Avoid that gritty, grinding sensation - or worse yet, rust! - and keep your chain running sweetly with a coating of the best mountain bike chain lube you can get
Ever hear those squeaks and creaks coming out of the drivetrain? That’s the sound of a dirty chain! A gritty, unlubricated chain reduces both the longevity of your drivetrain and the efficiency of your ride, so as well as giving it a good degrease and clean, don’t forget to add the best chain lube you can regularly to help keep your drivetrain running smoothly.
The reduction in friction will mean that your parts last longer, and you’ll say goodbye to those creaks, squeaks and crunches.
Effective and durable
Manufacturer: Squirt | Size: 120ml | Rating: 9/10
Reasons to buy: Exceptional performance in wet and dry weather. Lasts ages.
Reasons to avoid: Expensive. Can form into fatbergs on your cassette.
We’ve been using the Squirt for nearly a year now, and it outperforms everything else we’ve tried. At the moment it’s pretty dry and dusty where I ride, but the chain doesn’t get coated in dust and we’d say there’s less build up of black gunk you usually get around the jockey wheels from a regular lube.
Conversely, when it was stinking wet last winter we found myself riding more between chain cleans simply because the drivetrain kept running so smoothly. We switched to regular wet lubes for a few rides as a comparison, and my drivetrain was noticeably graunchier. Squirt Chain Lube E-bike is really expensive for a lubricant, but it’s very effective, you need to use less of it less often, and it’s great for a smooth ride.
Great choice for e-bikes and larger mileage
Manufacturer: White Lightning | Size: 240ml | Rating: 10/10
Reasons to buy: Great for single speeds and fixed wheel bikes. Prevents corrosion
Reasons to avoid: Frequent usage and good drivetrain hygiene essential
White Lightning Wet Ride is a synthetic lubricant that’s been proven to work well in the wettest of the wet conditions as we often find in the UK winter. It’s thicker and heavier than the usual alternatives but it works like a charm when it comes to repelling all the clag and gunk off of the trails.
It was especially satisfying to see how easily all of the dirt that did saturate on the drivetrain cleaned off. If you happen to be an e-biker who rides big miles off road each week, you’ll find that White Lighting Wet Ride synthetic lubricant stops your front chainring from sucking the chain up and jamming in the sticky mud.
The special anti-corrosion additives, along with the mix of water repelling polymers and premium synthetic oils make this the best MTB lubricant for wet, coastal climates, fixed-gear or single-speed bikes, and just about anywhere that involves sticky mud. Rest assured, the lube won’t wash away in the puddles and will protect the drivetrain through it all!
Best all-round mountain bike chain lube
Manufacturer: Peaty’s | Size: 120ml | Rating: 10/10
Reasons to buy: Works well in all weather conditions. Smoother drivetrain
Reasons to avoid: May not work at its best if you don’t shake the bottle before use.
Peaty’s Link Lube All Weather has a wax base blended in a proprietary oil-based solution. It works really well with longer distance rides where you may not be able to gauge the terrain in advance.
It well and truly offers the best of both worlds (not quite Hannah Montana, we’re talking about lubricants here!) it stays on for a long time, even in the sloppiest conditions, whilst also not attracting a ton of dirt and gunk to the drivetrain.
The general recommendation when using this lube is to shake the bottle before use to allow for the wax base and oil-based solutions to mix well, followed by applying it on a clean and dry chain (as you would with any lube application).
Best high performance link lube
Manufacturer: Rex | Size: 30g | Rating: 10/10
Reasons to buy: One bottle will last you for a long time. High-tech lube
Reasons to avoid: High maintenance. You’ll see best results after 3-4 applications.
Rex Low Friction chain lubricant is perfect if you’re one of those Speedy Gonzales who rides really fast over long distances. The tiny 30g bottle lasts for a long time and is great value for money.
What you do have to remember with this high-tech lube, though, is to take your time and be methodical when lubing your chain. The best practice, as mentioned before, is to clean your drivetrain properly, dry it with a cloth and apply the lube link by link. It might take 3-4 applications until the lube has penetrated into the chain properly.
Best for low temperature riding
Manufacturer: Squirt | Size: 120ml | Rating: 9/10
Reasons to buy: Drivetrain runs very smoothly upon application. Biodegradable.
Reasons to avoid: Expensive
You’ll need to apply the lube the night before the ride rather just just before heading out, so it’s high maintenance!
Racing Strathpuffer or a similar ridiculous race in the middle of winter where you’d expect freezing cold temperatures? Squirt Low Temperature chain lube is the one for you.
When the mercury dips below zero, lubricants can clog up and you can feel a bit of a drag from your drivetrain. Squirt’s special formula stops the lube from congealing in low temperatures. With careful application, an even coating of the lube should last you for a long time.
A big plus is the additional resistance that Squirt offers against the gunk build-up than the lubes with heavier oils. That means, say goodbye to the squeaks, creaks and draining drivetrain drags!
How we tested
We do a lot of washing and riding bikes, so we test a lot of different lubricants in a lot of different conditions.
The lubricants above have been tested in the conditions for which they were designed, on chains that were both completely clean and also partially clean, where appropriate. The bikes were then ridden for several hours with the chain lubricant in place, and judged by our panel of expert product testers.
We take into account price, value, longevity, performance, and environmental credentials.
How do I choose a good lubricant?
Lubricants come in different types – wet, dry, ceramic and wax. Each of them have their unique set of benefits and are suitable for different conditions.
Wet lube, dry lube, or wax-based?
Wax-based ones are thicker, heavier and last for ages, though need to be applied to a clean, dry degreased chain and allowed to dry thoroughly before use.
If you’re looking for one to be used over winter, a wet lubricant would be your best bet as it’ll stay on your chain for longer (in spite of the wet weather) and keep the gunk and cloggy mud away from your drivetrain.
Dry lubes are dust and dirt resistant. A layer of dry lube will make your drivetrain feel super smooth and will keep it drag-free for longer.
Ceramic lubes are high-performance, low-friction lubes. They create a ceramic coating around the chain that keeps it protected from the elements.
Using a lube that’s meant for the riding conditions will increase the longevity of your components and make your riding feel more efficient.
How do you apply a chain lube?
Ideally, you should degrease your chain first. Clean it well. Then dry it with a cloth. Once dried, tilt the nozzle of the chain lube bottle onto the middle of the chain link and, slowly, rotate the cranks backwards, allowing a small drop to fall in each chain link. Continue to rotate the cranks to allow the lube to work into the moving parts of the chain. Let it sit for a minute or two before wiping off any excess.