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Greasing, lubricating, oiling your racing bike - what you use and what

Lubricants: grease, oil, wax, Teflon, silicone - a bike can be lubricated with many different substances - (Photo: triathlon-tipps.de)

A racing bike is a complex combination of different components. And the lubrication on it is almost a little science: What should be used, when and where? Do I use oil for the chain or wax? Can carbon be greased at all? If so, what is the best? How do I prevent a seat post from seizing up in the aluminum frame? What is the difference between fat and oil?

First of all: Why should you actually smear something on the bike? There are two main reasons for using lubricants:

  1. Moving parts should rub as little as possible on other parts. The chain or bottom bracket, for example, should run without great resistance
  2. Separation of different components. About the seat post. It shouldn't seize up, but it shouldn't slip either

In the following we will go into more detail about the areas of application and the various means.

What is oil, what is fat?

First of all, the basis: A lubricating oil is a liquid that cannot mix with water and creates a lubricating film between two moving surfaces. In this way it reduces friction and also transports heat away.

Grease is lubricating oil that has been thickened so that it is less fluid at room temperature. It adheres better and longer, but is tougher and doesn't “creep” into every corner as easily.

By the way: oxidation and microorganisms cause fat to age over time. This makes it less effective. Therefore, you should sometimes re-grease and use a fat that has not been stored for too long.

Bearing grease as a lubricant for bicycles

Wherever something moves, it needs lubrication. Bearing grease is used here.

Application area: The bottom bracket or the hubs, for example, are heavily used on bicycles. But also the headset or the pedals.

Products: Typical bearing greases in the racing bike sector come from Galli (Amazonlink)
or Shimano bearing grease (Amazon link).

Assembly paste / assembly grease as a release agent

Assembly grease is a sticky grease. The meaning behind it: It should be prevented that two components are connected to each other by corrosion in such a way that they can no longer be detached. This is what professionals also call “cold welding” or “seizing up”. Grease is used for metal connections, i.e. aluminum / steel, titanium. Attention: carbon is a special case! More on that in a moment.

Application area: Assembly grease or assembly paste belongs on pedal threads, inner bearing threads, fork covers or screws on cone axles. But please don't grease every little screw right away. That would be an exaggeration.

Products: Park Tool assembly grease (Amazon link).

Special case: Carbon parts. This material can also combine afterwards, which is then called "baked".

Carbon parts are never treated with normal fat. Carbon is a very sensitive material. If something is screwed to it, it may only be tightened with a torque specified by the manufacturer, otherwise it will be damaged by the forces that occur. But since grease lubricates and reduces friction, the clamping force would no longer be sufficient.

There are therefore special carbon assembly pastes for carbon that contain small abrasive particles that specifically increase friction. Small disadvantage: The abrasive particles in it roughen the paint - not a real problem, but it doesn't look good. So if you adjust a little more often, for example the seat post, you can also use silicone spray. That does not wear out the paint.

Application area: Wherever carbon is mounted.

Products: THE assembly paste for carbon comes from Dynamic (Amazonlink). A silicone spray is available from Presto (Amazon link).

You can find out how to install a carbon seat post here.

Oil / wax / teflon for chain

The chain is mercilessly exposed to weather and dirt. However, it must transmit the force as smoothly as possible. Therefore, there are special lubricants for them:

  • Chain oil
    The good standard. Mainly used when you expect dirt or rain. Oil adheres and lubricates very well, but attracts and binds dirt. It is similar with chain fat, but it is hardly used.
  • wax
    Sticks without attracting dust. Is a good compromise solution.
  • Teflon
    Hardly attracts dirt, but Teflon doesn't stick to the chain as well. Consequence: You have to relubricate more frequently. Teflon is the most expensive variant.

Products: Finish Line offers both oil (Amazonlink), wax (Amazonlink) or Teflon (Amazonlink).

Precision engineering oil and penetrating oil

There are still the small joints on the rear derailleur or the brakes. A penetrating oil can be used here.

Products: Reader Tobias tells us in the comments that he uses camellia oil, for example, for all bare metal parts, as long as he does not work with storage, assembly or chain oil.

Lubrication must never be carried out here!

You should carefully keep lubricants of any kind away from the brake pads and the rim flanks. Because here friction should arise unhindered between the two surfaces.

So when working with fats, oils and wax, be careful that these areas remain clean.

Tags: material, road bike, triathlon bike, knowledge

6 responses to "greasing, lubricating, oiling the racing bike - what you use and what"

  1. hello 😀
    unfortunately i can't find a clear answer somehow.
    Can I apply a thin layer of grease to the seat tube to prevent it from cracking?
    many thanks in advance + greeting

  2. Hello, that depends on the material of the seat tube. For example, fat has no place in carbon.

  3. WD40, however, is not a fine oil but a petroleum ether that should only be used to degrease metal parts or to loosen parts that are already seized or rusted. Under no circumstances may it be given on bearings, chains or plastics. When it comes to fine oils, it is important to remember that there is no single oil for all purposes. Depending on whether cleaning, lubrication or corrosion protection is in the foreground, you have to choose an appropriate product. Camellia oil is mainly used for corrosion protection on tools and Japanese blades, which I also use on bare metal parts on bicycles, provided I do not treat them with bearing, assembly or chain oil.

    • I think I just never say WD40 again because there are always people who give you long lectures about it and then you have to justify yourself for using it. Sorry, my cynicism is not meant to be bad.

      WD40 describes itself as a multifunctional product. From the description:
      "Advantages of the product:
      Displaces moisture to prevent rust and protect electrical systems
      Penetrates jammed parts to release them
      Lubricates equipment and parts to keep things running smoothly
      Removes oil, dirt, grease and soot
      Protects metal surfaces from rust and corrosion "

      I've been using it for years to clean the chain, then I do the lubrication with wax again. I am aware that many consider it unbelievably bad to take WD40 for anything at all and as I said: if you want to open a long thread of discussion somewhere, it is best to write something on the subject of veganism or WD40.

      Thank you very much for the tip with the camellia oil, I'll gladly include that above.

  4. That was a helpful contribution because I got a little confused while reading two books - and then started to chink 😉 ...

    Do you now grease the bearings on the headset with assembly paste or with "ball bearing grease"?

    I use this WD40 to clean my chain ... and then add a "heavier" chain oil in winter and a "light" chain oil in summer.

  5. All rolling bearings, of course, with bearing grease, including the one in the headset, not assembly grease. Assembly grease comes on threads or statically connected parts that you assemble once and want to loosen again at some point. So threads of screwed bottom brackets etc.

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