Road Bike, Cycling Forums banner
1 - 20 of 25 Posts

· Registered
Joined
·
197 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
What's the best weight motor oil for a chain? Thin oil like Marvel Mystery oil or sewing machine oil, medium like a car motor oil, or thick like a car read end oil? I don't wan't to buy special bike oil for my chain and pay 80x the normal price for specially packaged oil thats the same as a common similar weight oil except for the "special label." I don't pay for water either because it comes for free from taps.
 

· RoadBikeRider
Joined
·
1,053 Posts
In my opinion you need something equivalent to about a 30 wt motor oil. The problem with using plain old oil (or oil and water) is that it is difficult to get it into the inside of the chain where it is needed. Many people will thin it with mineral sprits to get good flow into the chain and when the mineral spirits evaporates you should have a well lubed chain. I still buy bicycle chain specific lube on sale in the 3 pack. Lasts a long time when used as directed.
 

· Registered
Joined
·
296 Posts
In case anyone thought I was serious, I'm pretty sure you can't mix oil and water, so to speak.

BTW, I would think 30 weight oil would be way, way too thick--doesn't penetrate and is a sticky mess. That's why homebrew is usually 3-4/1 mineral spirits to oil.

Personally, I happily pay for Prolink Gold. Keeps chain clean and lubed.
 

· Resident Curmudgeon
Joined
·
13,390 Posts
I always use homebrew. I change the oil in my car myself and whatever oil I happen to have lying around goes into the "brew."
 

· Registered
Joined
·
10,161 Posts
info...

There is no right or wrong when it comes to the oil weight. I normally use 5W30 synthetic, which is 5 weight at room temperature and thin it 4/1 with mineral spirits or naptha, which evaporates faster.

I've also used oil as heavy as 80/90 weight gear lube, and chain saw bar oil, which seemed to be the dirtiest oil I ever tried. Both were thinned with 4 part mineral spirits or naptha.

If you want a lube that lasts longer, the heavier weights would probably be wise. I tend to lube after every ride and every other ride, so longevity is not something I'm after. My belief is that even if the oil may remains on the chain after a couples of rides, it will have enough dirt mixed with it that it needs to be replaced or at least diluted with new lube. I apply my lube heavily, not just a drop on each roller and pin.
 

· Registered
Joined
·
2,274 Posts
Hi,
I didn't go read the referenced archives, but what I use is an air tool oil. For nailguns, drills, like that. Right now, I have a bottle for Senco tools, bought at the lumber yard or your hardware store or even Home Despot. It's relativly cheap, compared to bicycle-specific oil. It comes in various sizes and in squeeze bottles with a drip tip, like sunscreen or Tri-flow. I use the pint size one in my shop and re-fill a smaller Tri-flow bottle to carry along in my gearbag. The air tool oil is said to have an "anti-gumming" additive to prevent it picking up grit and dirt. Seems to work really well for me.

Don Hanson
 

· Old Skool
Joined
·
804 Posts
+1

Yeah, what C-40 said, but here is my $.02. Currently, I am using the following:
1. Mix 4:1 with 90w gear oil and mineral spirits. I went with heavy oil because it is what I had lying around.
2. Applicator: small plastic squeeze bottle that originally contained contact lens solution.
3. Mixing and storage: large contact lens solution bottle.
4. Like C-40, I tend to lube frequently and heavily to maximize the cleaning effects.

I changed to homebrew in 2006 after decades of using straight motor oil or Phil Tenacious Oil and a brief period with White Lightening. Homebrew has worked out so well, I cannot imagine using anything else. However, I will try using lighter oil in my next batch and will mix and store in a quart motor oil bottle. This is a trick borrowed from someone else on the board.

IMHO the best features of homebrew are:
1. The ease and speed of routine chain cleaning and lubrication.
2. The cleanest quietest drive train I have ever ridden. This stems directly from point number one above. Homebrew is so hassle free to use, my drive trains get more regular attention.
 

· Old Skool
Joined
·
804 Posts
Yes, it is worth it

As this discussion clearly indicates, there are a lot of us that consider it worth the time and hassle. I am happier with home brew than with any commercial product that I have tried.
 

· Call me a Fred
Joined
·
17,026 Posts
DavidsonDuke said:
In case anyone thought I was serious, I'm pretty sure you can't mix oil and water, so to speak.
They do mix if you add an emulsifier.
 

· Unsafe at Any Speed
Joined
·
456 Posts
Is any homebrew good enough?

Car engine oils do not have good enough extreme pressure (EP) additives for the heavy load on a chain, because engine bearings are large in relation to loads. And, such additives only work properly when they get hot. They also rely on high bearing speeds to maintain a lubricating film.

The only car oil I would use, is a SAE90 GL-5 EP rear axle oil. And this is thick, it might not reach the chain link pins (maybe if you heat it first?)



A synthetic bike oil on the other hand is very penetrative thanks to its metal-wetting properties (it 'bonds' to the metal and tries to 'creep' along the surface) and is formulated to work at room temperature etc. etc.

Granted it is expensive but surely the quantities used are small enough?
 

