Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Guitar Ted Lube Off: A Couple Of Knockouts

This chain is wearing the remnants of Smooth Operator lube
The Lube Off moves into Summer Mode once again and to recap for those of you that are new to this, or may have lost track, the Lube off is a chain lube test for gravel road use. Take what you will from this, but this is mostly about my personal quest to find the best chain lubrication for my gravel road going bicycles.

So far my top lubes are DuMonde Tech, Rock & Roll Gold, and Pro Gold ProLink.

Today I wanted to talk about a couple of lubricants that I used in the colder, wetter times of Spring on up to the drier, dustier times of the last few weeks. First up is Smooth Operator lube. Click that link there and you will get a much more detailed view on this lube from me, but as far as general gravel road use, I will reiterate that this is good stuff, but you have to clean and reapply regularly. This stuff won't get you much more than a couple of dry, dusty rides in before you'll want to clean things up and reapply it because, while it's fairly clean, it still attracts dust. When things get wet, it works better, since it still lubricates, but stays on the chain and doesn't attract as much grit.

I'll keep on using what I was sent till its gone, but there are less labor intensive solutions for sure. Call this one a technical knockout.

Chain-L: No thank you!
The next lube up, Chain-L lube, is a lube I got a sample of somewhere along the line, but I cannot remember how. Anyway, this stuff came highly recommended by a few trusted sources, so I was preset for high expectations going into using this stuff. However; I was sorely disappointed, even after some tips I was given on its usage.

I won't belabor the point here, but the bottom line is that Chain-L is a sticky, gooey lube that you must use as sparingly as possible. Even then I found that dust came on to the chain as if they were iron filings sticking to a magnet. After each application I cleaned the drive train and then carefully lubed with as little of this stuff as I could, but the chain would come back dry and covered in a sticky, dirty goo.

Well, that is a recipe for tearing up a drive train sooner than necessary, especially in dusty conditions. By the way, you'd think that really wet, muddy conditions would be better, but that's not what I found. The stickiness of this lube still attracted dirt and grit to the point that I was displeased. I cannot reconcile why my experiences were so bad with this stuff while some folks, whose opinions I trust, have had nothing but great experiences with Chain-L, but there ya go. You won't catch me using this on my gravel bikes again. Not when competing products I have tried are obviously outperforming Chain-L in the conditions I am testing in. Call this one a knockout in the first round.

So, there ya go. A couple of lubes more into the testing, and the search goes on........


Daniel said...

I second your opinion on the Chain-L lube. I bought a bottle of it last year and it attracts everything to the chain. I tried it for a month and then gave up on it.
Really liking your experiments with different lubes (in a different context that could sound weird). There are so many different brands and kinds of lubes that its hard to know what is good and what is a waste of dollars and time.

RC said...

I found Chain-L to be the perfect winter lube. Put it on and it seemed to last forever. Good lubricating properties too. However, after some time not being used/ridden, it dried out and became"a sticky mess." Almost impossible to clean off. So, I would recommend it to winter commuters on asphalt. And at the end of winter, throw away that chain and put on a new one. . . .

bostonbybike said...

Interesting how different the results can be. I've been using Chain-L for quite some time and been generally pretty happy with it. It does have to be used very sparingly and the chain needs to be left alone for 15-20 min. for the lube to soak in. The chain should be wiped off of any excess lube before the ride, but I found out that it also has to be wiped again after the first ride. Other than that, I find Chain-L at least acceptable.

Now, I'm thinking that it may be the climate. Maybe here in Massachusetts (or New England in general) where our summer is humid there is less dust in the air? Your picture shows a very messy chain. I can't imagine picking up so much dust on just one ride. But again, we don't have that many dusty gravel roads around here.