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Drivetrain cleaning

Old 01-02-18, 06:38 PM
  #26  
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The law of diminishing returns can apply to chains. Is it really worth spending hours to clean a part that can be replaced for $25 bucks and will work well? In my opinion, no. However, if you have an old chain that's been on the bike for years and a new one will cause problems because of worn cogs then that's a different matter.

I used to use mineral spirits or parts degreaser from Napa to clean chains and now use Zep citrus degreaser and it works really well. So does mineral spirits though. If you're going to this much trouble you might as well go asll the way and convert over to wax-based lubes as they require far less cleaning in my experience.
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Old 01-03-18, 12:08 AM
  #27  
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
Honestly, wet lubricants aren't champions of wet weather performance either. Neither lubricant does all that well in wet conditions and needs to be refreshed after use. The difference is that dry lubricants don't float off the surface of the metal as easily as oil based lubricants do. As an added bonus, dry lubricants don't attract the grit that wet lubes do and work to keep it out of the chain.

I haven't used any other lubricant for (about) 20 years. In that time frame, I've toured throughout most of the US in every summer condition imaginable and not found dry lubricants to be all that bad even during downpours.

I've also commuted to work extensively over that same time period in every imaginable condition including snow, ice storms, thunderstorms and even a few inches of hail. The only problem I've encountered has been applying dry lubricant to a cold chain. It doesn't work all that well. Thankfully, I'm allowed to bring my bike into the building at work so I add lubricant there if needed.
Thanks. Great knowledge and experience shared.

For all my practical and theoretical knowledge, dry lubes should be worse at wet weather performance and are not replentished on their own when pushed away from surfaces they lubricate by chain pressure and movement. However, the commercial ones (like White Lightening) are not available where I live, so I didn't have a chance to test and compare those - in terms of chain squeaking after a rain and chain mileage comparisons.

There's also a price to consider. Chains I use are under 20$ and using a commercial lube, even if it gave a 50% longer chain life, would still make the total cost higher I think. Using a mix of diesel and chain saw bar oil doesn't collect too much dirt (better than motor oil for example). But I'll try to make a comparative test when I find the time (and the lube).

Is your chain mileage any better (or worse) after switching to dry lubes?


Edit: some practice and theory:

I had tried a Scottoiler chain lube system for motorcycles. It works by dripping a low viscosity lube over the chain, constantly. The "thin" lube gets swung off, along with any dirt stuck to the chain. While the constant replentishing keeps the chain lubed where the lube needs to be. The lube gets applied along the rear (larger) chainring, so the centrifugal force drives it into the chain, between the rollers and pins. This system makes a chain last about 5 times longer than most other lubing systems allow. Clean and lubed makes all the difference.

For bicycle dry lubes, while they keep a chain clean, they can't keep it lubed - no displaced lubricant replentishing and easier water washout. If they were able too keep a chain lubed all the time, one would probably be able to expect 3 to 5 times better chain life than with a wet lube. Using a thin wet lube that is constantly re-applied is not very practical on bicycle drivetrains. Especially since it would make a mess of the RD, and it would need to be very thin to fly off along with the dirt, since bike chain doesn't move as fast as a motorcycle chain I think (haven't calculated it yet for motorcycles so correct me if I'm wrong).

On the other hand, the lack of lubricant replentishment and water washout protection of dry lubes is compensated (to varying degrees, depending on riding conditions) by practically no dirt intrusion. Which makes a larger difference is down to riding conditions and personal preferences (how much one values a clean drivetrain for cleanliness sake).

So, in my understanding, both dry and wet bike chain lubes have their weak points. More rain, or more climbing - wet lube should perform better. Dry weather, with less climbing (or mashing gears) - dry lube is a better choice. Sand and dust being the greatest enemies of wet lubes.

Having said all this, I haven't tested any commercial dry lubes, White Lightning being the most praised one, so I'd take all written with a grain of salt.

