This is a short and simple article to explain the difference between wet and dry bike chain lube. For more information check out my longer article ‘Everything You Need To Know About Chain Lubricants (But Were Afraid To Ask)’. So what’s the difference? As a very simple answer the difference between wet and dry chain lubes is to use dry lubes in dry conditions and wet lubes in wet conditions!
Wet lubes are thicker, and stick to the chain remaining wet to the feel until rubbed away. These are perfect for wet conditions, as they offer a highly increased resistance to rain and are therefore more difficult to wash away. The downside is they collect dirt, and will need cleaning up a lot more regularly to stop damage to components.
Wet lubes should only really be used when the conditions call for it. They are perfect for your winter bike in harsh conditions, but clean up the chain and swap back to dry lubes in the summer to prevent grime building up within the cassette.
These go on to the chain wet, but then dry to a waxy finish. Most take a few hours to dry, so plan for this before heading out to ride.The positive side of a dry lube is it does not collect much dirt. If you are cycling in dry conditions then this should be perfect as you want as little dust getting onto your chain as possible, as it can quickly damage components. On the downside, dry lubes wash off very easily and will need re applying after a wet ride.