Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Guitar Ted Lube-Off: Final Results And Remarks

aMTBer Smoothe Lube 1.5, Lilly Lube, and WPL Wet Lube (L-R)
The latest round of the Guitar Ted Lube-Off is now over and this post will be a review of the three contenders with over-all remarks and a second look at one of these due to a certain claim I wanted to explore a bit more.

First off, the over-all"winner" was Lilly Lube. Now for the context- This round was about exploring lubes for use in more Wintry, wetter, muddy conditions. The results are based upon how each of these lubricants performed in these conditions. I have a few outliers to cover here, but the end results are what they are. It was pretty clear which lube actually worked versus the others. Plus, there is a certain characteristic which Lilly Lube has that makes it poke out above the other two lubes in this round.

Okay, with that out of the way, here are my final remarks on each of these lubes. You might be surprised at which one I considered to be the least effective. Here we go......

The WPL Wet Lube had a big promise of being a lube for endurance efforts and made for wetter conditions. In my test it really fell flat. For one thing, it didn't make it through the six hour test before it was really pretty much dried up. Not only that, it caused a bit of gunky build-up on the cassette teeth and on the chain's side plates. The worst thing was that whatever was left became sticky enough that it caused chain suck on my 3X drive train when shifting from the middle ring to the big ring. Yeah....weird and not good. I'll come back to this later in this post.

Over-all I was disappointed in the WPL Wet Lube. It just wasn't anywhere near what I needed in performance for a severe conditions lube. I don't often have a product which I cannot really recommend for at least some uses, but this lube just is not good.

Good, but not good at what I was after.
Next up is the Smoothe Lube 1.5 from aMTBer. I had pretty high expectations for this one as my friend in SoCal is pretty high on the performance of this lube in a mountain biking and gravel riding context. Where he lives they really don't ride in wet stuff at all. So, no surprise here when I found that the Smoothe Lube dropped right off as soon as the chain got wet. In fact, I had to plan on avoiding anything wet with this lube when after I had done a fender test, the chain got so squeaky it was embarrassing. I started the test all over again with this lube, ran it six hours plus, and found it to be lacking in endurance. It just needs to be reapplied at more regular intervals.

Okay, so what if I had- say after three hours- reapplied the lube? I probably would have a pretty good opinion of it for dry conditions only. But here's the thing- there are a LOT of lubes that do not require such short usage intervals. So, why bother with this one? It cannot hack even a little wet riding, and it requires more maintenance. Nope. That ain't gonna cut it here. Not when I have DuMonde Tech and Muc-Off C3 Ceramic Dry Lube choices which don't fail at the slightest hint of water and outlast this Smoothe Lube by hours and hours of use on gravel.

Smoothe Lube 1.5- Good, but not good enough.

Lilly Lube was used over the WPL on this bike to check out a claim of Lilly Lube.
That brings me to Lilly Lube which ended up being the clear winner in this round. Not only did it resist washing off in water or through muddy patches, but it resisted gunk build-up, and left a slippery feel on the chain after six-plus hours.

But Lilly Lube made a claim which I was intrigued by. They said this lube was not only good for wet and dry conditions, but it also was self-cleaning. It worked as a chain cleaner, much in the same way as Pro Gold lube does, which I am familiar with. I used Pro-Gold for a number of years before switching to DuMonde Tech. Pro Gold would break down gunk and clean up a chain upon application. Would Lilly Lube do the same?

I decided to try this out on the Fargo which I had used the not-so-good WPL lube on. It did exactly as advertised, breaking down the gunk-ified chain goo and washing it out as I applied the Lilly Lube quite liberally. Yes- you go through more chain lube doing this. That's one downside of not only this lube, but Pro Gold as well. Now- did the drive train work better after applying Lilly Lube? 

The answer? Yes! No more chain suck, and I could feel the drive train working more efficiently. Remember up above when I said I'd get back about the chain suck issue? Well, it became quite clear after I put Lilly Lube on the Fargo's chain that it was the poor performance of WPL Lube that was at issue when it came to front shifting performance. The Lilly Lube cleared that up straight away.

After three more hours of riding, some through muddy patches, the chain looks much cleaner, although the 'Touch Test' reveals a good streak of dirty, slippery stuff, I am pleased to see that Lilly Lube has the intended effects on the chain. I imagine after a few more applications the rollers would work out the dirt and the chain would eventually be cleaner than it is now. Or I could get in there and clean it out with degreaser and start fresh. But the point is- Lilly Lube's claim holds up.

So, the next round of the Lube-Off will include this Lilly Lube and two more new lubes yet to be determined. Stay tuned......


Skidmark said...

Greets GT, thanks for doing the dirty work. The ProGold you referred to, is that the Extreme formula or the Prolink?

x3speed said...

GT, Have you tried the Wend wax products? Curious how it would do in your lube off. On another note, will there be spots available for next year's COG 100?

Guitar Ted said...

@Skidmark - That would be the Prolink

@x3speed - I checked out their website as I haven't heard about it until your mention. It looks like a cross between Squirt Lube and the aMTBer lube I just tried. Might give some of that a spin though.

PStu said...

Did you ever figure out how often to apply Lilly Lube? You're right that their website has nothing on frequency and amount after the initial application.

Guitar Ted said...

@PStu - I went with my instincts and when I saw that the chain was getting dry-ish and a little noisy I cleaned it off with a degreaser and reapplied.