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Old 01-03-18, 09:21 AM
  #28  
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Originally Posted by kingston View Post
You did say mineral oil @cyccommute. I was about ready to raid my wife's medicine cabinet. She thanks you for the clarification.
Oh crap! I did. I did say mineral spirits in the post above that one. Senior moment. My apologies for the confusion.
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Old 01-03-18, 09:25 AM
  #29  
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Old 01-03-18, 09:37 AM
  #30  
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Originally Posted by davidad View Post
I get over 15000 miles on a 7 and 8 sped chain. So that makes me an outlier. I tried White lightning and found it to be crap.
I just don't see the point. A chain is cheap...and you should use cheap chains because they aren't any better than the more expensive ones. A Sram PC1110 costs around $14. Same for a 9 speed chain. Let's do a little bit of cost benefit analysis on getting 15,000 miles out of a $14 chain using your method.

Based on your maintenance schedule, you've taken your chain apart about 18 times. If it take 15 minutes to do the cleaning, that's about 5 hours of your time. I suspect that it takes more than 15 minutes because you are using water based solvents in the ultrasonicator...at least I hope you are! You need to get rid of the water so there's a lot of flushing and chasing. You also have to clean the rest of the drivetrain so your cleaning task is likely closer to an hour. That's 18 hours of messing with the chain (and 18 times of breaking and making the chain). Your time is worth something so let's figure $5/hour. You've spent $90 of your time on a $14 item. Is it really worth it?

Using my method, I've used 4 chains over the same mileage. I've spent $60 on my chains and about 15 minutes per chain (about an hour total) in cleaning the chain and installing it. I also don't have to spend an inordinate amount of time cleaning my drivetrain because my lubricant is cleaner. Instead of cleaning my bike, I'm out riding it.
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Old 01-03-18, 09:56 AM
  #31  
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Originally Posted by Slaninar View Post
Thanks. Great knowledge and experience shared.

For all my practical and theoretical knowledge, dry lubes should be worse at wet weather performance and are not replentished on their own when pushed away from surfaces they lubricate by chain pressure and movement. However, the commercial ones (like White Lightening) are not available where I live, so I didn't have a chance to test and compare those - in terms of chain squeaking after a rain and chain mileage comparisons.
There are a lot of fallacies when it comes to wet lubricants and wet weather performance. Yes, the lubrication can "backfill" while dry lubricants can't but I would argue that this isn't necessarily a good thing. Wet lubricants are going to form an emulsion with the water that is sprayed on the chain. The water is going to churn with the water through the action of the drivetrain. Once the system sits, the water is going to phase separate and the water is going to sink to the bottom of the system while the oil rises to the top. This puts the water in contact with the steel of the chain and, since it is highly aerated...again through the action of the drivetrain..., it is going to increase the possibility of corrosion.

The fallacy comes in to play with people thinking that the oil somehow prevents contact of the water with the metal. It really doesn't but you think it does because the oil is sitting on top of the water and it is what you see. The lubricant should still be refreshed after a rain ride so that you flush as much water out as possible.

Compare that to the action of a dry lubricant. Yes, a dry lube can't "backfill" but the dry lube stays in place better. The water has fewer opportunities to infiltrate because the spaces are filled with something that doesn't mix at all with the water. The water sits on top of the wax. Yes, it can get in and yes, it can cause corrosion but a oil lubricant and water corrodes as well. You just don't hear it as soon.

Originally Posted by Slaninar View Post
There's also a price to consider. Chains I use are under 20$ and using a commercial lube, even if it gave a 50% longer chain life, would still make the total cost higher I think. Using a mix of diesel and chain saw bar oil doesn't collect too much dirt (better than motor oil for example). But I'll try to make a comparative test when I find the time (and the lube).
I've used something similar in the past and I've had to deal with people's home brew lubricants at my local co-op. I've also used Tri-flow in the past. All of them are maintenance nightmares. I swear just brushing up against the chain can spread inordinate amount of black gunk on every surface within a 3 km diameter.

