Lube up and ride on: Tips from a bike lube geek

The author at a Thursday Night Ride in 2016.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Hi! My name is Maria Schur and I work as the national sales representative for HGNR, which is the Portland-based, U.S. distributor of Dumonde Tech bicycle lubrication products.

If you’ve heard of me around town as Bicycle Kitty, recall my Forest Park commute back in 2012, or read my articles here on BikePortland, you know I’m not new to being a bike geek. My journey through the bike industry has included roles like managing a bicycle tire outlet store, planning and leading rides, hosting flat repair clinics, maintaining e-commerce sites, fitting and training children on bicycles, and now, chain lube!

After sharing our products with some of BikePortland’s subscribers, Jonathan offered me this platform to share more about the wonderful world of bicycle lube. (Note from Jonathan: “It’s true. Since taking Maria’s lube advice and using Dumonde, my drivetrains are super clean and quiet. Everyone should know about this stuff!”)

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The science behind Dumonde Tech is pretty interesting. It’s a liquid polymer that, when exposed to air and the heat caused by friction, creates a plating effect where the liquid turns into a micro-solid plastic shield, effectively creating a coating inside the chain. Dumonde Tech chain lube makes for better shifting, and a longer-lasting, quieter drivetrain.

Chain lubes are probably one of the most underrated components on a bicycle. You won’t see it included in most bicycle diagrams; but without chain lube your drivetrain be unbearably loud, your shifting wouldn’t be smooth or easy, and your drivetrain components would pay the price by wearing out prematurely. It’s especially important here in Portland where we see so much rain and grit, and enjoy so much beautiful off-road cycling where gravel bits and grime play stowaway on your chain.

Now that you know you need good lube, here are simple tips to help you apply it correctly…

The thing with lube is that application methods can vary greatly between products. In the case of Dumonde Tech, we encourage folks to start with as clean a chain as possible and apply only one tiny droplet per link. (I even thread a rubber band around one of the pins so I can mark my starting spot.) After applying that one drip on the inside of the chain (the part that touches your cassette and chainrings), I wipe off any excess with a clean, dry rag.

You’re going to like this next step: Go ride! We encourage cyclists to ride right after applying Dumonde Tech chain lubricant because riding helps accelerate the plating process. When you get home from those first couple of rides, go ahead and wipe the chain with a dry rag again. After the first couple of applications, the plating process should be complete. You won’t need to apply any more lube until your chain asks you to (either by squeaking or rattling a little).

Your local bike shop should already carry Dumonde Tech products. If they don’t, simply let me know by commenting below and I’ll give them a friendly call to get them set up. To learn more about our lube, check out our website.

Thanks for listening and hope to see you out riding soon — with a clean, squeak-free chain!

— Maria Schur, Dumonde Tech
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dan
dan
2 years ago

Interested! I use a chain wax now; can this be applied over wax, or do I need to degrease (dewax?) the chain first?

Kyle Banerjee
2 years ago
Reply to  dan

You need a clean chain. But if you ride in conditions where wax is appropriate (i.e. dry), that should work fine and it’s nice and clean.

I used Dumonde Tech for years — the guys at the shop turned me onto it for slop riding. I just use Prolink in dry, but it’s worthless in slop.

dan
dan
2 years ago
Reply to  Kyle Banerjee

Thanks! Yeah, I was thinking about this for my road bike, which has a waxed chain now and only sees action in dry conditions. I’ll probably stick with gnarly old oil for my beater.

Kyle Banerjee
2 years ago
Reply to  dan

No reason to use a wet ride lube unless you ride wet conditions or like getting Cat 5 tattoos. On a related note, even if you ride wet, it’s better to use something formulated for normal wet than extreme conditions unless your conditions are truly extreme (few peoples’ are)

For your beater, you might consider a proper wet lube as you’ll get considerably less gunking up and they’ll last longer. Won’t be cheaper, but it’ll work better.

Racer X
2 years ago

Now I have a face to a name / face to an avatar…its kinda like seeing the photo of a long listened to radio personality…the ‘Mystery of The Kitty’ is done. 😉

PTB
PTB
2 years ago

MARIA RULES.

Todd Boulanger
Todd Boulanger
2 years ago

Maria, I took a look at your product site…what would you recommend for:
– high use / all weather chain lube for commercial bikeshare bikes without a dérailleur (parked outside); and
– a gear oil for old SA 3 speed hub with “oil port”

Matt
Matt
2 years ago
Reply to  Todd Boulanger

I’m a mechanic and pretty familiar with their products (which I recommend without hesitation). For the chain, I’d use Dumonde Original Bicycle Chain Lube (the same as pictured in this article). For the 3-speed Sturmey Archer, I’d use their Freehub Oil.

Curious to hear what Maria thinks too.

Todd/Boulanger
2 years ago
Reply to  Matt

Thanks Matt. (And I too am curious what Maria [or their tech support] adds…

Maria
Maria
2 years ago
Reply to  Todd Boulanger

Hi Todd, Hi Matt!

Yes, I’d definitely suggest the Original chain lube for the bikeshare bike you described.

For a Sturmey Archer 3 speed hub or any internal hub with an oil port, we’d recommend the Freehub Oil.

Matt knows his stuff!

Wishing you tailwinds and a quiet drivetrain,

Maria

Bicycling Al
Bicycling Al
2 years ago

Dumonde worked out so well on my motorcycle that I started to look for their bicycle products. It’s ironic because I only took up motorcycling about a decade ago whereas I’ve been a cyclist all my life.

