A New Lube for a New Year- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
    Wierdo
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    A New Lube for a New Year

    I used to work with a guy by the name of Kent Peterson. Kent used to be in the software business, but now is a full time bike mechanic/commuter/long distance rider and he writes a very entertaining Bike Blog.

    A month or so ago, Kent raved about a new chain lube that he was using.

    As a full-time commuter here in the Pacific Northwest, I am keenly interested in chain lubes. I've tried many different brands over the years - TriFlow, various White Lightening formulations, Pedros, various Finish Line formulation, etc. They all have their positive and their negatives, and I like some better than others, but I have never found a lube with consistent performance in our wet, grimy winter riding conditions. So I have come to accept that fact that I will have to lube my chain at least a couple times/week in the winter if I don't want to hear grinding or squeaks coming from my drivetrain.

    Therefore when I read Kent's post praising Chain-L, and especially it's wet weather performance, I decided to order up a bottle and try it myself. I waited to use the product until my bike was ready for a new chain so that I could compare not only daily performance, but the impact on overall chain life as well.

    Today was the day. I streteched out a fresh new chain on scrap cardboard and carefully but liberally applied Chain-L to each roller. I let it soak in a good 30 minutes, wiped the chain down several times and then installed the chain onto the bike. Once on the bike, I spun the chain in and wiped it down some more. Chain-L is sticky, gooey and does not smell great. Installation was a bit messy, but not that big of a deal.

    It's looking like rain all week here, and with my old lubes would mean that I would be re-lubing my chain at least twice during the week. I am very interested to see if Chain-L works as advertised, and if I can get by with a quick chain wipe-down but no re-lube.

    So check back if you are interested and I'll update this post every once in a while with my experience.

  2. #2
    weirdo
    Reputation: rodar y rodar's Avatar
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    Good luck. Do you usually lube brand new chains?

  3. #3
    Wierdo
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    Quote Originally Posted by rodar y rodar View Post
    Good luck. Do you usually lube brand new chains?
    Typically, no. But the Chain-L instructions say that it works well to apply the lube on a brand-new chain over the factory coating so I decided to make a fresh start of it.

    Kent has reported going a couple months between lubes and there is another Chain-L review I read where a guy claimed to go over 2400 miles between lubes.

    All I can say so far is that my drivetrain was whisper quiet on the way to work today. I am interested to see how long it stays that way...

  4. #4
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    Reputation: mtbxplorer's Avatar
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    Interesting...you would think something that gooey would pick up all kinds of grit etc., but who knows. I look forward to your report.

  5. #5
    Wierdo
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtbxplorer View Post
    Interesting...you would think something that gooey would pick up all kinds of grit etc., but who knows. I look forward to your report.
    We will see. The idea is to keep the lube *inside* the chain and I suspect that the gooey-ness and stickey-ness is at least part of what gives the lube it's staying power. The instructions don't say you'll end up with the cleanest chain, and they do recommend an ocassional wipe-down with a dry rag. They also say that you'll pick up a little more dirt at first as the lube that ended up on the outside of the chain will take a few rides to get completly wiped away.

  6. #6
    Wierdo
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    OK, week #1 with the new lube is almost over and so far I am favorably impressed.

    I've been rained on either inbound or outbound every day this week. And when it was not raining the roads have been wet and full of puddles. So my bike and drivetrain have really been through the wash-n-dirt cycle all week. With the lubes I used previously, I would have had to clean and re-lube my chain at least once, it not twice this week, in order to maintain a smooth and quiet drivetrain.

    Riding into work this morning my drivetrain was as quiet and silky smooth as it was on tuesday morning after I first applied Chain-L the night before. The only chain maintenance I have done this week is a quick wipe-down with a dry rag. Miles since last lube: 144

  7. #7
    Wierdo
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    My bike chain finally needed a new lube last night. 516 miles between lubes, pretty impressive! It's even more impressive when you consider the road conditions I've been riding for the past few weeks - wet roads and rain nearly every day combined with roads full of sand and grit left over from the snow storm we had mid January. If I would have been using my old lubes, I'll estimate I would have had to re-lube 7-8 times already.

    I'm sold and will be using this lube from here on out. If anyone else wants to try it, you can order the lube here:

    Home Page Chain-L High Mileage Bicycle Chain Lubricant

  8. #8
    Bedwards Of The West
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    What's your opinion on how nasty my chain would get on a dirt road? I have stuck to dry/wax lubes because of their superior ability to avoid picking up sediment...
    You have no excuse for driving to work
    (unless you don't have studded tires)
    (no excuse for that either)

  9. #9
    Wierdo
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    It's a good question. I wiped my chain down every couple of days, and there was not a lot of dirt coming off it. It picked up a *lot* less dirt compared to when I used tri-flow as a lube. Of course I am riding pavement - dirty pavement - but pavement.

    In your situation, I would wipe the chain down really well when you first apply the lube to it, and then be diligent about wiping it down after your first few rides. After that I don't think you will have a problem.

    A noisy drivetrain makes me crazy and it sure has been nice not having to lube every couple of days.

