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For years, I used Dupont Teflon Multi-Use lube for both my motorcycle and bicycle chains, with pretty good results for each vehicle. Alas, Dupont changed their formula a while ago and it's no longer the excellent chain lube it once was. Since I'm down to my last can - I had a dozen - I've tentatively decided to replace it with homebrew for my bicycle (the jury is still on the best replacement lube for my motorcycle chain).

There are tons of suggested recipes here on RBR, all of which basically boil down to using a mix of OMS and oil in ratios ranging from 4:1 to 1:1. I think I'm going to go with what appears to be the consensus of a 3:1 mix, but wonder which oil is best. Since I do much of my own basic maintenance on my bikes (both varieties), I have virtually every grade of multi-weight engine oil, both regular and synthetic I also have a fair variety of gear lube ranging from conventional Hypoy C 80W-90 to synthetic 75W-140 (in case you're wondering, one of the motorcycles has a separate trans and shaft drive).

Would there be any advantage to using either straight gear lube, perhaps in a 4:1 ratio given the higher viscosity? What about or maybe using a mix of motor and gear oil? Or am I overthinking this and should just go with OMS and Rotella 15W-40?
 

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For years, I used Dupont Teflon Multi-Use lube for both my motorcycle and bicycle chains, with pretty good results for each vehicle. Alas, Dupont changed their formula a while ago and it's no longer the excellent chain lube it once was. Since I'm down to my last can - I had a dozen - I've tentatively decided to replace it with homebrew for my bicycle (the jury is still on the best replacement lube for my motorcycle chain).

There are tons of suggested recipes here on RBR, all of which basically boil down to using a mix of OMS and oil in ratios ranging from 4:1 to 1:1. I think I'm going to go with what appears to be the consensus of a 3:1 mix, but wonder which oil is best. Since I do much of my own basic maintenance on my bikes (both varieties), I have virtually every grade of multi-weight engine oil, both regular and synthetic I also have a fair variety of gear lube ranging from conventional Hypoy C 80W-90 to synthetic 75W-140 (in case you're wondering, one of the motorcycles has a separate trans and shaft drive).

Would there be any advantage to using either straight gear lube, perhaps in a 4:1 ratio give the higher viscosity? What about or maybe using a mix of motor and gear oil? Or am I overthinking this and should just go with OMS and Rotella 15W-40?
I think you are overthinking it. There may be subtle differences but I have been using homebrew for almost 20 years and I can't tell the difference between synthetic and non-synthetic oils, and various engine oil viscosity. I haven't tried them but I wonder if very high viscosity oils might not penetrate to the pins. I use 4:1 and whatever motor oil I have lying around. If we want to experiment try it and post your results
 

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Moto and bicycle chain lubes have very little in common. While I'm pretty open minded about bicycle chain lubes (basically anything but wax/white lightning) I'm pretty picky about moto chain lube but there are still a variety that I would use. They are definitely a lot heavier than bicycle chain lubes.
 

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I think you are overthinking it. There may be subtle differences but I have been using homebrew for almost 20 years and I can't tell the difference between synthetic and non-synthetic oils, and various engine oil viscosity. I haven't tried them but I wonder if very high viscosity oils might not penetrate to the pins. I use 4:1 and whatever motor oil I have lying around. If we want to experiment try it and post your results
Pretty much sums it up. Wrong about the higher viscosity issue though because once it is diluted in OMS it will penetrate fine. Early on in the days of home brew there was a strong bias towards synthetic motor oil but as you say, it makes little difference. I'm using 90W gear lube just because I had some left from the days when you changed your manual transmission gear lube.

I have wondered if motor oil might not be the best choice because it contains "detergents" and that might make it less water resistant when you get caught in the rain but I have neither experience or knowledge that confirms or disproves this. When I run out of gear lube (another decade maybe?) then I'll run the motor oil experiment :)
 

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For years, I used Dupont Teflon Multi-Use lube for both my motorcycle and bicycle chains, with pretty good results for each vehicle. Alas, Dupont changed their formula a while ago and it's no longer the excellent chain lube it once was. Since I'm down to my last can - I had a dozen - I've tentatively decided to replace it with homebrew for my bicycle (the jury is still on the best replacement lube for my motorcycle chain).
According to DuPont, DuPont Chain Saver is the old formula with more molybdenum and teflon added.
 