· Registered
Joined
·
14,776 Posts
I call hooey

Pieter said:
Is any homebrew good enough?

Car engine oils do not have good enough extreme pressure (EP) additives for the heavy load on a chain, because engine bearings are large in relation to loads. And, such additives only work properly when they get hot. They also rely on high bearing speeds to maintain a lubricating film.
The only car oil I would use, is a SAE90 GL-5 EP rear axle oil. And this is thick, it might not reach the chain link pins (maybe if you heat it first?)
A synthetic bike oil on the other hand is very penetrative thanks to its metal-wetting properties (it 'bonds' to the metal and tries to 'creep' along the surface) and is formulated to work at room temperature etc. etc.
Granted it is expensive but surely the quantities used are small enough?
I'm no engineer, but there are some around here and I'll ask them to chime in. I'll bet the loads experienced by car engine oils are vastly higher than anything you can generate in a bike chain. And I think high bearing speeds make it harder to maintain a lubricating film.

Which bike oil is "synthetic"? They're all mostly petroleum distillates.

In real life, the precise qualities of the lubricant are less important than 1) getting it into the relevant spots; 2) maintaining some film; and 3) keeping it relatively uncontaminated by road dirt. This last is where homebrew works well, and duplicates (IMO) the most important qualities of a lube like prolink. The thinned oil flows in and drips off, carrying much dirt with it. It's clean-and-lube in one step.

And here's where the cheapness of homebrew becomes relevant, superflychief. Because it's so cheap, I don't hesitate to use it as excessively and frequently. I go through the equivalent of a big bottle of prolink in much less than a season (rain commuter) . As for time and hassle, I pour oil in the squeeze bottle to about the 1/4 level (measurement needn't be precise), top up with OMS (which I already have around for painting use), and shake a bit. Takes 1 minute, maybe.
 

· Big is relative
Joined
·
11,901 Posts
JCavilia said:
I'm no engineer, but there are some around here and I'll ask them to chime in. I'll bet the loads experienced by car engine oils are vastly higher than anything you can generate in a bike chain. And I think high bearing speeds make it harder to maintain a lubricating film.

Which bike oil is "synthetic"? They're all mostly petroleum distillates.

In real life, the precise qualities of the lubricant are less important than 1) getting it into the relevant spots; 2) maintaining some film; and 3) keeping it relatively uncontaminated by road dirt. This last is where homebrew works well, and duplicates (IMO) the most important qualities of a lube like prolink. The thinned oil flows in and drips off, carrying much dirt with it. It's clean-and-lube in one step.

And here's where the cheapness of homebrew becomes relevant, superflychief. Because it's so cheap, I don't hesitate to use it as excessively and frequently. I go through the equivalent of a big bottle of prolink in much less than a season (rain commuter) . As for time and hassle, I pour oil in the squeeze bottle to about the 1/4 level (measurement needn't be precise), top up with OMS (which I already have around for painting use), and shake a bit. Takes 1 minute, maybe.
Living in the PNW, I go through my 8 oz mix bottle of homebrew in a month. I use a clear bottle and add a little more oil in the rainy winter. The chain might collect more dirt with more oil, but I know that my drivetrain won't sound like a sewing machine on the homeward commute in the afternoon. When the rains start to end this time of year, I just add more mineral spirits.

I use Castrol syntec 10W-30 and odorless mineral spirits. My drivetrain stays relatively clean.
 

· Registered
Joined
·
10,161 Posts
good enough...

I've used 5W-30 synthetic motor oil more than any other in my home brew. It produces excellent chain life. I tend to think that the lack of EP additives is not as important at dirt contamination. Lube often with homebrew and you;ll get good chain life.

That said, I'm now using some 80/90W synthetic gear lube with a little chainsaw bar oil in my homebrew. The gear lube smells pretty bad and the bar lube seems dirtier than my usual 5W-30. I've also switched to Naptha (Coleman camp stove fuel) as the solvent for faster evaporation.
 

· Registered
Joined
·
21,864 Posts
You're talking gibberish

Pieter said:
Is any homebrew good enough?

Car engine oils do not have good enough extreme pressure (EP) additives for the heavy load on a chain, because engine bearings are large in relation to loads. And, such additives only work properly when they get hot. They also rely on high bearing speeds to maintain a lubricating film.

The only car oil I would use, is a SAE90 GL-5 EP rear axle oil. And this is thick, it might not reach the chain link pins (maybe if you heat it first?)

A synthetic bike oil on the other hand is very penetrative thanks to its metal-wetting properties (it 'bonds' to the metal and tries to 'creep' along the surface) and is formulated to work at room temperature etc. etc.

Granted it is expensive but surely the quantities used are small enough?
This is, for the purposes of lubricating a bike chain, pure nonsense. Any petroleum oil will "wet" a metal surface. The principle behind ProLink or home brew is that you dilute the oil in a solvent, which then easily penetrates every nook and cranny of the chain. Lots of riders have used all different kinds of oils (gear lube, motor oil, chain saw oil, etc) in home brew with great success (long chain life and good performance). Your statements may be theoretically accurate, but meaningless in real world applications. But thanks for playing :)
 
1 - 20 of 25 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top