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Brett L.
08-05-2018, 06:48 PM
As per thread subject, does anyone have experience with waxing a chain with parrafin wax instead of using lube? I'm interested in hearing all opinions, for and against.

As mentioned in a different thread, I don't typically get great life out of my drivetrain. My 11s chain will read 0.75 wear typically around 1200 miles, which I would like to extend just a little bit to save some money. I've read interesting "things" (read: propaganda) about waxing a chain instead of lube - stays cleaner longer, a little more efficient than lube, etc - and I'm also aware that it take more effort to setup initially. One of the major aspects of my chain wear is my not-so-consistent cleaning routine, so I am definitely intrigued by the idea of the chain staying cleaner longer.

Rootchopper
08-05-2018, 08:19 PM
I don't use parrafin but I have been using wax lube (Ice Dry, White Lightning) for years. Mostly I use it because it is much cleaner. I have a recumbent with a long chain that tags my calf. And a Bike Friday that all but requires handling the chain when unfolding.

I get more than 4,000 miles out of my chains but three of them are on bikes with 8- or 9- speed cassettes. (I change the cassette when I change the chain.)

Could it be that 11 speed chains just don't last as long as 8- or 9-speed chains?

huskerdont
08-06-2018, 08:31 AM
I've been using Finish Line ceramic wax lube on my 11-speed Ultegra bike. Chain was fine to about 4,000 miles, and when I changed it, the original cassette still worked fine (a first for me). Only caveat here is that this particular bike has only been rained on once.

hozn
08-06-2018, 09:06 AM
I've never bothered with wax, as my understanding was that it doesn't work in wet conditions.

I hadn't heard that it extends chain life. But I guess if it is better able to keep contaminants out of the chain bushings, then it would (?) Of course, if it just washes out in the rain and lets in grit, then it is probably worse than other lubes for the life of the chain/cassette.

1200 miles to reading 0.75 seems a little short, but 1200 to reading 0.50 (or just over) is about what I was getting when I was trying to change out chains religiously (and that is when I would change them). Right now I have 4800 miles on my commuter chain (and 4800 miles on the cassette). I expect I'll change the chain & the cassette at around 6k miles. The only degradation in performance is that the chain drops off my 1x setup more easily; that is my N/W (X-Sync) front ring at fault, by the looks of it. That ring has almost 10k miles on it, though, so I'll be replacing that too when I swap out the chain & cassette.

So, basically, I could use 4-5 chains and get ~6k miles out of a cassette (I've never gotten much more than that) or I could use 1 chain and get basically the same mileage. Maybe there's a 1,000 mile difference. But I'm saving ~$75-100 in chains; 1k miles on a cassette is worth a lot less than that to me. (I'm buying XG-1175 cassettes, which are pretty fancy, but which I've been able to buy for sub-$100 as barely-used take-off items.) If shifting performance degraded (beyond the typical no-longer-new feeling) with the chain/cassette age, I'd probably be inclined to go back to a tight chain-changing schedule.

Harry Meatmotor
08-06-2018, 10:34 AM
There are 2 methods of applying wax to a chain.

The first is the least involved: buy a wax-based liquid lubricant like Rock'n'roll, White Lightning, etc. Follow the instructions on the bottle and you'll likely get a cleaner chain than most oil-based lubricants. When properly applied to a completely clean new chain, wax based lubes (especially those for wetter riding conditions e.g., R'n'R Blue) are no better or worse than oil-based lubes in the wet, imho.

The second method of applying paraffin wax (with or without friction modifiers, like powdered Teflon) is much more involved. This is the "old school" chain wax method. First, the (new only - don't bother doing this to an old!!) chain needs to be cleaned really well. First, soak in degreaser, then scrub. Then, clean with acetone. Then, place the chain in a low temperature oven (about 250 degrees) for an hour or two. Then, after the chain has cooled to room temperature, wipe it down with a microfiber cloth. Dip the chain into the liquid/melted paraffin (a small crock pot works well as the wax vessel) and hang the chain to set. Gently wipe off the excess wax, and install the chain. To "top up" the lube, simply draw the chain through a clean microfiber cloth, then draw the chain over a solid bar of paraffin wax.

