Lubrication makes riding more fun, but you've got to choose the right one! There are many brands and types of lubrication for your bicycle, which can initially seem quite mystifying. Here is a rundown of what, when, where, and how to utilize different forms of lubrication in order to keep your ride smooth!
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Step 1: No WD-40! No! Here's Why
DO NOT USE WD-40 ON YOUR BICYCLE.
I know, I know. I love it too. It's great. It fixes your squeaky hinges and gets things moving again. It's amazing. I even like how it smells (I am not sure what that says about me). But WD-40 is also a solvent. If you put it on the moving parts of your bicycle, it will dissolve the existing lubrication, leaving your with metal on metal. It is a handy and appealing quick fix, but in the long run it can do more harm than good.
If you do use WD-40 on the moving parts of your bicycle (there are better ways to exorcise rusty and stuck parts, but, I know that it is very tempting), be sure to THOROUGHLY clean the part afterwards to remove any leftover WD-40, and then lubricate with proper lubricating oil or grease.
Step 2: Grease
Heavy grease is for use on high friction areas like wheel hubs, seat posts, bottom brackets, and headsets. These areas generally have internal bearings, and for these bearings to move smoothly, they must be properly lubricated. Bearings inside wheel hubs should be cleaned and packed with fresh grease every six months, depending on use.
Step 3: Wet Lube
Wet lube is useful on the chain and drivetrain, particularly in humid or wet climates. There are a variety of lubricants that can be used on the chain. Some of these are useful in both wet and dry weather. When using dry lube, it is important to clean excess off with a rag in order to ensure that dirt and debris does not readily collect on the drive train. Wet lube can also be used on the headset and seat post if grease is unavailable.
Step 4: Light/Dry Lube
The light viscosity of this type of oil allows it to penetrate deeply into small moving parts. Use this for small parts such as derailleurs, brake bodies, brake levers, spoke nipples, shifter bodies, cables, and chains (in drier climates). When oiling brake bodies, be sure to check that no oil ends up on the brake pads, and to clean them thoroughly if it does to ensure proper braking.
Step 5: And More!
Wax based lubrication like T-9 can be used on the drive train, and is useful in both wet and dry climates. Heavy chain oils like Phil Tenacious Oil are especially suited to wet weather, but can be very messy.
The more you know!