Author Topic: What lube to use for touring.  (Read 29702 times)

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Offline froze

What lube to use for touring.
« on: December 29, 2014, 07:59:57 pm »
I'm in the planning stages for a tour across the US, and in that process something came to my mind.  When a person is touring they simply can't carry a bottle of chain cleaner and a chain cleaning machine do they?  if not then how do they clean their chain?  or do they?

Is there a special lube that stays clean that I'm not aware of?  Wax lubes stay clean but a person would have to reply it every day, is that what touring people do?  My experience with drip on wax lubes is that my chains get about 2/3rds LESS mileage on them before they are worn out, so replacing a chain once or twice going across country would be ridiculas too.

On my road bikes I currently use ProGold Xtreme but when it runs out I'm going to try Rock and Roll Gold, but either lube requires that I clean the chain every 150 to 200 miles, a bit impractical while touring.

Thanks for your thoughts.

Offline John Nelson

Re: What lube to use for touring.
« Reply #1 on: December 29, 2014, 09:38:58 pm »
Most wet lubes contain both oil and mineral spirits. The mineral spirits keep the chain clean enough. Just put it on and wipe off the excess. I just use paper napkins or paper towels I pick up along the way. No other cleaning required.

Even if your chain does get dirty on the outside, it won't hurt anything.

Offline Patco

Re: What lube to use for touring.
« Reply #2 on: December 30, 2014, 01:11:30 am »
Similar to John Nelson, I, too, use paper towels that I pick up along the way but my first choice is the small shop rag that I carry with me. As for lube, I take a small bottle of Dumonde Tech (lite). I place a drop on each chain link then I wipe off with the shop rag, and I only do this when I begin hearing chain noise.

Offline DaveB

Re: What lube to use for touring.
« Reply #3 on: December 30, 2014, 08:52:50 am »
On my road bikes I currently use ProGold Xtreme but when it runs out I'm going to try Rock and Roll Gold, but either lube requires that I clean the chain every 150 to 200 miles, a bit impractical while touring.
"Cleaning" doesn't have to mean removal, solvent soaking, etc., etc.  It can be as simple as a wipe down by running the chain, still on the bike, through a rag or paper towel followed by dripping on fresh lube.  It can be done in a minute every few days.  Don't over think or over complicate it.

Offline froze

Re: What lube to use for touring.
« Reply #4 on: December 30, 2014, 09:29:45 am »
Similar to John Nelson, I, too, use paper towels that I pick up along the way but my first choice is the small shop rag that I carry with me. As for lube, I take a small bottle of Dumonde Tech (lite). I place a drop on each chain link then I wipe off with the shop rag, and I only do this when I begin hearing chain noise.

How many miles will the Dumonde Tech last before you start hearing noise?  And do you think that for touring this has been the best lube you've found?

Offline staehpj1

Re: What lube to use for touring.
« Reply #5 on: December 30, 2014, 09:51:44 am »
My personal take on this is that most cleaning is bad for chains and shorten the chains life.  Cyclists tend to kill their chains with kindness.

That may sound a little crazy, but think about this.  Solvents and detergents kill the lube deep inside the links help dirt and grit penetrate deeper into the links.

My personal method is to do as John suggested.  There are some exceptions where I do a bit more.  In cases where the chain gets really loaded up with sand I sometimes resort to a quick rinse off with low pressure water or a good spray of WD 40 followed by relubing.  I have only resorted to that a few times.  When I have I bought a can and used as much as needed then gave away the rest.

Using that minimal care method I have been getting 10,000+ miles out of my chains before they get replaced (I replace them when 12 full links measure 12-1/16").

Offline dkoloko

Re: What lube to use for touring.
« Reply #6 on: December 30, 2014, 10:27:09 am »
I use wax; not drip on wax, which I tried and found wanting, but melted wax. Lasts about 500 miles. Not the trouble those who don't wax think it is; I carry a stove anyway. Advantages besides cleanliness is not having to clean chain before re-lubing and better drive train durability than other lubricants. Not want to get into a discussion of pros and cons of waxing; see archives if interested in that. Just saying what I use and how long it lasts.

Offline staehpj1

Re: What lube to use for touring.
« Reply #7 on: December 30, 2014, 10:56:31 am »
I forgot to mention what lube I use.  I have been very happy with Boesheild T9, but there are lots of other good lubes out there.  ProLink is another that I have had good luck with.

Way back when, I used paraffin wax in the manner dkoloko suggested.  It worked pretty well but I found it to be more trouble to deal with even at home.  I have not used it on tour, but it would seem to be even more trouble there.  I agree that it works well though.

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: What lube to use for touring.
« Reply #8 on: December 30, 2014, 02:10:34 pm »
Sheldon Brown's method is to wipe the chain off (dry paper towel or rag), apply lube to the inside of the chain, and wipe off excess from the outside.  Works as well as anything else for me.

Which lube is a religious decision/war.  I'll use a dry, wax lube in the desert or travel bike that doesn't see rain.  Usually lasts me a couple hundred miles.  Oil works well for other conditions, and usually lasts me a touring week or 300-500 miles.

I strongly dislike stuff like Boeshield or chainsaw bar oil, because I have a hard time remembering to wipe it off the next morning.  I've generated pretty hefty oil/dirt cakes on derailer idler wheels with both of those.  Give me Finish Line (excess flakes off by itself) or Phil's (wipe excess off immediately, and it doesn't cake nearly as badly).

Offline staehpj1

Re: What lube to use for touring.
« Reply #9 on: December 30, 2014, 02:15:32 pm »
I strongly dislike stuff like Boeshield or chainsaw bar oil, because I have a hard time remembering to wipe it off the next morning.
I apply liberally, spin the pedals for a minute or so and wipe off.  Way too much buildup if left on overnight each application.