The key to wax lubes (and most of the "newer" light/high performance oil-based lubes like Silca NFS, Du Monde Tech Pro, Smoove, etc.) is to start with a super-duper clean chain. Most new chains ship with a coating of light grease. This grease is more of a rust inhibitor than a lubricant. It also keeps most chain lubes from bonding with the metal of the chain. So, cleaning off the grease completely will generally give better results with any lube.

There's also been a lot of interesting research into both the durability (decreasing chain wear), and performance (decreasing friction) - a quick google search for 'Cycling Tips Chain lube test' and 'Friction Facts' will be a good start.

Brett L.
08-06-2018, 10:48 AM
There are 2 methods of applying wax to a chain.
a quick google search for 'Cycling Tips Chain lube test' and 'Friction Facts' will be a good start.

That lead me to some interesting articles! It really makes me want to check out the parrafin wax route, if only as a trial basis. Any experience with a pre-mixed one like Molten Speed Wax versus a "homemade" recipe of parrafin plus additives?

bentbike33
08-06-2018, 11:52 AM
The key to wax lubes (and most of the "newer" light/high performance oil-based lubes like Silca NFS, Du Monde Tech Pro, Smoove, etc.) is to start with a super-duper clean chain. Most new chains ship with a coating of light grease. This grease is more of a rust inhibitor than a lubricant. It also keeps most chain lubes from bonding with the metal of the chain. So, cleaning off the grease completely will generally give better results with any lube.



So what is the best degreaser for getting rid of the stuff chains are coated with for shipment?

Tania
08-06-2018, 11:54 AM
Most new chains ship with a coating of light grease. This grease is more of a rust inhibitor than a lubricant. It also keeps most chain lubes from bonding with the metal of the chain. So, cleaning off the grease completely will generally give better results with any lube.


I've had someone absolutely swear to me that the stuff on new chains is the best lube around. (No joke or sarcasm on my part. Maybe there was on his part and I just missed it.)

hozn
08-06-2018, 12:18 PM
I've had someone absolutely swear to me that the stuff on new chains is the best lube around. (No joke or sarcasm on my part. Maybe there was on his part and I just missed it.)

Yeah, that was the opinion of the late Sheldon Brown:


New chains come pre-lubricated with a grease-type lubricant which has been installed at the factory. This is an excellent lubricant, and has been made to permeate all of the internal interstices in the chain. The chain and this lubricant need to be warmed during application.

This factory lube is superior to any lube that you can apply after the fact -- well, unless...see below.


Some people make the bad mistake of deliberately removing this superior lubricant. Don't do this!


The factory lubricant all by itself is usually good for several hundred miles of service if the bike is not ridden in wet or dusty conditions. It is best not to apply any sort of lube to a new chain until it is clearly needed, because any wet lube you can apply will dilute the factory lube.


As well as KMC's (http://kmcchain.us/faqs/)

Yes, all chains have been pre-greased at the factory and are ready to ride right out of the box (some chains must be fitted to length according to your bike’s exact specifications). If you feel that there is too much grease, use a towel and wipe off excess grease from the plates only, avoiding the rollers. For more information on chain maintenance please look at our chain maintenance guide located on the home page.

hozn
08-06-2018, 12:27 PM
That lead me to some interesting articles! It really makes me want to check out the parrafin wax route, if only as a trial basis. Any experience with a pre-mixed one like Molten Speed Wax versus a "homemade" recipe of parrafin plus additives?

There was an interesting Cycling Tips podcast on this (w/ one of the guys from Friction Facts, I believe).

I remember a study that Velo did awhile back that was enlightening. Well, all I really remember is that Rock-n-Roll gold was an excellent lube (not as fast as paraffin wax but also way less of a pain to put on and holds up to normal riding conditions.)

TwoWheelsDC
08-06-2018, 12:34 PM
I've had someone absolutely swear to me that the stuff on new chains is the best lube around. (No joke or sarcasm on my part. Maybe there was on his part and I just missed it.)

I think that's a Sheldon Brown-ism, IIRC. In my experience, that "lube" is a magnet for gunk, and I now clean it off before I install a new chain.

Edit: Should've refreshed the page before I replied...

hozn
08-06-2018, 12:43 PM
buy a wax-based liquid lubricant like Rock'n'roll,

Are you sure Rock'n'Roll is wax-based? I had heard it was a PTFE lubricant but I've never seen it described as wax-based (it is usually contrasted to wax lubricants -- but sometimes also contrasted to "other PTFE" lubricants, so I'm not entirely sure what that says).

