How to Oil a Bike Chain

Learning how to oil a bike chain is one of the most critical things you can do for the health and well-being of your bike.

In addition to keeping your chain moving smoothly, learning how to oil a bike chain is also a regular maintenance step that will help you transition into other types of bike care, as well.

If you love to bike but aren’t sure where to start when it comes to maintaining your bike chain, this article is for you. Read on to learn more.

Why is Learning How to Oil a Bike Chain Important?

Just like your car’s engine needs oil to run smoothly, your bike’s chain needs oil to move seamlessly through the derailleurs and sprockets.

Without oil, a bike chain will quickly become rusted and “sticky”, catching on gears and putting you in a vulnerable position for a crash or a serious bike malfunction.

Luckily, learning how to oil a bike chain isn’t difficult, and finding the right oil and learning to use it are simple maintenance steps that can go a long way toward keeping your bike in good working order!

How to Oil a Bike Chain: 3 Smart Steps to Get you Rolling!

Learning how to oil a bike chain is one of the easiest bike maintenance duties, and it will serve to keep your bike in excellent working condition for years. To keep your chain slipping along effortlessly, follow these three steps:

1.Prepare your workstation for oiling

Oiling can be a messy job, and it’s smart to be prepared before you dive in. Ideally, you should be lubing your bike chain outdoors or in a designated work areas, such as a garage or shop. To protect the ground beneath you from spills and drips, lay down some newspaper or cardboard before you get to work.

Once you’ve done this, bring the bike to your workstation and flip it upside down, onto its handlebars and seat, to prepare it. Be sure to position the newspaper or cardboard beneath the chain to catch any drips.

2. Clean the components of the bike

Oiling a chain will only work well if the chain is clean and ready to receive the oil. Because of this, it’s critical to clean the components of the chain and gearing that are to receive oil. Knock any dust, dirt, or mud off of the bike’s cogs, rear derailleur, sprockets, and chain.



If you need some additional elbow grease for this job, grab a damp rag or a toothbrush to help you get into the nooks and crannies of the chain and gearing. Once you’ve done this, you’re ready to move on to the next step.

3. Oil the chain and other components

Once you’ve prepared the chain, derailleur, and sprockets, it’s time to oil all of the moving parts.

To do this, you’ll need a chain lube of your choice. While there are dozens on the market, the right one for your purposes will be dependent on things like the climate in which you ride (a rainy and wet environment calls for wet lube while a sunny, warm climate necessitates dry lube), and your maintenance preferences.

Once you’ve selected and purchased your lube of choice, it’s time to apply it.

Start by marking one link of the bike’s chain with a permanent marker. This will serve as your starting point. Then, take the chain lube and hold it upside down, with the squirt nozzle angled at the bike chain. Moving slowly, apply a small amount of lube to each link on the bike chain.

When all of the segments of the chain have been greased, turn the cranks slowly to allow the lube to settle into the segments and crannies of the chain and disperse evenly across all of the moving parts.

Best Practices for Applying Chain Oil

While chain oil is easy to apply, it’s wise to keep the following things in mind:

  • Apply oil sparingly. Putting on too much oil simply makes a mess, and much of it will be wasted as it drips through your chain. A few drops per segment is more than enough.
  • Clean the chain beforehand. To ensure the oil does its job as well as possible, wrap a damp rag around your palm, close it over the chain, and turn the cranks to pull the chain through your hand. This will remove dust and grime and allow the oil to penetrate.
  • Oil your chain often. Chains are easier to oil and clean when they’re cared for on a regular basis. For best results, oil your chain after every wet or muddy ride, or after 100 miles on the road.

Still struggling to learn how to oil a bike chain? Watch this straightforward YouTube video from Art’s Cyclery:



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