Transmission cleaning/lubing – is there a consensus?

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  • Transmission cleaning/lubing – is there a consensus?
  • Did a quick search on this and was needless to say a bit bewildered by the amount of conflicting opinions. So, assuming mountain bikes only and UK conditions (ie: muddy) what do people do post ride to keep their transmission fresh.

    I’ve gone through lots of stages with chain cleaning and lubing. Presently i’m kind of half in the less-is-more camp. I tend to clean off most of the dirt with an old rag/pick and then wet lube the chain followed by working the lube in with a clean cloth.

    Any opinions on that?


    i use squirt lube as it muck brushes off, relube the chain, let it dry, done. No messy chain/cassette


    I do that^^^^^^^ works very well better than anything else I’ve tried.


    At the moment because its muddy I just wash my chain / rings etc with muc off and a hose, then use WD40.

    This keeps it all from getting rusty and because its not sticky oil, little mud and crap stick to it. Because there is no sticky gunk on it, its very easy to clean and quick.

    If it was dry Id use proper chain lube.

    I ride ever weekend and every Tuesday, sometimes Thursday as well – off road in all conditions.

    I expect my whole chainset to last from about Oct to March, when I will change the whole lot.

    If you lube it and ride it in the muck the grit will just stick to it. It will wear out quite fast, not lubing it but keeping it clean seems to work and last long enough not to cause me problems.

    Premier Icon captaindanger

    A consensus!? This is an Internet forum don’t cha know!



    Premier Icon wwaswas

    singlespeed – squirt of degreaser, brush if necessary, rinse with hose, wipe with rag, re-oil

    geared bike – chain cleaning device with a bit of degreaser, good brush round the derailliuer pulleys, clean with hose, wipe with rag, re-oil.

    A consensus?!!

    Squirt works for me though. Very low chain wear since I started using it, despite superficial rust when I’m too lazy to wipe the chain dry after a wet ride.


    Leave the muddy bike in the back of the car for up to a week then maybe move it to the shed bouncing it on the driveway to knock off the big bits of mud along the way.

    Then when next ride comes around, retrieve bike from shed, bounce a couple more times and maybe clear out the worst of the mud from the moving areas with a gloved hand and head off on the ride. If chain goes brown, then I might rub it with a WD40 soaked cloth and lube with finishline (rare).

    I’m utterly rubbish at keeping bikes clean. The MTB is now a singlespeed so doesn’t require much at all thankfully. The cross bike is screaming for a new chain but to be fair it’s lasted all winter and all last summer on the current one as my primary bike for weekly club runs, time trials, sportives, cross races and commuting!

    WD40 is rubbish, it strips off lube!

    In high load aplications with a close fit it actualy increaces friction by allowing them to marginaly slip past each other then lock when the two surfaces mate together!

    I bought a cheep can of spray on chain lube from a pound shop, seems to work, but also removes a lot of crap. Keep intending to buy one of those chain cleaner/luber widgets that attach to spray cans.

    I tried putoline chain wax (the big 2.5kg tin of stinking black solid wax you heat on a has hob untill it melts). It lasts ages over the summer and in normal mud, but gets stripped off in one muddy wet ride, but then wet lubes dont last long in those conditions either.


    There was a massive thread on this subject recently on uk.rec.cycling.moderated and there were as many different opinions as posters, so, no, there’s no consensus.

    Premier Icon nickc

    Chains are something like 95% efficient even when they’re dirty, so in reality not cleaning it isn’t going to be an issue, having said that, offroad your drivetrain will last no time. Personally I clean my bike after every ride, got it done to about 20 minutes, and I’m so used to doing it, it doesn’t bother me. Chain comes off, goes straight into tin of white spirits, shake it, wipe down, re fit, lube of choice. Don’t have any shifter issues, and drivetrain (all XT) has lasted nearly two years of riding about twice a week. Middle and outer chainrings could probably do with changing sooner rather than later though.



    I’m sure this is a joke but I’ve often thought it would be a good idea, but the motorbike ones use carb vacuum to ‘switch’ on and off so you’d need a manual switch on a bicycle and you just KNOW you’d forget to turn it off one day and come back to a little oil puddle, probably on the carpet.


    This talk of using WD40 is complete and utter madness!!! It’s much to thin a lube, to be used on your chain!!!

    Buy a chain cleaning device, put some sort of degreaser in it wind it round, use a bit of degreaser and a brush on your cassete and chain ring(s) and also the cage of the front mech. Brush off any obvious dirt in/on the rear mech. Rinse with the shower setting of the hose. Leave to dry or dry off with rag. Apply lube to chain and wipe away excess lube with rag/cloth apply your chosen chain lube to chain. Then apply a wet lube to moving parts of front and rear mech.

