Alternatives of Bike Chain Lubricants! Are they worth it?

Last updated on August 2nd, 2017

It is not uncommon for us to look for more suitable and cheaper ways to deal with our bike chains or so we think. Bike chains will from time to time need lubrication for the purpose of reducing friction and keeping rust away. Since they are moving parts, they will more often than not be exposed to friction as well as wear and tear. There are ready market options when it comes to lubricants. Options ranging from light oils, grease based lubricants, spray based ones, as well as wax-based lubricants, are standard. Rusted chains will easily break causing some issues.
Bikes that depend on chains for braking will be hazardous to use. The chains can also break due to intense wear and tear. The fact that chains may not cost and arm and a leg does not mean that they should not be taken care of. The manufacturer’s chain comes with original grease that can be maintained as well as added to. The use of some options will degrade the lubricants as well as damage the bike.

What are some of the bike lube alternatives?

Bike chain lube alternatives

Options that most people will go for are olive oil, castor oil, household-based greases and cooking oil. These are easy to access in the home which is the reason why most people will opt for them. It is easy to assume that the right lubricants are expensive but on the contrary. People will then choose these alternatives for convenience. The question as to whether they are worth it or not is based on their composition and performance.

Cooking oil for my bike chain

Cooking oil is a standard lubricant in the home that is ideal for keeping away rust from metal surfaces. It can also be used to lubricate moving parts but temporarily. The use of cooking oil originated from the use of castor oil. Castor oil was commonly used in the automotive industry but was phased off for being too grimy. The oil would harden and attract too much dust becoming a liability in the end. The biggest challenge of cooking oils is that they have no graphite. This is one of the most crucial components of lubricants. It helps keep dust away as well as avoids the degrading of the lubricant. It is for this reason that cooking oils will easily degrade and cause some issues. One of these is attracting dust to the links. Dust causes unwanted grinding which enhances friction and the eventual wear and tear of the links. This is a very short term solution with a price to pay.

Olive, Coconut oil and Castor oil for my bike chain

Bike chain lube alternatives

Olive oil and coconut oil will have the same challenges as cooking oil. People will opt for olive oil because it is light and purely natural. It still does not have graphite and will degrade with use. The fact that it is mild and degradable makes it very easy to wash away in wet conditions too.

The benefits of the alternatives

The benefits that you will enjoy with the household options are easy accessibility. You can easily walk into the kitchen and get cooking oil ready for the bike. The market options will not only have to be sought for but ordered for. This is not a strong benefit but will work for some people.

The disadvantages of bike oil alternatives

benefits of bike chain lube alternatives

There are some disadvantages when it comes to using lube options for your chain. Market-based lubricants are created to beat some odds when riding. This includes weather, pressure, and other external factors. The challenge that comes with the options is that they will be purely used on guesswork basis. There is no telling what kind of lubricant will work in wet and rainy conditions as well as the dry ones. It is for this reason that some lubricants will attract dust causing more grinding action hence increased tear and wear while others will simply wash away. Some will degrade fast and disappear from the links while others will degrade the manufacturer’s option. They’re also expensive if opted for without and scientific benefit other than preventing rust. They lack graphite which is a major component in lubricants that helps them maintain their integrity as well as keep away foreign substances that would degrade them.

Are they cheap?

Are bike chain lube alternatives cheap?

The alternatives are not exactly cheap when you come to think of it. Proper lubricants will cost less than $10 for a small bottle that can be used to cover the whole chain as well as have some left over. This is a slight price to pay for the purpose of keeping your bike well lubricated. The alternatives of lubrication as compared to the original products are more expensive if you do the math. Cooking oil will cost more than the lubricants. You will argue that you will be using lesser quantities, but this may not be the case. The fact that it degrades fast as well as collects dust at the same pace means that you will need to degrease using solvents often and apply more. This is an extra unseen cost. The fact of the matter is that this is not a cheap option.

Are they worth it?

The alternatives are not worth it at the end of the day. The chances are that you will end up replacing your bike chain at some point. They’re not designed to lubricate chain links and so will fail in the attempt. It is recommended that you go for the right products. Even these, you will need to know about. The best lubricants will not only suit the chain but the weather. It should also be easy to apply as well as last long. The oil should allow easy clean up with solvents for convenience too. Alternatives will lack in most aspects and in as much as they may not be an immediate problem, continuous use will prove expensive in the long run.

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Dion Lewis
My name is Dion Lewis.

I’ve been cycling from my childhood. When I was in high school, I started racing in our local competitions.

At my college life, I took a part time job in a bicycle shop and I learned how to repair and maintain bicycles professionally.

Though I love racing, mountain biking is another thing I do frequently. My friends, neighbors, and colleagues treat me as an avid rider and take my suggestions while they plan for a new bike or a bike gear.

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