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I bought a quart (litre?) of synthetic engine oil and a quart of mineral spirits probably fifteen years ago and I'm still using it - mixed 50/50. Bicycle chains are such low-tech machines that (IMO) anything is fine. That, and WD-40 to clean the chain (because it's handy) is all my drivetrain has ever needed - mtb, dirt road and road. My last chain lasted 11,000 miles and I don't care if you buy milliliter of something for $100, it won't perform better than what I use.

50/50 is thin enough to seep into the interior of the chain with the excess removed (with a WD-40 rag) -

1. Right away.
2. Before the first ride
3. After 2-3 rides.

Then I'm good to go for about 600 miles. It's all on my chain lube page.
 

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I bought a quart (litre?) of synthetic engine oil and a quart of mineral spirits probably fifteen years ago and I'm still using it - mixed 50/50. Bicycle chains are such low-tech machines that (IMO) anything is fine. That, and WD-40 to clean the chain (because it's handy) is all my drivetrain has ever needed - mtb, dirt road and road. My last chain lasted 11,000 miles and I don't care if you buy milliliter of something for $100, it won't perform better than what I use.

50/50 is thin enough to seep into the interior of the chain with the excess removed (with a WD-40 rag) -

1. Right away.
2. Before the first ride
3. After 2-3 rides.

Then I'm good to go for about 600 miles. It's all on my chain lube page.


Mike,

I was impressed when I read that your chain lasted 11K miles using your cleaning methods and home brew of 1:1 synthetic oil and paint thinner. How can you argue with results?

However, what do you make of Sheldon Brown's advice to never use motor oils because they have detergents? See below:

Chain Maintenance
Lubricants Not to Use!


While it's hard to say which lubricants are best for chains, some lubricants are real no-nos:

  • Automotive motor oil contains detergent, to wash away combustion products, and is made to be renewed constantly under pressure from the motor's oil pump. I [John Allen] rode once with someone who had used it the day before, and her chain was already squeaking.
 

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Mike,

I was impressed when I read that your chain lasted 11K miles using your cleaning methods and home brew of 1:1 synthetic oil and paint thinner. How can you argue with results?

However, what do you make of Sheldon Brown's advice to never use motor oils because they have detergents? See below:

Chain Maintenance
Lubricants Not to Use!


While it's hard to say which lubricants are best for chains, some lubricants are real no-nos:

  • Automotive motor oil contains detergent, to wash away combustion products, and is made to be renewed constantly under pressure from the motor's oil pump. I [John Allen] rode once with someone who had used it the day before, and her chain was already squeaking.
I have wondered about detergent motor oils as well but my thinking was more along the lines that the detergents might make them less water resistant.

That said, people have been using motor oil since the "invention" of home brew (more than a decade) and report great results. My conclusion is that any petroleum based oil works (that includes synthetics). The original 3 in 1 oil was vegetable based and so that would be the only type of oil I would seriously question.

If someone's chain squeaked the next day after a motor oil application this was either a case of very superficial application (no penetration) or being caught in a serious downpour and then not relubing the chain. IME no chain lube can stand up to riding in the rain - it's only a matter of how long the lube will last, but it won't last. In the wet, White Lightning is gone before your tires start spinning up water.
 

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I have wondered about detergent motor oils as well but my thinking was more along the lines that the detergents might make them less water resistant.

That said, people have been using motor oil since the "invention" of home brew (more than a decade) and report great results. My conclusion is that any petroleum based oil works (that includes synthetics). The original 3 in 1 oil was vegetable based and so that would be the only type of oil I would seriously question.

If someone's chain squeaked the next day after a motor oil application this was either a case of very superficial application (no penetration) or being caught in a serious downpour and then not relubing the chain. IME no chain lube can stand up to riding in the rain - it's only a matter of how long the lube will last, but it won't last. In the wet, White Lightning is gone before your tires start spinning up water.
I have been using homebrew for 20 years and have never had a squeaky chain. Sheldon Brown is a legend but I think he's out to lunch on this. I run 3:1 with whatever motor oil I have sitting around, including the stuff made from dinosaurs
 

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I have been using homebrew for 20 years and have never had a squeaky chain. Sheldon Brown is a legend but I think he's out to lunch on this. I run 3:1 with whatever motor oil I have sitting around, including the stuff made from dinosaurs


Mkay. Point taken Kerry and Dave. And FWIW, I've never had a squeaky chain, period. Any squeaking I've had came from the RD pulleys. However, I've never had a chain that lasted 11K miles! That is certainly impressive! Most of my chains show some stretching at 3K miles.

Another possibility about the rider who used motor oil and her chain squeaked the next day? She probably didn't dilute it, so it may have not penetrated the inside of the rollers.
 

