Even though your bicycle is rather a simpler machine compared to, let's say, your car, it also needs plenty of maintenance. And by saying this, I mean a lot more than just cleaning it with water.
Checking and applying lubrication and grease between the parts should be on your maintenance routine to make sure your bicycle runs smoothly without any snapping sounds. This also helps protect them from the elements, especially the bearings.
But you may easily notice there is a vast difference in price between products. Want to know why this is the case and which is the best grease for bicycle bearings that you should use? The information below will get you covered.
Best Greases For Bicycle Bearings
This Polyurea grease from Park Tool has been one of the most popular and trusted products among the biking community for several decades, especially when they need a high-quality for maintenance and repair. It has earned a reputation for the best bicycle grease and a must-have product in the garage of any cyclist.
The first reason for its position on the market comes from the manufacturer itself. Park Tool has been consistently producing high-quality bicycle parts and tools since 1963, and this grease is not an exception.
It's a polyurea grease that has been designed with a high level of versatility. Not only does it work with the bearings, but the Park Tool PolyLube 1000 is also going to be compatible with all other parts of your bicycle.
Even if you own a carbon fiber bike, it should not be a problem since the Park Tool is compatible with this new-generation material as well.
Just open the tube and apply the lubricant after purchase without the need to check compatibility: Park Tool has surely made it much easier for users compared to older products.
Another great point of this bike wheel & bearing grease is that it offers you two options of size: 4-ounce tubes and 16-ounce jars. While many veterans of biking prefer the large jar to save money since they use grease on a regular basis anyway, the smaller and more portable tub gives everyone a handy option in case you need to conveniently grease their bicycles on the go.
Keep in mind that even though Park Tool calls this polyurea-based grease "lubricant," it's actually not, or at least, you can't use it as a typical lubricant. This isn't really a big deal, but many cyclists may find this misleading or confusing.
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On top of that, you need to pay a higher price to own this high-quality grease. Even though it is usually as high as a dozen dollars, if you have multiple bicycles and need to maintain them often, the total cost will add up quickly in the long run.
#2- Phil Wood Grease - The Runner-Up
Like the Park Tool grease, this Phil Wood waterproof tube has also earned a respected position among the hearts of many cyclists. Having been around for a long time, Phil Wood doesn't only give you a nostalgic vibe while using it but also offers one of the best qualities you can expect from grease for bicycle bearings.
There are so many reasons this little green tube has gathered so many loyal customers over time.
It's an ultra-high-quality product that can last for years, giving the bearings of your bicycle the ability to strongly resist water and proper viscosity depending on the loads. You won't need to worry about the water anymore whenever you give your bicycle a wash or ride it under the rain.
With careful usage, this small 3-ounce tube will be enough for your bicycle for a long time. You just have to squeeze little grease every time you need to take care of the bearings. This threaded cap will make sure you can open and close it easily while keeping the grease intact.
There is another small thing that is usually overlooked, but I have always appreciated the Phil Wood grease: the toned-down packaging and branding in general. Even though bearing grease is not the most flashy product, even in a bicycle store and garage, Phil Wood has created a plain tube that you may even think of as a tube of pain.
Like the Finish Line grease above, I also wish that Phil Wood would break from the tradition and provide a larger jar as an option so I could buy one and have enough grease for all my bicycles while keeping the tube for emergency use.
This grease is even more expensive if you compare the amount of grease you can get for any specific amount of money, but since the Phil Wood grease has proved to be an ultra-high quality product, it's totally worth the price tag.
#3- Finish Line Premium Grease - The Premium Pick
If money is not subject, this premium grease from Finish Line is an excellent choice to protect your bicycle, even in the most extreme conditions.
As one of the best bike grease for bearings, this Teflon-based grease has plenty of tiny polymer particles that help the grease stay on your bearings and prevent it from being washed away after some use. It will become handy when you ride in wet conditions a lot.
This premium product also comes with rust inhibitors that Finish Line's engineers have used advanced technologies to research and produce to protect all the parts of your bicycle from corrosion.
Even though you should wash and dry it regularly as a simple way to avoid rust, knowing this grease can provide an additional layer of protection is not unnecessary, for both the bearings and other important components.
You may notice that the Finish Line grease is a bit thicker in consistency compared to regular products. While this makes applying it precisely a bit more difficult, it also allows you to apply it thoroughly quicker.
But I wish Finish Line would sell this grease in a bigger tub than the only 3.5-ounce tub that is available right now.
A small container makes it more convenient and portable for travel or occasional use. But for biking enthusiasts - who are the targeted customers of Finish Line and also who regrease their bikes more often - a big tub could help save them a lot of money and the time they need to buy additional grease in the long run.
Another weakness of the Finish Line bike grease is that this is not compatible with carbon fiber bicycles. If you are an owner of one of those lightweight yet sturdy bikes, you should look elsewhere for high-grade grease.
#4- Shimano Dura-Ace Grease - Best For Packing Bearings
This tube from Shimado is going to help you have a smoother ride with its made-in-German high-quality grease. Even though Shimado says you can use it to lubricate any part of your bicycle, from pivots, cables, and threads, I've found that this Dura-ace grease works best when you need to manually pack your bearings.
It will protect all the components from common damages such as rust and corrosion. If you constantly ride your bike in extreme conditions, you will see the noticeable difference in the bearings just after a few months.
The Shimado grease is also a great go-to choice for any part that needs high precision and needs to withstand intense heat as it can stay securely after being applied even though it's extremely slippery.
The lid seals firmly to avoid leaking and makes sure you can keep and use the tube for a long time.
