Myths and Facts about Lubrication

When the full CHAIN-SUCK-TRIANGLE grips your bike, there are many circumstances where lubrication won't help to prevent chain-suck directly.

  • During extended muddy or wet/gritty conditions, even generous lubrication won't help for long, because it is stripped out rapidly from the chain's internal surfaces by the mud and wet conditions. This was found to hold irrespective of the lubricant type. [Some bikers go to the extreme of fixing squeeze bottles and tubes to their bikes to apply regular lubrication during rides; this can work, but is not acceptable to most bikers.]

  • When tooth wear is extremely severe and a new chain is fitted, lubrication won't alleviate chain-suck even for a clean well-lubed chain in the absence of mud. This occurs because the mechanical resistance to disengagement by the indentations or hooks in the teeth of front chain-rings is so great that chain-rollers remain snagged despite there being minimal frictional resistance to disengagement.

  • If teeth are not too badly worn and/or the chain has some stretch (not new), then dry dusty conditions and an absence of lubrication (causing high friction) can precipitate chain-suck ; and conversely, in this situation, lubrication can alleviate chain-suck for a useful duration, because it is not being continuously scoured out from the chain's internal surfaces by mud slurry.

Of course, lubrication always remains essential to reduce tooth and chain wear.

Copyright Jonathan Levy, 2000. All rights reserved.