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What's the longest lasting all-weather drivetrain lube?

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What's the longest lasting all-weather drivetrain lube?

Old 10-05-15, 09:24 AM
  #1  
NCSUMike
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What's the longest lasting all-weather drivetrain lube?

Hey All,

After a lot of researching, I still haven't found a definitive answer to the question: "What's the best lube for preserving my drivetrain in all-season/all-weather conditions, while affording the least amount of maintenance?"

I'm basically a busy grad. student who doesn't have time to clean and re-lube a 27-speed MTB chain after each time I ride through the rain. Optimistically, I may have an opportunity once a month (after about 60-90 miles of commuting) to clean and re-lube everything. On occasion, I can make the time to keep things up, say, after I rode over road salt, or loads of sand one day, etc. I'll try my best to wear a leg guard, or perhaps invest in an SKS Chainboard, so leg marking is not a major issue.

I've heard pros and cons to every major wet/semi-wax lube out there (heck, even paraffin wax dips). Like many things in engineering, I've learned that there is no one best solution for all situations.

Perhaps I'm just going to have to accept the fact that I'll need to clean more frequently, or that my drivetrain is just going to get a little rusty/worn quicker.

Let me know what you think!

Thanks,

Mike
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Old 10-05-15, 09:27 AM
  #2  
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Home Page Chain-L High Mileage Bicycle Chain Lubricant
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Old 10-05-15, 09:45 AM
  #3  
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Originally Posted by NCSUMike View Post
Like many things in engineering, I've learned that there is no one best solution for all situations.
A good thing to learn early! Engineering, really, is all about compromise between multiple goals, sometimes even conflicting ones.

Like @trailangel, I've become a fan of thicker oils like Chain-L. If one does a good job of wiping off excess after applying, it won't be that messy, and I don't have to think about my chain again for at least 500 miles. And that includes the occasional encounter with rain.
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Old 10-05-15, 09:49 AM
  #4  
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I used to do a hot 90w gear oil treatment BITD.
Chain-L gives the same results and is easier.

This thread should now be locked, as the best chain lube has been agreed upon!
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Old 10-05-15, 09:51 AM
  #5  
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I hope nobody objects to me adding my two cents here, but I honestly believe Chain-L is the clear winner in terms of weather resistance. Of course, I'm highly biased.
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Old 10-05-15, 10:30 AM
  #6  
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Another vote for Chain-L. I've tried pretty much everything over the last 40 years and, although a late adopter, I am sticking with Chain-L from now on. I'm getting 500-800 miles between treatments no matter the weather. It's been raining here for weeks straight and I have had no indication that the lube is failing.
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Old 10-05-15, 10:32 AM
  #7  
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Originally Posted by NCSUMike View Post
Hey All,

After a lot of researching, I still haven't found a definitive answer to the question: "What's the best lube for preserving my drivetrain in all-season/all-weather conditions, while affording the least amount of maintenance?"

I'm basically a busy grad. student who doesn't have time to clean and re-lube a 27-speed MTB chain after each time I ride through the rain. Optimistically, I may have an opportunity once a month (after about 60-90 miles of commuting) to clean and re-lube everything. On occasion, I can make the time to keep things up, say, after I rode over road salt, or loads of sand one day, etc. I'll try my best to wear a leg guard, or perhaps invest in an SKS Chainboard, so leg marking is not a major issue.

I've heard pros and cons to every major wet/semi-wax lube out there (heck, even paraffin wax dips). Like many things in engineering, I've learned that there is no one best solution for all situations.

Perhaps I'm just going to have to accept the fact that I'll need to clean more frequently, or that my drivetrain is just going to get a little rusty/worn quicker.

Let me know what you think!

