In fact using an ultrasonic cleaner may falsely lead you into believing your chain is ready, when it still has oil residue. “[It’s the] longest-lasting by far of the drip lubes I’ve tested.”. How many, exactly? According to Adam Kerin, and as covered in the best chain article, both KMC and higher-end Shimano chains have exhibited some wax adhesion issues. As the saying goes, a clean bike is a fast bike. Molten Speed Wax (MSW) is perhaps the best-known and has the most data supporting it. I have beli… Namely, you need to be comfortable with removing and installing a chain from the bike via a quick link. For those obsessed about every fraction of a watt and considering such a powder, then also consider using a dedicated chain for race days. I have seen very well-maintained chains just hitting the replacement mark at 8,000km, and one example recently where the customer attained 12,000km to 0.8mm by degreasing prior to every re-lube.”. Silca’s new hot melt (US$40 for a 500 g bag) looks to be a viable alternative to Molten Speed Wax, however, it’s extremely new to the market and there’s currently little test data to prove that it is more efficient than the cheaper Molten Speed Wax (US$20 for a 500 g bag). “Then after rapidly heating to 100ºC, the rice cookers then switch to warm. This is best done in an area where you don’t mind wax flaking off. Assuming the price is fair, then a pre-waxed chain will save you from ever having to deal with harsh chemicals in an effort to get the chain initially clean. New testing seeks to find chain lube that provides the greatest resistance to chain wear. “Smoove is a double-edged sword; to work it into the chain is tough. “[Dry lubes] can be an accelerant to wear compared to a bare chain. Yes, as long as the bag is designed to cope with the heat. Even worse, Kerin says “dry” lubes can actually make drivetrain wear worse than not using lube at all. These are typically 1.5 to 2 L in capacity, however, they can be hard to find. You dip the chain into the melted wax. In Australia, Zero Friction Cycling offers pre-waxed chains at only an AU$25 surcharge (more depending on desired wax) and even offers a buy one/get one treated service. According to Kerin, chain wear and friction are inherently linked together, and by aiming to increase chain longevity, you also get the bonus of reduced friction. Putting a waxed chain on a dirty, oily, or (worse) greasy drivetrain will see the waxed chain become sticky and attract contamination. “This is because of the effects of viscous drag and stiction properties of the grease,” Smith continued. Larger slow cookers, or those with a wide footprint, will require more wax. “I have had some lubricants record over 100% wear (0.5mm) for a single contamination block, versus other lubricants that recorded 25% wear,” said Kerin. There are some wax products marketed for cycling which are awfully similar to what’s sold in the ski industry, however Smith’s testing points out that the required properties of a chain wax are vastly different to that of a ski wax. Chain lube choice and maintenance can mean as little as 2,000km from a chain, but as much as 20,000km. When asked specifically about Kerin’s testing, Smith was supportive. Kerin suggests that simply swishing the chain in the hot melt wax is likely to produce better results than using an ultrasonic cleaner alone. I looked further into it and apparently there is. This next lubricant is a multi … “These lubes can exhibit higher initial friction levels due to viscous drag and stiction. The dry lubricants, from an efficiency standpoint, will be much faster than the greased chain. Smoove Lube was initially formulated for the Absa Cape Epic MTB stage race in South Africa. The wax creates a barrier to contaminants entering the chain, although Smoove has a lower viscosity and seems to layer better. However, Smith explained that things change once the chain and lubricant are subjected to contamination over a long period of time. This fluid will quickly become contaminated, and so you’ll need to replace it at multiple stages to ensure your chain is free of oil residue. Some waxes are naturally very hard and brittle, like carnuba, or even paraffin can be very hard if it has a high melting point. These lubricants should only be added once the waxed chain begins sound and feel dry. Yet, if the wax is sticky, oily, too soft, etc, these benefits of wax are lost. The tried-and-trued solvent for the first step is mineral turpentine (aka, “turps”), also known as white spirit (UK) or mineral spirits (USA/Canada). According to Kerin, the false sense of clean that ultrasonic cleaners can provide is the most common reason for his customers having issues with wax-treated chains. Kerin agrees, but warns that relubing over a dirty chain often brings external grit back into the links. The