cleaning with a dry brush is adequate.”

Juice Lubes Viking Juice

Juice Lubes Viking Juice All Conditions Chain Lube 130ml

Price: £9.99

Summary: Designed to survive every crank of the Paris-Roubaix and crowned the “holy grail of Chain Lubes” by none other than some outfit called ‘Singletrack magazine’. 

Green Oil Wet Lube

Green Oil Wet Lube 100ml

Price: £7.99

Summary: The best choice for those who want an eco friendly chain lube. As Green Oil’s founder Simon Nash would proclaim: “Destroy limits, not nature!”

Best Mountain Bike Chain Lube
SMOOVE Lube (Pic: Huw Oliver)

SMOOVE Lube 125ml

Price: £14.99

Summary: We like this one so much we actually sell it in our Singletrack Shop! SMOOVE takes the best elements of wax-based chain lubes and combines them with the best parts of oil-based lubes without the negatives. Read our review.

Check it out in the Singletrack Shop

Other useful stuff:

Tru-Tension Cycle Drivetrain Cleaner

Tru-Tension Cycle Drivetrain Cleaner 500ml

Price: £10.00

Summary: “It’s easy to use with minimal effort, giving you the perfect surface to apply a fresh coat of lubricant. Spray and watch the grime drip away in seconds.” NB: Cover up your disc rotors!

LifeLine 2 in 1 Masterlink Pliers

LifeLine 2 in 1 Masterlink Pliers

Price: £9.99

Summary: “The LifeLine Pro 2 in 1 Masterlink Pliers make spliting and reconnecting a bicycle chain easier than ever before. The left two prongs pince the chain together. Meanwhile the right two prongs split the chain with a simple squeeze.”

While you’re here…

Review Info

Brand: N/A
Product: N/A
From: N/A
Price: N/A
Tested: by N/A for N/A
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  • This topic has 35 replies, 31 voices, and was last updated 5 days ago by Murray.
Viewing 35 posts - 1 through 35 (of 35 total)
  • Buyers Guide to the Best Mountain Bike Chain Lubes
  • footflaps
    Full Member

    Full marks for not including any crap from MucOff in a chain lube review!

    You’d almost make ZFC proud 😉

    Personally, I’ve been very impressed by Smoove lube, although just migrated to immersive waxing…

    stingmered
    Full Member

    Rock N Roll. Didn’t read any further.

    tjagain
    Full Member

    rootes1
    Full Member

    Pedros lubes work well in my experience, and yep @footflaps Muc-Off stuff, terrible.

    scaredypants
    Full Member

    people who don’t really want to spend loads/much/any time actually maintaining their drivetrain like a good human being does.

    It’s very probably something involving wax and faff

    thank god – a faff-free method; at last !! <reads on>

    The chain link pliers are for removing the chain from the bike easily. The degreaser is for cleaning said chain, and also the cassette (take the wheel out of the bike and tightly wrap a plastic bag around the disc rotor). The toothbrush is for agitating the black stuff off the cassette, chain and chainring

    Oh

    Well, OK, so it takes more effort but it’s better than waxing, right? lasts longer, more protective.  Something

    endoverend
    Full Member

    Needs more research. Things have moved on a bit.

    binman
    Full Member

    Pedro’s syn lube is my go-to all year round

    fahzure
    Full Member

    If you are willing to lube regularly, a light lube with wax additives, like TF-2 or Boeshield T9, keep the drivetrain much cleaner.

     

    eddiebaby
    Full Member

    Singlepeed, Gates Drive.
    You losers.

    jonwe
    Free Member

    Rock n roll blue. Ride bike, hose bike off, squirt rnr blue onto chain, rotate cranks a few times, put bike in shed, go to pub, sleep, work, repeat. Spring, summer, autumn, winter. Sloppy mud, sticky mud, dry dusty mud, roads. Mountain bike, road bike. Good for about 40 miles in the most chain unfriendly conditions so just do it every ride.

    neilforrow
    Full Member

    I’m with STW here – the juice lubes Viking juice is hands down the best all conditions lube I’ve used.

    I’ve tried most of the others on the list and a lot are good but seem limited to certain conditions or seasons. The Viking lube is the only one that truly keeps the chain smooth across the board and as a bonus doesn’t leave a massive load of residue / gunk.

    stingmered
    Full Member

    Rock n roll blue. Ride bike, hose bike off, squirt rnr blue onto chain, rotate cranks a few times, put bike in shed, go to pub, sleep, work, repeat. Spring, summer, autumn, winter. Sloppy mud, sticky mud, dry dusty mud, roads. Mountain bike, road bike. Good for about 40 miles in the most chain unfriendly conditions so just do it every ride.

