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Waxed chains and heavy rains?

Old 08-03-21, 10:14 PM
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SapInMyBlood
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Waxed chains and heavy rains?

For those of you doing 300+ km rides.. What are you using for chain maintenance, in terms of lube?

I've been using squirt for a while now, but I find that inevitably on 300k rides it starts to squeak, and in the past I didn't bring more lube. On future rides I'll be bringing a bottle along with me but..

I've been reading a lot about waxed chains, reduced drivetrain wear and the silent operation, but have also seen numerous reports about wax thriving in dry conditions.

If you wax your chain, how long can you ride in the wet before you feel like you have to re-wax / swap chains?

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​​​​​Anecdotal experience would be nice 👌

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Old 08-03-21, 10:31 PM
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I have enough to worry about on brevets without needing to stop and relube my chain every hundred miles. No interest in wax here.
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Old 08-04-21, 12:08 AM
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Originally Posted by ThermionicScott View Post
I have enough to worry about on brevets without needing to stop and relube my chain every hundred miles. No interest in wax here.
I'm hoping that wax may be the solution to that. If I can get 600k out of a wax I'll be a happy camper.. Then maybe top up with squirt on 1200s
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Old 08-04-21, 06:35 AM
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There's rain, and then there's rain. How heavy is your typical rain? IME, riding a half an hour when it's raining 1"/hour will strip the wax out of a chain. Water is a fair lubricant, though, so it'll stay quiet until it dries.

To be fair, I figure that out commuting, before I started randonneuring. I guess it was my last 300k started with 3-4 hours of heavy rain, then dried out for the rest of the ride. That nasty, dirty chain oil that wax advocates decry? It kept my chain lubed for the entire ride.
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Old 08-04-21, 07:52 AM
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I have needed to lube my chain on a 1200k. I have carried some, but it seems like the times where it was really bothering me, I got lube from someone else
I expect the truth is that quiet chains are somewhat overrated and that it can wait. OTOH, when it's the last 100k of a 1200k, any little annoyance can be a big deal.
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Old 08-04-21, 08:07 AM
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I have tried White Lightning and other similar drip-applied wax products, and they work well when dry, but rinses off quickly and leaves you unlubricated after pretty much any rain. I believe it lasts less long than oil/wet lubes in the dry, too, but the lack of black grease stains is nice.

If I lived in Arizona or Saudi Arabia maybe I would have thought it worth the effort, but anywhere that you are likely to get caught in the rain I think oil is better than wax. Wiping an oily chain clean with a rag is necessary about as often as relubing with wax, so there is little difference in maintenance effort IME.

Another advantage of oil is that it is available everywhere in some form or another - for instance, if you think your chain is in need of an emergency relube while out on a ride, you can find an 'empty' quart bottle of motor oil in the garbage at any gas station, and the three drops left in the bottom of the bottle is enough to lube probably 10 bicycle chains or more.
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Old 08-04-21, 10:03 AM
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I've been using chain-L for the last few years, I don't even use a bottle a year and it costs me around 30$ shipped. I've done rainy 600k brevets without having to re-lube or listen to a squeaky chain.

From the first chart posted in this thread it seems chain-L costs me just over a watt vs. paraffin wax... hardly seems worth all the extra effort to wax chains and risk worse performance in the rain. The equipment, time, and chemicals needed to wax chains seems kind of ridiculous to me to save a few watts.
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Old 08-04-21, 10:08 AM
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Originally Posted by SapInMyBlood View Post
I'm hoping that wax may be the solution to that. If I can get 600k out of a wax I'll be a happy camper.. Then maybe top up with squirt on 1200s
It's up to you.

