[TheThinkTank] non-petroleum lube

james bledsoe jamesbleds0e at yahoo.com
Wed May 4 11:16:55 PDT 2011

Bicycles don't get hot like cars.   The main lube question i have is for the 
chain.  Chains  need to be lubed and cleaned  very often just because of the  
exposure.  For Hubs, BB and Headsets of course it is different.   i will try 
olive oil  on my chain and report back later.


From: Mark Rehder <mark at re-cycles.ca>
To: The Think Tank <thethinktank at lists.bikecollectives.org>
Sent: Wed, May 4, 2011 11:08:10 AM
Subject: Re: [TheThinkTank] non-petroleum lube

My Dad was a metallurgist. I once asked him about using plant-based bearing 
grease, and he said the main issue of course was the ability of any lube to 
withstand the heat from friction.  Petroleum-derived is the best choice for 
this, though he said one could use plant-based if one didn't mind far more 
frequent overhauls.  Now, this was fifteen years ago, and I'm sure someday 
someone will find a good formula for a non-petroleum lube. Maybe the linked 
stuff is it?

Our shop uses MEC's Bio-Cycle for cleaning, but standard high-temp bearing 
grease for hubs. It'd be great if a plant-based product indeed works as 

Mark Rehder - Coordinator
re-Cycles Community Bike Shop

On 4-May-11, at 1:42 PM, Chris Chan wrote:

> MEC used to stock a biodegradable lube.  It didn't work very well.
> If you build a covered shed, you can keep your solvent tank outside. You just 
>need something to keep the rain from getting into your system--before we stopped 
>using our varsol tank, our shed was just big enough for the system itself (you 
>stood outside of the shed to actually use it). You can just hammer together 
>something really simple.
> On Wed, May 4, 2011 at 11:13 AM, Jonathan Morrison 
><jonathan at slcbikecollective.org> wrote:
> Has anyone heard of or used this plant based lube line?
> http://orontas.com
> Sincerely,
> Jonathan Morrison
> Executive Director
> Salt Lake City Bicycle Collective
> 2312 S. West Temple
> Salt Lake City, UT 84115
> w: 801-328-2453
> c: 801-688-0183
> f: 801-466-3856
> www.slcbikecollective.org
> The mission of the Salt Lake City Bicycle Collective is to promote cycling as 
>an effective and sustainable form of transportation and as a cornerstone of a 
>cleaner, healthier, and safer society. The Bicycle Collective provides 
>refurbished bicycles and educational programs to the community, focusing on 
>children and lower income households.
> On Wed, Apr 2, 2008 at 10:33 AM, Michael Wolfe <gzuphoesdown at gmail.com> wrote:
> Page 13 of the 1992 Bridgestone bicycle catalog has a unique recommendation of 
>using olive oil.
> http://www.sheldonbrown.com/bridgestone/
> On 4/2/08, Bob Giordano <mist at strans.org> wrote: Indoor air quality is tops on 
>our list for a healthy shop atmosphere.  We
> do not store anything that gives off harmful fumes.  Tooth brushes and
> simple green (highly diluted) in a small wooden bowl is our parts cleaning
> station.  We are even moving away from simple green (i've learned it is
> harmful to some)- to a citrus based cleaner.
> I guess tri flow is the only thing with fumes in the shop.  Often we ask
> people to use it outside.  I'd like to find a non-petroleum lube.
> -Bob Giordano, Free Cycles Missoula
> Michael Wolfe wrote:
> > Speaking of liver damage, etc..  Wondering if any shops out there have
> had
> > issues solvent tanks in their shop?  The fumes give me a headache but
> others
> > don't seem to mind it.  Mostly I worry about the health effects on the full
> > time people in the shop.   Short of installing a hood or ventalation
> system,
> > what options are there to locate that stuff outside?

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