Originally Posted by Slaninar View Post
Is your chain mileage any better (or worse) after switching to dry lubes?
It's about the same. I get what most people claim for chain mileage but without all the hassle of cleaning them. I work on bikes and am a regular volunteer at my local co-op. All of my bikes are about as maintenance free as possible so I get my jollies by helping other people fit their bicycle problems.

But I really hate to clean bikes.
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Old 01-03-18, 12:33 PM
  #32  
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
There are a lot of fallacies when it comes to wet lubricants and wet weather performance. Yes, the lubrication can "backfill" while dry lubricants can't but I would argue that this isn't necessarily a good thing. Wet lubricants are going to form an emulsion with the water that is sprayed on the chain. The water is going to churn with the water through the action of the drivetrain. Once the system sits, the water is going to phase separate and the water is going to sink to the bottom of the system while the oil rises to the top. This puts the water in contact with the steel of the chain and, since it is highly aerated...again through the action of the drivetrain..., it is going to increase the possibility of corrosion.

The fallacy comes in to play with people thinking that the oil somehow prevents contact of the water with the metal. It really doesn't but you think it does because the oil is sitting on top of the water and it is what you see. The lubricant should still be refreshed after a rain ride so that you flush as much water out as possible.
Nicely explained - great posts and info... as usual.

Risking going into a hair-splitting territory, comparing wet and dry lubes, from corrosion protection perspective - I'd say that even with water reaching beneath the lube, some lube still remains after the rain has stopped. And the "wet lube" lubricated parts of a drivetrain still remain mostly rust free in the salty winters I face, while the dry (not lubed parts) ones get rusty. Would it be the same with a dry lube - yet to test it.

Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
Compare that to the action of a dry lubricant. Yes, a dry lube can't "backfill" but the dry lube stays in place better. The water has fewer opportunities to infiltrate because the spaces are filled with something that doesn't mix at all with the water. The water sits on top of the wax. Yes, it can get in and yes, it can cause corrosion but a oil lubricant and water corrodes as well. You just don't hear it as soon.
I'd just argue that dry lube gets pushed aside even in dry weather, especially if there's power applied when riding cross chained (like most multispeed drivetrains do).

Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
I've used something similar in the past and I've had to deal with people's home brew lubricants at my local co-op. I've also used Tri-flow in the past. All of them are maintenance nightmares. I swear just brushing up against the chain can spread inordinate amount of black gunk on every surface within a 3 km diameter.



It's about the same. I get what most people claim for chain mileage but without all the hassle of cleaning them. I work on bikes and am a regular volunteer at my local co-op. All of my bikes are about as maintenance free as possible so I get my jollies by helping other people fit their bicycle problems.

But I really hate to clean bikes.
Perfectly clean chain lasting similarly long as a wet lubed (and often dirty) one confirms my theory about the downsides of dry lubes. If they were more water resistant, or at least able to replentish the contact area they get pushed out of, with having such a clean drivetrain, it would most probably result in 3 to 6 times longer chain life.

However, the fact that you don't get any shorter chain life, and the drivetrain is always clean is definitely a plus. If price difference is not a problem, it's a good recommendation. The way I see it, it literally is a choice: bit more expensive lube with a clean drivetrain vs the other way round. At least for the modern, bushingless chains.

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Old 01-03-18, 01:04 PM
  #33  
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Originally Posted by Slaninar View Post
Nicely explained - great posts and info... as usual.

Risking going into a hair-splitting territory, comparing wet and dry lubes, from corrosion protection perspective - I'd say that even with water reaching beneath the lube, some lube still remains after the rain has stopped. And the "wet lube" lubricated parts of a drivetrain still remain mostly rust free in the salty winters I face, while the dry (not lubed parts) ones get rusty. Would it be the same with a dry lube - yet to test it.



I'd just argue that dry lube gets pushed aside even in dry weather, especially if there's power applied when riding cross chained (like most multispeed drivetrains do).



Perfectly clean chain lasting similarly long as a wet lubed (and often dirty) one confirms my theory about the downsides of dry lubes. If they were more water resistant, or at least able to replentish the contact area they get pushed out of, with having such a clean drivetrain, it would most probably result in 3 to 6 times longer chain life.

However, the fact that you don't get any shorter chain life, and the drivetrain is always clean is definitely a plus. If price difference is not a problem, it's a good recommendation. The way I see it, it literally is a choice: bit more expensive lube with a clean drivetrain vs the other way round. At least for the modern, bushingless chains.
this conversation seems to be pointing in the direction of wax based lubes being promising. Having used White Lightning, I would say that this product most definitely gets "pushed aside" as you say. The squeaking, the rusting, the failure of the product to get into the internals of the chain are all problematic. This is why so many of us just develop a wet lube system. I was applying my Pedros lube every 40 to 100 miles and wiping my chain with a "Tub-O-Towels" cleaning wipe before each ride.
But now I must admit that I am intrigued by the Molten Speed Wax product. If you go to their website, I would encourage you to read through their FYI's and directions. By melting the wax granules and them putting them into a thoroughly clean chain, there seems to be a much better chance that the product will stay put a for the distances that they claim (up to 400 miles under ordinary mixed road bike riding?). I have now treated 2 bikes with the product and will be testing them out in 2018. On the bike stand the first impression is positive. The Speed Wax seems quite slick (you have to manually "flex" all of the chain links to loosen things up). Also, being able to touch the chain and not get black goo all over is pretty cool.

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Old 01-03-18, 01:21 PM
  #34  
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Originally Posted by masi61 View Post
this conversation seems to be pointing in the direction of wax based lubes being promising. Having used White Lightning, I would say that this product most definitely gets "pushed aside" as you say. The squeaking, the rusting, the failure of the product to get into the internals of the chain are all problematic. This is why so many of use just develop a wet lube system. I was applying my Pedros lube every 40 to 100 miles and wiping my chain with a "Tub-O-Towels" cleaning wipe before each ride.
But now I must admit that I am intrigued by the Molten Speed Wax product. If you go to their website, I would encourage you to read through their FYI's and directions. By melting the wax granules and them putting them into a thoroughly clean chain, there seems to be a much better chance that the product will stay put a for the distances that they claim (up to 400 miles under ordinary mixed road bike riding?). I have now treated 2 bikes with the product and will be testing them out in 2018. On the bike stand the first impression is positive. The Speed Wax seems quite slick (you have to manually "flex" all of the chain links to loosen things up). Also, being able to touch the chain and not get black goo all over is pretty cool.
If you are going the Molten Speed Wax route, also consider the Friction Facts Chain Lube Formula. This formulation was based on actual scientific tests and since the developer wanted to remain above reproach as an independent tester, he decided to just give away his formula for anyone to use. I have a batch mixed up in a dedicated crock pot and it just takes a few minutes to melt and I just clean and throw my chain in there for a while with some agitation then hang it to cool/dry and give it a wipe before reinstalling.
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Old 01-03-18, 01:40 PM
  #35  
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Originally Posted by IrishBrewer View Post
This formulation was based on actual scientific tests ...
What? This is Bike Forums, remember....
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Old 01-03-18, 02:08 PM
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Originally Posted by JonathanGennick View Post
What? This is Bike Forums, remember....
Anecdotally, I realized gains of over 50 watts after switching to this formula. Does this help?
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Old 01-03-18, 02:18 PM
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Originally Posted by IrishBrewer View Post
Anecdotally, I realized gains of over 50 watts after switching to this formula. Does this help?
Good, solid, anecdotal evidence. Whew!
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Old 01-03-18, 02:20 PM
  #38  
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Originally Posted by IrishBrewer View Post
If you are going the Molten Speed Wax route, also consider the Friction Facts Chain Lube Formula. This formulation was based on actual scientific tests and since the developer wanted to remain above reproach as an independent tester, he decided to just give away his formula for anyone to use. I have a batch mixed up in a dedicated crock pot and it just takes a few minutes to melt and I just clean and throw my chain in there for a while with some agitation then hang it to cool/dry and give it a wipe before reinstalling.
I fail to see what MoS2 attributes in a bicycle chain lubing application - apart from sounding cooler.
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Old 01-03-18, 02:52 PM
  #39  
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Most chains come pre-lubed with grease, ready to run. Reapplying grease is next to impossible, because its too thick to get into the links. You can get around this by dissolving it in petrol and apply liberally while back pedalling. This both dissolves some of the old lube and grime, that can then be wiped with a rag, and replenishes the lubrication. This method works well for the wet and salty Scandinavian winter and is very low labour
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Old 01-03-18, 02:58 PM
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Originally Posted by mfcity View Post
I see no corrosion on the chain, but the remaining dirt is pretty dry and hard, requiring more of a scraping than I am used to in cleaning a chain.
I've found that a wire wheel mounted to a bench grinder does a great job of removing that caked-on gunk.
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Old 01-03-18, 04:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Slaninar View Post
I'd just argue that dry lube gets pushed aside even in dry weather, especially if there's power applied when riding cross chained (like most multispeed drivetrains do).



