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Why Chain Lube?

Discussion in 'Technical and Troubleshooting Torque' started by cejay, Feb 4, 2008.

  1. One for the mechs to thrash out.

    Modern chains are sealed, with the rollers and bearings encased in a grease which is kept in place with seals. The rollers are hardened and the sprockets either steel or alloy (for racing applications).

    Wear, where it occurs is inside the bearing (which is sealed anyway) and on the mating surface with the sprocket. Wear is apparent as a lengthening chain and hooked sprocket.

    So why do we lubricate a chain? All I can see is that we do it to resist corrosion on the side plates and to keep the rubber seals supple. Surely any lubricant on the mating surfaces is quickly removed and of dubious value anyway.

    So, technical geniuses and mechanical gurus, please enlighten...
  2. It keeps the rubber o-rings which keep the grease in place from drying out and perishing. Also keeps moisture away which helps prevent corrosion of the metal.
  3. Which is more or less what I surmised. In that case, why the expensive lubes, the 'Advanced' properties of which have dubious merit. There has tol be more, doesn't there?
  4. clever marketing, thats all.
  5. Exactly. That's all you want to achieve with lube, which is why you don't need a lot and you only need it on the area where the ring-seals are...

    (unless you're running an unsealed race chain which is not standard and
    very rare on road bikes these days)

    1. increased lasting against rain, dust, heat so you don't
    have to put it on as often

    2. Less likelihood of picking up dust/sand/etc from the environment and rubbing it into the chain or seals

    3. Increased lasting against wear, centrifugal force, etc so it flings
    off less and you use less and when it does come off it comes off as a
    dry powder not a sticky black goop, so your bike stays more shiny

    This is not marketing hype, this is experience...
    Use an ordinary lube like Shell Chain for 10,000km, then use an
    'Advanced' lube (like Maxima Crystal or BelRay Superclean or Motul
    Road) for 10,000km and tell me you can't find a difference...
    I am sure you will. I have, that's why I spend $20 per can instead
    of $8.
  6. You have no argument from me, just the question.

    What I was looking for is definitive reasons for the lubing.

    I only lightly lube the chain on my race bike. But I clean it at the end of every meeting.

    I probably don't lube the chain on the Aprilia as often as I should, but also clean it regularly.
  7. Yay... someone on my side...

    Keep the chain clean, and lightly lubed..

    Good question you have there Cejay ..
  8. Ditto on the clean and lightly lubed.

    Sprocket wear is definitely reduced with a clean and lubed chain.

    I remember reading an MC journo who reported a dyno-able horse power improvement difference between a dirty chain and a cleaned and lubed chain.

    Scott oiler folk boast of 100,000km+ on the OEM chain. That constant light lubing is doing something.

    Yep, chains are sealed beasts but lubing has benefits.
  9. Cliff, it is mostly to minimise sprocket wear.
  10. If you're only lubing every 10,000km's, surely cost isnt really an issue. Not that cost is an issue if you lube it after every ride. Compared to other consumables, it's chicken feed.

    +1 for clean and lube every ride, and I use whatever can of stuff is closest to the check-out.
  11. 10,00kms? Who said that.

    So, just to make clear, I am asking the question.

    Does a spray of lube, applied to the rollers, last more than a few k's? At what point does it cease to be useful? It's a mating surface, under load. Do lubricants really work there?

    Cleaning is a given. Remove contaminants, dust, dirt and there is less grinding material present to cause wear.
  12. Depends on what it's made from - which is where the difference between the good stuff and the crap stuff lies.
  13. Hotcam. Although on a second reading, he might not have meant just one lube during that period??
  14. I believe so. These are not perfect sufaces. Ever tried to remove all traces of a lubricant by simply pressing two surfaces together? Mighty hard to do.
  15. Nah, he was saying 'use a cheap lube for[/f] 10,000km's' and compare it to an expensive one.
  16. Except I don't rotate 10's of times a minute, for hours and hours on end. One surface is hardened and the other just hard.

    I'm not disagreeing with anything that anyone is saying here, it just occured to me in a :idea: moment. Hang on, sealed chains, if cleaned, why lubricate?
  17. +1 JD on avoiding rubber perishing. ALSO, any amount of lube will keep the chain's operating temperature down. This is good for getting a good service life from your O-rings.

    Gents and ladies, may I direct you to this fricking excellent resource on all matters chain: http://www.reginachain.it/eng/use_and_maintenance/
  18. That's a good link!

    ^^ I never do that, do you guys?
    Also, does this mean that when I ride in the rain and park outside (like today) I am causing harm to my chain cause it's just sitting there in the wet? :?
  19. No because it is lubed. If it were cleaned entirely of lube (like after a decent wash) it's different.
  20. we need to conduct a NR Mythbusters Experiment!

    the experiment should consist of;
    2 x motorcycles of the same make & model.
    2 x riders, who ride the same, all the time.
    1 x temperature gun (i have one :grin: )

    obviously one bike has a clean chain on (no lube) and the other has a lubed chain.
    bikes are sent out for a ride, and then the exact temperature of the chain is measured at the conclusion of the ride.
    then, all we gotta do is work out how much heat/friction will cause the rubber to perish and we will know if adding the extra lube is beneficial.

    ok, so who's giving me two bikes? :grin: