Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Guitar Ted Lube-Off: Smoothe Lube 1.2 Update

Guitar Ted Lube Off Update: aMTBer Products Smoothe Lube 1.2: 

Note: If you missed the introduction to this round, please go HERE and catch up with things. 

Okay, so I wanted to bring you all up to speed with the Smoothe Lube because it has been a bit of a different experience so far. Remember, this is a lube developed in SoCal, and they typically shun wet weather riding there, although admittedly, they don't say that this is an "all weather lube" either. My point in testing it in a bit of wet stuff was that, to be fair, the last round I did featured a bit of wet, messy riding, and I wanted a bit of consistency there for references sake. So, on one occasion, I rode the Smoothe Lube 1.2 in some wet, sloppy conditions for all of about 10-15 minutes. (Only as long as it took me to realize that the splash guard I was using was a miserable failure. A wet bum put an end to that test!)

So, let me also back up a bit. I have a bit of "insider" knowledge here as my friend Grannygear in SoCal uses this stuff. The maker insists upon a rather, (in my opinion) tedious and unrealistic application/break in technique for this lube. Which, frankly, would have put me off this lube straight away because none of the others I have found which work well require a tenth as much detail. Too fiddly? Then it is not for me.

Well, Grannygear put me straight and fortunately the best results are not necessarily predicated upon following the creator's arduous application/break-in procedure. I started off- as I always do- with a stripped and cleaned chain. This time it was a Shimano XT chain for 11 speed. I applied the Smoothe Lube and broke it in with about an hour and a half use before the wet ride. I found that my quiet shifting GRX was now not so quiet. Grannygear confirmed that this was the case, but further usage of the bike would result in a quieter drive train. Unfortunately, the wet ride happened.

That's when I found out that it doesn't take much "wet" to completely wash off the Smoothe Lube 1.2. As I stated, I maybe rode in the sloppy stuff for 10-15 minutes max. The next day my chain sounded as if it had been infested with mice! I had no choice at the time but to borrow some lube to quiet it down, (Muc-Off Dry, by the way) and then I had to start this test from scratch.

A close look at the chain after about 20 minutes post application #2.
I cleaned the chain again, reapplied the lube, let it set for about an hour until it looked dry and felt pretty dry, then rode it for about 20 minutes. To the left here you can see the current state of the chain and lube.

That "dark matter" you see on the inside of the inner plates will dry up and flake off, just like last time, and then I should be good to go for this 6 hour run on this lube. One thing I know- I cannot run this lube in any kind of wet weather without immediate reapplication. That's already going to put a big "ding" on this lube's final verdict. I simply do not have to tip-toe around wet, mucky stuff with the DuMonde Tech or with the Muc-Off C3 Ceramic Dry Lube. Other lubes I have tried also resist wet riding better than I have seen with Smoothe Lube 1.2.

So, I cannot recommend this lube if you think you'll be hitting wet areas or riding on a day with predicted rain, unless you plan on applying a new coat right away after the chain gets wet. Maybe that sounds a bit strict, but in this test, I am being pretty particular. The "bar has been set pretty high" and to knock off the reigning champ and the nearest competitors, any lube I try has to meet these higher standards. So, perhaps Smoothe Lube works "just fine for you", like it does for Grannygear. (It's his go-to lube, by the way), but for me and my test? Not quite there. But still, I am willing to give this a fair shake in totally dry conditions, so onward.......

I hope to get the other two lubes up and running here soon. I will be using the pink Black Mountain Cycles MCD for one and the other lube will go on the old Gen I Fargo again. I have a new "control" bike to test these against. Well, not a new bike, just a different bike for the comparison to DuMonde Tech. That is still currently the best lube I know of for gravel riding here in the Mid-West.

The ol' Raleigh Tamland Two.
Current state of the chain. (See description below)
The Raleigh Tamland Two has DuMonde Tech on there and, to be honest, I have no idea how long it's been there! By the looks of things I would say that at some point during a ride I must have stopped and reapplied due to chain noise, and then kept riding. That's one thing about this lube, if you reapply on the fly it will attract a bit of build up. You can readily see that on the inner plates here and if you squint, on the cassette cogs as well. Typical "wrong application" but necessary when you totally neglect the chain and keep riding, as I must have been doing here. Anyway....

The "Touch Test" reveals that only the plates are dirty- not the rollers.
Where the chain hits the cogs it is clean. That was the result of the "Touch Test". What is that? Well, I run my index finger across the inner run of the chain for about two inches and whatever comes off I show you. As you can see here, only the plate's edges were dirty. The rollers didn't leave any residue and the chain felt slippery to the touch. It isn't noisy, and so I can keep on going here with no issues.

Again- I've no idea how long that original application has been there, but I'd bet it was 2018 sometime when I first applied it. And the Tamland was used for tire and other testing last year, so it got ridden a fair amount. In fact, it was filthy before I cleaned it up for these photos. This Riding Gravel article shows the underside of the bottom bracket before I cleaned it. So as you can see there, I am not kidding about the dirt! 

So, as we can see, DuMonde Tech can take a licking, and the long term results are astounding, really. This is the bar, as I mentioned earlier, which these contenders have to match or surpass. It won't be easy, as I've found out over the years, to beat the Champ.

So I have a LOT of riding to get to, and hopefully I can get to it, if the government doesn't take bicycling away from us here due to the current state of affairs. The Smoothe Lube will get a fresh "six hour clock" and I'll also start using the other two lubes in the test, (see the link at the top of this post if you want to learn more), and then I'll be back with some "mid-term" results sooner than later. Spring has been chilly and a bit wet so far, so I'm hoping for a bit more warmth and some Sun wouldn't hurt.

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