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  1. #1
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    Who uses motor oil to lube their chain?

    I cleaned and lubed my chain for the first time yesterday and realized just how expensive the bike specific lubes can get. I've seen people mention using synthetic motor oil for their chain, which seems like a cheaper alternative. But what weight do you use, and do/how do you dilute it (one person said he dilutes it 50/50 with mineral spirits)? I'd also like to hear any comments as to how well it works. Thanks

  2. #2
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    One individual who uses the mixture you mention(although I don't know the weight) is MikeT. And if anyone should be listened to it's this old codger. He's been around for a looooong time and knows his stuff better than most. Another is JimC. Sometimes age does bring experience and solid advice.

    I personally use Finishline lube and a 4oz bottle lasts me about 2 months or so. At around $6/bottle that's a heck of a lot cheaper than a can of soda.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by nico
    I cleaned and lubed my chain for the first time yesterday and realized just how expensive the bike specific lubes can get. I've seen people mention using synthetic motor oil for their chain, which seems like a cheaper alternative. But what weight do you use, and do/how do you dilute it (one person said he dilutes it 50/50 with mineral spirits)? I'd also like to hear any comments as to how well it works. Thanks

    As my buddy Fredł said above, I use homebrew chain lube and love it. Over many years I've used the store-bought oily stuff and the waxy stuff under many brand names. If found all the oily stuff, more or less, picks up dirt and the waxy stuff doesn't even last a whole ride under certain conditions.

    I like to spend money but I don't like to waste it so something that's as good as any of the above, and far better than some, at a fraction of their cost, gets my attention.

    I use 10w30 synthetic motor oil and mineral spirits in a 50/50 mix. I don't really think that the grade of oil or the mix ratio has much to do with the success of homebrew. After all, I've no way of scientifically proving anything.

    I got my stuff from Wallymart. Heck a litre of each gives me lube for life (almost) at the cost of one dinky bottle of store-bought stuff. Yeah it picks up dirt but if it's put on right and given a minimum of care it will do just fine. I ain't never changing back.

    Have a peek at my chain info page.
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  4. #4
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    how does the homebrew work with picking up dust..ie dry conditions? or extremely wet or muddy conditions? in other words does it work equally well for all conditions.?
    [SIZE=2]when the going gets tough the world gets reduced to one pedal stroke at a time[/SIZE]

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by jimjo
    how does the homebrew work with picking up dust..ie dry conditions? or extremely wet or muddy conditions? in other words does it work equally well for all conditions.?

    It works acceptably well for me in all conditions. It picks up more dirt than dry waxy lubes in dusty conditions and it lasts longer than them in wet conditions. It's inexpensive and it's not possible to measure its performance against the latest flavor-of-the-month wet lube. I've just decided that it's for me.
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  6. #6
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    I started using it about 1.5 months ago and found it to work great in the muddy conditions of the NW. I doubt I'll ever go back to the other stuff. Although, I used to ONLY use Tri-Flow. All the other stuff just slide right off b/4 I even got out of the parking lot.

    I have to say that I never dilute it though. I'm going to try that for tonight ride.
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  7. #7
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    i use mobil1, 15-50, cuz it's what i put in my motorcycle, so i always have a little laying around. i don't think chains are rocket science. i don't thin it with anything (it seems about the same consistency as pedros synlube or finishline or anything else), and i use it sparingly and wipe off excess, and i clean my chain every few rides (quick, with hose and scrub brush, i never use solvent or take it off the bike or anything). i usually get very long life out of my drivetrain. not sure if it's my chain cleaning or my weak legs.
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  8. #8
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    What I've been using

    I've used Slick50 for the last couple of years and have been very happy with the life of the chains and with drivetrain performance. About 2 weeks ago I read that the Federal Trade Commission had filed a class action suite against Quaker State oil for a violation in Truth of Advertising laws stating that Slick50 did not do what it claimed it could do.

    My point:
    I've been using motor oil about the consistency of 30w without knowing it and have been very happy with it. I am going to buy a quart of synthetic oil next time but I think that I'll try for a little heavier weight to see if I can keep it on the chain longer.

    I personally think that $6 for a 4oz bottle of lube is ridiculous. 4oz doesn't last me that long, for starters, and I would think that there is a big mark up for just packaging the stuff into little bottles. I'm sure that with a little industry pressure we could get a good product in bigger distributed containers for about the same costs.

    Just my 2 cents.

  9. #9
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    I started using a diluted oil mix on my road bike last year, and this winter also adopted it for the mt bike. I use about 5:1 of mineral spirits:20w:50 (it's what I had laying around). I think it works very well and lasts well - way longer than any of the waxy lubes, especially if you hit any water on the ride.