Thanks,

Mike
You appear to be reasoning from false premises. A drivetrain should be cleaned as needed and lubed as needed, not on a fixed schedule. A chain can be lubed in about a minute and 90 miles per month is less than 25 miles per week. Do you not have a minute to spare after any given ride, on any given day, in any given week?
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Old 10-05-15, 10:36 AM
  #8  
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Chain-L. I don't mind working on bike but lubing is prob my least favorite part.
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Old 10-05-15, 10:43 AM
  #9  
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Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
I hope nobody objects to me adding my two cents here, but I honestly believe Chain-L is the clear winner in terms of weather resistance. Of course, I'm highly biased.
I began using Chain-L precisely for its longevity in the face of weather and bikes being left outside and uncared for. I often go weeks or even a couple months without having to relube my chains, and I'm able to relube at "points of convenience" such as when I have the chain off the bike for some unrelated reason, or have the bike on the stand for something else. Of the half-dozen or so lubes that I've tried, Chain-L is far and away the longest-lasting.

If "best" for you means "long-lasting", then Chain-L is worthy of consideration. OTOH, I do have a neighbor with differing priorities who chooses a solvent-based lube instead. Longevity is high up on my list, but not so much on his. So what the OP says about engineering is true, and one chooses lube based upon one's own priorities.
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Old 10-05-15, 10:48 AM
  #10  
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@NCSUMike, the problem extends beyond the chain. I ruined a freewheel by riding in the rain and having it splashed with road grit. The grit entered the FW body. If you don't already have fenders and mudflaps, they would help keep your entire drive train (and you) cleaner in bad road conditions.

Last edited by habilis; 10-05-15 at 10:52 AM.
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Old 10-05-15, 11:04 AM
  #11  
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Chain-L. And I ride all year in Ottawa, Canada, through snow and salt and slush.
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Old 10-05-15, 11:10 AM
  #12  
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That's an impressive number of testimonials. I use Park CL 1 lube and I've been really happy with it. Looks like I'm going to have to try Chain-L after reading this thread.
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Old 10-05-15, 11:17 AM
  #13  
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Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
I hope nobody objects to me adding my two cents here, but I honestly believe Chain-L is the clear winner in terms of weather resistance. Of course, I'm highly biased.
With the coming 'wet' season you convinced me to give Chain-L a try.
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Old 10-05-15, 11:28 AM
  #14  
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Originally Posted by gregf83 View Post
With the coming 'wet' season you convinced me to give Chain-L a try.
Hopefully, not on my say so alone.
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Old 10-05-15, 11:42 AM
  #15  
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Is this the "holy grail" of chain lubes so many have been praising?
Home Page Chain-L High Mileage Bicycle Chain Lubricant
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Old 10-05-15, 11:47 AM
  #16  
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Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
Hopefully, not on my say so alone.
You seem like a level-headed guy with reasonable contributions to this forum. It's not a bad thing to have people respect your opinions
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Old 10-05-15, 11:50 AM
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Originally Posted by gregf83 View Post
You seem like a level-headed guy with reasonable contributions to this forum. It's not a bad thing to have people respect your opinions
Thanks for that. I just wanted to emphasize that I'm the maker of Chain-L, and people should consider that if basing a decision on anything I say about it.

And just for the record. I didn't put the OP up to starting the thread, nor ask anyone else to post.
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Old 10-05-15, 11:52 AM
  #18  
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Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
Thanks for that. I just wanted to emphasize that I'm the maker of Chain-L, and people should consider that if basing a decision on anything I say about it..
No worries. I read your sig.
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Old 10-05-15, 11:59 AM
  #19  
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Its fair to say that even if one doesn't have the inclination to keep a drivetrain clean, one of the key factors to keeping drivetrain wear to a minimum (lube type or intervals notwithstanding) is to simply wipe the chain with an old rag regularly.
Reducing the amount of excess lube on the outside of a chain, or derailleur pulleys, or cassette, is always a win win--less dirt and abrasives will stick to your gooey chain, and so less toothpastey stuff stays on your drivetrain and wears it away.

A simple rag wipe to get the sticky grit off the outside of your chain takes but a minute, another few to quickly wipe down your chainrings, pulleys and "rag floss" your cassette once in a while. Heck, even if you do just a chain wipe, its literally a minute every so often depending on how much rain you ride in, less time than it took to read this post.

