A Useful Review – Finish Line 1-Step Cleaner and Lubricant

When I tell you that I have two kids who impinge upon my time to ride and to work on bikes, I’m not asking for pity, making excuses or announcing that I’m starting a daddy blog sponsored by Hormel and Whirlpool. I’m just alerting you to the obvious: There’s something in my life that is both more delightful and more frustrating than being a cyclist.

I mention this because while I once preferred to do everything the right way in that trained-by-race-mechanics absolutist certainty of 500 noise-free miles, my life now requires an expediency that asks me to do things like cook dinner while also playing Mario World on the Wii. I don’t mind, but I don’t do either memorably. Or maybe I do, but for less intentional reasons.

For the better part of 20 years, I’ve used light lubricants because I lived so close to the beach. Heavy lubes attract sand the way carbon dioxide attracts mosquitos. And with the light lubes, I learned I could use them to excess and then the overflow helped me wipe away all manner of road grime, not unlike using a shot glass to help wash away a bad date. It’s also similar in that it’s nearly as quick and you’ll want to wash your hands afterward.

The Finish Line 1-Step Cleaner and Lubricant does us the favor of eschewing fancy, invented terminology in favor of an approach so direct that it can cause the corner cutters among us to blush. Grabbing this off the counter causes the same reaction as picking up a girly magazine—a few furtive looks over your shoulder because, honestly, you know better. Bike maintenance was always something I did with the reverence of a priest saying mass. I cued up the right music, laid out my tools on clean rags, and before particularly nasty jobs, said a Hail Mary or two. This stuff dispatches romance as quickly as a Tinder swipe.

The 1-Step Cleaner, for all its simplicity, isn’t the sort of short cut that will reduce the life of your chain, cassette or derailleurs. Its formulation includes rust protection as well as a corrosion inhibitor, which made it effective the way one of those single-serve flossers is. It doesn’t last much longer, either. For the bikes I decided to use this on, I found I was using it once a week, which might be more frequent than I wanted, but I was able to spend less than a minute on the chain and afterward it looked shinier than the pate of a bald man.

I’ve been using it in the 4-ounce squeeze bottle ($9.99), but it also comes in 6 and 12-ounce spray cans ($11.99 and $15.99, respectively). The spray could be handy following some of the gravel rides I have planned.

This certainly isn’t the best chain lube I’ve used, but it’s the most convenient, which—given my life—is a good deal more valuable.

Join the conversation
  1. bart says

    Love this stuff for all the same reasons. I think I originally heard about this product on RKP back in the day. Tried it, and never went back.

  2. froze93309 says

    The Finish line product is not that, but it’s not that good either. I used that stuff for a while but while it made the chain shiny, the lube didn’t hold up and I had to reapply it after every other ride, sometimes after every ride depending on how far I rode that day. So, I tried Rock N Roll Absolute Dry and it lasted about 3 times longer, while still keeping the chain clean and shiny, (like the Finish Line and other lubes on the market you should wipe down the chain after every ride). I also discovered that the Rock N Roll stuff held up to rain better, if I got stuck in the rain with Finish Line, I had to relube when I got home, not so with Rock N Roll.

    But, even with Rock N Roll lasting longer, on my touring bike I’ve switched over to Dumonde Lite lube instead because this stuff does not wash off in the rain and will last about 500 miles, so I don’t have to be bothered with relubing the chain as much when touring; all I do is wipe the chain down every day to keep it shiny. However, the chain does put that familiar dark streak on my rag whereas with the Rock N Roll it’s not as bad, which is why I use Rock N Roll on my regular bikes, but I want the long-lasting lube on my touring bike.

    IMO based on my experiences of course.

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