I put on a freshly-oiled chain (Chain-L) before PBP in 2015, wiped it well, and had no lube issues for the whole 765 miles. That includes some sprinkles around the second day, and being rained on from Dreux all the way back to SQY. I even rode on that chain a few more times after getting home, before taking it off to clean/relube. No squeaks. That chain is pushing 5,000 miles but still hasn't stretched enough to be replaced yet.
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Old 08-04-21, 10:10 AM
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Anything over 300Km, I bring lube. I used to use Rock N Roll Gold but now wax my chain and touch it up with either Smoove or Squirt. A small backpackers type bottle is light.

FrictionFacts website did some nice testing on various lubes under different conditions. They measure wear and subject the chains to long duration tests.

Here is their report on Molten speed wax

https://zerofrictioncycling.com.au/w...017/12/MSW.pdf

And for rock n roll gold

https://zerofrictioncycling.com.au/w...017/12/RRG.pdf
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Old 08-04-21, 11:03 AM
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I don't think I understand what the conditions are for rain to cause problems. I have had problems after a short deluge and no problems after being soaked all day. Even riding though crank-deep water.
I think the shortest rain that caused me problems was on Mac 'n' Cheese near the nuke plant, so maybe it was all the irradiated dirt. Although, now that I think about it, we did get some heavy rain on the first day.
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Old 08-04-21, 04:16 PM
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I do not do 300k+ brevets, but I do bike tours where my bike is outside and ridden for almost every day for a month or more. My last tour was 964 miles according to my GPS. There were three rainy days that I did not travel, but rode in the rain about four or five days on that tour.

I keep a bottle of chain lube in my handlebar bag. When my drive train is noisy, I stop, add lube. Takes no more than a couple minutes. As noted above, water is a good lube until the water is all gone, and then it is not a good lube. The noisy drive train will tell you when it is gone.

I used to use petroleum based lubes that made my chain and cassette a dust magnet, now I mostly use a wax based lube. The petroleum held up much better in the rain but I eventually decided I liked a cleaner chain, even if it meant I had to add lube more often.

I know people that do the melted paraffin wax thing, but I have no interest in devoting that much time to it.

If you ask 100 bicyclists what they do for chain lube, you will get about different 150 answers.
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Old 08-04-21, 06:09 PM
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Friction facts has a pretty decent testing protocol.

Immersion waxed chains do not lose the wax from an hour in the rain. That is not true. I have done my share of riding in the rain.

People always have opinions, mostly not based on facts.

I generally get at least 10,000 miles out of chains on my recumbent and usually go 4,000 on my uprights. When I change them out, they measure less than 0.4%. Cassettes and rings barely wear if the chains are not "stretched". My stuff wore much quicker with other lubes.
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Old 08-04-21, 08:16 PM
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Here's the link to all the info one can handle: https://www.ceramicspeed.com/media/3...s-combined.pdf

I use Finish Line Ceramic and ride in the rain a lot. My longest single rides have been 400k, certainly no need to re-lube on a short ride like that. I couldn't say how long between lubes, depends on the weather. Wet road and no rain is probably the worst for a wet lube. To add lube, I dry wipe the chain, apply more lube, run that in with a heat gun at home, and wipe as clean as possible. I bought a pint of that lube maybe 15 years ago, it's about half gone. I haven't tried immersion waxing. Drip wax lubes are pretty useless in bad weather. I never use one of those chain cleaning gadgets. I used to, but got better chain life after I quit using it.

I ride a new chain until it looks dry. After that, my original application technique is to dry-wipe the chain as clean as possible, then heat it with a heat gun with a shrink tube attachment. Then I drizzle lube onto each side for about 7 pedal revolutions. Then I heat it again while pedaling 100 revs, then dry wipe it as clean as possible. I repeat that application technique every time I wash the bike which is not that often. I'm not a big fan of fussing over a bike. I mostly ride them and do my own maintenance as necessary.
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Old 08-05-21, 02:24 AM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
...
I use Finish Line Ceramic ....
I assume you use the wax version for dry conditions, not the version for wet conditions?
https://www.amazon.com/Finish-Line-C...dp/B001XRXZFG/
https://www.amazon.com/Finish-Line-C...dp/B001XRVY4K/

I use the ceramic wax or dry version on bike tours or when adding from my handlebar bag on other rides. But if I add lube at home before a ride, I have an old can of Pedros wax that I have been trying to empty for over a decade.
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Old 08-05-21, 05:27 AM
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Which chain or lube is lowest in friction is very nice but for me, I am concerned with wear because high end modern drivetrains are very expensive and I have one crankset that I really like and the rings for it are unavailable. Australian based Zero Friction is the only one doing such tests that I am aware of.

