The bike chain cracks, creaks and squeaks. These unpleasant noises are pretty sure signs that the chain needs to be lubricated. A rusty chain is also an indication that you need to take a close look at the chain lubrication.
The chain transmits around 98 percent of the power from the crank to the rear wheel. The bike chain should be perfectly lubricated to prevent loss of power. There are a few things to look out for. Florian Paland, Head of Research and Development for Anti-Friction Coatings at BECHEM, explains what to pay attention to when caring for a bicycle chain.

Carl: Mr. Paland, what does a bike chain lubricant need to offer these days?

Florian Paland: It should reduce friction, protect against wear and corrosion, and have creeping capability. More specifically, this means:

Reducing friction
The friction between all moving parts of a bike chain should be as low as possible. This is the only way that the power from the pedals gets to where it needs to be – the wheel. Power is lost if parts of the chain get stuck or don’t move. An unlubricated chain also produces unpleasant noises. Modern lubricants are precisely matched to metal/metal friction combinations.

Protecting against wear
If the chain is in use, metal is worn away, both on the chain and on the sprockets. This increases the play in each individual chain link, known as chain elongation in technical jargon. Chain wear will cause a variety of problems such as a reduction in transmitted power and chain snagging, before it finally has to be replaced. A chain lubricant perfectly matched to these requirements contains ingredients that ensure the lowest possible wear. Liquid and solid additives are also used in the formulation, besides special oils.

Actively protecting against corrosion
Most bike chains are made of steel, which is susceptible to corrosion. Special additives can actively prevent corrosion. Water, oxygen and salt on winter roads can rust unprotected chains quickly. Rust leads to a loss of material and thus to wear, making the chain noisier. A high-performance chain lubricant, therefore, always includes effective corrosion protection.

Florian PalandHead of R&D Anti-Friction Coatings

Creep capability
A chain lubricant’s creep capability is its ability to creep over a surface independently, achieving continuous wetting of the chain surface. Since not all moving parts can be wetted directly when applying a chain lubricant, it must go the rest of the way on its own. A good creep capacity also has a significant influence on the service life of a bicycle chain.
The BECHEM chain lubricant Berusynth CU 125 P has been developed for tough conditions. It not only meets the above-mentioned requirements but is also impressive in terms of gear-shifting and driving comfort, functionality,
riding ability, performance and durability.

Carl: What are the various types of chain lubricant?

Florian Paland: A basic distinction is made between the two types of chain lubricants. They are either liquid or solid. Liquid lubricants include all types of oil. These remain liquid throughout their service life. Solid lubricants are applied to the chain in liquid form and only solidify after a certain drying time. The solid lubricants used are mostly waxes whose solid components are pre-dissolved in solvents. Solid chain lubricants are particularly good because they absorb less dirt once they are dry. The only disadvantage here is that lubricant cannot flow into the friction points.

Carl: How do I look after my chain?

Florian Paland: Die Pflege der Fahrradkette erfolgt in zwei Schritten. Zuerst muss die Kette gereinigt und dann neu geschmiert werden.

A bike chain should be pre-cleaned. Old cotton cloths or special cleaning cloths are very helpful for this. I use
old socks for this (laughs). In addition to the chain, pre-cleaning is also recommended for all sprockets and pulleys. Now, surround the chain with the cleaning cloth and move the pedals. Move the pedals backward if the bike is stationary and, if the bike is suspended, move the pedals forward too. Please be sure to continuously guide the cleaning cloth along the chain. A special water-based (Beruclean 3050) or solvent-based (Beruclean 4033) cleaning agent can be used for further cleaning. In both cases, wearing disposable gloves is recommended. Apply the cleaning agent to the chain and to the cleaning cloth while moving the pedals. Repeat this process several times depending on how dirty the chain is. Advantage: Instead of completely washing out the moving parts, this type of cleaning actively removes the dirt and prepares the chain for relubrication.

The chain should only be relubricated once the cleaning agent has dried. This is done in the same way as cleaning: Position the lubricant bottle over the chain with one hand and move the pedals with the other hand. The lubricant should now be applied to the chain with pinpoint accuracy. Place a cloth under your bike to absorb oil drops. The same care should be taken when using lubricants in spray cans. These often spray beyond the chain itself. SKS’s specially developed chain oil applicator is recommended. This surrounds the chain and applies the chain lubricant gradually. Enough lubricant has been applied when you have turned the pedals a few times. You can easily remove excess lubricant from the chain with the cleaning cloth and by turning the pedals a few times. Your chain is now relubricated and protected. Enjoy the ride!