bike_chain_lubeThis can be tricky because there are a few factors to consider when figuring the frequency to apply lube to your bike chain. We all know that a dried out chain is bad but, on the flipside, too much lube will give you headaches in the form of a gunked-up drivetrain, bad shifting, and grit sticking and forcing its way into hard-working components and shortening the life of your shifter cables. So let’s get to it. How often should you apply bike chain lube?

Fast answer: A good rule of thumb is to apply every 100 miles and after each time you ride in wet weather.

Extra info:

  • Frequent long-distance or hard and fast rides require you to lube more often, and the type of lube does matter. Dry weather and riding on dirt paths call for a lighter lube that won’t attract and hold dirt and grit. Wet weather requires a heavier, more durable lube.
  • Eyeballing your chain can go a long way in helping you with your judgement call. If your chain is shiny and clean-looking, it probably is a bit too clean, meaning dry! You don’t want to see your reflection, you want to see a nice matte gray on your chain-link surface.
  • Listen to your chain. If you hear a whistling or hissing from your chain while riding, that means it is too dry.
  • Apply lube at least 10-12 hours before your next ride to give it time to set.

Our two cents:happy_bikers

  • We love bike chain lube that comes in a dropper-style bottle. Spray lube is a great product, but it’s more difficult to control the output: you don’t want to coat the side plates of your bike chain! Lube on the side serves no purpose except to hold dirt. We use Finish Line Dry; it comes in a dropper bottle and is good for all riding conditions, but there are lots of brands to choose from.
  • After you apply lube, hold a rag lightly on the side plates of your chain, and spin the chain backwards to remove any errant lube.

Now get out there and ride!

Tanisha Rule

Tanisha Rule has a BA in English and is a former Mad Dogg-certified Spinning instructor. She taught indoor cycle and boot camp and has now combined her passions as a full-time writer for the health and fitness industries, check out her site at If she isn’t writing or reading, she can be found happily training for an endurance event, likely after having said, “This is my last one for a while,” because there is no finish line; there is only progress.