Best bike chain lubes – get a better running drivetrain that lasts for longer

A chain being lubed
(Image credit: Muc-Off)

If your bike has a chain (yes, there are some that use a drive-belt instead) a bottle of dedicated chain lube is an essential piece of kit. There are loads of different options to choose from, so how do you choose the best bike chain lube? Well, unsurprisingly, you’ve come to the right place as we’ve done the complicated bit for you and chosen the best ten lubes on the market.

We’ve used all manner of lubes in all kinds of (ahem) cycling situations, from daily commutes on wet, grimy British roads, to long-distance racing on dusty South African trails and everything in between, so we know what works well and what doesn’t. Whether you’ve spent hundreds on a budget mountain bike or many thousands on one of the best mountain bikes available, you’ll want to ensure the drivetrain runs smoothly and quietly. Don't underestimate the importance of drivetrain maintenance, choosing one of the best chain lubes around will help you to keep your chain, cassette and chainrings in top condition – as well as ensuring that those costly parts don’t wear out prematurely. 

There is a lot of choice when it comes to lubes, so if you are unsure of what you need skip to the bottom of this page where we explain how to choose the best bike chain lube for your riding.

Our testing explained

For information on Bike Perfect's testing procedures and how our scoring system works, see our how we test page.

We’ve used all manner of lubes in all kinds of (ahem) cycling situations, from daily commutes on wet, grimy British roads, to long-distance racing on dusty South African trails and everything in between, so we know what works well and what doesn’t. Whether you’ve spent hundreds on a budget mountain bike or many thousands on one of the best mountain bikes available, you’ll want to ensure the drivetrain runs smoothly and quietly. Don't underestimate the importance of drivetrain maintenance, choosing one of the best chain lubes around will help you to keep your chain, cassette and chainrings in top condition – as well as ensuring that those costly parts don’t wear out prematurely. 

There is a lot of choice when it comes to lubes, so if you are unsure of what you need skip to the bottom of this page where we explain how to choose the best bike chain lube for your riding.

Meet the testers

Why you can trust BikePerfect Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

A man washing himself in a muddy puddle
Guy Kesteven

Guy's been writing and testing for bike mags since 1996. Over the years he's tested thousands of bikes so knows exactly what works and what doesn't. Guy's put more bike miles in than anyone else on the team and is our resident lube expert.

Graham Cottingham

With almost 20 years of riding experience, Graham has dabbled in downhill, enduro and, most recently, long distance gravel racing. He's used many a lube over the years and meticulously puts in the time to work out which ones work better than the rest.

Best bike chain lubes

Silca Synergetic Wet Lube

(Image credit: Graham Cottingham)
The best bottle lube you can buy

Specifications

Conditions: Wet and dry
Size: 2oz/59ml

Reasons to buy

+
Easy to apply
+
Silky drivetrain feel
+
Decently stubborn in the wet
+
Doesn’t form a horrid black paste in dry conditions
+
Surprisingly cost-effective

Reasons to avoid

-
Easy to lose the tiny bottle cap

Silca claims it's Synergetic Wet Lube gives a 50 percent reduction in friction and a 90 percent reduction in wear. While we've not been able to measure these findings for ourselves, we have tested the lube over the worst of a Scottish winter (aka in very wet and cold conditions) as well as over a 200km dusty gravel ride and it performed extremely well in both situations.

Synergetic Wet Lube is oil based and contains tungsten disulfide an anti-wear additive ZDDP. They combine to creates a thin layer that forms on the surface of your drivetrain under stress. Its the formation of this layer that Silca says gives the Synergetic lube its industry-leading surface wear and friction scores, as the layer not only protects the metal surface but traps the lubricating tungsten disulfide nanoparticles. Despite containing these additives Silca has tried to minimize Synergetic's impact on the environment and it contains no PFAS or other ‘forever chemicals’ unlike a lot of cheaper solvent heavy lubes.