Perfectly clean chain lasting similarly long as a wet lubed (and often dirty) one confirms my theory about the downsides of dry lubes. If they were more water resistant, or at least able to replentish the contact area they get pushed out of, with having such a clean drivetrain, it would most probably result in 3 to 6 times longer chain life.

However, the fact that you don't get any shorter chain life, and the drivetrain is always clean is definitely a plus. If price difference is not a problem, it's a good recommendation. The way I see it, it literally is a choice: bit more expensive lube with a clean drivetrain vs the other way round. At least for the modern, bushingless chains.
The thing is that I get similar mileages to the average around here and other places I've seen around the Innertubz. If you get the same results, you are getting similar lubrication. It doesn't really matter what you do to the chain. I haven't been brave enough to just run the chain dry all the time but I'm pretty close. I get about 600 miles between applications which is about what people using wet lubricants get.

You'd have to do something very different to get 3 to 6 times the chain life and, at about $14 each chain, it's just not worth the effort.
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Old 01-03-18, 04:38 PM
  #42  
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Originally Posted by Racing Dan View Post
Most chains come pre-lubed with grease, ready to run. Reapplying grease is next to impossible, because its too thick to get into the links. You can get around this by dissolving it in petrol and apply liberally while back pedalling. This both dissolves some of the old lube and grime, that can then be wiped with a rag, and replenishes the lubrication. This method works well for the wet and salty Scandinavian winter and is very low labour
I would point out that the "grease" that comes on a chain isn't "grease" in the traditional sense. It's a soft wax that does not resemble the wet lubricants people put on their chains. It does resemble the wax based lubricants, however.
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Old 01-03-18, 11:19 PM
  #43  
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
I just don't see the point. A chain is cheap...and you should use cheap chains because they aren't any better than the more expensive ones. A Sram PC1110 costs around $14. Same for a 9 speed chain. Let's do a little bit of cost benefit analysis on getting 15,000 miles out of a $14 chain using your method.

Based on your maintenance schedule, you've taken your chain apart about 18 times. If it take 15 minutes to do the cleaning, that's about 5 hours of your time. I suspect that it takes more than 15 minutes because you are using water based solvents in the ultrasonicator...at least I hope you are! You need to get rid of the water so there's a lot of flushing and chasing. You also have to clean the rest of the drivetrain so your cleaning task is likely closer to an hour. That's 18 hours of messing with the chain (and 18 times of breaking and making the chain). Your time is worth something so let's figure $5/hour. You've spent $90 of your time on a $14 item. Is it really worth it?