For regular rain riding, I have found that lightly wiping the excess is better, that leaving a certain amount of lube on the exterior of your chain helps with surface rust, but I imagine that super thick Chain-L is always going to have a certain amount on the outside, which is probably good in these sorts of conditions.

I realize that to many people, they just dont think about drivetrain maintenance, kinda like you just get in your car and turn the key and never think of checking things like oil level, or tire pressures or whatever. Being a least a bit into keeping your bikes drivetrain clean is at least good in that you are more familiar with your bike parts, and often heads off any mechanical issues because you notice and fiddle with things before they become a problem.

My experience with friends and neighbours who never think about their bikes, is that I put the heaviest, longest lasting oil on their chains. I still have some Phils Tenacious around just for this, and it really does last longer for this sort of thing, so it makes perfect sense to me that Chain-L works great for a "dont think about" sort of rider.

just follow the instructions on application, I'm sure this helps a lot putting it on how its recommended for the best life out of it.

PS, I've never seen any L here in Montreal, pretty certain.

Last edited by djb; 10-05-15 at 12:03 PM.
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Old 10-05-15, 12:00 PM
  #20  
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Haven't tried Chain-L yet (sorry FB; wish my neighborhood LBSs carried it). Phil Wood Tenacious Oil works well for me, even better if you can take the chain off the bike to clean and re-lube. Tenacious is really sticky and it helps to get most of it off the outside of the chain before it hits the gears.
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Old 10-05-15, 12:15 PM
  #21  
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Originally Posted by gregf83 View Post
You seem like a level-headed guy with reasonable contributions to this forum. It's not a bad thing to have people respect your opinions
Hey I have a bottle that was nicely donated by Francis if you would like to swing by I'll gladly lend it to you to try. I know it will be used by me for a while yet.

I also think Francis has said that Dream Cycles on Commercial carries Chain-L.
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Old 10-05-15, 12:17 PM
  #22  
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Mike; Don't feel bad about changing your chain more often. They are reasonably priced and if it helps you get away with keeping your low maintenance ride style, why not? Twice a year might make it all work for you. bk
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Old 10-05-15, 12:22 PM
  #23  
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Originally Posted by trailangel View Post
I used to do a hot 90w gear oil treatment BITD.
I tried 90w gear oil once.
It was astounding to see the size of the chunks of dirt/gravel/etc that stuck to my chain.
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Old 10-05-15, 12:24 PM
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Enclosed in a cover helps. but the wear surfaces still squeeze out the lubrication from the surfaces it needs to coat.

so the oil bath enclosure is Ideal _ unfortunately that is not done for bicycles .
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Old 10-05-15, 12:28 PM
  #25  
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For that, I use the wet (MTB) Finish Line lube. Wipe occasionally with a paper towel or rag. Do the same, relube and wipe again when it looks like it needs it. Dirty, messy (but does pretty much stay put on the chain and gears). And it does exactly what you are asking for. It works. One or tow or three (or) rides too many make very little difference. It takes a lot to wash it off. Come spring and good weather, pull or change the chain, thoroughly clean, relube witha "clean" lube and enjoy the summer. Next fall repeat.

Yes, you will see added drivetrain wear from winter grit. If that is unacceptable, given your time constraints, there are three choices. Don't ride, get a beater bike or move. But if you choose not to do anyoty of those three, the Finish Line will get you through the winter with everything in good shape save a little more wear than if those were summer months.

I do the wet on both my winter/city/rain bikes year 'round. And just accept that the drive train is the color drive trains should be (and evolve to naturally) - black. Also that pant clips are worn for a reason.

Edit: I haven't used Chain L. Finish Line is at most of the bike shops I go to, I use little enough and it lasts long enough that it isn't expensive and it has worked very well.

Ben

Last edited by 79pmooney; 10-05-15 at 12:34 PM.
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