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Thread: Oil Experiment

  1. #1
    The Brutally Handsome
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    Oil Experiment

    I am not a scientist of any kind, but with all the oil ideas being tossed about willy-nilly these days, I decided I had to figure the issue out for myself. And before you tear into me about my process, please keep in mind this information is purely anecdotal. Feel free to conduct your own experiment and post your own conclusions here as well. And if you just want my results skip down to the bottom.

    For my experiment, I used a relatively new chain with only 300 miles and started with a thorough cleansing. As a side experiment, I decided to see if plain old mineral spirits or Park brand degreaser worked better, and the mineral spirits was far and away better at removing the old grease and oil.

    I then divided my chain into four sections using a small dab of paint, and lubed the sections with three different types of oil: tri-flow, phil's tenacious oil and chainsaw bar oil, leaving the forth section completely dry.

    The results? Well, I originally planned to ride the bike for several hundred miles and snap pictures along the way, as I thought it might be difficult to distinguish between the various sections of chain, but after only a few days of riding I was so disturbed by what I was seeing that I had to end the experiment early.

    Even though that big jug of bar oil cost less than that tiny bottle of Phils, it was by far the worst. It picked up everything like a magnet and turned my chain, and everything else it touched black and nasty.

    The Tri-Flow wasn't much better. The chain was blackened and had picked up quite a bit of road debris.

    On the other hand, the section with Phil's oil remained relatively nice, clean and well lubricated.

    And the section with nothing continued to be dry, except for excess it picked up from the gears.

    My conclusion? Phil's cost too much but bar oil sucks so I'm just going to remove all the oil and ride it dry!
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Oil Experiment-img_0898.jpg  

    Oil Experiment-img_0914.jpg  

    Last edited by Sizzler; 10-27-2011 at 10:18 PM.

  2. #2
    Wanderer
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    I stopped using the oily lubes because of the nastiness. Right now I use Purple Extreme which is decent but wears off in about 100 miles of mountain bike or about 300 miles of road bike.

  3. #3
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    I've been pretty happy with prolink. I just use a very light coating, and wipe the outside of the chain as dry as I can get it. Wipe down after every ride or 2, if any dirt is visible, and re-lube after 50 - 100 miles.

    I've used other oily lubes that had that exact dirt problem though, such as the finish line wet lube.

  4. #4
    weirdo
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    Interresting experiment.
    And with the money you save by not buying chain lube you can buy some awesome ear plugs!

  5. #5
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    So, you're gonna ride with no chain lube because it's expensive. Don't worry about how bad your bike will ride and possibly ruining your chain, cogs and maybe derailer. Sounds like a great plan to me since they're all free to replace.

    Oh, wait...
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  6. #6
    Bedwards Of The West
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    I'm a wax-based lube guy because of my dirt road. Tri Flow picks up dust and dirt particles like crazy!

    I was about to try the bar oil since I have tons of it, but now I might not. Did you wipe the chain down before riding it, or just apply and leave it?

    Also, I have those exact same cranks on my commuter.
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  7. #7
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    I would redo the test

    This time varying the amount of TriFlo, or whatever, added to the chain...

    Say one drop every four links, two links, and every link....

    I would spin it to work it in, then let it sit, then dry it completely with a rag.

  8. #8
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    Is it just me or do other people have to relube with tri-flow like every other ride?
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  9. #9
    iRonic
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    The best stuff (as far as cleanliness goes) I've used so far has been Boeshield T9. Never had a chain look that clean for that long. Seemed pretty good at lubing the chain, too.

    Unfortunately, it gummed up the rollers so bad that they wouldn't move anymore. Might have helped if I knew what the real antidote for the stuff was, cause nothing I used on the chain to clean it (mineral spirits, Simple Green, etc.) would take it completely off.
    Ron

  10. #10
    The Brutally Handsome
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    Quote Originally Posted by GChambers View Post

    Oh, wait...
    Haha, sorry that was supposed to be a joke. Obviously, I have that bottle full of Phil's which works well, so I would have to be pretty daft not to use it.

  11. #11
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    Nice post, Sizzler. Though I don't agree completely with your testing methods, I like the way you went out and decided for yourself as to what works best.

    @ riding addict: depends on the ride. I used Tri-flow (and still do at times), and yes I used to reapply while on the ride sometimes.
    Good friction shifting is getting hard to find nowadays....

  12. #12
    lgh
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    Quote Originally Posted by GlassTrain View Post
    The best stuff (as far as cleanliness goes) I've used so far has been Boeshield T9. Never had a chain look that clean for that long. Seemed pretty good at lubing the chain, too.
    +1 on the Boeing. I always wipe the chain off the morning or next day after putting it on. That seems to keep the chain cleaner.

    Larry

  13. #13
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    Thanks for posting your experiment. I was surprised you saw any difference given the possibility of "mixing" lubes on the gears, but clearly you did. The results make sense to me, have you ever noticed how every jug of bar and chain oil you see looks like it has been dragged through the dirt for a few miles? Dirt magnet. My own "experiments" have resulted in a toolbox full of partly used bottles of lube. Liking the Prolink like comptiger, only partly because you can buy it in 16 oz or 32 oz containers instead of 4 oz.for $$$$.

  14. #14
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    I like triflow in the summer, but in the PNW winter it doesn't last long. Winter time its 10-30 mixed with mineral spirits for me.

  15. #15
    weirdo
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    Quote Originally Posted by ridingaddict View Post
    Is it just me or do other people have to relube with tri-flow like every other ride?
    I get about 200 to 300 miles from a good dousing of Triflow on pavement with dry our usual conditions. On dirt, yeah- about one day give or take. Pavement in wet conditions, considerably less than when its dry but I couldn`t venture to say how far or how long.

