Bicycles are made up of many parts that work best and last longest when properly lubed. View this diagram to see the lube points for modern bicycles. The Mechanics at Lakeside Bicycles would like to explain what's involved.
Lubricants & Grease
The lubricant used the most is a liquid lube, (which we sell in a variety of drip and spray containers). We recommend purchasing cycling-specific lubes. They are carefully formulated for your two-wheeler. The all-around lubes sold at Home Depot or Ace Hardware or the like are often too thick or too thin to lubricate your bike properly. And, they'll usually leave an oily residue that can make a mess of your machine and clothing. What is worse, some products will attack the seals on bike components damaging your equipment.
Liquid lubes come in a wide and sometimes confusing variety. We will be delighted to help you select those perfect for your bike and riding conditions. A small container will last for many rides.
Depending on how much you plan to work on your bike, you may want to pick up some grease. This is a thicker lube, about the consistency of Crisco shortening. We sell it in two to four ounce squeeze tubes and one pound tubs.
You can't see it, but grease is what's inside the headset (steering mechanism), hubs, bottom bracket and pedals. There are bearings inside these components and they sit in a bed of grease that keeps them lubed, clear of crud and turning freely.
Because grease is thick and these systems are protected from the elements, it's unlikely you'll need to work on these parts. However, grease is also used to lubricate threads and parts that fit together, such as the seatpost and stem and the associated bolts. If you plan to work on these parts, it's good to have some grease on hand.
Lubing It Part By Part
How often you lube your bike depends on how you use it. Ideally, the moving parts will always be lightly lubed. A dry, squeaking bike needs lube. A bike covered with grime means you're using too much lube (or the wrong lube). Bikes like the ones described in our article "Unclean!" are sad and pathetic.
Applying lube is just a matter of dripping or spraying some on, operating the part to get the lube down inside, letting it sit for a bit for the lube to fully penetrate and then wiping off the excess.
Chain: lubricate the lower run of links (see diagram) as you pedal back wards with your hand until you've lightly coated the entire chain, then wipe the chain clean of excess using a rag or paper towel. The goal is to lubricate your chain, not to apply so much oil that you capture low flying birds and unwary rodents as you ride by.
Brakes: lube the pivot points where the brake parts move against each other. If there's a quick-release mechanism and/or adjustment barrel (sometimes on the brake lever; see diagram), lightly lube these, too (on the threads for the adjustment barrel). Do NOT get lube on the brake pads or rims!
Derailleurs: wet the pivot points on the derailleur bodies. And, for the rear, while the bike's resting on its side, apply a little to the center of the derailleur pulleys. Lube the adjustment barrel, too. If the guide pulleys are beginning to accumulate an awkward amount of oil encrusted crud, now is a good time to clear it off using a pick or small screw driver.
Clipless pedals: apply lube if your shoes and pedals are creaking when you ride and/or it's difficult to get in or out. Remember to remove your shoes before walking into the house so you don't leave oily footprints across the carpet! This is guaranteed to confirm your soul mate's every reservation of cycling and will delay their inevitable adoption of the sport.
Cables: most brake and shift cables don't require lube because they're inside nylon-lined or factory lubed housing . If yours bind, however, you can add lube if your bike has split housing stops. These allow accessing the cables and lubing. It's done by opening the brake quick release to create slack and then pulling slightly to free the housing from the frame stops. You can then slide the housing to get at the cable inside. For derailleurs, shift onto the largest cog or ring and then move the levers back without pedaling. This creates enough slack to get the housing out of the stops and lube the shift cables (if necessary, don't forget to lube where the cables pass beneath the bottom bracket, too). Note: You can probably avoid all of this via the simple expedient of replacing all your cables and housing as it is probably overdue anyway.
Suspension fork: double-check that your lube won't harm nylon or rubber seals. If it's safe, you can apply a few drops to the upper fork legs and push down on your handlebars a few times to compress the fork and work the lube past the seals. This will keep the fork's action smooth.