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Mkay. Point taken Kerry and Dave. And FWIW, I've never had a squeaky chain, period. Any squeaking I've had came from the RD pulleys. However, I've never had a chain that lasted 11K miles! That is certainly impressive! Most of my chains show some stretching at 3K miles.

Another possibility about the rider who used motor oil and her chain squeaked the next day? She probably didn't dilute it, so it may have not penetrated the inside of the rollers.
If you would like to experience a squeaky chain, it can be readily achieved by switching to White Lightning

I dont get anywhere near 11K miles though. In talking to other riders, my anecdotal survey suggests that lighter riders get longer chain wear. Interested if that theory holds true for RBR folks
 

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I dont get anywhere near 11K miles though. In talking to other riders, my anecdotal survey suggests that lighter riders get longer chain wear. Interested if that theory holds true for RBR folks
There might be some correlation to body weight but less power would make the chain last longer not necessarily body weight. And not so much how powerful the rider is but how much power they put into the chain. So even a weak rider would wear chains out fairly quick if he/she climbed all the time. And by the same token a very powerful rider would get good mileage is he/she did flat time trials with a smooth stroke all the time.
 

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If you would like to experience a squeaky chain, it can be readily achieved by switching to White Lightning.
LOL! While White Lightning seems to be a good cleaner, it's a terrible lube. I used to use it to clean the chain before putting some good lube on it. Now I use Mike's WD-40 cleaning method before lubing.

I dont get anywhere near 11K miles though. In talking to other riders, my anecdotal survey suggests that lighter riders get longer chain wear. Interested if that theory holds true for RBR folks
I'm 175lbs. Though I do like to ride a lot of hills, I'm more of a spinner than a masher. Don't know if any of that makes a difference.
 

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Mike,

I was impressed when I read that your chain lasted 11K miles using your cleaning methods and home brew of 1:1 synthetic oil and paint thinner. How can you argue with results?

However, what do you make of Sheldon Brown's advice to never use motor oils because they have detergents? See below:

Chain Maintenance
Lubricants Not to Use!


While it's hard to say which lubricants are best for chains, some lubricants are real no-nos:

  • Automotive motor oil contains detergent, to wash away combustion products, and is made to be renewed constantly under pressure from the motor's oil pump. I [John Allen] rode once with someone who had used it the day before, and her chain was already squeaking.
Lom, I think a bike chain is too low-tech to bother about such stuff. They don't have the lubing needs of a turbocharger shaft on a Ferrari.
 

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Lom, I think a bike chain is too low-tech to bother about such stuff. They don't have the lubing needs of a turbocharger shaft on a Ferrari.

Understood, Mike. It just seemed that the implication that Sheldon Brown made was that somehow, detergents in oil would cause it to not lubricate as well or last as long. First hand experience from you and others here seem to prove that he missed the mark on this one.
 

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Understood, Mike. It just seemed that the implication that Sheldon Brown made was that somehow, detergents in oil would cause it to not lubricate as well or last as long. First hand experience from you and others here seem to prove that he missed the mark on this one.
I'm not saying Sheldon missed the mark. I just think chain lubing is such a low-tech activity that I don't think it matters much what a fella does - as long as the chain gets lubed as often as needed and it's kept reasonably clean.
 

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I'm not saying Sheldon missed the mark. I just think chain lubing is such a low-tech activity that I don't think it matters much what a fella does - as long as the chain gets lubed as often as needed and it's kept reasonably clean.

OK Mike, a couple questions about your home brew lube. Can you really use an old lube bottle? Most of those are plastic. Might the mineral spirits dissolve the inside, or isn't that a problem? I'm also trying to picture the tiny funnel I'll need to keep from spilling it while pouring.
 

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OK Mike, a couple questions about your home brew lube. Can you really use an old lube bottle? Most of those are plastic. Might the mineral spirits dissolve the inside, or isn't that a problem? I'm also trying to picture the tiny funnel I'll need to keep from spilling it while pouring.
I'm not Mike but I use an old lube bottle and it works just fine. Been using the same bottle for a coupla three years now. I mix in a quart bottle and carefully pour into the smaller bottle without the use of a funnel and haven't made a mess yet. No sedatives neither.

Hopefully this isn't going to be like talking about flats.
 

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OK Mike, a couple questions about your home brew lube. Can you really use an old lube bottle? Most of those are plastic. Might the mineral spirits dissolve the inside, or isn't that a problem?
If there is a problem it's taking decades to manifest.

I'm also trying to picture the tiny funnel I'll need to keep from spilling it while pouring.
I do use a very small funnel.
 
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