Finding the best type of chain lube for gravel bikes is not hard. Gravel biking involves a lot of small dirt and dust particles on your drivetrain, so getting your choice of lubricant right is extremely important though. Here is a breakdown of which lube type is best and why.
Read this Ultimate Guide to Bike Chain Lube for more detailed information on chain and drivetrain lubricants.
Which Chain Lube Type Is Best?
There are dry, wet, ceramic, wax and more types of chain lube available. If you do your gravel biking in a dry climate then a dry chain lubricant will work best. It will require frequent application as dry chain lubricants do not last as long as their wet counterparts.
Gravel biking in very wet and humid climates will require the use of a wet chain lube. Wet chain lube requires a complete degreasing of your chain before applying the lubricant. If you don’t get all the grease and grime off your chain it will combine with the wet lube to become sticky and attract dust particles.
Ceramic wax lubricants will also work well in humid conditions, but I prefer ceramic wax on my road bike not my gravel bike. I live in a very dry climate so dry lubricant works great on my gravel bike. When traveling to wet regions like the Pacific Northwest I change over to a wet lube after a good cleaning.
How To Lubricate A Gravel Bike Chain
Knowing how to lubricate a gravel bike chain will depend entirely on the type of lubricant you are using. Some waxes can be baked on, while others are applied like a typical dry or wet lube. The preparation process also changes.
With dry lubricants you can simply reapply as needed without washing your chain each time. You still need to clean your chain occasionally, but not before each new application of dry lube. The process is fastest and easiest out of of all the lube types, which is good because it will require more frequent applications.
With wet chain lube you need to completely clean and degrease the chain before each application. The good news for wet lubricant users is your lubricants will last a lot longer than dry lube so you won’t have to apply it as often.
Waxing your chain involves a lot of maintenance work. You will need to thoroughly clean and degrease the chain before starting. Follow the manufacturers instructions for applying the wax. Some waxes require submersing the chain completely, while others are applied out of a dropper-style bottle.
Can You Use WD40 On A Gravel Bike Chain?
WD40 doesn’t have a great reputation amongst bike mechanics. This is not because the product doesn’t work, or damages your bike. You absolutely can use WD40 on your bike chain without causing damage, but I still don’t recommend it.
WD40 is primarily a cleaner with a small amount of lubricant. Think of it as primarily being a degreaser. The issue with using WD40 to lubricate your chain is that its not a great lubricant. Bike lubricants are designed specifically to lubricate your chain. They work exceptionally well because that’s what they were designed for. Bike parts are expensive and using WD40 only adds to those expenses. It won’t do as good of a job and won’t last as long as traditional bike chain lubricant.
The best type of chain lube for gravel bikes will depend on your climate and willingness to do the maintenance work. If you aren’t willing to clean and degrease your chain every time before applying wet lube, then you need to use dry lubricant. Just know that using a dry lubricant in wet conditions will mean you are reapplying chain lube after every ride.
How To Pick The Best Chain Lube Brand For Gravel Bikes?
There are a lot of brands out there in the lubricant world. Stick to brands with a lot of popularity in the cycling industry. Muc-off, Finish Line, and similar companies will have product offerings across all lube types. Pick up a dry, wet, and wax lube so you are covered for any situation.
I would avoid great deals from unknown brands. The major players have products that have gone through rigorous testing. This is the only way to ensure your drivetrain parts will stay safe. I trust specific brands for many different reasons.
The number of reviews a product has is also important. I trust a lubricant that has 4 stars and 5,000 reviews over a lubricant rated 5 starts and only has 40 reviews. How manufacturers respond to inquiries is also important. If you have a question about a lubricant reach out to the manufacturer. Whether or not they even respond will be telling about the quality of the lubricant you are dealing with.