Grease, lube, or solvent
A clean chain makes for a happy, efficient bike. Properly greased screws and joints will make your life much easier when it comes time to switch out parts, adjust your position or just do that big end of year bike cleaning project. There are a ton of greases, lubes and solvents on the market and they all claim to do it all. Here is a short guide to help you find the correct lube to meet your needs.
Keeping a clean chain is the single most important piece of maintenance performed on your bike. A clean, quiet chain will decrease wear on your drivetrain and enhance your riding experience. Selecting a proper lube is imperative in maintaining your chain.
On the other hand, wax lubes are not ideal for your high-end road/race bike. On a bike that generally stays fairly clean, the wax that gathers in those crevices will inhibit the more efficient oil from reaching the contact areas of your chain. High quality oil is always the single best lubricant for your bike, it just won't weather the hardest storms. Dumonde Tech Bicycle Chain Lubrication and ProGold ProLink Chain Lubricant are excellent lubes that employ space-age oil compounds to maintain maximum efficiency.
Oil Based Solvents
Oil based solvents such as Tri-Flow and WD40 are common in any kind of shop. Oil based solvents are great at silencing squeaky bolts, cables and clamps (like seatpost clamps and stem faces). They can also be a life saver if you need to loosen a seized part. Solvents are miracle workers when it comes to cleaning old parts, strip off your derailleurs and shifters, a quick spray of Tri-Flow, wipe them down, they will shine like new.
These solvents are often also marketed as chain lubes. While they might be ok for getting the old beach cruiser up and running, they are not generally used on performance oriented bikes. The oil base eliminates a squeaky chain in the short run, but the solvents penetrate the pins and rollers in the chains, leading to more squeaks (and increased wear) down the road.
Grease is thick, sticky and built to last. Leaving excess grease on the outside of parts is going to attract dirt, so make sure once everything is tightened down that excess grease is cleaned off.
If you want something clean, really clean, Dumonde Tech Citrus Solvent is the answer. No shop is complete without a bottle of diluted citrus solvent(1:1 water/solvent ratio) to give chains the deep clean. Citrus solvent is extremely strong, cutting through the thickest road grit. Feel your hands start to burn a little after working with this stuff, it's that strong. Dilute it, use it sparingly, but nothing cuts grease better.
As great as Dumonde Tech Citrus Solvent works, don't get too carried away with your chain cleaning. Once a month should be good for an avid rider, riding in fair-to-good conditions. While citrus solvents work great, over-cleaning can strip away the good oils that accumulate in the nooks and crannies of your chain leading to undue chain wear. Also, keep it away from the clear-coat on your frame, it'll eat right through that stuff.