Graphite powder works well for brake and shift cables. It might be helpful as an auxiliary lube for the chain, but my understanding is that the chain’s primary lube needs to seep into all the links and rollers, and I doubt the powder would do that.
GaryT, have you ever seen this graphite powder lube? I’ve used it on my kids’ pinewood derby cars, and it gets everywhere because it’s so fine. I think it would work its way into all the links and rollers.
Sigene, what kind of chain lube have you been using? Regular high-quality chain lubes are a waxy substance suspended in a volatile liquid - the liquid quickly evaporates and leaves the dry wax lube on your chain parts. The kind I use is called Rock-N-Roll.
I like the idea of experimenting with something you got a deal on. I have tried various things on bike chains. Regular oil picks up dirt and requires regular chain cleaning. Silicone spray works well for me and does not pick up dirt. However, I ride in wet weather so rust can be a factor using dry lubricants. Right now I use thin oil and wipe as much as possible off.
The power you have will not penetrate where it needs to go. I would try putting some in a container with a pointed spout like a mustard container and adding a fair amount of mineral spirits as a carrier. Shake the container vigorously before applying to the chain or other parts. The spirits will carry the graphite into the deep surfaces and evaporate. You could probably use alcohol as well, but not any alcohol that has water in it like rubbing alcohol. Cheap alcohol can be found as “dry gas” at the dollar store or other outlet. If it’s made for going in your gas it has no water.
PS. Bikes are dirty. Always keep them off the carpet.
From your description, I’m assuming that you’re riding on dry, dusty bikepaths and picking up dust in your lube. If so, you want to take a look at dry lubes or wax lubes, which are made to prevent that problem. Downside is, you have to lube more often.
If you’re riding in wet or muddy trails, you’ll want to stick with your regular old wet lube, as the others won’t stand up to those conditions.
Here’s one overview of lube types: Link. Here’s another: Link.
I’m not familiar with the current brands; it’s been a while since I’ve been on a bike. If you want specific suggestions for which lube to use and what brand to buy, see any MTB magazine, forum, discussion group, or gang of bikers standing around the trailhead for more opinions than you’d ever want.
Yes, I’m familiar with it from using it as a lock lubricant. Although it is quite fine, my suspicion is that it might not easily migrate through the rather tight clearances between the parts of the chain. Using a liquid solvent to deliver it, as Al Bundy suggested, might do the job, but frankly I don’t know. It would be interesting to hear from someone who has actually tried it.
When I raced motocross I used graphite to lubricate the throttle assembly. Judging from the short time the graphite was good for (a couple of rides at most before re-application was required) I wouldn’t use it on anything that was directly exposed to the environment. As others have said it will probably be fine for lubing cables, but I wouldn’t use it for the chain.
Graphite is known to cause corrosion in certain types of steel, in aluminum, and between dissimilar metals. Would this be a factor in bikes? It is for these reasons that it sees only limited use as a firearms lube which is an area where dry lubes are very desirable in some applications.