As well as having serious staying power, Synergetic Wet Lube feels more like a wax than a bottled lube on your chain. The result is super smooth and quiet drivetrain operations. A little goes a long way too, which helps to ensure your chain doesn't turn into filthy black mess after a few rides.

For more info, check out our full Silca Synergetic Wet Lube review.

Peaty's Link Lube Wet

(Image credit: Rich Owen)
The best for wet weather protection

Specifications

Conditions: Wet
Sizes: 15ml, 60ml, 120ml

Reasons to buy

+
Smooth, clean running
+
Extended protection
+
Whisky scent

Reasons to avoid

-
Not the longest-lasting
-
Premium price

British downhill legend, Peaty (aka Steve Peat), has released several chain lubes for different applications from his Peaty’s Products stable. Given that is this the 'Wet' variety of Link Lube, it's designed to keep your chain lubed in the grimiest riding conditions and we're happy to report that it definitely lives up to this billing.

Part wax, part oil, the lube is easy to apply and is thick enough not to end up all over your floor, yet thin enough not to gum up your chain or the bottle. It also has the added bonus of having an ‘Irish coffee’ scent. We struggled to pick that up to be honest, but the lube aroma connoisseurs on the Bike Perfect team did detect some faint whisky notes.

Cost-wise, it’s one of the pricier lubes around, but given that it endures very well on your chain, you’ll need to use it less often.

You can find out more over on our Peaty’s Products Link Lube Wet review

Fenwicks Professional chain lube

(Image credit: Fenwicks )

Fenwicks Professional chain lube

Unique slippery sludge formula gives smooth and protective results

Specifications

Conditions: Wet and dry
Sizes: 100ml

Reasons to buy

+
Performs well in wet or dry conditions
+
Only frugal amounts required

Reasons to avoid

-
Initially expensive and needs careful curing 
-
One of the priciest brands

Fenwicks is very secretive about what’s in the metallic green sludge that used to be called ‘Stealth Road’ but now comes labeled as ‘Professional’. Set up is a little more faffy than some as it requires at least four hours of curing, and you need to make sure the bottle temperature is over 8-degrees before using it, so don’t forget that if you’re in an unheated shed or workshop. The screw nozzle makes minimal application easy though which is what Fenwicks recommends if you’re using it on the road in drier conditions. 

You don’t need much to silence a chain and keep it turning and shifting sweetly in even the vilest deep-winter MTB conditions either and it’ll normally do well over a week of daily grind during dirty testing before it starts to feel or sound dry. 

Squirt chain lube

(Image credit: Squirt)

Squirt chain lube

Ultra-clean, high-performance, transmission-boosting wax lube

Specifications

Conditions: Dry
Sizes: 15-500ml

Reasons to buy

+
Frictionless performance
+
Keeps dirt pickup to a minimum

Reasons to avoid

-
Double dose initial set up
-
Middling lifespan in real-world conditions 

If you ask properly rapid riders what their chain lube of choice is, it's likely a lot of them will say Squirt and if you’re careful with setup, it’s easy to see why. 

Starting with a properly clean drivetrain is absolutely crucial to let the wax work on uncontaminated surfaces. While it’s relatively pricey don’t be mean with the amount you put on, properly douse the chain to make sure the wax gets everywhere. Definitely add the second coat they advise after the initial application has cured or you’ll be way off its potential lifespan. 

It’s not the longest-lived treatment but where it scores massively is absolutely minimal friction, consistently topping out in independent lab tests and giving a genuine ‘brand new bike’ feel, particularly on the road. It runs really clean, collecting minimal gunk elsewhere in the drivetrain in environments as diverse as its native South African dust or Scottish granite grinding paste. The lack of dirt build-up means longer intervals between cleaning and topping up and lab tests we’ve seen confirm it’s one of the best bike chain lubes for prolonging drivetrain lifespans.

