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Does anyone wax their chain?

Old 05-10-21, 04:43 AM
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Chrisp72 
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Does anyone wax their chain?

I came across an ad on a classified site for two chains that were waxed. I haven't looked at the benefits of waxing a chain but was curious as to how its done if anyone knows...
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Old 05-10-21, 07:16 AM
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I used to. It works fine. I personally found it worked well when I did it back in the day, around home. I switched between two chains. I kept a can with wax in it and reused it over and over. I don't think it works especially well in a touring context where the bike is outside 24/7 and stays in the weather and needs re-lubing along the way on the trip. Others may disagree, but I don't think you will find many that use this method on long tours, maybe a few do.

Many of the commercial lubes we do use are paraffin based, but it is delivered by dissolving it in some solvent rather than melting it. I think my favs (Boesheild T-9 and Pro Link) are paraffin based.
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Old 05-10-21, 07:56 AM
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I used waxed chains on most of my bikes, but wouldn't use one on a tour longer than 3-4 days. There are dozens of threads on BF discussing the pros and cons.
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Old 05-10-21, 11:10 AM
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I'm waxing all the bikes in my stable right now, it's much preferable for me in my mostly dry dusty northern California riding. I have not yet done an extended tour since I started. Not sure what I would do yet - start with a a waxed chain and top up with liquid wax solvent-based lube (squirt etc) or switch to an oil-based chain. Would probably depend on the expected weather on the tour.

I gotta say, the totally dry, totally clean chain is really easy to get used to. YMMV as I essentially *never* ride in the rain at home and that's the major problem of hot-waxed chains.
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Old 05-10-21, 10:17 PM
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I've had excellent results with wax, but as stated above, it's not convenient for long range touring. I compromised and went with 'Squirt'. A wax based lube in a bottle.
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Old 05-11-21, 05:22 AM
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The other thing about wax is that it requires taking the chain off for each application. With many chains that means buying a new link each time. It requires heating wax to the melting point over a burner. For me it became more trouble that it is worth long ago.
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Old 05-11-21, 05:30 AM
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We tour for multiple months at a time and here is what I do. I use hot wax prior to the tour. This has the advantage of no mess especially when we are flying and reassembling our bikes at an airport. I carry a bottle of White Lightening to handle the balance of the tour. Tried Squirt last year but it didn't seem to last as long as the White Lightening.
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Old 05-11-21, 05:35 AM
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I use a commercial wax on my chains before every tour, it'll go for a thousand miles or so before it needs a touch of oil, the links still have lube in them, but the teeth contact surfaces get a bit dry and make a racket. ... Putoline Chain Wax. Has some lanolin in it so is a little bit sticky and very flexible, almost like a very solid grease, also has a bunch of Molybdenum Sulphide in it so it is black, function over form. I melted it out of the tin and keep it in an electric skillet I got from a charity shop, simply plug it in to dip the chain.
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Old 05-11-21, 05:48 AM
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Wax to start and the Squirt or Smoove every 200-300 miles. I rode from Oregon to Virginia on the Trans Am route that way. Worked for me. I find lubricant does not last as long for me as others. Wax lets you know real quick when worn out.
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Old 05-11-21, 07:02 AM
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Originally Posted by GhostRider62 View Post
I find lubricant does not last as long for me as others. Wax lets you know real quick when worn out.
Ditto here.

Originally Posted by Tandem Tom View Post
We tour for multiple months at a time and here is what I do. I use hot wax prior to the tour. This has the advantage of no mess especially when we are flying and reassembling our bikes at an airport. I carry a bottle of White Lightening to handle the balance of the tour. Tried Squirt last year but it didn't seem to last as long as the White Lightening.
I actually find that the solvent applied wax lubes can be as clean and mess free if not more so once applied and wiped down than wax which flakes off and clings to the drive train and frame for quite a while IME. With the solvent based wax lubes for me the key is how it is applied. I apply fairly sparingly, spin the pedals a minute, and then wipe off thoroughly. I usually don't do any other cleaning beyond that unless there has been some particular reason to like a lot of mud or sand clinging to the chain. In that case I rinse with plain water at low pressure and let dry before lubing. In an extreme case I might resort to cleaning with WD40, but seldom have needed to.

