Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Guitar Ted Lube Off: Wet Season Finale

Tri-Flow on the Ti Muk
Okay, I was going to post an update on the Lube Off a while back, but I held off to sneak in another late addition, so I put it off until now. With the imminent end of Winter at hand, and a transitional "slop season" coming, I figured I would put an end to "Wet Season" testing for now. There were some odd entries into this portion of testing, so let's go back and review what I had on chains here during Wet Season.

  • Tri Flow
  • DuMonde Tech
  • WD-40
  • Grease over Tri-Flow
  • Smooth Operator Lube
Okay, so with wet season I don't ever really expect a lube that is effective to be "clean". If the chain is dry, it usually ends up getting corroded and squeaky real fast. If it is clean, it is weird, and generally, not a good thing. Snow, slush, rain, and cold do weird things to chains, not to mention the chemical deicers they use on roads these days.  Conversely I don't like to see a wet, grimy chain flinging crap all over the bike either. That's generally a lube that's not only causing you more clean up time, but one that is attracting stuff you'd rather not have on your chain. No- something in between is best, in my opinion.

WD-40 was.......meh! 
WD-40: The funny thing about this was that it actually works, up until a point. I found that I had to re-apply almost daily to keep the chain wet/lubricated. I also found that my chain was almost never dirty or a mess. I'm not 100% comfortable with how it lubricates chains, if in fact it is at all. Especially since it seems to get dry almost every ride and I don't know exactly at what point that is happening. So, I decided it wasn't cutting the mustard. End result- Not a good lubricant for wet season. 

Older pic of the Tri-Flow with grease over it.
Tri-Flow & Tri-Flow with Grease:

Okay, first off, please reference the top image for plain Tri-Flow and the one to the left here for Tri-Flow with an application of grease over the top.

Tri-Flow- whether layered over with grease or not- seemed to react about as equally well in wet snow or in rain. It was dirtier than your dry weather lubes, but it wasn't throwing crap all over, (if applied correctly), and kept the chain wet and lubricated better than most. I saw times where it was gathering sand, for instance, and crunchy noises would sometimes result. I had to periodically clean the chain, because if I did not, the Tri-Flow would go dry and then create a gunky, sticky mess on side plates and on cogs and chain rings. I will note that the grease over Tri-Flow seemed to be a tad bit better in this regard, but I quit riding that bike when conditions started calling out for full on fat bikes, so I cannot give a 100% recommendation on that. There was something to it, as far as a technique for wet weather goes, so I may return to this at some point.

In the end, I give Tri-Flow a "Good" recommendation for wet weather. It has to be maintained at regular intervals or after a particularly wet, snowy ride, but it does clean up well and a reapplication is easy.

Smooth Operator Lube: A messy lube, but it is working.
Smooth Operator Lube: 

Going to this lube's website, you don't get a lot of clues as to "why" this lube works. No technical mumbo-jumbo, no "gee-whiz" marketing spiel, just that it works for wet or dry conditions. So......there ya go. Your guess is as good as mine as to why this should be better than anything else. Oh well......

When I applied it, it looked vaguely familiar, as it was sort of thick, almost "gooey" as it came out of the applicator, (which is fantastic, by the way). I recalled Finish Line "Wet" formula, or maybe like Phil Wood lube, or like most soybean based lubricants I've tried. Anyway, if you've used those, you know what I mean about the Smooth Operator's consistency. It spread really well, and coated everything easily. Everything near it as well!

That's the main complaint so far on this lube- it's messy. Check out the image above of my Blackborow DS's chain. You can see my chain stay on the left there is coated in Smooth Operator lube. Hmm........ maybe I don't need to use as much, eh? 

I have put it on my BMC's chain.....very sparingly, I might add, and we will see how that goes in my next update.

DuMonde Tech.....yeah, that's crazy. Still champ.
 DuMonde Tech:

Okay, so if you've been following this along over the past almost year or so, you know I am a big fan of DuMonde Tech. It has just outdone everything else I've tried, wet or dry. However; that's just me. What about someone else? Okay, so I gave this stuff to my co-worker Andy to put on his Pugs SS. He rides it all the time in Winter. We took a look after about a month and a half of use and the image you see here is what it looked like.


That's hard to beat, and with their claims of "plating the chain", I have to say that after seeing no corrosive effects or dirt sticking on it, I would have to say there is definitely something good going on with DuMonde Tech.

So, after a Wet Season of usage with all of these lubricants, DuMonde Tech is still getting my vote as the best out there. We haven't seen the full Smooth Operator Lube test done yet, so I'll hold off saying anything on that as far as a final word just now. We will continue to put others through their paces, so stay tuned as we get into warmer weather and Spring time conditions. 


Brian McEntire said...

Very interesting stuff here. Which DuMonde Tech lube are you currently using? Is it the same one you use all year round?

Guitar Ted said...

@Brian McEntire: We're using the "full strength" lube which is bluish in color. They have a "light" lube as well, recommended for dry usage, and that is pale yellow in color.

Robert Jones said...

Any thoughts or recommendations for sub-zero lubrication?

Guitar Ted said...

@Robert Jones: Lower viscosity lubes tend to work better. Dry lubes if you are not getting wet and washing lube out/off stuff. DuMonde Tech would be my recommendo.

Derek Teed said...

Funny thing, I bought some DuMonde Tech down in Bend a couple of years ago and used it on a bike without properly cleaning my chain first and hated the stuff. It ended up a sticky flinging mess (probably it mixed with the pro-link I had been using at the time)so I stopped using it and kinda forgot about it. After reading your original review on it I gave it a second chance and this time applied it properly to a clean chain and gears and have since really liked it. The cleaning of the drivetrain before application made all the difference and I usually apply it and let the bike sit overnight before riding and it does seem to last quite some time until it needs to be freshened up. Thanks!

Guitar Ted said...

@Derek Teed: Yes- that is absolutely critical to having success with this lube. Once you have started things out with a perfectly clean chain, marinated it in DuMonde Tech for at least 12 hours, then you can simply re-apply when the chain gets noisy. Works great then. But like you say, if you don't do it right the DuMonde Tech is lousy stuff, but by no fault of its own.