Technical Side Of Silca's Hot-Melt Chain Wax SILCA SECRET CHAIN BLEND HOT MELT CHAIN WAX LUBE is ideal for the cyclist looking to maximise performance through friction reduction. Some chains with low-friction coatings seem to repel the wax, leading to poor longevity of the wax coating. According to Kerin, each re-wax will introduce a small amount of contamination into your wax pot. Chain waxes are usually white in colour, whereas a lube is usually clear. Ask our experts your chain waxing questions. The wax with the most supporting data is Molten Speed Wax, a tweaked production version of the wax recipe originally published by FrictionFacts in 2013. When asked about this, Kerin explained he did almost 9,000km of baseline testing before actually measuring chain lubricant performance, to both bed-in testing protocols and also to check the repeatability of the testing. So with some lubes, while efficiency will improve, wear rates can also increase. However, you will find some answers related to drip-on wax lubes, too. If you are intending to use the chain immediately, break it in for at least 20 minutes. “Chains themselves do not wear exactly the same even across the same chain,” explained Kerin. It’s normal to experience rough and jumpy shifting for the first few minutes of riding. Pedal harder and those lost watts go up in a near equal fashion, too. $17.99. Paraffin has a melting point of about 60ºC (140°F), and so anywhere between 70-100ºC (158-212°F) is good to correctly melt the wax. Manually break up the wax bonds at each link. Only then can the chain be submersed in the hot-melt UFO Chain base wax for optimization. Morgan Blue Race Oil is a really good option for general riding … Case in point: CeramicSpeed uses a large dip tank filled with UFO Clean to strip the factory grease from stock chains prior to the UFO optimization process. Friction occurs in multiple ways inside a chain, but most importantly, it’s the chain’s articulating points of the rollers, plates, and pins sliding and wearing together that causes a chain to grow in length (commonly known as chain stretch). Drip lubes are a profitable business. Remove fresh chain from packet. If it gets over 10,000 km then they have a good wax blend.”. Is this normal? For best results, degrease the whole drivetrain to be visibly clean of any dirt, grease, or oil. “This happens to have high fluorocarbon content,” he says. Finding the best bicycle chain: What over 3,000 hours of testing revealed, How to check for chain wear: The easy way, the best way, and why, Chain cleaning: A complete guide from lazy to obsessive, The best degreaser: cleanliness made safe and easy, The best chain breaker for the home mechanic: 15 tested. I live in a very hot region. “On average, one can expect 3,000 to 6,000km from drip lubes versus an average of 15,000km for MSW. I’ve found the smallest and cheapest cleaners often lack the power to significantly clean a chain. The lube is like a sticky oil, it goes on in liquid form and stays liquid. “Wax is a solid material at room temperature, typically pliable and soft, which softens further and ultimately liquefies at temperatures between about 100ºF to 160ºF (37-71ºC). However, Kerin suggests that vigorous swishing of the chain in a hot melt bath followed by a second wax bath in an ultrasonic cleaner is the pinnacle, and that this is how many race day chains are treated. There are two main types of chain lube; a lube and a wax. Smith and Kerin don’t entirely agree on this theory, although that’s perhaps due more to the different approaches each has to testing. “Not only do you re-introduce viscous friction and increase stiction which are two key areas where solid wax has an efficiency advantage over drip lubes, but airborne particles will stick like any other wet lube.”. Out of stock. Russell Eich / Immediate Media. “Definitely a smart thing to do is to re-lube a clean chain versus a dirty chain. This race where... Rock N Roll Gold. But in order to avoid such friction, it’s not what a lube does or looks like on the outside of the chain that matters most, but rather how it behaves inside, where the loaded friction is highest. Friction Facts concentrated on accuracy with its dedicated test machines and protocols, claiming measurable differences in frictional losses as low as 0.02W. No chemicals are needed. And because grit doesn’t stick to the wax, the cassette and chainring exhibit extremely little wear in this time. The goal of the testing is to simulate real-world riding as best as possible. The chain is ready for waxing once it can be agitated in this fluid without any sign of discolouration or dirt particles appearing. As a result, chain wax may not be ideal depending on where and how you ride. Even better, the relatively low cost of chain lubricants makes them the best value upgrade you can make