Tania
08-06-2018, 12:57 PM
This thread makes my head hurt - too many choices/decisions.

I've become much better about drive train maintenance. Wipe it down and re-lube (I'm a T-9 girl) every third or fourth ride and then if it's been in wet (rain, raging creeks, on the back of my car in a thunderstorm) I'll use some Finish Line citrus degreaser before re-lubing. Every so often I'll use the park tool chain cleaner thingy that jabberwocky told me I should buy but turning on the hose is just such a pain (the spigot valve is in a tough spot).

I do apply a single drop of lube to each link which makes the SO crazy. Drip, drip, drip, drip, drip, turn cranks a little bit, drip, drip, drip.

Brett L.
08-06-2018, 01:02 PM
Haha Tania, that's why I started this thread. So much information on the web out there, so many contrasting opinions. I was curious to get the thoughts of local people, especially those who are avid tech people.

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n18
08-06-2018, 01:27 PM
The biggest factor that helped me lube more often is putting two things next to my bike: Chain lube(on a shelf next to the bike), and chain measuring tool(hanged on a wall, using a nail). So they are on full sight every time I take the bike. What oil to use almost doesn't matter as long as you are lubing more often. Everybody seems to have their favorite lubing method that swear by. There is no wrong way to lube(Almost), just focus on more lubing, and less about which oil/grease to use.

hozn
08-06-2018, 01:30 PM
This thread makes my head hurt - too many choices/decisions.

I've become much better about drive train maintenance. Wipe it down and re-lube (I'm a T-9 girl) every third or fourth ride and then if it's been in wet (rain, raging creeks, on the back of my car in a thunderstorm) I'll use some Finish Line citrus degreaser before re-lubing. Every so often I'll use the park tool chain cleaner thingy that jabberwocky told me I should buy but turning on the hose is just such a pain (the spigot valve is in a tough spot).

I do apply a single drop of lube to each link which makes the SO crazy. Drip, drip, drip, drip, drip, turn cranks a little bit, drip, drip, drip.

Rock'n'Roll is so much easier. Spray while turning the cranks backwards a few times ... turn backwards a few more times .... wipe it all off ... done. It literally takes 20 seconds to lube the chain. And no cleaning ever needed. You pay for it, though -- in dollars; that stuff ain't cheap and I use a lot more than with a drip lubricant. But it's so worth it in the time it saves me messing with my bike. Especially that part of my bike.

Harry Meatmotor
08-06-2018, 06:14 PM
Are you sure Rock'n'Roll is wax-based? I had heard it was a PTFE lubricant but I've never seen it described as wax-based (it is usually contrasted to wax lubricants -- but sometimes also contrasted to "other PTFE" lubricants, so I'm not entirely sure what that says).
It's wax. It probably has some PTFE in the mix tho, too.

Harry Meatmotor
08-06-2018, 06:18 PM
So what is the best degreaser for getting rid of the stuff chains are coated with for shipment?

non-diluted simple green if you're willing to let it soak over night.

Harry Meatmotor
08-06-2018, 06:32 PM
The factory lubricant all by itself is usually good for several hundred miles of service if the bike is not ridden in wet or dusty conditions. It is best not to apply any sort of lube to a new chain until it is clearly needed, because any wet lube you can apply will dilute the factory lube.

Yeah, so if you're interested in getting grit into the rollers in a heartbeat, the factory grease is great. "not ridden in wet or dusty conditions". As a lubricant, grease is really good at staying put and maintaining a cushioning barrier between moving metal parts, but it does very little to keep dirt out; rather, it collects it. So it turns into great lubricity plus sandpaper. It also doesn't do a good job at moving the teeny tiny bits of metal that come off the chain during use away from the pins and rollers even if you ride in non-dusty non-wet conditions. Nearly 17 people in the entire cycling universe are blessed with non-dusty, non-wet conditions all year 'round.

Cleaning off the factory grease side-steps "several hundred miles of service" that will prematurely wear the chain before you apply any chain lube afterwards.