    Thats my method anyway.

    Premier Icon chakaping

    Spray bike with hose, wipe chain with rag, apply more lube.

    But take it off for a proper clean every four or five rides.

    Premier Icon takisawa2

    Wilkos 3in1 spray oil, is all the ss has ever known.
    Geared bike, wash then blast with cheap wd40 equivalent, wipe then wilkos 3in1 spary oil. Some Finish Line wet-lube if its going to be a very wet ride.

    Premier Icon pedalhead

    pretty sure when I was a nipper I didn’t lube my chain for, oh about 3+ years. Never had a problem, and I used to ride that thing every day. Not quite sure why I’m so obsessed with a clean/lubed drivetrain these days…oh well.

    Fitting the thing is the worst bit; it is a bit awkward and requires a bit of thought and even then it is not going to look very elegant. But it works OK.

    Premier Icon StirlingCrispin

    Scottoiler here too.

    Their FS365 is the best bike product ever – a rust-inhibitor that does what it says on the squirty bottle.)

    WD40 is good at stopping the mud from sticking though, which when you’re riding through thick mud is better for your drive train than having a bit of lube + a ton of mud all over it.


    I just was mine with sponge and water after each ride, then relube with finish line the next ride using a tooth brush, every few 3 months or so take the chain off and in a tub of diesel and back on the bike.

    A clean chain definately feels more efficient and certainly changes gear smoother.

    Premier Icon cp

    to clean the chain & chain rings/sprockets, I’ve just recently discovered the amazing cleaning power of neat fairy on the scratchy side of a small wsahing up sponge, then just spin the pedals holding the sponge round the chain. mega clean! then just do the same on the cassette and rings. neat fairy is the way forwards!

    then i rinse well, let it dry for an hour or so in the kitchen or outside if it’s summer, then use my lube of choice, purple extreme. great stuff. leave it till next ride, then just a quick wipe of any excess pre-ride – gives the lube time to fully soak between the linkages & rollers.

    Premier Icon shortcut

    Hose bike, spray on Muc off, agitate Inc chain, cassette etc. Hose, dry, lube with Purple extreme. Go for beer. Job done! About 10 minutes (excluding the beer)!


    I find the fat of an unbaptised freshly murderered virgin applied liberally, will prevent rusting. But only if killed with an obsidian knife by the light of a gibbous moon. On a wednesday. In June. In the west of north Uist.
    I find a Brillo pad useful for cleaning the chain.

    Premier Icon Onzadog

    Normally I’m in the camp of total decrease, clean, relube every ride. However, I’ve been using squirt lube and it’s working well. I take the chain off, slosh it in the sink and put it on the radiator to dry. The test of the bike will get the good news with hot soapy water as very little much sticks to the chain. The other advantage is that the squirt lube runs into the cracks of the chain better when it’s hot off the radiator.


    Put coffee pot on….

    Spray drivetrain with Fenwicks foamy purple stuff,
    Go round cassette/chain/jockeys with Pedros yellow toothbrushy thing
    Spray rest of bike (avoiding fork seals) with Fenwicks non-foamy purple stuff
    Liberally apply hot water from bucket using washing up brush to loosen any claggies
    Spray cranks/mechs/frame lightly with GT85

    …..pour coffee, munch down some biscuits/cakes/energy bars to personal prefernce

    GT85 has now dried bike nicely,
    lube chain with magic unction of choice, do the fork stanchion lubing thing, polish as required, stand back and admire your work 😀

    The scientificly proven BEST way to clean your bike is the 5 step method outlined as follows:
    1) arrive home after ride
    2) put bike on workstand-30 sec
    3) get the pressure washer out-1 min
    4) blast the bike with water-3 mins
    5) dry and lube chain-30 sec



    And so are your bearings.


    I don’t understand… What is this mud you people are referring to? What does it looks like? Is it cold? Warm. Please enlighten me as the only thing I get around here is dust…

    Run fracking fast and cover fracking well

    Premier Icon kiwijohn

    Rick & Roll blue. Best lube ever. Dribble it on, give the cranks a whizz ? Wipe it off.
    My last drive train lasted 3 years of riding at least twice a week. Even though the chain had stretched a whole link, it still worked fine because of the magical properties of Rock & Roll blue.

    Cheers for all the responses.

    I used GT85 (similar to WD40) for ages and was wondering why my transmission wore out so fast. Those solvent based lubes are no good for chains in my experience.

    I would never use a pressure washer on my bike as i’m afraid of destroying my bearings as “thisisnotaspoon” says.


    GT85 is not “similar to WD40”

    Its WD40 with teflon … isn’t it?

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