As Mountain Bikers, we make sure to take extra care for our bikes.
And this may be due to the fact that we love our bikes, or at the very least, the thought of how expensive they are.
From proper storage to routine maintenance, its easy to spend just as much time looking after your bike as you do riding it.
But proper Mountain Bike maintenance can be tricky, specifically when it comes to the smaller things like lubrication.
With a myriad of options including grease and threadlocker, it can be hard just knowing how to lube your Mountain Bike.
Fortunately, it is actually really simple, even if you’re a beginner rider.
This article will break down where you lube a Mountain Bike, a long with a few tips to help you take good care of your bike.
You should lube the moving parts on your Mountain Bike that are subject to added stress and wear. This includes parts like your, chain, derailleur, cabling and levers. You can even lube parts like your levers and brake assemblies.
If you’re interested in learning how to take care of your Mountain Bike, check out some of the tips from this article.
Other than that, let’s review the 6 common places you should lube on your Mountain Bike, along with some tips to show you how and when you should apply lube.
Where to Lube at a Glance
Lube vs Grease
Before we get started, I want to first clear up a common misunderstanding when it comes to the term “lube”.
When you think of lube, most riders would easily associate that term with the full term, “lubrication”.
And while you’re not wrong, this is where it can get tricky.
When it comes to lubrication for your Mountain Bike, you really have two options; both lube and grease.
Although it is recommended that you use both on your bike, grease and lube are used for different parts on your bike.
Lube – Lube is a lightweight oil that works perfect for reducing friction, protecting from water and extending the life of your Mountain Bike parts. This is why we use lube on parts like your chain.
Grease – Grease is used on high stress areas that need to be sealed from water and dirt. It is generally a thicker substance and is used in areas like your headset and bottom bracket.
Other than greasing bolts, it is not common for the average rider to grease their Mountain Bike.
On the other hand, it is very common for the average rider to apply lube to their bike.
And this comes down to more than just the chain.
Where to Lube your Mountain Bike
When it comes to applying lube to your Mountain Bike, there are a few places you want to keep an eye on.
Although I have 6 parts listed below, there are really only 3 main areas that you need to apply lube to.
For this reason, I have listed them in order of importance.
Even if you just started Mountain Biking, most riders know how important it is to lube your chain.
And if you think about it, this makes perfect sense. Your bike chain is the driving force for your entire Mountain Bike.
Keeping your Mountain Bike chain lubed helps:
- Reduce Chain Wear
- Prevent Corrosion
- Maintain Flexibility
- Reduce Stress on the Drivetrain and Derailleurs
- Maintain Shifting Performance
If you only have time to lube one thing on your bike, make sure its your Mountain Bike chain.
Believe it or not, applying lube to the cables on your Mountain Bike is a part of good Mountain Bike maintenance.
Your cabling is what transfers the energy of you pulling on your brake and gear levers.
Without lubrication, your cables can build up a lot of friction, making it harder for your cables to move or actuate your brakes and derailleurs.
This will result in poor performance overall, even making it impossible to properly align your derailleurs.
Most of the important things to lube on your Mountain Bike involve your Drivetrain.
And just like your chain and cabling, your derailleurs are an important part to lube.
Over time, they can build up dirt and grime, and this is especially true for Mountain Bikers.
Just like your cabling and bike chain, your derailleurs can build up friction and inhibit performance.
Luckily, they do not require too much maintenance or lubrication.
A great way to increase the life and performance of your derailleur, is to make sure they stay clean and lubricate at appropriate intervals.
An often-overlooked area on your Mountain Bike are your jockey wheels.
Although they are not as vital as your chain and cabling, they still affect the performance of your bike.
They can accumulate dirt and grime over time and are a common cause of noise on your bike.
By keeping them clean and applying the appropriate amount of lube, you can extend the life of your jockey wheels almost indefinitely.
Again, it is a safe bet to lubricate just about every moving part on your Mountain Bike.
Another one of the most overlooked areas are your Mountain Bike levers.
Although they do not typically accumulate dirt and grime, it is still good practice to apply lube to your levers.
This will not only maintain their performance; it will also improve their longevity.
Finally, you can actually apply lube to your Mountain Bike pedals.
Although this is not necessary, it does not hurt to add to your routine and can even improve your pedals.
This doesn’t just apply to clipless pedals; you can use a small amount of lube on the pedal where it meets the crank arm.
