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 dry, gritty 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 regularly add the best chain lube you can 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.

To help with keeping your whole bike as well as the chain nice and clean, check out our guide to the best mobile pressure washers and the best bike cleaning kits.

Squirt Chain Wax e-bike

Squirt Chain Lube is a smooth operator.

1. Squirt E-Bike Chain Lube

Best for durability

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

Squirt’s E-Bike lube can be used on assisted bikes and analogue bikes, and we were impressed by its performance when we tested it. As we explained, “we’ve been using the Squirt for nearly a year now, and it outperforms everything else we’ve tried”. We found there was less build-up of dust in the summer, leaving the chainring and jockey wheels free of that black gunk-cake that’s really eats away at your drivetrain.

And in the winter, we found we didn’t have to clean the chain as frequently. But you do need to start with a clean chain, as this allows the wax to stick to metal rather than encase the dirt. So it does require some elbow grease.

Read the full review of the Squirt E-Bike Chain Lube

White Lightning helps keep rust at bay.

2. White Lightning Wet Ride Synthetic Lubricant

Best for winter riding

Manufacturer: White Lightning | Size: 240ml | Rating: 10/10

Reasons to buy:

  • Great for e-bikes and winter riding
  • Prevents corrosion

Reasons to avoid:

  • Frequent application and good drivetrain hygiene essential

White Lightning Wet Ride is a synthetic lubricant that really clings to the chain and helps keep dirt and moisture away from the metal. This reduces the chance of rust forming, and really suits damp trail areas and winter riding. We also found it didn’t get washed off easily through puddles, and the drivetrain remained smooth and silent for longer than most. It’s good value, too.

Read the full review of the White Lightning Wet Ride Synthetic Lubricant.

Peaty’s Link Lube has one of the best applicator nozzles around.

3. Peaty’s Link Lube All Weather review

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:

  • Need to shake the bottle before use

Peaty’s fragrant Link Lube All Weather uses a wax-base in an oil solution. It applies easily, thanks to the twist cap that stops the nozzle from getting gummed up, and finds its way into the nooks and crannies of your chain without hassle.

Even in the worst conditions, we found it carried on providing lubrication, and we didn’t experience excessive build-up of dirt and gunk. You need to shake the bottle as it does emulsify, and ideally clean your clean thoroughly before applying, but that’s to be expected with a wax lube.

Read the full review of the Peaty’s Link Lube All Weather.

Spin to win with Rex’s low-friction Chain Lube.

4. Rex Low Friction chain lube review

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. There’s a noticeable reduction in drivetrain friction if you clean everything properly before applying. The tiny 30g bottle also 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 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.

Read the full review of the Rex Low Friction chain lube.

squirt low temperature chain lube

Squirt’s Low Temperature Lube is a hot product for cold climates.

5. Squirt Low Temperature Chain Lube review

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

We’ve held Squirt lubes in high regard since testing the E-Bike Chain Lube above, and the brand’s Low Temperature Chain Lube is another great product, if a little more specific in its purpose. But if you live in Scotland, or ride high peaks in the winter, it’s worth investing in.

While other lubes will start to thicken and clog, Squirt’s special formula will prevent congealing and continue to keep everything spinning merrily. The downside is that you have to be patient and meticulous with preparation and application. That said, follow the instructions and 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!

Read the full review of the Squirt Low Temperature Chain Lube.

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.

Specific chain cleaning tools exist, but are not always that effective

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.

Invest in a chain wear tool and use it regularly and you could save money on expensive cassettes

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.

Putting a chain in a bottle filled with degreaser and shaking it about is a good way of cleaning it

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.