Skip to main content

You've spent your entire life lubing your bike chain the wrong way and here's why...

Lubing the top of a bicycling chain
(Image credit: Rich Owen)

A sparkling, super smooth running chain is a thing of beauty, but keeping it clean is only half the process. To finish the job, you'll of course need to lube it properly too. We all have our preferred methods which range from liberally spraying a can of lube all over your drivetrain while rapidly spinning the cranks, to painstakingly placing a single droplet of lube on each roller as you slowly rotate the crank arms backwards.

However you do it, we think the vast majority of us would agree that it's best to stick your chain into the big ring and apply lube to the inside of the chain (or your entire bike if you're a spray can luber). However, chain lube specialists, Silca, beg to differ as they have an alternative method that is claimed to be superior.

The Silca method

To do it, put as much bend in your chain as possible – by shifting to the biggest cog on your cassette in a 1x system, or big ring to big ring in a 2x. Then slowly apply lube by dripping it onto the rollers while turning the cranks. Standard stuff so far.  However, where Silca's method differs is that you apply lube to the top of the chain while massaging it into the links with your fingers to actually get lube into your chain, rather than just all over it.

We've tried it and can confirm that it's fiddly (you definitely need a workstand, or better yet, a friend to assist) and pretty messy, but Silca CEO, Josh Poertner, assured us that it's worth it. "Dripping [lube] onto a crossed chain results in 7 to 10 percent lower wear over 6000km when applying every 300km. We also showed on our friction machine that friction remained low for ~5 to 7 percent longer using this method."

Josh also told us, "we have shown that dripping lube on this way is the equivalent to an immersion application", which is promising stuff.

Silca is sending us the numbers to prove their method is the best available without removing your chain, so we'll share them as soon as we can. In the meantime, why not give it a go and see what you reckon? And if you're in the market for some new lube, you may well be interested in our guide to the best bike chain lubes available.

Richard Owen
Richard Owen

A seasoned journalist with over 20 years experience, Rich heads up the Bike Perfect team having previous been editor of What Mountain Bike magazine and written for MBUK, Bikeradar, Cycling Plus as well as many other magazines and websites. He’s been riding mountain bikes since the mid-nineties and mostly likes hitting flowy yet technical trails that point downhill. A jack of many trades, Rich has competed in cross-country, enduro and long distance events, not to mention also now adding gravel to his riding repertoire. Rich resides in North Devon and can mostly be found pedaling furiously around his local trails, or slightly further afield in the Quantocks, the Mendips or Exmoor. 


Rides: YT Jeffsy Uncaged 6, Canyon Spectral, Vitus Substance VR

Height: 175cm

Weight: 70kg