    Nobody here uses diluted motor oil? I`ve never tried it (Triflow is cheap enough for me and convenient to carry), but there seem to be quite a few people on the roadie forums using it.

  16. #16
    weirdo
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sizzler View Post
    Haha, sorry that was supposed to be a joke.
    Thank you for clarifying that- you often leave me wondering .
    Now I wonder if I`ll ever hear the same about your weight weenie episode.

  17. #17
    Former Bike Wrench
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    My bio bar and chain oil when applied correctly works great and is not messy at all.

    Starting with a clean chain, one drop per roller. Let soak in the wipe chain clean with a dry rag. The chain may pick up a minor amount of dirt the first ride which is just wiped off. I get way more rides before needing lube than with ANY other chain lube. And many of my rides are in the mud and rain.

    I've used at one time or another every chain lube mentioned in this tread so far and only Phil Wood Tenacious Oil is near the same performance...though much more expensive.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by rodar y rodar View Post
    Now I wonder if I`ll ever hear the same about your weight weenie episode.
    I will defend to the death the benefits of lightweight commuting, and I take no small amount of pride in having a sub-twenty commuter and mountain bike!

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by rodar y rodar View Post
    I get about 200 to 300 miles from a good dousing of Triflow on pavement with dry our usual conditions. On dirt, yeah- about one day give or take. Pavement in wet conditions, considerably less than when its dry but I couldn`t venture to say how far or how long.

    Nobody here uses diluted motor oil? I`ve never tried it (Triflow is cheap enough for me and convenient to carry), but there seem to be quite a few people on the roadie forums using it.
    What do they dilute it with? Maybe the roadies can use something like that but I can imagine on the dirt your chain will get pretty grimey pretty quick. I would be interested in trying it out though or anything that would last longer than triflow.
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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by CommuterBoy View Post
    I was about to try the bar oil since I have tons of it, but now I might not. Did you wipe the chain down before riding it, or just apply and leave it?
    I switched to it a few months ago and have been pretty impressed, but you do have to wipe the excess off after application or it will pick gunk up.

  21. #21
    weirdo
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    Quote Originally Posted by ridingaddict View Post
    What do they dilute it with? Maybe the roadies can use something like that but I can imagine on the dirt your chain will get pretty grimey pretty quick. I would be interested in trying it out though or anything that would last longer than triflow.
    Seems like most folks use mineral spirits, anywhere from 3:1 to 10:1 (with the "1" being the oil). I guess the idea is that the thinner helps carry the oil into all the nooks and crannies, then evaporates, just leaving a thin coat of oil. No idea how long it lasts, but I bet you`re right about it getting grimey in a hurry off road.

    EDIT: just now noticed that Jetta-Mike posted a preference for 10W 30/mineral spirits in the winter- must have posted while I was still asking that very question. Maybe he`ll update with exactly how he`s doing it and how it`s going for him.

  22. #22
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    best lube ive used on chains was from my motorbike days, and when i sold that i carried on using it on the mtb chain. Wurth Dry chain lube Wurth - High Performance Dry Chain Lube - SPORTSBIKESHOP trust me, get a can and try it. lubes well and sets nice and dry so doesnt fling and doesnt pick up crap as bad as anything else. brilliant stuff and all ill ever use as long as they still make it

    most motorbike dealers and accesory shops stock it, at least here in the UK
    UK MTBer

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by random7100 View Post
    best lube ive used on chains was from my motorbike days, and when i sold that i carried on using it on the mtb chain. Wurth Dry chain lube Wurth - High Performance Dry Chain Lube - SPORTSBIKESHOP trust me, get a can and try it. lubes well and sets nice and dry so doesnt fling and doesnt pick up crap as bad as anything else. brilliant stuff and all ill ever use as long as they still make it

    most motorbike dealers and accesory shops stock it, at least here in the UK
    How long do you wait before re-lubing? I'll look for it.
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  24. #24
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    Clearly, you did not wipe the chain dry-enough (a necessity w/ bar-oil)
    Bar oil is NOT crap and is one of the best lubes you can use - sorry if user error messed up your 'experiment'

    This is a chain w/ bar-oil after a ride which included some ultra-fine volcanic ash. There is more dust on the rim than the chain.
    Honestly... ahh I give up

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by highdelll View Post
    Clearly, you did not wipe the chain dry-enough (a necessity w/ bar-oil)
    Bar oil is NOT crap and is one of the best lubes you can use - sorry if user error messed up your 'experiment'
    Well, I'm not going to get into a whole thing about it, but I did wipe it down several times. Sorry if you thought that was the reason I said that bar oil sucks, which it does.

  26. #26
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    Any "wet" product will stick dust and dirt to your chain. Its up to you to decide about that. IMO, oil + dirt creates grinding compound, so I like dry lubes. There are a number that have been marketed to bicyclists and motorcyclists, but I'm a cheapskate, so I have usually looked for an alternative. Right now I'm using a generic alternative to LPS One that costs the maintenance dept at work about $6 for a 10.5 oz aerosol can.

    I think its mostly just WD-40 on steroids, but it seems to work pretty well. 1 $6 can has lasted me 2 years on 4 bikes, and there's still some left.

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sizzler View Post
    Well, I'm not going to get into a whole thing about it, but I did wipe it down several times. Sorry if you thought that was the reason I said that bar oil sucks, which it does.
    Don't be sorry, just eat a salt tablet and accept it (bar-oil)
    Honestly... ahh I give up

  28. #28
    AZ
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    Bio-degradable bar oil thinned with Canola oil, just wipe it down thoroughly after application. Credit to Mtbiker72 for the canola oil trick.

  29. #29
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    ^^ agreed - I forgot to mention that tip - just gotta get through that gallon of regular bar oil first
    Honestly... ahh I give up

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