Chain-L Bike Lube Review

With over 60,000km under our wheels, we’ve gone through a few bottles of chain lube.

Our favourite up until a few months ago was Finish Line lube (available from REI and Wiggle).

Finish Line is decent enough when freshly applied but disappears after a few hours of rain. Even in dry weather, our chains need regular cleaning and re-lubing to keep everything running smoothly.

Then we heard about Chain-L. It gets raving reviews online and makes some big promises, like 1,000 miles between applications. We ordered a few bottles and distributed them among our friends.

Applying Chain-L Oil

Several months later and the results are in. Everyone who tried it was impressed by how Chain-L performed – once they got past its potent smell. This stuff doesn’t just lube your chain; it can clear your sinuses as well!

Applying Chain-L Oil

Chris (one of our testers and the creator of the TrackMyTour app) had this to say:

Chain-L changed my perception of chain lubrication. I recall the first pedal strokes after applying it and thinking: This is different. This is good. It was a smoothness and silence I hadn’t noticed in years. Since then I’ve been on a number of long rides and have become used to it. The best part is that I don’t think about my chain anymore. It’s silent, smooth, and just works. With the old stuff I would have reapplied three times by now. It’s one less thing to worry about.

Friends Trevor & Simone were also impressed. Trevor said:

It’s really good stuff; very viscous and sticks to the chain really well. It smells like old fashioned mineral oils used to. Simone’s chain was very dry and is now quiet and the gear changes are better too.

What do we think? First, we have to put our hands up and say that we haven’t tested this oil as much as we’d like. We’re only just getting back into cycling after baby Luke’s arrival. For what it’s worth, however, after about 300km (including a rainy day or two) our chains are definitely still running silently and we haven’t needed to reapply Chain-L.

Of course, there are downsides to everything and one of the disadvantages of Chain-L is that it takes more patience than other lubes to apply.

Applying Chain-L Oil

We went slowly, trying to put only a drop on each link. We then waited the recommended 10 minutes for the Chain-L to soak in. Even so, some lube flew off the chain when we spun the pedals. If you can, it might be best to let it soak in overnight. If you’re applying it inside, make sure you cover the floor under the bike with newspaper to catch any drips.

Another one of our testers, Stijn, said he was very impressed with the lube’s performance but noted that the packaging – a bottle with a flip-top cover – could be improved for touring:

The lube itself did an excellent job but I’m not very keen on flip-top bottles for anything that you need to store in a pannier while touring. If the spout catches on something you’ll end up with a big mess. Normally I transfer things packaged in these kinds of bottles into one with a screw top.

These quibbles are small, however. On the whole, we’re really glad we ordered Chain-L and will continue using it on our bikes.

Ironically, that’s bad news for Francis, the maker of Chain-L. If we actually get 1,000 miles between applications, he may be waiting a while for our next order! Unless, that is, we start out on another world tour…

Want to try Chain-L for yourself? Find your local dealer on the Chain-L website.