Wet Chain Lube vs. Dry Chain Lube – When to Use Each

It's a general rule of thumb that when riding in dry conditions, you use dry chain lube, and in wet riding conditions, you use wet chain lube. We wanted to break it down a bit more than this though, and really look into the differences between both, and what happens when you use the wrong lube in the wrong riding conditions.

Wet lube vs dry lube

Whether you are using dry or wet chain lube it is usually common practice to make sure your drivetrain area and chain are clean before applying the lube. It it typically best to do this post ride after you have cleaned your bike so it is ready to go for your next ride. Make sure there is no gunk or debris on your chain and consider using a degreaser if necessary to really clean up your drivetrain as best as possible. If you are using a degreaser just be careful about not getting it near any bearings or your rotor.

When applying the lube it is best to apply it on the bottom run of the chain, as opposed to the top area near the cassette. Find the joining pin or the master link and then turn the peddle backwards as you slowly apply the lube to each individual roller/link. Do this until you have done a full rotation of the chain.

Dry Lube

Loose and dry conditions can kick up a lot of debris, with the chain caught right in the crosshairs. Dry lube is great for these conditions because it doesn't let dirt stick to it. Once it has been applied you don't need to do anything because the solvent will evaporate and dry up. This is why dry lube does a great job at not letting dust, dirt, or debris collect on the chain.

Dry lube will come off in wet conditions fairly quickly, and almost wash away when riding in rain or puddles. This will result in your drivetrain being creaky and noisy, and will also prematurely wear your parts. Once the dry lube is washed away, the chain won't be lubricated properly and can lead to performance issues.

WPL Dry Chain Bicycle Chain Lubricant 120 ml - Dry Chain Lubricant for Road Bikes and Mountain Bikes: Amazon.ca: Sports & Outdoors

TBS Price - $13CAD

Wet Lube

The main problem with using wet lube in dry conditions is a lot of the dust, dirt, and debris will stick to the chain and really gum up your drivetrain. Wet lube will be noticeably quieter as well when used in wet conditions as opposed to dry lube. While wet riding conditions will often wash off dry lube, wet lube is kind of washed down a bit, but still lubricates properly and reduces noise from the drivetrain. Wet lube will stay wet so make sure you have a rag to wipe up any excess lube once you have finished applying. Make sure you use just enough to coat the chain as that is all you need.

If you are riding on a slightly dryer day, but still need wet lube over a dry lube, you may want to let it soak in and wipe up a bit of the leftover residue on the outside links. This will prevent more dust and debris from sticking to your chain.

wet chain lube

TBS Price - $13CAD


We carry all our wet and dry chain lubes from Whistler Performance Lubricants (WPL), and also carry a forkboost lube and bike grease from them as well. Click here to shop our entire selection from WPL! Spend less and ride the best with TBS Bike Parts!