Purple Extreme

(Image credit: Purple Extreme)

Purple Harry’s Purple Extreme

Brilliant for the most brutal usage conditions such as winter mountain biking

Specifications

Conditions: Wet
Sizes: 120ml

Reasons to buy

+
Resilient to extreme winter conditions
+
FIghts against corrosion 

Reasons to avoid

-
Slow running and sticky in normal use

Purple Harry’s Purple Extreme sounds more like moonshine than chain lube, so perhaps it’s not surprising it was initially designed for the mining and offshore drilling industries. The ultra-high film strength means it lasts brilliantly in the most extreme situations such as older Bosch motor e-bikes with tiny drive sprockets or any high torque/high friction riding situation. We even know some MTB photographers and testers who routinely ignore free samples of other bike chain lubes and instead buy their own Purple Extreme to keep their transmissions alive on the longest, grimmest days. It’s totally unfazed by heat, or saltwater, resisting corrosion really well on cheaper chains and steel chainrings. There’s no curing routine and it runs relatively clean and quiet, though it can’t compete with the fast-feeling of the best bike chain lubes. When it does get dirty, you’ll need a very powerful cleaner to shift it.

Fenwicks Wet Weather

(Image credit: Fenwicks )

Fenwicks Wet Weather

Excellent, eco-friendly, all-weather lube

Specifications

Conditions: Wet
Sizes: 100ml

Reasons to buy

+
Ideal for wintertime mountain biking
+
Long lasting
+
Eco friendly

Reasons to avoid

-
Not as transmission transforming as the fanciest lubes

Fenwicks has been working hard for over 20 years to reduce the environmental impact of its products before the wheels on the eco bandwagon even started squeaking. Its wet-weather recipe is designed to create minimum issues downstream of any rivers you cross while riding. It’s just viscous enough to allow sparing application to each roller through the twist nozzle and from there, a quick chain rotation will propagate it into all the relevant friction surfaces. If you wipe off the excess it runs relatively clean and quiet even in drier conditions (a lighter lube is also available) but where it comes into its own is staying quiet and efficient on back-to-back winter MTB rides or even 24-hour race situations. Because it lasts so well, what looks like an average cost-per-ml value translates into impressive cost-effectiveness over time.

Muc-Off Hydrodynamic

(Image credit: Muc-Off)

Muc-Off Hydrodynamic

Gives ‘brand new transmission’ feel without excessive set-up faff

Specifications

Conditions: Wet and dry
Sizes: 50ml

Reasons to buy

+
Silky drivetrain refresh
+
Performs on- or off-road

Reasons to avoid

-
The most expensive and heavily hyped on test by far

Muc-Off spent years developing its Hydrodynamic lube with Team Sky and British Cycling and according to its lab tests, the waxy lube drops chain drag dramatically. In other tests we’ve seen, results haven't been quite as glowing but our own experience puts it firmly into the ‘brand new chain’ feel category even on tired transmissions.

It stays clean and noise/grit-free for longer than the fastest lab waxes and it’s one of the few we’d recommend for off-road use whether that’s gravel bikes, cyclo-crossers, or MTB. Application is easy via the pipette-style bottle and you even get a UV torch to check that the blue-dyed fluid has penetrated all the link junctions without using excessive amounts. Make sure you shake the bottle properly before applying, wipe off the excess and let it cure for four hours or more before riding. That way the tiny 50ml bottle should last a decent time, although it’s definitely an expensive product for luxury mechanics, not last-minute lubers.

Finish Line Cross Country

(Image credit: Finish Line)

Finish Line Wet

Proven sticky lube for the nastiest riding

Specifications

Conditions: Wet
Sizes: 120ml

Reasons to buy

+
Tried and true extreme weather performance
+
Stays put for long-time protection

Reasons to avoid

-
Gets filthy fast
-
Feels slow

Finish Line’s Cross Country lube has been around forever and the sticky blood-red mix is still a great way to keep squeak and rust at bay in the worst conditions. It’s dirtier and draggier than most modern mixes though. Formed from a secret blend of synthetic oils, polymers and anti-wear additives, it’s the stickiest recipe here, but still fluid enough to flow onto a chain easily. 