Chain durability testing results

https://zerofrictioncycling.com.au/chaintesting/

Lubricant testing in a variety of conditions

https://zerofrictioncycling.com.au/lubetestin

The cost of many of the top tier group set components is such that the difference in running costs between a high performing lubricant vs a poor performing lubricant can be many hundreds to even thousands of dollar’s over 10,000 to 20,000km of riding. A poor lubricant can eat through chain, cassette and chain rings within as little as 2000km vs the highest performing that will hit an early chain replacement recommendation mark at around 10,000 to 15,000km - whereby one can get a second chain on same drivetrain components without issue and run another 10,000 to 15,000km. When cassettes can cost upwards of $700 and chains $150+, and now with sram we have both front chain rings and spider as a single very expensive unit – running a lubricant that delivers outstanding drivetrain parts longevity has never been more important, even for those who do not race.
https://zerofrictioncycling.com.au/w...ng-Round-1.pdf
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Old 08-05-21, 05:36 AM
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So, for the OP.

Squirt is very, very poor in terms of lubrication initially. It takes a lot to get it inside the pins and rollers. When I used it for initial treatment (after strippinjg out the factory lube), I would heat gun the lube in from top, bottom, and sides using a lot of it. Drip emulsion waxes are not that great in the rain, unlike the crockpotted melt wax, which are the best in rain.

The test in the attached article was only one hour, most lubes lost 2 W. One lost 3.5 watts. That is wear.

Once again, the old technology of paraffin wax vanquished all comers. In the longevity test, it was completely unperturbed by water, sand, and dirt; in fact, it was over 0.5 watts faster after being run for an hour in the grime
https://www.ceramicspeed.com/media/3...s-combined.pdf

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Old 08-05-21, 08:49 AM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
I assume you use the wax version for dry conditions, not the version for wet conditions?
https://www.amazon.com/Finish-Line-C...dp/B001XRXZFG/
https://www.amazon.com/Finish-Line-C...dp/B001XRVY4K/

I use the ceramic wax or dry version on bike tours or when adding from my handlebar bag on other rides. But if I add lube at home before a ride, I have an old can of Pedros wax that I have been trying to empty for over a decade.
No, I run the wet stuff year 'round. I ride in the PNW where, at least up until this drought year, it would frequently rain on the 4th of July. Plus my chains usually last a couple of years so I simply keep the same lube in them all the time. That's simple, and I like simple.
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Old 08-05-21, 09:06 AM
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Originally Posted by GhostRider62 View Post
Immersion waxed chains do not lose the wax from an hour in the rain. That is not true. I have done my share of riding in the rain.
I have been wax curious lately. How long would you say your wax lasts in the rain? Does it last for hundreds of miles of rain? Are you using paraffin?

I think the reason that chain lubes are so controversial is that most of them aren't that great. And some people never ride in the rain.
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Old 08-05-21, 09:19 AM
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I use Molten Speed Wax, one pound lasted me a couple years. I am going to try Silca's wax, it is actually arriving today

I did a 600K in Southern Florida and it rained the entire first day, ending just before arrival at the sleep stop. The chain was still quiet but that is about the limit I would do for any chain in the rain. If I was using rock n roll gold, I would have relubed for sure. So, I applied Squirt to the chain rather generously.....maybe Smoove, I forget. In the morning, the chain was fine. When I got home, I cleaned and rewaxed. I did a flooded road 300k in NJ and I did not apply lube during the ride but it was so nasty (Southern NJ with sand) that I cleaned and rewaxed. Usually, I just throw the chain into the molten wax because the chain does not pick up junk in normal conditions. But in conditions like the 300K, I do clean it to be safe. A training ride in the rain on clean roads? Nope. This is a short cut but one that seems to work fine. I use dura ace chains.