Excessive application and inadequate removal of excess will result in a messy buildup of grit and gunk with solvent based lubes, but it is avoidable with the ones I have used.

Anyway I find my chains stay clean and shiny. I usually have used Boesheild T-9, but have used Pro-Link when traveling with someone else who used that in the interest of compatibility. Both have worked great. I have had long (10k miles) chain life and a shiny new looking chain.
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Old 05-11-21, 07:18 AM
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Originally Posted by Tandem Tom View Post
I carry a bottle of White Lightening to handle the balance of the tour. Tried Squirt last year but it didn't seem to last as long as the White Lightening.
I am sure it is fine if applied sparingly and wiped off thoroughly, but... White Lightening was the biggest fail for me of any lube I ever used. I followed the directions on the bottle on our Trans America, which at the time said to leave it on overnight before wiping off. The buildup was horrendous. By the time we got to Silverthorne, CO the gaps between the cogs had gradually filled with wax and grit and the chains were a waxy gritty mess. There was a scratch sound as the grit passed through the derailleur cages. We let a shop put our chains through a commercial degreaser and we hand cleaned the drive trains on the three bikes. There was a big pile of waxy gritty gunk when we were done. The shop recommended T-9 so that is what we used. We followed the directions which said to apply sparingly, spin the pedals, and wipe down. We had great results. On hindsight the difference probably had more to do with the application process than the lube itself.

I had the impression that White Lightening was the worst. Truth be told it was almost certainly just the way we were applying it. To cut myself some slack, I was following the directions that were on the bottle at the time. Not sure what the directions say these days though. Also, perhaps they expected me to clean the chain and drivetrain with each lubing, but I don't see that happening on tour. In fact I have had chains go 10,000 miles without a real cleaning since chain cleaning isn't something I generally do even at home (beyond rinsing it off with plain water if muddy or sandy).
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Old 05-11-21, 09:15 AM
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After one failed attempt, I am sold on Squirt wax lube in a botte. Follow the directions given by Chris Horner on Youtube and wipe off the excess, despite what the instructions say. Another trick is to put the bottle in a hot water bath for a few minutes before use, like the insta hot at your kitchen sink. Flows better. Give it a while, then wipe off all the excess.

Super clean, super quiet, but I also have found that it only lasts a few hundred miles. OK for my road bike, but not sure if it works for a long tour.
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Old 05-11-21, 09:45 AM
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Wipe off the excess is key.

I lay the chain out and use a heat gun after the crock pot. On the road, a wipe down on Squirt is important. I would tend to apply and let sit for a while and then wipe down. When you read of gunky, flaking wax, it is the application gone amok
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Old 05-11-21, 09:50 AM
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Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
I am sure it is fine if applied sparingly and wiped off thoroughly, but... White Lightening was the biggest fail for me of any lube I ever used. I followed the directions on the bottle on our Trans America, which at the time said to leave it on overnight before wiping off. The buildup was horrendous. By the time we got to Silverthorne, CO the gaps between the cogs had gradually filled with wax and grit and the chains were a waxy gritty mess. There was a scratch sound as the grit passed through the derailleur cages. We let a shop put our chains through a commercial degreaser and we hand cleaned the drive trains on the three bikes. There was a big pile of waxy gritty gunk when we were done. The shop recommended T-9 so that is what we used. We followed the directions which said to apply sparingly, spin the pedals, and wipe down. We had great results. On hindsight the difference probably had more to do with the application process than the lube itself.

I had the impression that White Lightening was the worst. Truth be told it was almost certainly just the way we were applying it. To cut myself some slack, I was following the directions that were on the bottle at the time. Not sure what the directions say these days though. Also, perhaps they expected me to clean the chain and drivetrain with each lubing, but I don't see that happening on tour. In fact I have had chains go 10,000 miles without a real cleaning since chain cleaning isn't something I generally do even at home (beyond rinsing it off with plain water if muddy or sandy).
The bottle has always said to apply it every 100 miles. In my experience, that is overly excessive. I get 500 to 700 miles (measured on a 1500 mile tour) between applications. That’s about the same as oil base lubricants last.

