Monday, May 18, 2015

Guitar Ted "Lube Off" Round Two- Part 1

Starting off with the "champion".
About eight years ago I ran a "Lube Off" between three contenders and DuMonde Tech came out on top. Well, now there has been some renewed interest at the shop as to what, if anything, is "best" in cycling terms, for chain lube.

It has been my experience that the subject of chain lube is maybe only rivaled by the subject of tires and tire pressure when it comes to "religious fervor" amongst devotees of certain brands and ideas. Chain lubes are, for the most part, also possibly the most over-hyped product for cycling out there. Many making outlandish claims for "cleanliness" or longevity between applications. There have been "scientific", laboratory based experiments to discover which lubes promote the freest running chains, longest lasting lube for a chain, and more.

This "lube-off" won't be "scientific" enough for those that adhere to such standards, and it won't at all be general enough for most of you to gain anything from. However; along the way I will impart some of my observations on many lubes and types of lubes that might help point you in the direction of success for you. Maybe it will all be a waste of your time, but then again, who else is doing this? At least I hope it will be entertaining!

Following label instructions is paramount to the successful use of any lube you choose.
My test will be on gravel. It won't cover mountain biking. It won't be traditional road cycling. it will be on dusty, maybe sometimes wet and gritty, dirt and gravel roads. I figure that gravel travel is probably one of the most severe uses of an external drive train around. Maybe only wet, muddy U.K. type conditions are more damaging. Perhaps Utah grit is more abrasive, but gravel in the Mid-West has to be right up there in terms of its damaging capabilities. At least In think so.

The test will be starting out right away with DuMonde Tech's "Original Formula" which requires a clean chain prior to application. I started out with a brand new Ultegra 11 speed chain and washed it off until all the "shipping lube" was gone, dried it out, and applied DuMonde Tech "sparingly", (one drop on each link's rollers, smeared on the outer plates), wiped down, and then I let it sit in a rag for 24 hours to "bond" to the chain. The chain actually felt dry-ish when I installed it. Oh- and I cleaned the crank rings and installed a brand new 11 speed cassette as well.

So, stay tuned for updates throughout the Summer. And if you have a lube that you are curious about, please submit a suggestion in the comments. I will add three new contenders based upon the comments, and if there are not enough comments to get three new lubricant ideas from, I'll be forced to arbitrarily come up with some of my own. So- you've been warned! 

Let the "Lube-Off" begin!



Okie Outdoorsman said...

Hi GT,
Would like to see how Rock and Roll Gold lube would fare against some of the others.

Guitar Ted said...

@Okie Outdoorsman- Okay, sounds good. This is one of the brands some of the co-workers at the shop have been talking about as well.

Bryan Ford said...

I'd love to see how 3 In 1 Oil stacks up against the higher priced bicyle specific oils.

Guitar Ted said...

@Bryan Ford- I had thought about doing a "do-it-yourself" lube against the name brands.

Derek Teed said...

I used to have good success with paraffin waxing my chain for road use and was thinking I might try it for gravel roads since where I'm currently riding is super dry and dusty. It's a little labour intensive but had good durability at least on the pavement.

Kurt Fossen said...

White Lightening Easy Ride, as its cheap and available at big box stores. I believe its the same as Clean Ride, just marketed different.

+1 for Rock'n Roll Gold too.

Bob said...

T-9 Boeshield. All I have used for the last 20 years. I prefer the aerosol, damn the ozone layer. Spray on, wipe off. Works best if applied and allowed to set up the wax ingredient but will perform well enough without that. Readily available these days but was harder to find back in the day. $17 aerosol can lasts over a year maintaining multiple bikes.

Nick Templeton said...

"...and then I let it sit in a rag for 24 hours to "bond" to the chain." 24+ hours to lube a chain?! I don't care how well it works, I don't have that kind of time... I want to ride!

Guitar Ted said...

@Nick Templeton - Actually, you should always let your chain lube "set up". many substances in chain lube are meant to "bond' with the metal. Throwing on a drip coating, or spray coating of lube, and then riding, is not going to allow for this.

Although Sheldon Brown does not speak to this, he does say that not cleaning a chain before lubing is only going to force contaminated oil/lube into the chain,further accelerating wear. So, it would seem that one should clean their chain first, lube it, then allow for it to bond to the metal. This would therefore probably best be done post-ride, and then let sit to wait till your next ride.

so, letting DuMonde tech set up for 24 hours, (my own choice- not part of the directions for that lube, by the way), would seem to be right in line with that thinking. Also- DuMonde tech doesn't require, (according to claims), frequent re-applications, which would, in the end, actually save time if the claims are true.

But like I said in the beginning, (and Sheldon Brown agreed), chain maintenance is a very divisive and "religious" subject. I'm not going to try to convince you- or anyone- otherwise from your own predilections.

MG said...

Squirt is #1 in my world. I've tried most others, Dumonde included, and I keep coming back to Squirt.

skylerd said...

The late Sheldon Brown claimed the most durable lube was the one that came on your chain from the factory (which is usually grease, not oil). No one else seems to think so. It certainly attracts a lot of grit, but what if it was only cleaned of the plates, and left in the rollers?

Guitar Ted said...

@skylerd: I've handled enough chains to see how the "stock" lube can work....or not. It is unclear at this point what chains Sheldon may have been smitten with concerning this "stock lube", but in my experience, there are some that come with a thick, gooey covering, and these are bad. They collect dirt almost like a magnet.

However; many stock Shimano ten and eleven speed chains do come with a viscous, smelly covering that does work okay as a lube without anything else being done to them. SRAM ten and eleven speed chains don't seem to have anything on them. Although they must, obviously, and these also seem to be fine, albeit I don't think it holds up very long under use on a bike.

It seems to be hit and miss, so rather than rely on that "old wisdom" of Sheldon's, I would prefer that lube be added immediately, just so I don't have to concern myself with an "unknown" on my drive train.

Mike said...

Have you tried the Lite version of Dumonde? I'm thinking it will be better in dusty conditions.

Guitar Ted said...

@Mike- It is better, but I wanted to try the "heavy" version to see how it would fare.