Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Bike Oil Alternative?

When I run out of bike lubricant I might use what I have around the house. Recently I experimented with Marvel's Mystery Oil. I filled Grandpa's Oil Can with the red stuff, after my dad's praises - besides, he'd given me a bottle. I'd used it on the brakes and derailleur, but never the chain until now.

For a while it seemed to work. No more squeaks and groans...or so I thought. But gradually the pedaling felt rough under my feet and worsened  until the chain was literally grinding over the cogs.

At first I thought the year-old chain needed replacement, but after measuring links I determined that wasn't the cause. I borrowed a bit of my husband's bike oil and applied it in place of the Mystery Oil. After wiping the chain and pedaling a few laps of the neighborhood, the problem cleared up - just like that.

I learned my lesson: always use specific bicycle lubricant. But this irks me, in a way, because a bike is a machine and there must be a multipurpose oil that could replace those expensive small bottles, only found at a bike store.

In a pinch I've used motor oil on a chain, but it was a one time event - I have no idea how this stuff works over the long haul.

What kind of lubricant do you use?


  1. I've tried so many, but once I found Finish Line Dry in a 32oz jug (75 cents an ounce) I think I've found what works for me in dry conditions.

  2. I think washing my bike/chain has helped me. I have this big,soft bristled brush. Lots of soap and water.Let it dry.Then apply a wax type lubricant. Let it dry.

  3. I use a liquid wax lubricant. Just a smiggen less oil over my best pants!

  4. I rarely ride in the rain (if I can help it). Maybe I'm crazy, but I just buy a new chain. My bikes are all IGH's, so the chain is a simple 1/8 and really cheap to replace, around $10.

  5. Yeah Marvel Mystery Oil is more of a fuel oil. I add it to the gas tank of my little 200cc motorcycle a few times a year, works great for that...:) I like the waxey lubricants when I know I'm going out for a long ride the night before and have time to let it dry T9 is by far my favorite of these. For daily use though I just use Tri Flow.

  6. Thank you for all your comments. It looks like I should stick with the specialized bicycle lubricants. But it makes you wonder what people did in the early 1900s...

  7. I'm with you, Annie. There are some alternatives that can be effective to use for your bike. However, there's a lot of difference if you use a lube that's really made for your bike. Even though they can both keep the bike from getting dry, the grease from the lubricant gives a smooth cycle.


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