Capillary coverage is rapid and consistent with a quick spin of the chain which suits less careful mechanics. Once applied it takes a serious amount of wear and weather to shift it and it’s overkill on the road unless conditions are particularly grim. It starts creating a rich black gravy on cogs and chain pretty quickly wherever you ride, so it's not the best for dusty conditions or if you’re worried about black oil stains on hands, gloves and clothes. 

While shifting can be a little sluggish and there’s palpable grind through the pedals if it gets really messy, corrosion proofing is excellent and you’ll have to go a long way to get through to the squeak. Add a good price per ml and it’s a decent workhorse chain lube for the worst conditions.  

Morgan Blue Syn Lube Course

(Image credit: Morgan Blue)

Morgan Blue Syn Lube Course

Outstanding ready-to-go lubrication at a great price

Specifications

Conditions: Wet and dry
Sizes: 125ml

Reasons to buy

+
Quick and smooth drivetrain feel
+
Impressively weather resistant

Reasons to avoid

-
Harder to find in shops than bigger brands

If any European country is likely to produce an impressively weatherproof chain lube then it’s the spring classics and cyclo-cross heartland of Belgium. Morgan Blue also has a very impressive list of top pro teams issuing its kit as well as a lot of very vocal evangelists for its products in online forums. After dripping the tea-colored oil out of its unassuming bottle, it didn’t take us long to understand the fuss either. There’s no specific application process: you just apply the mid-weight mix onto your chain and you’re good to go. 

Additives in the oil give it a noticeably quick feel in terms of pedaling and shifting straight away. Despite the fact it’s impressively rain/flood/frost-proof, it stays clean better than most so that performance lasts well beyond most mixes in its price bracket. In fact, it’s a match for almost anything in all but the most extreme conditions (which is where the slightly more expensive ‘Rolls Pro’ mix comes in), and if you want an even faster feeling mix the company does a summer ‘race oil’ too. 

Rock ’N’ Roll Gold

(Image credit: Rock ’N’ Roll)

Rock ’N’ Roll Gold

Impressively fast running and super clean membrane lube

Specifications

Conditions: Dry
Sizes: 117ml

Reasons to buy

+
Helps remove dirt and grime from your drivetrain
+
Fast and smooth finish

Reasons to avoid

-
Better in dry, clean conditions than wet and dirty

The best bike chain lube in the Rock ’n’ Roll range is a unique mixture that needs a little setup TLC but rewards with super-fast, super-shiny performance and minimal wear in dry, clean conditions. As the lube actually includes a powerful (and flammable) solvent base, initial lubing is designed to flush out all the grit and grime lurking in the links. That means you need to be generous with the dosage you flood onto the cassette end of the chain, rather than dropping onto each link. Then after spinning the chain a few times wipe the chain, chainrings and cassette as comprehensively as you can to get rid of the muck on the surface.

Ideally, you should then leave the chain for a few hours for the protective, lubricating membrane to fully cure. This will leave you with a very shiny and very fast-feeling transmission and lab tests we’ve seen back up the minimal drag, minimal wear feel. The membrane continues working to ‘breathe’ contamination to the surface so you can wipe it off, and while it certainly runs cleaner than a wet lube, performance definitely decreases in dirty situations. That’s where the waxier ‘Extreme’ comes in but again longevity isn’t brilliant as the wax tends to flake off faster than most.

Smoove lube

(Image credit: Smoove )

Smoove chain lube

Very durable high-performance wax lube for extended clean efficiency

Specifications

Conditions: Wet and dry
Sizes: 125ml

Reasons to buy

+
Easy to apply wax
+
Impressive durability

Reasons to avoid

-
Not quite as slick as the fastest waxes
-
Needs curing
-
Not cheap

Smoove isn’t quite as fast in feel as its South African competitor Squirt, but it’s easier to apply and lasts longer in real-world conditions. You still need a thoroughly cleaned transmission for best results but you only need one relatively sparing application to coat the inner chain and rollers. 

