If you ask us, you would be doing yourself a favor by lubing your chain every ride. Yes, every ride! Lubing your chain is a low cost but effective way of maintaining your bike. Even better, it takes a couple minutes to do without much mess. In addition to improving the performance of shifting, many lubes are designed to actually clean your drive train. If your bike is continually left dirty, the grit will wear away at components faster. This is why lubing your chain regularly will helps prolong the life of your chain and cassette. Most lube costs around $15 while a new drive train costs, well, a lot more than that!
We recommend doing this at the end of every ride rather than before. This sounds counter intuitive but here is why. Doing this at the end of your ride will allow for any liquid to dry overnight. A dry chain helps keep excess grime and dirt from accumulating on the chain. Inevitably dirt and grim do accumulate which is completely normal, but letting it dry out can only help. When you are done squirting lube on the chain make sure to give it a good wipe to remove any excess residue when you’re done.
Depending on the type of riding you are doing like road biking or mountain biking and where you live, like in Colorado versus the rainy Pacific Northwest, there are specific lubes you should be using. We have another article here that dives into different types of lubes and the climates that are best suited for them. Now if it’s been a while, go lube that chain and give your bike the love it deserves! And by all means don’t use WD-40!