Offline John Nelson

Re: What lube to use for touring.
« Reply #10 on: December 30, 2014, 02:57:00 pm »
I have carried ProLink and Dumonde Tech.

One problem with very thin lubes like ProLink is that it's difficult to keep the bottle from leaking in your pannier, and even keeping it inside a Ziploc bag doesn't solve the problem (because it's thin enough to get through the Ziploc seal). Keep the little red plug that came with the bottle when it was new to help prevent this. ProLink is very good at keeping your chain clean. I try to wipe off the excess before the mineral spirits completely evaporate (but giving it a few minutes for the oil to penetrate) for maximum cleaning effect.

Dumonde Tech is a very thick lube (and expensive). It's almost like molasses. It doesn't clean the chain as well as ProLink, and it does attract dirt more easily (because it is sticky). But you need less and thus can take a smaller bottle. Furthermore, it does not leak as much as ProLink because it is thicker, and I believe it lasts longer. With Dumonde Tech, don't put a full drop on each link--that's too much. Hold the bottle tip in contact with the chain and you can put less than a drop on each link (i.e., you don't have to wait until a whole drop forms). I like to apply it in the evening in camp and wipe off the excess the next morning. That's less messy because most of the excess drips off on the ground, and it gives the thick oil more time to penetrate the links.

With either, I lube about every 500 miles, more often if it rains. In fact, I try to lube again after any rain.

I don't like to carry a rag to wipe my chain because, once dirty, it stinks and it's hard to keep the smell from permeating everything else in the pannier. That's why I prefer disposable paper. Napkins from Subway are my favorite, but Subway is pretty stingy with them (i.e., they don't put them out for you to help yourself), probably because they are high-quality napkins.

Lubing chains is a religion and everybody worships in a different church.

Offline froze

Re: What lube to use for touring.
« Reply #11 on: December 30, 2014, 04:00:40 pm »
My personal take on this is that most cleaning is bad for chains and shorten the chains life.  Cyclists tend to kill their chains with kindness.

That may sound a little crazy, but think about this.  Solvents and detergents kill the lube deep inside the links help dirt and grit penetrate deeper into the links.

My personal method is to do as John suggested.  There are some exceptions where I do a bit more.  In cases where the chain gets really loaded up with sand I sometimes resort to a quick rinse off with low pressure water or a good spray of WD 40 followed by relubing.  I have only resorted to that a few times.  When I have I bought a can and used as much as needed then gave away the rest.

Using that minimal care method I have been getting 10,000+ miles out of my chains before they get replaced (I replace them when 12 full links measure 12-1/16").

Since Bicycle chains do not have O-rings seals like Motorcycle chains have you will never have an issue with cleaning lube out of places you cannot get lube back into.  Chains pick up all sorts of grit including dirt from the road but also bits of metal of the gears being deposited onto the chain and if you don't clean the chain those tiny bits (look like powder) grinds at your chain like fine sand paper.  You can see this metallic powder if you use a Park Cyclone Chain Cleaner because it has a magnet at the bottom which attracts the metallic powder as the chain device is being used, if the magnet isn't there then the solvent just carries a lot of the particles back onto the chain.

I tried not cleaning my chains (this was on older wider 6 and 7 speed chains) and the chain life reduced significantly from an average of 13,000 miles per chain to just 5,000 miles.  I had the same experience with wax drip lubes compared to teflon dry lubes, with the wax stuff the chain life was significantly reduced.  Long time ago I use to do the melting wax thing but once TriFlow came out with their Teflon spray lube I tried it and found the chains to last about 5,000 miles longer than with the hot wax treatment and I gained a lot less time and mess to do a chain.   I'm not a big fan of wax either hot or drip based on my experiences over 40 years of doing this sort of thing.  I've never ever had melt on wax go anywhere near 500 miles, about half that was my experience and I did that for about 10 years.

The best lube I've used was Finish Line Teflon Dry until they changed the formula and added more wax then I notice the lube didn't last long at all like it use to, instead of making noise around the 150 mile area it started at around 70 which is typical of wax drip lubes, so I decided to try ProGold Xtreme and the chain noise went away and actually when I did clean the chain at the 150 mile mark the chain still wasn't making noise, so ProGold Xtreme sort of impressed me, problem is I'm not sure how it would handle a tour.

The Dumonde lube sounds interesting though for touring, I may try that instead of the Rock and Roll Gold I was thinking of trying this season on a bike I ride a lot and see how it fairs before putting it on my touring bike.

Offline dminden1

Re: What lube to use for touring.
« Reply #12 on: December 30, 2014, 09:41:06 pm »
I'm a fan of Chain-L. 'Secret formula' is pretty thick, like molasses. I drip it on each link of a new chain, let sit a couple of hours, then wipe of all excess. I get 1000 plus miles with this. On a tour I carry a small bottle which Chain-L says to wipe on a bit with a rag. I've done this a couple of times when squeaky. Don't know how many miles I get - I tend to lose chains after a few thousand miles due to stretch.

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: What lube to use for touring.
« Reply #13 on: December 30, 2014, 09:44:19 pm »
I strongly dislike stuff like Boeshield or chainsaw bar oil, because I have a hard time remembering to wipe it off the next morning.
I apply liberally, spin the pedals for a minute or so and wipe off.  Way too much buildup if left on overnight each application.

You must have the magic second hand; if I wipe shortly after application, I seem to pull all the lube out, leaving me with a chain that squeals two days later.  :(

Offline dminden1

Re: What lube to use for touring.
« Reply #14 on: December 30, 2014, 09:52:00 pm »
Couple of hours to overnight seems to work. Never had a squeek for at least 1000 miles.