I do have to reapply after rain. However, after a rain, oil based lubricants should also be applied after rain. Wax does not “wash off” with water. Oil also traps water but the oil is quiet about it. It should be refreshed to replace the water trapped under the oil.
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Old 05-11-21, 10:48 AM
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Personally, I love it. But can't see it working for touring. Issue is also wet weather. If you run into weather, game over.

I've had good luck with good mileage on it in the dry. But one wetter gravel ride and no good. Just me personally.

I don't tour, I just wax for my road stuff and wanted to pop in to warn about that because I saw the topic title. Touring I'd just carry a liquid based lube of some kind where if you hit a downpour and some mud you could hose off the bike and reapply and move on.

I'm sure somebody out there does it........but from my non-touring just normal roadie and gravel experiences.......I wouldn't use it if a friend asked me to go on a bike tour with them.
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Old 05-11-21, 06:09 PM
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Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
The other thing about wax is that it requires taking the chain off for each application. With many chains that means buying a new link each time. It requires heating wax to the melting point over a burner. For me it became more trouble that it is worth long ago.
It's true that Shimano prints in their instructions that their links are one-time use only. There are others (Wipperman is the one I know) that are designated reusable. I can tell you from experience that the Shimano ones are hard to close and hard to open (tools required both ways). The Wipperman closes easily under pedal force, and reopens with just a little push from a pliers or maybe even by hand. And also from experience, if you continue to re-use the Shimano links they will (after many uses) feel exactly like the Wipperman. I personally re-use the Shimanos for many years but I've seen enough of this argument not to try to convince anyone. I've never had a quick link fail. I have had a worn chain pop open at the outer plate several times a day for a few days until I could ride to a town to get a new one (utterly worn out on tour in rural Spain). It was exceedingly annoying but not a deadly hazard.

I've never used a burner to heat wax - personally I got a tiny $10 crockpot on sale for $5 and it's just my wax appliance. I keep a few chains waxed and ready to go. When I swap a fresh one on a bike, I put the old one in the cold crockpot. When I run out of chains I turn it on. Some hours later I turn it off, fish out and cool the chains, run them through my hands a few times to break up some wax, and put them in the fresh-chain ziplock. If you've got giant globs of wax building up on the bike there's something wrong in the process somewhere, there's very little excess on my chains. Maybe too low a temperature?

It is most definitely more trouble than a few drops of oil. Is it more than it's worth; this depends on how much effort one takes to make the process easier, how much chain grease would otherwise get on your stuff, how much time you got for your bike hobby, how much you want those 10 or 20W of drag reduction etc. It's worth it for me

Lastly about water - yeah I doubt the wax stops lubricating when it's wet. But it does get pretty squeaky/noisy and it has little to no protection against rust. One of my Dura-Ace waxed chains spent a night on the roof of my truck on the beach, and it had rust spots in the morning. Which, to be clear, vanish as soon as you ride. Same happened to the brake rotors, which I hope no one tries to protect with oil...
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Old 05-11-21, 06:38 PM
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Originally Posted by fourfa View Post
Lastly about water - yeah I doubt the wax stops lubricating when it's wet. But it does get pretty squeaky/noisy and it has little to no protection against rust. One of my Dura-Ace waxed chains spent a night on the roof of my truck on the beach, and it had rust spots in the morning. Which, to be clear, vanish as soon as you ride. Same happened to the brake rotors, which I hope no one tries to protect with oil...
The wax doesn’t move like oil does. Oil really doesn’t offer that much more protection from rust, however. The oil and water are going to be churned while riding. Once the churning stops, the water and oil is going to separate with the water up against the metal (like materials). The only thing the oil does is disguise the sound. The chain should be relubricated following rain just like wax to displace the water.
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Old 05-11-21, 06:58 PM
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Who knew that quick links could not be reused. I have reused dura ace quick links dozens of times. I guess I have to stop that. I wonder if they sell quick links.
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