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Old 08-05-21, 09:24 AM
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Not sure what GhostRider62 would say but for my waxed chain bike when ridden in the rain here are my observations. 1) while caught out in the rain my waxed chain runs fine. It may be even more quiet than normal. 2) as others have already stated, once the chain dries it then becomes audibly squeaky. 3) If I drop the chain back into the crock pot (either wet or dry chain) it seems to push all the moisture out, cleans the remnants of blackened wax that remained after the rain and leaves that chain good to go. 4) I consider it ideal for my style of home based riding. For extended tours or brevet type rides, I would think you could start with your waxed chain then be prepared to apply dry chain lube in a liquid carrier (maybe White Lightning or some other brand) in a small 4 ounce bottle that can be carried in the tool pouch on the bike.
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Old 08-05-21, 09:33 AM
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Originally Posted by masi61 View Post
Not sure what GhostRider62 would say but for my waxed chain bike when ridden in the rain here are my observations. 1) while caught out in the rain my waxed chain runs fine. It may be even more quiet than normal. 2) as others have already stated, once the chain dries it then becomes audibly squeaky. 3) If I drop the chain back into the crock pot (either wet or dry chain) it seems to push all the moisture out, cleans the remnants of blackened wax that remained after the rain and leaves that chain good to go. 4) I consider it ideal for my style of home based riding. For extended tours or brevet type rides, I would think you could start with your waxed chain then be prepared to apply dry chain lube in a liquid carrier (maybe White Lightning or some other brand) in a small 4 ounce bottle that can be carried in the tool pouch on the bike.
That sounds right to me.

Chain maintenance is always a pain when traveling. The 600K that I mentioned was part of a 1000 mile 8 day tour. So, the chain got an especially good workout

It is almost like if the wax is still inside and solid, nothing gets in, it is quiet and shifts fine. But once it is worn, it is like throwing on a light switch. Noisy. It is gone. I associate that with wear. I really do not have good insight on how long wax lasts normally. I will routinely apply Smoove or Squirt about 200 miles after rewaxing and then maybe one more at 150-200 miles later if I am lazy. Then, I heat up the crockpot. Maybe 400-600 miles for each hot melt with 1-2 interim liquid jobs....obviously, a big touring week is an exception
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Old 08-05-21, 04:23 PM
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Originally Posted by masi61 View Post
Not sure what GhostRider62 would say but for my waxed chain bike when ridden in the rain here are my observations. 1) while caught out in the rain my waxed chain runs fine. It may be even more quiet than normal. 2) as others have already stated, once the chain dries it then becomes audibly squeaky. 3) If I drop the chain back into the crock pot (either wet or dry chain) it seems to push all the moisture out, cleans the remnants of blackened wax that remained after the rain and leaves that chain good to go. 4) I consider it ideal for my style of home based riding. For extended tours or brevet type rides, I would think you could start with your waxed chain then be prepared to apply dry chain lube in a liquid carrier (maybe White Lightning or some other brand) in a small 4 ounce bottle that can be carried in the tool pouch on the bike.
Your observations #1-3 are consistent with my experience.

#4 is a question of preference -- I prefer huckleberry ice cream.
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Old 08-09-21, 12:56 PM
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I'm on my sixth season of running waxed chains. On longer rides if there's going to be rain, I'll put one of those tiny bottles of squirt in my bag. I have only had to use it a couple of times over dozens of brevets including a few GRs. I also put a second fresh-waxed chain in my drop bag on GRs just in case but have never had to use it.
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