Using my method, I've used 4 chains over the same mileage. I've spent $60 on my chains and about 15 minutes per chain (about an hour total) in cleaning the chain and installing it. I also don't have to spend an inordinate amount of time cleaning my drivetrain because my lubricant is cleaner. Instead of cleaning my bike, I'm out riding it.

I am retired, but did it when I was getting paid about $25 an hour. Plus I don't like wasting material.

Last edited by davidad; 01-04-18 at 04:24 PM.
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Old 01-03-18, 11:56 PM
  #44  
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
I would point out that the "grease" that comes on a chain isn't "grease" in the traditional sense. It's a soft wax that does not resemble the wet lubricants people put on their chains. It does resemble the wax based lubricants, however.
The chains I have had, had factory lube that closely resembled ordinary grease. From my experience bicycle wax lubes are too viscous to properly penetrate the chain and they tend to wash off easily. Factory grease, in contrast, stays put and so does grease dissolved in petrol, once the petrol evaporates.
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Old 01-04-18, 12:30 AM
  #45  
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post

You'd have to do something very different to get 3 to 6 times the chain life and, at about $14 each chain, it's just not worth the effort.
Judging by my motorbike chain experiment, all it takes is that the chain stays both lubed and clean during exploatation. That's what the Scottoiler system provides for the driving chain. It makes sense - chain inside the motor, that drives the pistons and takes care of valve timing, taking all the engine power, is half the thickness, lasting about 8 times longer than the drive chain - but it's in a clean environment (inside the engine) and in a constant oil bath.

For bicycles, the choice is lubed, but dirty chain (wet lubes), or clean, but not very well lubed one (dry lubes). Cleaning the chain on a daily, or even a weekly basis is far from practical (time also costs, for most of people).

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Old 01-04-18, 09:33 AM
  #46  
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Originally Posted by davidad View Post
I am retired, but did it when I was getting paid about $25 an hour. Plus I don't wasting material.
If you don't like wasting material, consider how much your cleaning costs and how much waste is generated. I have a cup of mineral spirits that I have used for a bunch of chains...probably around 1 to 2 dozen. That could be up to 84,000 miles of bicycling. I use it once at the beginning and that's it. No other cleaning, no other waste. If I need to refresh the mineral spirits...you lose some when you use it...I pour it out of a can of mineral spirits that I bought before 2000 and for which I paid around $10. I still have most of the can left.

Now compare that to your cleaning system. You clean every 800 miles or 18 times over 15,000 miles on the chain. Your ultrasonicator takes about a liter to use it, so that 18 liters of cleaning solvent for which you had to pay something...let's say $10. The ultrasonicator you linked to cost $60 if you are lucky enough to find it on sale or $195 full retail. Even at $60, you've invested more than I have in my cleaning "system"...a used Gatorade bottle.

Doing the math, I've used 4 chains to your one which costs me about $60. My cleaning system costs me $10. I'm in for $70 and, roughly an hour of my time over 4 chains.

You paid $14 for your chain, $10 for degreaser, and $60 for the ultrasonicator for a total of $84 and from 4 to 18 hours of your time. Plus you have generated a bunch more waste to be disposed of...it really shouldn't be flushed down the drain...than I have.
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Old 01-04-18, 09:54 AM
  #47  
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Originally Posted by Racing Dan View Post
The chains I have had, had factory lube that closely resembled ordinary grease. From my experience bicycle wax lubes are too viscous to properly penetrate the chain and they tend to wash off easily. Factory grease, in contrast, stays put and so does grease dissolved in petrol, once the petrol evaporates.
Yes, the factory lubricant can feel like grease but if you do a side-by-side comparison, the factory chain lubricant is tackier than bearing grease.

From what I can glean from Fuchs which makes the formulation for the factory lube, it is not "grease"...at least not in the sense of the same grease you use for bearings and certainly not in the traditional sense of what most people think of as "axle grease" which is an oil in a surfactant. Even modern "grease" is not much like old greases.