Like other high-grade products for biking enthusiasts, this Shimado tube is also slightly more expensive than regular models. But as long as you don't have to apply too much and use it up too fast, this cost should not bother you. Additionally, it's available in 3 weight options: 50, 100, and 500 grams - something similar expensive greases usually don't have.
#5- Bel-Ray Waterproof Grease - Budget Choice
It's impossible to deny that all the greases above provide a great extra layer of protection for the bearings and make them last longer. However, the biggest drawback that can put off a lot of customers is their price tags, which is pretty high even for a small tube of grease.
If you just want a decent and reliable product that just works and doesn't burn a hole in your pocket, consider this waterproof grease from Bel-Ray. Even though it's not a big name with a long track record like Phil Wood or Park Tool, this blue jar delivers comparable results to the best greases for bicycle wheels and bearings.
Thanks to the aluminum-based complex formulas, this waterproof grease won't run out or melt in extreme conditions. This alone makes the Bel-Ray stand out from other inexpensive greases, which usually only work under regular conditions and tend to fail when you often ride your bicycle in more demanding tracks.
The Bel-Ray does a decent job of shielding the bearings from the elements and ensuring they won't wear down. This makes your bicycle more stable and also improves its overall performance.
On top of that, this budget grease is also a multi-purpose product so you don’t need to find the best grease for bottom brackets, wheels, or other parts separately. As it's a waterproof product, you don't need to worry about it being washed away by water.
However, this cheap grease does come with cheap packaging, which may come off in storage or shipping and leak the grease out. Even though it's not a performance-related issue, this is still something to keep in mind if you have kids or pets at home.
#6- White Lightning Crystal Grease - The Eco-Friendly Choice
In the wake of the environmental movement around the world, there have been a lot of newer eco-friendly alternatives to regular products, and bicycle bearing grease manufacturers don't stay out of this trend. If you prefer a product that doesn't come with harmful chemicals, give this White Lightning grease a try.
This bicycle hub grease is available in 3.5-ounce tubes and 1-pound jars, all of which are non-toxic and biodegradable. This is a smart choice if you want to encourage a healthy, eco-friendly lifestyle to other people, especially your children.
In addition to that, the lack of toxic chemicals also means it's an odorless grease that doesn't stink up your garage. This is a huge relief since bicycle bearing greases are known as messy products that could stain your carpets or clothes.
White Lighting recommends a working temperature under 320°F, but this grease won't even melt and produce weird smells under higher temperatures. This heat-resistance is proof for its strength and effectiveness if you throw your bicycle under extreme conditions often.
On top of that, as this grease is completely transparent, you can see what happens under it while maintaining or repairing the bike. However, it's also harder to know when you need to apply more grease at the same time.
Thanks to the tip on the tube, you can adjust the flow of grease depending on the amount you need to make sure that the parts of your bicycle don't have too thick or too thin lubrication.
However, this grease seems to not be able to withstand water well enough. Some ride under the rain, and it may get washed away completely.
What You Need To Know About Greases For Bicycle
What type of grease for bicycle wheels and bearings is available in the market?
There are many ways to categorize greases and lubrication in general, but I prefer a material-based approach that can divide most products on the market into these types:
You can find these formulas in old products, which are manufactured by the saponification process. They consist of many fatty acids and other hydroxides of multiple metals, including barium, sodium, calcium, and aluminum.
You can call these products a subset of soap greases above. Long fibers in soap grease enable the grease to resist mechanical loads better but also make them less able to hold oil in suspension.
The story is completely different for short fibers, and that's why manufacturers create complex greases with a combination of short and long fibers. As a result, this type of grease can hold oil and resist loads well at the same time.
As another subgroup of soap greases, they are similar to the complex greases above, with the main difference coming from two additional metal hydroxides, usually sodium-aluminum and lithium-calcium.
With this addition, mixed greases provide superior protection and performance but also come with hefty price tags that make them less available and only used by some enthusiasts.
These new formulas don't use soap-based chemicals as their ingredient. Instead, they consist of organic polyurea, bentonite, or non-organic silicone.
Things to consider when buying grease
Is that grease waterproof?
If you plan to ride your bicycle in wet environments a lot, the grease in the bearings can be washed away by the water quickly. If this is the case, make sure that you opt for a waterproof product that can repel water well. On top of that, a higher level of water resistance also helps avoid corrosion in your bearings.
Can it work well under fluctuating temperatures?
Many greases in the market tend to run out and melt at high temperatures. This is not something we don't want to happen to our bicycles, so you should always have a look at this ability.
Size and Price
Some premium greases are sold in a small tube at a high price. If this comes from a reputable brand, you can assure that they're worth the price and provide better quality and performance when you need to repair and maintain the bicycles in your garage on your own.
However, some manufacturers do offer decent greases at more reasonable prices. While they don't have premium features and deliver superb performances, these inexpensive ones should be enough for most cyclists.
Best greases for bikes, and lubrication in general, cut down friction between the metal components, making them less resistant. When you apply grease onto the chains and bearings, it allows them to run smoother while also protecting them from the elements.
If the bearings have more grease than what they need, the friction will increase instead of going down, which heats up the components and makes the grease virtually useless.
There are a lot of signs you can notice, including snapping sounds, rough movements of the wheels, handlebar, or the pedals.
Yes, if you ride your bike under the rain or through water a lot.
All the suggested products above can protect your bicycle. But if you want a general recommendation, the Park Tool PolyLube 1000 is not a bad choice.
Grease is just one type of lube, which also includes chain lubricants and other general-purpose lubricants.
Even though there are a lot of models from various brands, when it comes to an important product for a critical part of your bicycle like this, you should only put your money into trusted names. All the best greases for bicycle bearings above will give you a sigh of relief and enjoyable rides, even under extreme conditions.