to your bike by far. Otherwise, basic jars of cleaning fluid can achieve the same level of cleanliness as an ultrasonic cleaner, it’ll just take more manual labour. Unfortunately however it’s not quite that simple. It’s a topic that’s seemingly discussed more than anything else in our VeloClub Slack group, and one that remains a mysterious concept to many. That’s arguably more than any equipment upgrade available, and it’s applicable no matter how fast you go. A motor, not a human rider, is attached to the crankset spindle, and provides a constant output of 250W at 100rpm in controlled riding conditions. What do you recommend? The cost-saving of the chemicals may be worth the extra expense alone, otherwise, time saved and health benefits are worth considering, too. What is the difference between reusable links and single-use only links? “The simplest wax recipe, and still relatively fast, is a basic single-ingredient recipe-food-grade canning paraffin, such as Gulf Wax,” reveals Smith. This is considered “100% wear” in Kerin’s tests, as the 0.5mm figure is a commonly suggested replacement point before measurable cog wear occurs. The video below will talk you through the steps. If you often ride in wet conditions or where the roads are salted, you’ll likely need to wax far more frequently and so it may not be the easiest option for you. “To demonstrate this effect I’ll take a metal plate, and will drip melted wax onto the plate and allow it to harden. “Aside from the very extreme conditions, for both road and MTB, I always recommend a very fast 100% dry lube. Absolutely not. Each test block lasts for 1,000km, with alternating blocks without added contamination to help understand how well a lube works to clear out contamination. “The surface tension of the melted wax was so high that it didn’t wick very well into and onto the surface of the metal. “The contamination will abrade the wax off faster and so you will notice the treatment will start to feel and sound drier at a lower distance than what you remember.” This is a sign to treat yourself to a fresh lot of wax. Use five grams of pure PTFE (Teflon) and one gram MoS2 (molybdenum disulfide) powder and mix it in with 500 grams of paraffin wax. You can also buy pre-waxed chains from the likes of CeramicSpeed, Muc-Off, Molten Speed Wax, Zero Friction Cycling, and many others. Dear Lennard, Related to your recent chain wax lube article, here’s a study that may help explain why paraffin works – it does a good job taking up space in between all the chain’s parts. Are you confident with using a chain quick link and installing a chain? That’s the end of the endless FAQ to chain waxing. Dry lube. CeramicSpeed’s latest UFO wax formula was developed later, Smith claims that it is measurably faster yet. From there all you need is a way to melt the wax (ideally a crockpot / slow cooker), the wax, and spare chain quick links to allow for easy chain removal/install. Do not adjust derailleurs during this break-in period. While rare, this can happen, especially on chains that are somewhat worn. Yes. And as I’ll get to in a bit, there are DIY options, too. How can I get the best efficiency from my waxed chain? However, the dry surfaces might create slightly more wear than the grease. Molten Speed Wax also offers an efficiency-enhancing powder, something that should only be applied once the waxed chain is broken in. It’s rather low maintenance in the grand scheme of things. “I’ve not seen any negative efficiency effects of at least re-lubing between rides, even if re-lubing over a dirty chain, if a user does not have time to clean their chain. “I dismissed the ‘green’ cleaners at first,” he says. You need to break up the exterior wax bonds manually to get the chain articulating. In comparison, Kerin’s modified Tacx Neo Smart trainer setup looks decidedly amateur, but the science behind it seems sound. The testing blocks (explained in ZFC’s test explanation document) also provide Kerin with a clear view of where things go wrong – or in some cases, go well – and in what conditions the lube falls apart. The way wax forms a barrier from grit and the general non-stick nature means a waxed chain will run cleaner and smoother for longer. Then, as the chain is subjected to contamination, these lubricants are like grit magnets, further acting to increase friction. “Squirt does not fit my definition of a 100% dry lube,” Smith continued. This would ensure your drivetrain retains all the benefits of immersive wax. There are also an usually high number of friction points, including the pin and plate shoulder; between the roller and plate shoulders; and between the inner and outer plates on both sides of the chain. “For example, to replicate a home-brew blend to match the latest UFO Chain formula efficiency, we’re using a blend of waxes and friction modifiers that are either not available for consumer purchase or only available in inappropriate consumer quantities.”