Tuesday, March 03, 2020

Guitar Ted "Lube-Off": Introducing The Next Round

(L-R) aMTBRer Products "Smoothe Lube 1.2, Lilly Lube, and WPL Wet Chain Lube
Guitar Ted Productions "Lube Off" Intro:

Readers will remember last Fall when I pitted three lubes against each other and found the Champ, DuMonde Tech, to be the winner by a hair over the excellent Muc-Off C3 Ceramic Dry Lube.

By the way, can we just go ahead and say that "chain lube" and a short company name is all we need? I mean, good golly! Some of these lubes are a fair jaw-cracker.

Anyway, here are the next three lubricants I have to pit against each other. One was supposed to have been in the last round, but came too late to be included. I am adding it to this round along with two new-comers. Note- I did not pay for any of these lubricants. I have not been bribed, nor have I been paid to make these posts. These lubricants were either free samples or sent in specifically to be tested and reviewed by me. I will strive to give my honest thoughts and views throughout.

First up we have an independently made and developed lubricant from SoCal, the aMTBer Products Smoothe Lube 1.2. Here's the blurb from their site:
  • Our premium chain lube for Gravel and XC MTB. Designed for silent performance on higher cadence efforts from a wax drivetrain system and still stay incredibly clean and fast.  Can be used solely on a fresh clean chain, or as a supplement for your wax-dipped chains, and can be used with Original Smoothe Lube as the maintenance coat between rides.  
Notes; This lube is a wax based lube. It has a very detailed, specific application process, but follow-up lubrication applications are simple*. Claims to not wash off with a bike cleaning of soapy water. Note: Rinse with water while washing your bike. Product is unaffected by soap and bike wash products. *Also- the instructions strongly recommend pre-ride maintenance using a brush application process. Yes.....before each ride. Although I'm told it can go for a "few rides" in between applications as long as those rides are not particularly long ones.

Next we have the Lilly Lube Premium Bicycle Chain Lubricant, also an independently developed product out of SoCal. On to the marketing blurb.....

• EP (Extreme Pressure) additives for superior film strength
• Contains proprietary additives that reduce friction
• Cleans every time you use it
• Petroleum based lubricant
• No added scents or dyes
• Made in the USA   

Notes: The site says this one is good as a wet and a dry lube. NOT a wax based lube, but claims to have "minimal attraction" to dirt and grit. Strictly instructs user to apply 8 hours ahead of a ride. Also, and very interestingly, the application process doubles as a chain cleaning process. Kind of reminiscent of Pro Gold lube in that way. No hints given as to when to re-apply Lilly Lube are given on their site. Hmmm.....

Next up we have WPL Wet Chain Lube from Canada. This one is neither wax based, nor petroleum based, but is made from a combination of oleochemicals (animal and plant based), antioxidants, and seed oils. It is certified biodegradable. Okay, now onto the marketing blurb:

  •  Premium bio-based formula made with natural ingredients
  • EmulsifiteTM technology provides dynamic cleaning abilities and prevents black goop build-up
  • Long-lasting formula improves pedal efficiency by reducing chain wear and friction
  • For use on bicycle chains, shifters, derailleurs and cables
  • Biodegradable, non-toxic, PTFE-free formula is environmentally friendly
  • Made in Canada
Notes: Claims it prevents "black goop build-up". Also claims that when washing with high pressure water, a chemical reacts to help clean the chain.  Regular splashing and running through puddles apparently doesn't affect this lube. Says this is especially good in wet conditions and for ultra-endurance efforts. Pretty straight forward application technique, and suggests reapplication when chain gets dirty.

The Fargo refreshed for 2020 duty, now going on 12 years old!
Comments: The aMTBer lube has already been used some, and so that one will get reviewed first. Then I'll move on to the other two. I'm planning on keeping the six hour use formula in place here, as that was the baseline for the test last Fall. NOTE- the aMTBer lube specifically calls out a pre-ride brush-on ritual for their product, and as you can probably guess, I have a big problem with that. But we'll play by their rules and I have a plan to test this particular lube straight-up as I would prefer to use it.

The other two lubes give no particular time limitations, nor do they call out for "time specific" re-applications as you use the lube, only really saying that you might re-apply when the chain gets dirty. We'll see how long that takes. Either way, the six hour time period is the test protocol here.

I will also be using the "Touch Test" to ascertain how much black goop I gather on these chains as the test progresses. This is a simple wipe of the chain with my index finger across about two inches of the chain's inner run. Whatever comes off, I photograph that and show you. The more gunk/black stuff, the lower down the rung the lube goes on the ratings.

Okay, I think it will be good to briefly go over the champion DuMonde Tech's characteristics here. It is a lube that remains uncannily clean, always out-performing the contenders on the Touch Test and in terms of longevity when it comes to use. Reapplications are few and far between. There is a strict first application protocol, but if it is followed, yeah.... Nothing comes close except the Muc-Off Ceramic C3 Dry, which is very similar in performance results for me.

So, low maintenance, dry, clean looking chains that feel slippery to the touch, and quiet, smooth shifts are the benchmarks. Also- I am taking the perspective of a gravel road rider, primarily. So resistance to grit and dust build up is a big plus in my eyes. Of course, your basic lubrication attributes must be maintained as well, or what's the point, right? As a side note- I readied the Fargo Gen I for this test yesterday.

 Let's see what these contenders bring to the table. Stay tuned........


rth009 said...

I am interested in your thoughts on Rock n Roll Gold s Dumonde Tech. For me, its just so much easier to dowse the chain with RnR wipe it clean, then wipe it every ride or every other ride, and repeat when it starts to get a little noisy or I get around to it. Im not sure Im patient enough to clean and degrease, then apply lube to each individual roller as it looks like you do with Dumonde. But if it would allow me to get more than 500 miles out of an MTB chain, I'd try it.

The only limiting factor about RnR Gold is really sloppy muddy conditions, but that's a problem for all lubes and i should have a bottle of RnR blue for those days.

Guitar Ted said...

@rth009 - The previous shop job I had saw a lot of the shop guys using Rock and Roll Gold on their bikes. I saw that it was a fairly good lube. No big downsides that I could see.

The DuMonde Tech *initial* application is the key here- but it is (and should be) for any lubricant. You are ALWAYS best to strip down a chain the very first time when trying any lube. If that is just too much faffing around for you, then a petroleum based lube like Pro Gold or this Lilly Lube which I am trying that cleans as you apply it might be best for you. But in almost every other instance, a clean chain to start with will always give you the best results for any lube, Rock and Roll Gold included.

My experience has been that IF you do the initial application process, DuMonde Tech lasts a long time, keeps the chain really clean, and does not attract dust. When the chain starts to get noisy, I put a drop on each roller and that's it for another long while. IF you do not follow the protocol initially, DuMonde Tech will get goopy and attract dirt. I've seen it and had other riders experience that, but in EVERY instance, they did not do the initial application correctly or at all.

MOST chain lubes, IF used according to label instructions, are REALLY good, but situational circumstances may cause certain lubes to rise to the top of the heap. In the case that I find myself in - Iowa gravel roads- this DuMonde Tech has been the clear winner so far with Muc-Off Ceramic C3 Dry Lube a very close second.

rth009 said...

Thanks for answering my question, GT. I'm gonna give it shot. As Iowan through college (Council Bluffs (and the surrounding country) and U Iowa), I read your blog every morning. Love the pics of rural Iowa. Keep it up.

Guitar Ted said...

@rth009 - Thanks for reading here!