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How Often Should You Oil Your Mountain Bike Chain?

Cleaning and lubricating after every ride are essential for mountain bikes, especially for long distances. Read this article that discusses how often you should oil your mountain bike chain.

A man applying oil in a mountain bike chain.

The standard recommendation for oiling our mountain bike chain is every 100 miles or annually. However, it’s under perfect conditions with no mud, rough ride, etc. In reality, bikes get roughed up and require light oiling very often. It also depends on whether you opt for dry or wet lubricants. If you ride long distances and especially if your bike gets muddy, cleaning and lubricating after every ride is essential for the protection of your drivetrain.

GREEN OIL Cycle Chain Lube, 100 ml, Wet & Dry Conditions (2 Pack)

Every expert or mechanic you speak with has a different recommendation, but they all agree that lubricating often and lightly is the way to maintain the longevity of your mountain bike chain. So let’s look at how often to oil and clean your chain, which lubricants to use, and how to use them.

How Often Do I Need to Clean My Mountain Bike Chain?

A man cleaning a mountain bike chain.

As previously stated, the type of lubricant we use has a significant impact. Even if it’s just a tiny bit, I’d lubricate before every ride just to be cautious. Before each ride, you should apply dry lubricants, and they increase the performance once I do not wipe off the surplus. Dry lubrication is nearly impossible to overapply, according to most mechanics I’ve spoken with. 

Wet lubricants, on the other hand, last longer but are more prone to accumulating dirt and grime. There is just too much filth to remove from wet lubricants, even when I wipe them off. With that said, I am quite thorough whenever it comes to maintaining the chain on my bike. 

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The secret to a long-lasting powertrain, according to what I’ve experienced, read, and heard, is to take proper care of it. Considering how much it costs to repair your components, I believe the extra work is justified. In addition, it operates better when it is clean.

Why Is It Essential to Oil My Mountain Bike?

Finish Line WET Bicycle Chain Lube 1 Gallon Jug

The drive chain is the most vulnerable part of a bike’s many moving parts. Because it is constantly moving and under tension, whether going up or downhill. The chain is also vulnerable to the weather, putting your bike at risk. A well-lubricated bicycle works better than ever before.

The entire drivetrain benefits from having an oiled drive chain. The crankshaft, rear-wheel gear system, and derailleurs are also protected. When it comes to my bicycle’s power transmission, the chain is the most important component. This is why I like to lubricate them.

Cleansing alone isn’t enough when your vehicle has been exposed to water-borne grit and other contaminants. If you want your bike to last as long as possible, following the manual’s recommendation to oil it every 100 miles is a good idea.

Cleaning My Mountain Bike After a Long Ride

Re-lubricating your bike’s drive chain after a simple clean-up is essential. Lubrication should not be considered based on whether or not we ride our bikes in the rain. After every hard ride, you can do this simple process to relax your muscles.

  • Wipe your chain clean with a lint-free rag before putting it back on the bike
  • The gears and jockey wheel need to be cleaned next
  • Take care of the lubrication
  • To ensure that the lubricant gets into the pivots, raise the rear wheel and start cranking the pedals
  • If there is any excess lubricant left in the chain, perform a gentle down chain wipe.
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WPL Forkboost Lube - Bike Lubricant for Mountain Bike Forks and Shocks - Premium Bike Oil for Suspension Dust Seals

A mountain bike is more susceptible to dirt, mud, and other off-road situations than a conventional bicycle. It is important to thoroughly clean the bike once it has become noticeably soiled so that it can be used again and lubricated. Every time you wash your bike, be sure to reapply lubricant. Soap as well as running water effectively remove the lubrication.

The bike collects up dirt particles as it travels along the trail. The lubrication of the bike might be harmed by extreme inclement weather such as rain as well as dusty roads. To keep it spotless for the next ride, the drive train needs to be completely cleaned and greased.

What Happens When I Don’t Lubricate My Mountain Bike?

Rusty Mountain bike chain.

The transmission on a mountain bike is configured to work at 98 percent, but this reduces to 94 percent when the bike is being used. The bike’s efficiency drops to just 80% when it’s unclean and exposed to elements like water and dirt.

A bicycle chain that isn’t regularly greased will eventually damage the cassette as well as chainring gear. Lost pedal force and performance might also result from a lack of lubricant.

You should still lube your drive chains even if you ride on perfectly clean roads that aren’t exposed to any dirt, water, or sand. Remember to lubricate your bike once it has traveled 100 kilometers.

Is Over-Lubrication of a Mountain Bike Possible?

Only the rivets and the outside plates should be lubricated, thus you need to know that. Dirt and filth are attracted to chains that have too much lubricant in them. The grainy paste that results from mixing lubricant oil with dirt is unneeded.

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Lubrication of your chain is essential to preventing wear. Corrosion is prevented because of this. It extends the life of the drive chain and keeps it running smoothly for a long time.

Applying Lube to my Mountain Bike Properly

Clean out the drivetrain first. The chain can be cleaned by wiping it down with a lint-free cloth. To eliminate dirt, use a hose with a high-pressure spray.

  • Find a beginning place on a dry chain, either on the master link or by picking a link

Finish Line DRY Teflon Bicycle Chain Lube 1 Gallon Jug

  • Chain lube should be used on all pins and rollers
  • Reverse the pedal as you add droplets to each pin until you reach the first roller
  • To get all the pins lubricated, turn the chain down and up on the back cogs
  • Wipe down the chain with a lint-free rag to ensure that all of the moving parts are well-lubricated. Using a wet lubricant necessitates a thorough drying process
  • Lubricating the drive chain while spinning the cranks is a common practice among inexperienced riders who do not have the know-how. It’s a waste of time and lubricant, so don’t do it. A chain with too much lubricant on it attracts dust. It will draw all the dirt, sand, and grime that you’re trying to remove from the bike

Tips for Lubricating Your Mountain Bike Based on a Wide Range of Expert Opinion

  • Even if your bike isn’t being used, you should still clean and lubricate it once a year.
  • After every ride, apply a wet lube to the chain to extend its lifespan. It also enhances the enjoyment of your next ride.
  • After every 100 miles, be sure to re-lubricate the chain and clean it. 
  • Keep in mind that there is no fixed relubrication schedule, but owners must use their judgment to determine when it is necessary.
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Aside from how often you ride and how far you go, another issue to consider is how often you should oil your bike.

A man applying oil on a mountain bike.

Long Distance Riders

I prefer to lubricate once per week for long-distance rides. Long-distance riders may lube after each ride, so it all depends on the lube used and the trail conditions.

To avoid having to lubricate as often as possible, you may need to reduce drawing dust and dirt.

Typical Rider

Long-distance bikers require more frequent lubrication, whereas frequent riders don’t. It’s possible that doing it twice or three times per week is sufficient. The frequency of lubrication can vary based on the type of oil used.

Occasional Rider 

Each chain application might last a long time for short-distance riders. To put it another way, you don’t ride often. For the longest wear, regular lubrication is essential.