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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
OK, just been reading the thread on chain lubing/cleaning with WD40 and thought I'd pose a couple of questions on lubing in general.

Why do we use chain lube? To my thinking, all "O" and "X" ring chains are pre-lubed during the manufacturing process with the lube sealed behind the "O" or "X" rings - that's the whole point of them, yes? So what benefit is there in applying external lube?

I still lube my chain as a matter of course but also keep it spotless by regularly cleaning in a parafin bath (parafin will not attack the seals), washing off the parafin and then drying and applying lube. Just seems to me that really all the lube does is attract more dirt and cover the bike in flung off lube.

Anyone shed some technical info?

Cheers, Neil.

Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Here are a few thoughts: The chain is pre-lubed at the pin to bushing juncture only, the roller rotates over the bushing and that is not sealed. The roller to sprocket interface likely benefits from some lube too. Last but not least, the “O”-rings need to stay moist and lubed so they last longer. Oh, don’t forget corrosion protection.

I have a friend who uses nothing but w-d 40 on his chains but flushes them with the stuff after every ride when the chain is still hot. He gets 30,000 miles out of his chains.

I lube mine on occasion (when I think about it about on a 500-1000 mile basis). I get about 12-15K miles

Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Re: (NC Rick)

When the chain heats up, the lube in the "o" or "x" rings expands and pushes out (thus a little escapes). When you lube the chain while it's hot, the lube will get "sucked" into the rings as it cools (thus contracting) and wait for the next time that the chain is stressed. Not to mention the other stuff that NC RICK said about the rollers and the chain to sprocket interface.

Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Re: Chain lubing theory? (748rheid)

A chain's o-ring or (x-ring) holds grease between the pins and the bushings where it's needed most to reduce wear. If you also externally apply lubrication to the chain, it gets between the bushings and the rollers and between your chain link plates and drive sprockets, so it can help somewhat to reduce frictional losses, extend the chain life and protect against ozone damage to the o-rings. Your chain, with proper care, should last about 20,000 miles before wear begins to cause excessive or uneven stretching.

A motorcycle chain needs to be cleaned frequently because it accumulates road grit that causes wear. Kerosene (parafin to you UK blokes) is an o-ring compatible cleaner recommended by all the chain manufacturers but WD-40 contains the kerosene-like Stoddard solvent is that is also o-ring safe. WD-40 also contains a low viscosity lubricating oil.

WD-40, used as a one-step cleaner and lubricant is sufficient. Because it is a light oil, some fling-off will occur, so any excess should be wiped-off. USED REGULARLY, it provides good corrosion protection (especially needed in wet climates like Scotland), low (but not the lowest) rolling resistance, and attracts less road grit than waxy chain lubes. So your chain stays very clean.

If you’ve decided to use chain lube after cleaning your chain, then it’s best to use straight kerosene as your cleaner because the light oil that WD-40 contains will make it difficult for the chain lube to stay attached without flinging-off.

If you aren't inclined to clean and lube your chain regularly, or often ride in wet conditions, there are chain lubes on the market that are designed to stick to your chain to resist fling-off and provide longer-lasting corrosion protection. Some remain tacky and attract grit, some stay slippery to the touch. All of them need to cleaned off and renewed at some point.

You need to avoid damaging the o-rings and forcing solvents past the o-ring seal when you clean a chain. This means scrub using a toothbrush - not a wire brush - and avoid getting too close with pressure washers and compressed air nozzles. Avoid scouring if you want to keep the gold-look plated finish on your premium chain.

As a point of interest, when cycle magazines rate chain lubes they compare them as follows:

How effectively the lube reduces rolling resistance
How much resistance the lube has to being slung-off
How well the lube coating prevents corrosion
How well the lube resists attracting road grit
Cost and value
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