  10. #10
    Bedwards Of The West
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    Sounds like it's worth a try... tri-flow is horrible for picking up crud. I've been using White Lightening wax-based stuff for quite a while with pretty good success, but you do have to keep up on it. I probably re-apply every 2 weeks on average (but we don't get near your level of precipitation). I'm always down for an experiement. I'll give it a shot next time I need to buy lube.
    You have no excuse for driving to work
    (unless you don't have studded tires)
    (no excuse for that either)

  11. #11
    Wierdo
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    Quote Originally Posted by CommuterBoy View Post
    I've been using White Lightening wax-based stuff for quite a while with pretty good success, but you do have to keep up on it. I probably re-apply every 2 weeks on average (but we don't get near your level of precipitation).
    LOL. I ran White Lightening wax-based lube back in November/December. My drivetrain was never cleaner. But I had to re-apply the stuff almost everyday when it was wet out!

  12. #12
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    12 dollars isn't bad for an intro price, but I'm still reluctant. After the latest round of winter weather riding for me from Whidbey Island to Seattle daily, I find my partial grease/oil mixture held up very well and only needed one reapplication. Just last night I wiped everything down, and still looking good.

    I did try Pedro's Ice Wax though earlier this fall, and damn I was surprised at how well it worked. This was a sample packet from the 1997 Interbike show iirc, and still good.

    I'll give the Chain-L a try later this year, I have been following this thread since the beginning and it certainly got my attention!
    Good friction shifting is getting hard to find nowadays....

  13. #13
    weirdo
    Reputation: rodar y rodar's Avatar
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    No, $12 isn`t bad if it gives you over 500 miles of rain and snow covered roads. I bet the bottle lasts ages at that rate.

    Unicrown Junkie, are you from Zacatecas?

  14. #14
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    Let's see the chain!

  15. #15
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    Agreed, let's see the chain. Down here in Portland we haven't been hit as hard as you. It's been so nice in fact, I'm thinking about breaking out the White Lightening again. I'd love to see how the chain-l is working with all the snow and rain you've been hit with.

  16. #16
    Wierdo
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    Sorry, this is not the best photo, but I think you get the idea. I would say the chain cleanliness is between White Lightening (best) and tri-flow (worst). All I really need to do is give the chain a quick spin through a rag every few days. I've not cleaned the chain since re-lubing earlier this week.


  17. #17
    Wierdo
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    I have not updated this post in a while, here is where things stand.

    Started the year with a new chain and Chain-L. I have re-applied Chain-L four times so far this year, and would have applied it for a 5th time last night, but with a little over 2000 miles on the bike this year I decided to swap out my chain. Therefore on average I have been riding about 400 miles between lubes. Mind you, that is 400 miles in some nasty weather on typically wet, gritty roads.

    I normally swap chains at 2000 miles, and when I lay the old chain next to the new one (in order to shorten the new chain to the proper length), it's always easy to see how worn the old chain was by looking at how successive links were "longer" than the corresponding links on the new chain. Well last night when I laid the old chain next to the new one, I was pleased to see that it had worn and "stretched" less than half of what I was used to seeing at 2000 miles. I'll probably start leaving the chain on longer and just checking it on the bike more often in the future.

    Over all, very pleased with this lube and will be sticking with it.

  18. #18
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    I also live in the PNW and tried Chain-L a while back. I thought it was too sticky and picked up too much crud. I gave my bottle to a buddy to try.

    I switched to A.T.B. lube ("Absolutely The Best") red formulation and it's been great for me. The red is meant for mixed conditions. For frequent wet conditions they make a stickier version, and they make a dry condition lube as well. I forget the colors of the other types.

    I like that it has a solvent carrier, which actually helps to clean the chain a bit when I reapply. I apply liberally, spin the cranks a bunch, then thoroughly wipe down (counter to the directions which suggest overnight soaking). I definitely prefer this over Pro Gold, which is another lube with a solvent carrier.

    I don't think you can buy this stuff online. I picked mine up from a shop in Portland.

  19. #19
    Wierdo
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    The key I have found is to wipe the chain down thoroughly after you apply it, and then a quick wipe down every few days after that. The lube needs to be on the inside, not the outside.

  20. #20
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    good for the mtn bike?

    I know this thread is posted under Commuting but I wonder if anyone is satisfied with Chain-L on an off road bike. I use Chain-L on the road and cross bikes and it works fine. On the mountain bike I have less than happy results. After a couple of rides I'm accumulating a layer of grit on the chain and it is getting noisier. The recommendation by Chain-L to periodically wipe with a paper towel doesn't seem to work for me because I'm not seeing how that cleans the grit that's inside all the moving parts of the chain.

    I previously used Rock N Roll Gold and don't mind giving the chain the once over every couple of rides as this gives me a fairly fresh and clean chain to ride with. I'm less happy with Chain-L because it really isn't an apply and forget kind of a lube. Yes for the road bike but no for my mountain bike.

    Maybe I'm missing some technique to make this work on the mountain bike chain?

  21. #21
    Wierdo
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    I have not tried it on my mountan bikes yet, but was planning to next time I change out my chain.

  22. #22
    Which way? Uphill.
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    I might have to give this a try, but it sounds like I am using something with similar results already.

    I use Ernesto's Soy Lube on the commuter. It's thicker and stickier than most lubes, but I'm leaning towards less so than Chain-L judging by people's descriptions.

    The Ernesto's is giving me 500-1000 miles between lubes, depending on weather. Ernesto's does pick up a lot of dirt, but I'm not doing any wipes between applications.
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