    Exactly this. And the drivetrain stays immaculate with just a hosepipe or wipe down with a clean cloth. Haven’t used a degreaser in years!

    fazzini
    Full Member

    3 for 2 on Viking Juice at, sorry, Amazon if anyone interested.

    Edit:

    Linky

    pmurden
    Full Member

    Smoove Lube user here after using many, many others. Simply put I think it’s the bees knees.

    weeksy
    Full Member

    i like a bit of Viking… i picked up some yesterday at Dean Cycles as they have all the Juice Lube stuff in stock.

    nickc
    Full Member

    Yeah, been using Viking all year round now for 5 years or so, very impressed, does everything I need it to.

    DickBarton
    Full Member

    Is the Juice Lube a wax-based lube?

    tthew
    Full Member

    Weldtite All Weather with Teflon is the only oil I’ve ever re-bought after trying loads of different types. It’s cheap too!

    chakaping
    Free Member

    Weldtite All Weather with Teflon is the only oil I’ve ever re-bought after trying loads of different types. It’s cheap too!

    This is my go-to chain lubricant as well. Why pay more?

    zerocool
    Full Member

    I’ve been using Juice Lubes Viking for years and found it really good. I’m also a big fan of Finish Line Wet lube as well which has not only been used on drivetrains but also forks and shocks (until I got better suspension products)

    monkeyboyjc
    Full Member

    Can only recommend squirt lube – so much better than the big pink brand and other generic lubes. I now always have a a bottle in the portable tool box and one in the workshop (aka garage). Makes the drivetrain reliable, and relatively maintenance free. I’m sure it also prolongs chain wear as my chains seem to last forever, they don’t gather the wintery grit that traditional lubes (especially wet lubes) have issues with.

    traildog
    Free Member

    Teflon is not great for the environment, so avoid any lube with added teflon if you care about such things.

    keithb
    Full Member

    But which lune for throwing on a filthy chain, that never gets cleaned, immeditely before a ride, with a bike/cassette that is already caked in mud from the last ride? Seriously, I don;t think I’ve ever taken a chain off the bike for cleaning, and with 3 kids there’s no way I have time for such faff. It needs to go on, work, and be able to be re-applied. No bathing in degreaser, no chemical cleaning, just chuck-it-on and go. That’s the level of maintenance that I have time for…. My bikes come out of the cold, damp dark shed, get ridden for a few hours, then get put back into the colder, damper, dakrer shed at teh end of the ride. They’re Lucky to have a hose/brush/cloth passed over them.

    Looks like Rock ‘n’ Roll Blue could be the thing?

    Muc-off is rubbish for this BTW…. It’s really awful…. And in fact may be why my cassette appears to have worn prematurely, based on the feedback on here..

    chakaping
    Free Member

    keithb – Try the TF2 mentioned above. Give your chain a quick wipe with a rag after a wet ride, drip some on and leave it.

    It’ll probably be good to go for the next ride, but give it another quick lube if you want to be sure.

    zerocool
    Full Member

    @keithb – I’m the same. Wash down the bike (if it’s filthy), but usually just wipe down the chain before putting it away, add some lube and it’s ready for next time. I don’t even do that if it was a nice dry and dusty ride! Just wipe off the excess dust.

    But hen I’m the kind of person that doesn’t measure and replace/alternate my chains very 45 seconds. I just run them until either they snap or the cassette starts jumping and then replace both together. And I still seem to spend less money on drive trains than my friends who run 2 chains and replace something as soon as it shows a tiny bit of wear (apparently this means they have to replace less and save money, but 🤷🏼‍♂️).

    I also never saw the point in owning a hard tail for winter as when it’s wet and muddy I always wanted the extra traction (although now I’m a HT only guy) that the rear suspension offered.

    Life’s too short and full of kids and fun things to do with them to waste it on stripping chains off the bike all the time.

    tjagain
    Full Member

    Keithb – putoline. It doesnt ( in most but not all folks experience) need doing every ride but every few hundred miles even in filth

    DickBarton
    Full Member

    Had a mate who was like that – would apply lashings of lube just as we were about to roll out the drive. By the time we’d ridden the mile to the trail start you could hear his drivetrain – he’d moan constantly about it.

    I can’t see past Squirt, been using it now for over 10 years and it really does make a difference to the drivetrain – I now can get just over 3 years from whole drivetrain (chain is showing wear after 2 years but it still works very well for another year). Bike gets a hose down every 3 or 4 weeks and the drivetrain stays pretty clean. I give the chain a ‘proper’ clean every 8-ish months…Squirt gets applied each time the bike gets washed. My chain isn’t spotless but it is far cleaner than an oiled chain and most of the stuff that is still on the chain is excess Squirt.