Waxes probably aren't what you think they are either. A wax can be any petroleum product that has a high viscosity and can range from semisolid (think petroleum jelly) to solid (i.e "canning" or candle wax). The "wax" used by the factory for lubricating chains is likely a proprietary mixture soft waxes and other additives that provide the viscosity necessary to keep the lubricant in place. By that I mean not having it run off the chain like an oil would.

As for a wax lubricant "washing off", that doesn't happen. The very nature of the wax makes it less water soluble than an oil. Oil isn't water soluble to any appreciable extent but wax, being a high molecular weight non-polar compound is even less water soluble. Wax isn't all that mobile so it doesn't fill in the gaps after water exposure but neither does an oil based lubricant. The oil based lubricant just masks the water infiltration so that you don't hear it. It's there and it's doing damage but you don't hear it. The oil based lubricant should be refreshed after riding in the rain just as a wax based lube should.
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Old 01-04-18, 10:02 AM
  #48  
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Originally Posted by masi61 View Post
this conversation seems to be pointing in the direction of wax based lubes being promising. Having used White Lightning, I would say that this product most definitely gets "pushed aside" as you say. The squeaking, the rusting, the failure of the product to get into the internals of the chain are all problematic. This is why so many of us just develop a wet lube system.

This was my experience as well. One rainy ride with White Lightning, and the chain is covered in surface rust three days later. Multiple rainy rides with wet lube, no surface rust, and the chain starts squeaking after ~500 miles -- same thing happens if it doesn't rain.



Now I save the rest of the White Lightning for lubing pedal cleats.
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Old 01-04-18, 10:21 AM
  #49  
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
As for a wax lubricant "washing off", that doesn't happen. The very nature of the wax makes it less water soluble than an oil. Oil isn't water soluble to any appreciable extent but wax, being a high molecular weight non-polar compound is even less water soluble. Wax isn't all that mobile so it doesn't fill in the gaps after water exposure but neither does an oil based lubricant. The oil based lubricant just masks the water infiltration so that you don't hear it. It's there and it's doing damage but you don't hear it. The oil based lubricant should be refreshed after riding in the rain just as a wax based lube should.
After a heavy rain, does a wax lubed chain start making creaking noises?
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Old 01-04-18, 10:51 AM
  #50  
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
Yes, the factory lubricant can feel like grease but if you do a side-by-side comparison, the factory chain lubricant is tackier than bearing grease.

From what I can glean from Fuchs which makes the formulation for the factory lube, it is not "grease"...at least not in the sense of the same grease you use for bearings and certainly not in the traditional sense of what most people think of as "axle grease" which is an oil in a surfactant. Even modern "grease" is not much like old greases.

Waxes probably aren't what you think they are either. A wax can be any petroleum product that has a high viscosity and can range from semisolid (think petroleum jelly) to solid (i.e "canning" or candle wax). The "wax" used by the factory for lubricating chains is likely a proprietary mixture soft waxes and other additives that provide the viscosity necessary to keep the lubricant in place. By that I mean not having it run off the chain like an oil would.

As for a wax lubricant "washing off", that doesn't happen. The very nature of the wax makes it less water soluble than an oil. Oil isn't water soluble to any appreciable extent but wax, being a high molecular weight non-polar compound is even less water soluble. Wax isn't all that mobile so it doesn't fill in the gaps after water exposure but neither does an oil based lubricant. The oil based lubricant just masks the water infiltration so that you don't hear it. It's there and it's doing damage but you don't hear it. The oil based lubricant should be refreshed after riding in the rain just as a wax based lube should.

I want to find some of that neon green stuff that Shimano packs their higher end bearings with.

I lube when my chain needs lube.

Simple experience will tell you when.

Depending on the conditions and the frequency with which someone rides, no particular brand of lube will really "save" your components. You just need to keep it lubed with something. "Dry" lubes are better for dry conditions, and wet lubes are better for wet conditions. Of course, in a pinch you could lube your chain with bacon grease.
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