. Purchase MSPEEDWAX, top finisher out of 30 lubes in Velo magazine test. The easiest entry into chain waxing is to start with a pre-waxed chain. Why do some pre-waxed chains cost so much? Dubai) where temperatures are in the high 40s (Celcius), that the wax will soften and act a bit more like a wax drip lube vs solid wax coating, likely to be of a consistency like Smoove or Squirt,” says Kerin. “For dry condition road riding or if caught in a light spray, just pop the chain off and re-wax.”. What about beeswax, lanolin or other waxes? The company claims that the chain will hit its lowest friction point after 35-40 minutes of use. While clean to touch, some wax products are flaky. Alternatively remove chain from bike, ideally with a quick link or by using a, Meticulously clean chain to bare metal. Please feel free to use the jump links below to find the answers to your questions. All the latest drip-on chain lubes that promise to turn your chain into wine feature some form of wax as a base ingredient. Ingredients. “You can minimise the excess a bit by wiping the outside of the chain with a cloth after removing the chain from the pot and hanging to set.”. Turn on slow cooker with wax inside. Allow the chain to sit in the wax for another minute and then repeat the swishing. Yes, but there are some compatibility issues to be aware of. Drip lubes can also be packaged with matching degreasers and on-bike chain cleaning tools. With a quick link. This is the same UFO Clean formula in the consumer bottles. Riders in the past commonly did this with a pot of paraffin wax. “They carry about 10% actual lubrication.”. Is wax good for mountain biking, cyclocross, or gravel? From there, you have multiple chains to wear through at a slowed rate, further reducing the wear on your drivetrain components. Then I’ll put the plate under a water faucet for a little bit. And it’s non-toxic and biodegradable too.”. That slight increase in friction will also likely coincide with an increase in chain wear – although the exact difference will likely be negligible. According to Kerin, this is often seen with users of Shimano and KMC chains, and is the result of special low-friction coatings used. However, its application to immersive waxing is most obvious. “Everyone thinks they have an astounding blend or have seen a supposedly astounding blend on YouTube [they] want me to test.”. “If contamination was removed from the equation, say, like in a track environment, or a very clean road ride, increased friction does not always correlate to wear,” Smith said. Yes, as long as the ultrasonic cleaner has a heating function that can reach approximately 80ºC (176ºF). Best bike chain lubes - our picks Smoove Lube. Silca’s new Super Secret Hot Melt wax is marketed with this very idea, with the inclusion of a food- and temperature-safe reusable bag. I recommend anyone who seriously wishes to assess their blend to buy a digital chain wear checker (or use vernier callipers) and accurately track wear rate to 0.5 mm net wear as a starting point. Leave to begin melting. Adam Kerin disputes these claims, stating that it’s more important to ensure that the low-friction modifiers in the paraffin wax are correctly mixed throughout – something that’s likely harder to achieve by using a bag of wax. I know this can be considered biased, but [CeramicSpeed] UFO Drip was designed to provide the fastest initial friction numbers (3.78w, or 0.73w faster than the next-fastest tested drip lube, Squirt), and with minimal increase from contamination.”. It’s also safe and controlled and allows you to simply keep the dry wax in the slow cooker pot ready for the next application. By comparison, “drip-on wax products can test to as high as 10 watts of loss to as low as the high-3 watts.” You can find a more detailed chart of how various popular lubes compare in our best chain lube feature. Use of any wet oil-based lube is not recommended. I love the idea of wax, but want something without Teflon or other environmentally harmful friction modifiers. How do I know if my pot of wax needs to be replaced? Avoid common “dry’ chain lubes if either durability or watts matter. Through a consistent and repeatable process, Adam runs chains through a simulated real-life death march. 