    His argument was he didn’t have the 30 seconds the night before to apply Squirt (or any lube for that matter) to his bike, but he also had a right moan about the rate his drivetrain would disintegrate – he has since moved to Spain and has noticed his drivetrain lasting longer, but he still hasn’t changed his method, but it is a drier climate there.

    clubby
    Full Member

    Hated Squirt with a passion. Followed all the instructions but it just never worked for me.
    Reluctantly tried Rock N Roll Extreme as it sounded very similar to Squirt, but it’s great and haven’t looked back. Giant refill from Merlin fills normal bottle 4 times and last ages.

    gowerboy
    Full Member

    Squirt for me. I have used all kinds of wet lubes and dry lubes and none have been easier than squirt. You have to apply it regularly but that’s really all I do. At the moment I rarely do more than a weeks trip so I carry a small bottle with me. For day to day riding it’s easy… use reapply after a ride. I use it on my Tern cargo bike as well as my mountain bikes.

    I haven’t tried some of the other lubes that people are recommending so maybe I will experiment and see if another can beat squirt. It will have to be close to self cleaning to beat it mind…

    Yak
    Full Member

    Dryer months – squirt
    Filthy months – fenwicks professional. The cowpat aroma one.

    But it’s sandy here, so nothing sticky that will hold sand is the main priority. So no old-school wet lubes. It’s got to be stuff that dries on the night before.

    dhague
    Full Member

    3 for 2 on Viking Juice at, sorry, Amazon if anyone interested.

    3 for 2 (mix & match) is also available at Juice Lubes themselves, with free delivery over £25.

    paton
    Free Member

    13thfloormonk
    Full Member

    Dryer months – squirt
    Filthy months – fenwicks professional. The cowpat aroma one.

    Summer Road Bike (never sees rain) – Squirt
    Gravel Bike – Fenwicks
    CX Bike(s)/Winter Road Bike/MTB – Putoline

    I’ll not try to convince anyone that Putoline is less faff, or cleaner, as I think that’s debatable, but having stripped the old Putoline of my CX drivetrain in favour of some Viking Juice, I realised how much the Putoline had been masking the wear on the drivetrain, as soon as I stripped it off and applied the Viking Juice the drivetrain pretty much ceased functioning because the hooked chainring teeth were trying to pick up the chain as it dropped off the bottom of the chainring. After re-applying the Putoline I’ve got another 500km at least out of the same drivetrain. Really demonstrated (to me) how much the wax ‘fills in’ the gaps between the chain rollers and pins.

    I’ll move the summer road bike and the gravel bike over to Molten Speed Wax once the chains are worn, mainly because Putoline is still too dirty for bikes with white paint… 😎

    kiwimike
    Full Member

    This is hands-down the most important choice you can make in your cycling life. No other choice impacts how much money you waste, how much time your bike spends in the shop, or how bad your shifting gets. Choose the wrong lube, and if you ride often on high-end gear it will be costing you hundreds of pounds a year in cassettes and chains. And most lubes are the same – rebadged and over-hyped motor industry stuff.

    Here’s the thing: this is the topic cycling journalists are the very least-able to comment on with authority. I say this having written about 250 articles reviewing cycling gear in the last decade. There are just so many variables, the wear rates are so slow and the lack of measurement so dire, that I frankly call BS on any journalist publishing opinion on any lube beyond comment on how it looks/feels/smells. Just like pro mechanics can’t tell 5Nm from 6, we can’t tell you if a lube is good, bad or indifferent for chain wear. It takes repeatable, exact measurement at durations and scales impossible to reliably replicate outside of a lab.

    Having spent a year looking at this in depth, it is very clear that the ONLY person on the planet qualified to offer independent, verifiable opinion on wear rates for cycle lubes is Adam Kerin from zerofrictioncycling.com.au

    His methodology is clear, repeatable, and is based on simulating real-world conditions in tightly controlled lab environments.

    The answer to the question ‘what is currently the best wet lube for off-road use’ is clear: Silca Synergetic. And for e-bikes, Silca Synerg-E.

    If you want to faff with waxes, go for it, they’re better.

    As a journalist my Silca Synergetic review cites Adam’s findings, and I’m very happy to confirm that in the real world using Synergetic or Synerg-E means you never have to use degreaser ever again, your drivetrain stays sparkling clean, and a bottle will last you well over a year.

    Murray
    Full Member

    I’m worried, I find myself having to agree with tjagain – Putoline chain wax and a slow cooker for me

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