One thing I would add to Maria’s article is that Dumonde needs several applications to a new chain or a chain new to Dumonde to get the full benefit. People who switch apply a couple times, do the cost benefit analysis and figure that Dumonde’s not worth the extra cost if they’re going to apply at the same rate as other products. But that’s where the Dumonde experience begins to differ and you’ll notice your reapplications get less frequent over time. I also found that the chain runs a lot cleaner without attracting as much gunk, even with their wet formula.

I’m a big fan of this product!

Hotrodder
Hotrodder
2 years ago

Try it on French Toast!

Racer X
2 years ago
Reply to  Hotrodder

Or crepes!

dan
dan
2 years ago
Reply to  Racer X

pssh, everyone knows the canonical topping for crepes is Phil Wood BioLube

Racer X
2 years ago
Reply to  dan

True…just don’t report me to Woods Hole.

Maria
Maria
2 years ago
Reply to  Hotrodder

Ooh lala!

I recommend the Cafe Dumonde for French Toast rides.

Asher Atkinson
Asher Atkinson
2 years ago

I’ve used Dumonde lube for years (the yellow lite version) and didn’t realize there was a Portland connection. More reason to continue using it and recommending to others. Thanks for the write up.

NOthankyou
NOthankyou
2 years ago

Heres the thing with dumonde tech; it smells absolutely terrible and gives me and my partner headaches. I checked out the material safety data and wouldn’t you know it, we’re not the only ones! I love how the stuff works on my bike but hate how it makes me feel. Went back to triflow and now everyone is happier

http://www.dumondetech.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/BCL-Lite-and-Orig-MSDS-10.13.10-edit.pdf

Matt
Matt
2 years ago
Reply to  NOthankyou

Given that the MSDS you linked literally says it has a “Sweet Pleasant Odor”, I’m wondering what point exactly you intended to make.

I cannot recommend Triflow for chains because it’s prone to creating a nasty, sticky buildup that collects all the dust and silt your bike rides through.

NOthankyou
NOthankyou
2 years ago
Reply to  Matt

hey matt,

Keep reading the link I posted. And I guess this is where I need to explain to you that the experience of smells involves some subjectivity

As for the buildup, I guess is the drawback of not using exotic, potentially toxic chemicals that create a nice coating on your chain; you have to clean your chain before just applying more and more lube. Also, you have to let it dry a bit before going out for a ride. For people who are sensitive to chemicals like this, it seems like a good trade off.

honestly… a lot of bike mechanics are exposing themselves to a lot of toxic fumes and not really thinking about it. Up until 3 or 4 days ago I was very pleased with Dumonde tech, apart from the smell and headaches. Seeing the Safety sheet changed my mind completely.

If you’re the matthew I worked with, I hope you are well!

Chris I
Chris I
2 years ago
Reply to  NOthankyou

It’s probably the Ketone that is getting you. MEK/MPK are pretty standard in industry. Definitely not something you want to be around for extended periods of time. Make sure you apply it in a well-ventilated space.

Maria
Maria
2 years ago
Reply to  NOthankyou

Hi NO,

So sorry to hear you don’t care for the smell of our classic chain lube. It’s definitely a point taken – some folks love it, while others do not.

Luckily, we have the same formula available without the aromatic compound. It’s called the Pro X chain lube (Lite or Regular) and will still plate like the classic formula, it will just take a bit longer to complete the plating.

You mention something in your reply to Matt about letting the lube dry and I wanted to say that we recommend you don’t let it sit after applying, but instead, go for a ride immediately.

Last thing, if you’re wanting to avoid chemicals, we carry a 100% plant-based chain lube (called Bio Green), which is also available in a coffee scent (Cafe DuMonde). These are very good as far as plant based lubes go, just know they won’t create the plating effect that our classic and Pro X chain lubes are known (and hopefully loved!) for.

Thank you for geeking out on lube with me!

Maria

NOthankyou
NOthankyou
2 years ago
Reply to  Maria

the letting the lube dry comment was not in reference to Dumonde tech FYI

NOthankyou
NOthankyou
2 years ago
Reply to  Maria

Maria,

I’ll definitely check out the bio green stuff. It was getting so frustrating making the decision of whether to bomb my house with the dumondetech smell and have a lubed chain or to just go without. Coffee smell sounds great!

My comment about letting it dry was in reference to triflow while I was juxtaposing the extra work triflow takes with the problems I have with the dumondetech aroma

Barbara
Barbara
2 years ago

I’ve used the yellow version for years it’s great. Then got the heaver one for winter riding.

jered l bogli
jered l bogli
2 years ago

I’m running the Classic. I’ve never been a believer in lube brands, but now it is Dumonde or nothing for my bikes. Do you sell it in larger containers???

Maria
Maria
2 years ago
Reply to  jered l bogli

Hi Jered,

Thank you so much for your nice words about our brand!

The classic chain lube is available in 1oz, 2oz and 4oz bottles. If your local bike shop doesn’t carry the size you’d like, ask them to add it and we’ll be happy to add it to their next order.

Thanks again,

Maria

Josh G
Josh G
2 years ago

Wasn’t last winter the first in many years where PBOT didn’t put down sand? Was thankful for that.

Michael
Michael
2 years ago

How does this compare to Boeshield T9?

I used that exclusively when I lived in Japan, where the wet and humidity puts even Sound to shame. It was *the only* thing that kept my drivetrain clean and rust-free.