When it comes to bicycle maintenance one of the most common questions I get asked is which lubricant should I use? Dry or wet? The standard answer is given dry lube in dry conditions, wet lube in wet conditions. Dry lube will stop muck from building up but will wash off more easily and must be applied more often. Wet lube will last longer, but can lead to dirt gunking up the drivetrain if ridden on dry, dusty terrain. Here at the Bikesmiths, we use Tri-Flow wet lube as our go-to lubricant for repair work because the common rider is riding in all-weather and would like less, not more maintenance. With that out of the way, there is a 3rd lubricant that gets talked about much less frequently, ceramic lube.
What is Ceramic Lube?
Ceramic lubes are synthetic or wax-based lubricant that is infused with little nanoparticles of boron nitride. These particles embed themselves onto the chain, displacing dirt buildup. With additional applications of the ceramic lube, a coating will form that protects the chain from dirt and performance wear. Ceramic lube also comes in both dry and wet versions for various riding conditions although it is worth noting that because of the coating even the dry lube will be more resistant to be washed off than standard dry lube.
Do I really need this?
That all depends on the style of riding you do. The average rider would probably not notice the additional efficacy of the ceramic coating but might enjoy the longer lifespan of their chain. If you are racing and every watt of power matters, ceramic lube may be the best choice. Finally, touring riders may benefit the most from ceramic lube, as it lasts longer than regular wet lube, with reapplication only needed every 175 miles or so compared to 100 miles for the latter.