How Often Should You Oil Your Road Bike Chain?

Quality tires, finding the right shoes for your feet, and making sure your bike is in tiptop shape are just a few of the many things you need to consider if you’re wanting to ensure a pleasant ride on your road bike! Another thing people may not think about in taking care of their bike is keeping the chain oiled.

Even with oiling, there are many questions. How often should you oil your road bike chain? What is the right oil to use? How do I even oil a chain? Let’s dig in..

How Often Should You Oil Your Road Bike Chain?

When you’re thinking about how often you should oil your road bike chain, it really comes down to your frequency of use. If you’re riding it almost daily, consider oiling your road bike chain a couple of times a week.

If you’re not avidly riding your road bike daily, we have found that you can get away with oiling it about once a month.

Why Oil a Road Bike Chain?

If you’re new to road biking or you’ve recently invested in a bike of your own, you may wonder why you should even oil a road bike chain in the first place! Well, there are actually some really compelling reasons you should.

First, your drivetrain is the most important part of your bike! It’s all the essential parts you need to get it moving including: pedals, cranks, chain rings, cogs, and the chain. If the chain isn’t working properly, it won’t allow your drivetrain to function. 

Your bike chain is constantly exposed to varying elements: dirt, debris, water, and more. This exposure to your bike chain can affect your bike’s function and longevity if you don’t oil and take care of it. 

Another thing to consider is that the chain is an essential function. It allows you to continue to shift properly without complications. If you don’t oil it properly, it could cause issues while you’re riding.

Last, oil your road bike chain regularly because doing so will save you money. It’s a preventative measure! Taking care of your bike and oiling it regularly will keep you from dealing with and paying for repairs in the future from chain malfunctions or failures. 

What Kind of Oil Should I Use on a Bike Chain?

Now that you know how important and how often you should oil your road bike chain, let’s talk about the types of oils! 

According to Cyclist, they suggest picking the oil for your bike chain based on three main types. So let’s explore those…

Wet Lubricant

As the name suggests, wet lubricants are oils designed for wetter climates. It won’t wash away as easily because of its thickness. These types of oils are great for people who ride their bikes for fun or for commuting. 

Dry Lubricant

The design dry lubricants for – you guessed it, dryer climates. This means that they are not as thick and will wash away in wetter conditions. Typically, you will need to oil your chain more frequently, but it doesn’t pick up as much dirt when riding. 

Wax Lubricant

Professional or competitive riders typically use wax or ceramic lubricants. Like dry lubricants, these don’t fare as well with wetter conditions, and they are on the pricier side! 

Can I Use Regular Oil?

While it may be best practice to use an oil specifically designed for bike chain use, there are some oils that you can use as an alternative. Some regular oils that you could use include: chainsaw oil, silicone spray, vaseline, and clipper oil. Be sure to read up on how to use each of these before trying!  

There are definitely some regular oils that you should avoid from using! Any kind of engine oil or caster oil will be too thick and will cause problems. 

How To Oil a Road Bike Chain

If you’re going to be oiling your road bike chain frequently, it’s important to know how to do it properly. If you do a quick YouTube search, you can find all kinds of video tutorials, but I figured I’d break it down for you here as well! 

Step 1- Gather Supplies

Before you are ready to oil your road bike chain, make sure that you’ve selected the right lubrication for you, your climate, and your intended use for your bike! Once you have your oil, you’ll also need to gather the other supplies you’ll need, which include a rag, bristled brush and a degreaser.

Step 2- Clean the Chain

Now that you’ve got what you need, grab the rag and degreaser and start cleaning the chain. Some suggest holding the degreaser and spraying while pedaling backwards to fully cover the chain in cleaner. 

Once you have properly covered the chain, use your brush to remove debris, dirt, and grime from your chain.

Step 3- Final Touches

After you’ve cleaned the chain of bigger debris, spray some of the cleaner onto your rag. Use the same backward pedaling process, but this time clean the chain with your rag, getting the finer dirt and details away. 

Step 4 – Apply Lubrication

Now that your bike chain is clean, you are ready to lubricate! Grab the lubrication you selected and shake it well before application. 

Using the same backpedaling motion in the previous steps, apply the oil as the chain is moving. Be sure to have the nozzle of the lubricant resting on the inside of the chain as it moves.

Once you have completed the application, continue to backpedal your bike several more rounds and even play with gear shifting to get things going.

Step 5 – Wipe off the Extra

The last step in oiling your road bike chain is to wipe off the excess, and you are done! 

What Will Happen If I Don’t Oil My Bike Chain?

As mentioned in the reasons to oil your road bike chain, it just makes sense to do so. It saves you money in the long run and it keeps your bike riding smoothly. But, what happens if you don’t oil your bike chain? 

FAL
FAL

A lot of complications can arise! Overtime, the quality of your chain will deteriorate. It will begin corroding, and if you continue to ignore its need for upkeep, it will eventually wear out and completely break.

When Should I Oil my Bike Chain?

If you haven’t been regularly oiling your chain, below are some signs to watch for that will tell you it is to oil your bike chain..  

The first thing you may notice is the gear shifting. You may feel like it’s not as smooth when shifting gears. Next, you might hear the chain squeaking. 

How Can I Increase the Life of my Road Bike Chain? 

You can absolutely increase the life of your road bike chain! One of the best ways to achieve this is by oiling it regularly. But, there are other things you can do as well including: using proper products and lubricants, allowing it to dry completely before you lubricate it, keeping your bike serviced regularly with professionals, and storing it proper

Photo of author

Jessica Meacham

I’m a former college athlete turned marathon-running and outdoor exploring mom of two little ones. From hiking through Iceland to paddle boarding in Lake Tahoe, our family is always up for a fun adventure that incorporates fun and fitness!
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