This will help prevent corrosion and can also keep the pedal spinning more freely.
How to Lube your Mountain Bike
Now that you know where to lube your Mountain Bike, it’s time to review how to lube your Mountain Bike.
Again, it is very important to lube your bike chain regularly.
First you need to decide whether or not you need a dry or wet lube, then you can develop a routine.
How often – depending on how often you ride, you can lube your Mountain Bike chain a few times per week up to a few times per month.
How to Lube Chain – Use a firm brush or toothbrush to scrub and remove dirt from the links in your chain. Spray a decent blast of water to remove the rest of the dirt and fully clean the chain. Wait for the chain to dry completely before applying lube.
Start to backpedal your chain while you apply 1 drop per every 1-3 chain links. Take extra care to stop once you meet the first link you dropped lube on. Now take a clean rag and wipe away any excess lube. You can simply continue to backpedal while gripping the chain with your rag.
Applying lube to your Mountain Bike cables is really easy and straight forward.
In fact, it can easily be added to even the most minimal maintenance routine.
How often – Try to apply lube 4-6 times per month
How to Lube Cabling – After cleaning your Mountain Bike, drip a single drop of dry lube into each end of the cable housing. If you have any exposed cabling, use your finger to apply a thin coat of lube around the cabling.
Applying lube to your derailleurs is one of the easiest ways to keep them working for a long time.
Luckily, they do not require too much attention.
How often – once per week up to a few times per month.
How to Lube Derailleur – Spray or drop a small amount of lube into the pivot joints and springs on your derailleur assemblies. Now start to push your derailleur in an out, allowing the lube to penetrate the crevices. Keep a clean rag nearby to wipe away any excess lube.
Your jockey wheels will do well with a good cleaning, however, keeping them lubed will significantly improve performance.
How often – 2-3 times per month
How to Lube Jockey Wheels – Apply a very limited amount of lube to the roller and make sure you wipe dry with a clean rag. Backpedal your chain to allow the lube to fully work itself deep into the roller.
Lubing your levers is a really touchy subject for some, especially when it comes to the plastic bushings.
If you decide to lube your levers, make sure you use a dry lube and only apply a really small amount.
How often – Once per month or as needed
How to Lube Levers – Drop a small amount of dry lube into the pivots of your levers. Now start to push and release your levers to fully work the lube into all the joints. Make sure you have a clean rag nearby to wipe away any excess.
Using lube on your pedals is a must for clipless but option for flats.
Again, this comes down to lubricating the moving parts and pivots.
How often – once per month or as needed
How to Lube Pedals – Drop a small amount of dry lube into the pivot points on your pedal. You can even drop some where the pedal meets the crank arm. As with all the other areas on the list, try to have a clean rag near by to wipe away any excess.
What is the Best Mountain Bike Chain Lube?
Now that you know where and how to lube your Mountain Bike, it’s time to see what you should use.
Although there are plenty of options out there, you really just need a good wet and dry lube.
Make sure you choose a solid dry lube, as you may feel like using it on more than just the chain.
Dry lube is a lightweight lube best used for riding in dry conditions.
I recommend the Dry Lube from Muc-Off. Not only is this one of the longest lasting lubes, it does a fantastic job of getting deep into the chain links.
This will better protect your chain on those really long rides, preventing any dirt and grime from ruining your chain.
Wet lube is generally a thicker lube, as it has to prevent water from stripping your chain of all lubrication.
The only issue with wet lube, is that it can attract more dirt and grime to your chain.
For this reason, I recommend the Muc-Off Wet Lube. This is a great lube for getting deep into your chain and protecting it from wet environments.
What is the best multi-purpose lube for a Mountain Bike?
Although you can use a basic dry lube for some of the other parts on your bike, you may want to use something different than what you’re using on your chain.
Most mechanics would recommend Tri-flow non-aersol drip lube. This is one of the thinner lubes, which allows you to get deep down into the pivots of your derailleur and other Mountain Bike parts.
Tips for Lubing your Mountain Bike
Finally, I will add a few tips for lubing your Mountain Bike.
- Do not over lube!
- Know Dry vs wet
- Do not use oil
In conclusion, it does not take too much to lube your Mountain Bike.
With a solid wet and dry lube, you should be in good shape to manage your Mountain Bike until its next service.
Good luck and safe riding!