What should you use on the threads and fits on your bike: grease, thread lock or anti-seize? The variety of thread lubrication / protection media is a common source of confusion for bike mechanics, pros and DIYers alike.
In this article I outline my recommendations – grease, thread lock or anti-seize – for each spot on your bike. While not a professional bike mechanic, I am a mechanical engineer with a few decades of experience in servicing my own bikes. I’ve learned the pros and cons of each choice through experience.
Short answer: Thread lock is the best choice for safety-critical rarely opened threaded connections on the bike and anti-seize for all other threaded and fit connections. Grease is a second choice.
Next we take a look at each thread treatment option, and you find a table listing the various threaded and fitted connections and whether grease, anti-seize or thread lock is the best choice.
Grease improves tightening and prevents seizing and corrosion, but does not last as long as anti-seize and does not prevent loosening.
Grease is the best choice for lubricating contacts that are supposed to move (e.g. bearings). It is also an OK choice for lubricating and protecting fixed connections like bolts, lockrings and press and taper fits.
However, grease is usually not the best choice for threaded connections. First, grease susceptible to drying and washing out, possibly leading to seizing of the connection. Anti-seize is better in this respect because it contains solid lubricants which do not dry.
Second, grease does not secure threaded connectors: greased connections can rattle loose unless there is some other mechanism preventing this (lock washer, serrations). Thread lock is superior to grease in this respect.
Where to use: All threaded connections on bike, press and taper fits – when anti-seize or thread lock are not available.
Where not to use: – (Grease always beats dry.)
Anti-seize prevents seizing and corrosion better than grease, and is the best choice for most threads on the bike.
When it comes to threaded, press-fit and taper-fit connections, anti-seize does what grease does, but better. It lubricates and improves tightening, but also protects from corrosion and seizing.
The improved performance is due to a high content of solid lubricants in the anti-seize. Even if the oils contained in the paste migrate from the gap over time, the solid ones stay in place and prevent seizing.
This makes anti-seize the best choice for most threaded and fitted connections on the bike which are frequently opened. These include stem bolts, seat post binder, pedals, quick release and wheel nuts.
Where to use:
- Frequently opened threaded connections: stem bolts, pedals, seat post clamp, quick releases, adjustment screws on derailleur.
- Difficult-to-open connections: cassette lockring, threaded bottom bracket.
Where not to use: Bearings, safety-critical bolts (rotor, caliper) if you have thread lock.
Thread lock is the best choice for securing safety-critical threaded connections on the bike – and protects from corrosion and seizing too.
Unlike grease and anti-seize, thread lock secures the threaded connection, i.e. prevents loosening due to vibration. Thread lock also protects from corrosion and connector seizing by filling the gaps, curing and preventing moisture from getting into the joint.
Thread lock is recommended where loosening could pose a serious and sudden safety hazard. Examples are caliper and rotor mounting bolts: these might rattle loose, misalign and suddenly jam and lock the wheel.
Thread lock seems to be gaining ground and comes pre-applied on many crank bolts, handlebar clamp bolts, derailleur clamp bolts and the like. Thread lock is also the ultimate anti-creak solution for threaded bottom brackets.
Note that thread lock is one-time: if the connection is opened, you need to clean and reapply. Because of this thread lock is not practical on connections that need frequent adjustment or opening.
Where to use: Safety-critical threaded connections: rotor bolts, caliper bolts, crank bolts, rack mounting screws. Also for persistently creaky bottom brackets.
Where not to use: Press-fit and taper-fit connections (e.g between crank and BB axle). Threaded connections which need frequent adjustment/opening: stem bolts, pedals, seat post clamp, quick releases, adjustment screws on derailleur.
NB. Thread lock comes in colored grades. Blue is lightest and best for most bike applications. Green is medium-strength, difficult to open and should be used with care. (Red is “permanent” – you don’t want that on your bike.)
|Brake cable |
|Brake pad stud||thread lock||anti-seize,|
|Caliper bolts||thread lock|
|Rotor bolts||thread lock|
|Brake lever clamp||anti-seize||thread lock|
|Handle clamp||thread lock||anti-seize|
|Handlebar clamp||thread lock||anti-seize|
|Saddle clamp||anti-seize||thread lock|
|Shifter clamp||anti-seize||thread lock|
|Bottom bracket |
|Bottom bracket |
|Chainring screw||thread lock||anti-seize|
|Crank bolt||thread lock||anti-seize|
|Derailleur cable |
|Derailleur clamp bolt||thread lock|
|Derailleur screw||thread lock||anti-seize|
|Pedal into crank||anti-seize||grease|
|Quick release nut||anti-seize||grease|
|Spoke nipple thread||anti-seize||grease|
|Wheel axle nuts||anti-seize||grease|
|Bottle cage screws||thread lock||anti-seize|
|Fender mount screws||thread lock||anti-seize|
|Rack mount bolts||thread lock||anti-seize|