Don’t wipe afterward though, just be ready to scrape the excess wax off jockey wheels once you start riding. It’s ready to go within an hour, although an overnight cure is optimum. The tackier coating means it doesn’t feel as super slick as the fastest waxes, and you can see a light grey film on the chain as it collects a bit of dirt over time. The tackiness means it stays in place far better than most waxes though and the contamination is significantly less than a wet oil, so our test transmission stayed smooth and quiet even in winter off-road or salty commuting conditions. Extended run-time between reapplication and reduced wear makes the initially steep price a wise investment if you’re a high-mileage or horrible conditions rider. 

How to choose the best bike chain lube for your riding

How much should I spend on chain lube?

Expect to pay 6-8p per ml for a decent wet lube that’ll perform well in all conditions. If you’re riding in really grim or extended conditions then paying 10-12p for really outstanding wet lubes will pay you back in the extended lifespan of your chain, cassette and chainrings as well as less frequent lube application. Wax lubes tend to cost a similar amount too, but longevity payback depends on the brand and your riding conditions.

How do I apply chain lube to my bike?

All lubes work better on a properly cleaned chain with no embedded grit, grime or old lube, so get yourself some chain cleaner at the same time as the lube. It makes sense to match brands too as some are specifically designed to work together.

From here, some chain lubes just need dripping onto the chain rollers and you’re good to go. Others need a more meticulous setup, with ‘curing’ times varying from a few minutes before use to several hours/overnight to get the best results. Make sure you read and follow the instructions as the performance difference can be dramatic depending on prep. Don’t buy a fussy (read: requires meticulous application) lube if you’re normally rushing to get a rusting/squeaky bike ready while all your mates are ready.

Which chain lube is best — wet or dry?

Most brands produce a ‘wet’ lube and a ‘dry’ lube. Wet lubes stay moist and sticky to resist washing off in bad weather, but tend to attract more dirt and build up a manky mess on chainring teeth, jockey wheels etc.

Dry lubes attract less dirt and keep things looking cleaner prompting many riders to switch to them in summer. The actual proportion of lubricant in dry mixes can be extremely low (around 10%) though with the carrier fluid just evaporating off and leaving the chain to go squeaky and increase friction very rapidly. Many World Tour team mechanics will opt for wet lube all year round due to the frequent maintenance and daily cleaning the bikes are given. 

That means applying a wet lube and just wiping excess off makes the most sense or go for a wax instead in really dry/dusty situations or where cleanliness is paramount.

Should I use a drip or wax type of chain lube?

Conventional oily ‘drip’ lubes are normally the easiest to apply as the fluid mix delivers the lubricating elements where they’re needed. They propagate right through the chain to resist corrosion and are generally ready to work straight away.

Wax lubes go on wet for penetration and then solidify to basically create an ultra-thin ‘bearing surface’ that resists dirt build-up too so they’re great if you want to keep hands and clothes clean. This ‘curing’ process can take several hours though and while some chains can be done in situ others are best pulled off and totally immersed before refitting and use. While they’re the cleanest lube solution, the wax coating can start to crack and fall off very quickly too so they need to be ‘topped up’ regularly. Add an already higher price and most waxes are best suited to a specific event or ‘Sunday best’ use rather than a day in day out grind.

Guy Kesteven is Bike Perfect and Cyclingnews’ contributing tech editor. Hatched in Yorkshire he's been hardened by riding round it in all weathers since he was a kid. He spent a few years working in bike shops and warehouses before starting writing and testing for bike mags in 1996. Since then he’s written several million words about several thousand test bikes and a ridiculous amount of riding gear. To make sure he rarely sleeps and to fund his custom tandem habit, he’s also penned a handful of bike-related books and talks to a GoPro for YouTube, too.


Rides: Pace RC295, Cotic FlareMax, Specialized Chisel, Vielo V+1 gravel bike, Nicolai FS Enduro, Landescape custom gravel tandem

Height: 180cm

Weight: 69kg