    I haven't decided if I'll stick with it on the mt bikes through the summer. One advantage of the waxy stuff is long drivetrain life here in dry, dry Utah. The oil does pick up dust. A disadvantage of the mineral spirits/oil mix is the need to apply it the night before and let it dry before riding. Is this really necessary? I don't honestly know, but it seems sensible to me. The less liquid on there, the less dust I should pick up.

    I do think this mix is much better around here than any of the oils straight out of the bottle - leaves less dust-attracting residue than they do and seems to work as well, if not better.
    Last edited by kgginslc; 04-09-2004 at 07:09 AM.

  10. #10
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    Smile I use synthetic motor oil...

    Quote Originally Posted by nico
    I cleaned and lubed my chain for the first time yesterday and realized just how expensive the bike specific lubes can get. I've seen people mention using synthetic motor oil for their chain, which seems like a cheaper alternative. But what weight do you use, and do/how do you dilute it (one person said he dilutes it 50/50 with mineral spirits)? I'd also like to hear any comments as to how well it works. Thanks
    It's the only thing i ever used. I can't see the bike specific stuff being worth the cost.

  11. #11
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    The only problem with motor oil is that it is really designed to work at higher temperatures, like in an engine. At lower temperatures all the woo-hoo chemical gimmickery is not working becuase the oil is cold. Even them new oils that allegedly stick to metal to protect at start up are still mostly designed to work at high temperature.

    Is there some kind of oil/lube that is designed to work at lower temperatures that is still cheap and readily available? I think if you could find something like that, it might (and I mean might, I don't really know of course) be a little better than synthetic motor oil.

    P.S. Another trick I do is to heat the chain a little. Thins the oil out and makes it really penetrate into every part. Also helps excess to run off. Just hang it up and hit it with a hairdryer for a few minutes. Prolly not a great idea with the spirit/oil mix, but might be useful if you don't used something thinned out.

  12. #12
    Boj
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    Is there any way to create more waxy lubes like that, ie mixing _____ (insert appropriate chemical) with mineral spirits?!? Just looking for some ideas for mix other than motor oil.

    Also what is the consensus on teflon based lubricants? Are they worth or just a fad?
    If in doubt - pedal harder!!!

  13. #13
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    One thing that nobody mentions here is the toxicity of their chain lube. Isn't motor oil a known cancer causing agent? I know from my teen years that fumes from mineral spirits are quite toxic. I think that Pedro's stuff is nontoxic, but I am not sure. I am going to try out Hippie Spit...
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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Boj
    Is there any way to create more waxy lubes like that, ie mixing _____ (insert appropriate chemical) with mineral spirits?!? Just looking for some ideas for mix other than motor oil.

    Also what is the consensus on teflon based lubricants? Are they worth or just a fad?

    I used to use parafin melted down and mixed with duralube, Pedro's synlube, and some shimano grease and I think Triflow as well. It was not hard and flakey, but rather soft and pliable once everything cooled down. It worked very well and didn't really pick up dirt, but now I am going to try some prolink (by itself) and see how that works.

    One thing I always do with a new chain is clean all the grease off of it and treat it with Duralube before anything else. That stuff really does seem to treat the metal. I have used it for many applications outside of the biking relm, so I thought it would be great for bikes too. I find it works exceptionally well on the pedal/cleat interface.

    Does anyone else use a similar homebrew?

    Trevor

  15. #15
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    Isn't motor oil a known cancer causing agent? I know from my teen years that fumes from mineral spirits are quite toxic.
    Oh yeah the guys at Jiffy Lube and Interiors R Us are dropping like flies.


    I think that Pedro's stuff is nontoxic, but I am not sure.
    Well that just about sums up your post doesn't it?
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  16. #16
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    Fresh motor oil is pretty clean, probably sterile.

    Used motor is pretty dirty, probably cacinogenic.

    Then again, according to the purple sticker on my old tool box, the contents of that were highly cacinogenic as well as mutant forming too. Maybe it was just the sticker. Amazing what you can pick up at cancer research laboratories...

    Didn't take home the glowing paint like substance though. It was probably harmless, but I wasn't sure.

  17. #17
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    I have always used motor oil on my chain. Every once in a while, I'll try something different, ( one of the best combo of slippy and tenacious was Canadian tire motorcycle chain lube, but it was moly based, and way too black - yuck) but as Mike T says, nothing is as inexpensive as motor oil for lubing your bike chain. The one key thing is to make sure that all excess is wiped off. Any lube on the surface will pick up dust and debris

  18. #18
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    I just oiled mine a couple days ago with some leftover 5w30 Pennzoil (what goes in my car) and have ridden around a good bit... once ya wipe or sling the excess off, it's fine. I think in this application what type of oil used is far less critical than say, in a car engine...

    I've given thought to trying 3-in-1 oil since I have some laying around. It's not as cheap as good old Pennzoil tho.

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