6 L to 10 L units are ideal to ensure there’s room for cassettes and chainrings, too. Lubricating a Bicycle Chain Using Paraffin: If you are properly set up, you can use paraffin wax to lubricate your bike chain. Learn how to wax your bicycle chain. And since the Neo Smart is mechanically unique in that it’s truly a direct-drive design with no additional belts or pulleys, Kerin only has to factor one set of bearings into his baseline equations. The wax itself can be removed with hot water, meaning any dirt stuck to the chain can be cleaned with hot water, too. “Waxes are essentially solidified oils,” explains Jason Smith, the founder of FrictionFacts and now the Chief Technology Officer at CeramicSpeed. And if you’re riding outside, grit will certainly come into play. Kerin sets a simulated riding distance of 400km between lube intervals (on flat terrain simulation), with the frequency doubling during contamination blocks, such as where fine sand is added. Molten Speed Wax suggests a bag of its wax is good for up to 30 uses. This article highlights just the beginnings of Kerin’s testing. Yet as contamination levels increase, I agree with Adam that friction and wear will become more correlated.”. Is it a good idea to add paraffin oil to my wax? Re-install the chain on the bike. “Simply dip the chain into straight paraffin.”. Kerin’s tests are applicable to the everyday cyclist, be they amateur road racers, gravel riders, or mountain-bike marathoners. However, to date many of these waxes haven’t been thoroughly tested and so they remain an unknown. However, one thing is for certain: I’m going to cook my chain in wax. “If you re-wax every 200 km, wear rates will remain untraceable for a long time,” says Kerin. “The issue isn’t just with immersive waxing either; it was found during chain longevity test projects that some chain coatings tend to rid off lubricants much faster than others, so many top drip lubes will also have a lesser treatment lifespan,” he says. Other options include Molten Speed Wax in the USA, or for those seeking ultimate performance, then something like a CeramicSpeed UFO chain is worth a look too. This is an extreme example of how viscous drag can negate lubricity and decrease efficiency, but viscous drag exists and is very measurable.”. This noise and feeling happens well in advance of squeaking, and so is a clear indicator to re-wax. According to Smith, this puts it in a comparable efficiency range to 3-in-1 oil, motor oil, etc. The fluorocarbon, to some extent, created a wax-metal repulsion.”. According to Smith: “the solid wax and liquid oil will combine to create a paste-y concoction. The process for this is described next. Can I use my chain wax to make my legs super silky? In the case of a chain treated with Molten Speed Wax, most users get around 300 km of blissful riding on a single application. Additionally, stiction forces created during the back-and-forth articulation of the links are minimized with a dry solid. “[Wax flakes] are easily vacuumed up, and any build-up on the trainer itself you can just brush off with a stiff brush, and then vacuum up,” says Kerin. If efficiency isn’t important to you, then you can simply use pure food-grade paraffin wax by itself. “However it will still be very highly contamination-resistant as it will not be an actual liquid until around 60ºC (140ºC), so the majority of dust will still bounce off / not stick on contact.”. The testing, done in a clean lab environment, puts some leading drip lubes ahead of many popular melt-on products. Don’t fret, this roller is most likely at the bottom of your wax pot. Given the increased attention on chain wax, I thought it was time to answer a number of commonly asked questions – and much like we’ve done for disc brakes and road tubeless tyres – offer a one-stop technical guide to all things chain waxing. “It is possible in hot countries (i.e. This process mixes the friction modifiers through the wax and lets the wax get into the chain. Rock N Roll has three bike chain lubes in its range. What’s the best way to prepare a chain for waxing? “Because the wax is solidified onto the surface of the chain, it adheres better than oils,” he says. Motorcycle Chain Lube vs Wax. SILCA Super Secret Chain lube started out as a project to develop the fastest Hot-Melt wax lubricant available more than a year ago. Zero Friction Cycling’s reasoning is based on the fact that waxed quick links are much harder to install, and could lead to a risk of incorrect connection. One of those is the Maxima Chain Wax Spray. “At a minimum, a suitable wax for a bicycle chain should have at least decent lubricity qualities and be able to penetrate the chain fully, whether by melting or via carrier fluid,” explains Smith. Another method is to boil a pot of water and swish the chain in that. This is especially true for factory-applied grease and lubricants which can be stubborn to remove from the inner sections of the chain. Although do be aware that this carries compromises in regards to contamination and so is best kept for during travels or stage races. With the right wax product your drivetrain will remain clean and free from any grease or dirt that can act as a grinding paste on your chain and cogs. 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