Harry Meatmotor
08-06-2018, 06:40 PM
This thread makes my head hurt - too many choices/decisions.

I've become much better about drive train maintenance. Wipe it down and re-lube (I'm a T-9 girl) every third or fourth ride and then if it's been in wet (rain, raging creeks, on the back of my car in a thunderstorm) I'll use some Finish Line citrus degreaser before re-lubing. Every so often I'll use the park tool chain cleaner thingy that jabberwocky told me I should buy but turning on the hose is just such a pain (the spigot valve is in a tough spot).

I do apply a single drop of lube to each link which makes the SO crazy. Drip, drip, drip, drip, drip, turn cranks a little bit, drip, drip, drip.

You and Silca NFS or Dumond Tech Pro are a match made in heaven. Boeshield T-9 was developed more as a corrosion inhibitor that ended up being okay as a lubricant. As far as I understand it, Boeing developed Boeshield t-9 to spray on fancy machined aluminum parts for airplanes that to sat on shelves for 6 months in a warehouse before use. Not exactly the same as bike chains, but close.

I'll also add that in the realm of lubricants there are two main camps: wet lube and dry lube. wet lube is generally oil-based and attracts dirt (but not water), but has marginally better lubrication and cushioning properties. Dry lube is generally wax-based and tends to shed dirt (but captures water), and has similar lubricity and cushioning properties compared to oil-based lubricants. Generally...

Ultimately, cleanliness is next to Godliness with regards to chain longevity.

Harry Meatmotor
08-06-2018, 06:53 PM
That lead me to some interesting articles! It really makes me want to check out the parrafin wax route, if only as a trial basis. Any experience with a pre-mixed one like Molten Speed Wax versus a "homemade" recipe of parrafin plus additives?

I did years ago, but after R'n'R showed up, "long form" chain waxing is (imho) not worth it unless you're looking for marginal gains in friction reduction. Both methods, or a hybrid of the two (immaculately clean new chain plus soak in R'n'R) gives great results for longevity. I'm gonna sound snooty, but Silca NFS is absolutely the fastest/smoothest feeling lube I've used. Beats the pants off R'n'R Gold. But zero longevity unless you into the "daily chain wipe" protocol. IOW, race bikes? Silca or homemade wax. Daily driver? R'n'R gold or blue.

Harry Meatmotor
04-01-2019, 08:42 AM
BTT with some anecdotal evidence for the wax-curious. A little while ago I bought this (https://www.amazon.com/MST-250XS-Temperature-Dishwasher-stoneware-Stainless/dp/B008GS8R3K/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=sauce+crockpot&qid=1554123698&s=gateway&sr=8-1), and this (https://www.amazon.com/Molten-Speed-Wax-1lb-Bag/dp/B00KXQS6YI/ref=sr_1_2?keywords=speedwax&qid=1554123754&s=gateway&sr=8-2-spell).

TL;DR It's probably only good for "race" bikes, or the "weekend-only while it's sunny" kind of riding.

I took a brand-spanking new KMC X11SL DLC chain, degreased it with simple green, dipped it in 90% alcohol, then into a 250 degree oven for an hour, then finally wiped down with a lint-free cloth. I then dropped the chain into the hot wax, stirred it around for about 30 seconds, then pulled it back out and let it hang to set. After breaking loose all the links, I installed it on my Allez Sprint.

Pros: Almost 100% clean - nearly zero black residue on the entire drivetrain. After 4 or 5 50+ mile rides, you can run your hand along the chain, and it's almost completely clean, even after a few wet-ish rides (not riding in the rain but riding on rain soaked roads). To re-wax the chain (which, obviously, requires removal from the bike) takes about 10 minutes, not counting the time to re-melt the wax.

Cons: The chain gets fairly noisy pretty quickly; within about 100 miles.

I'm keeping close tabs on chain wear using a Rohloff wear indicator. Right now I've only got ~375-400 miles on the chain and it still measures like new which is not surprising and says little about anything. It seems like I'll settle into re-waxing the chain every 2 to 3 weeks depending on mileage, which is only a bit more often than I was re-lubing with Silca NFS last racing season. The new Speedwax formulation does seem to last a bit longer than my old home-brew method from nearly 20 years ago.

Oddly enough, I had good/decent wear results using NFS on my race bike last year, but when we tried it on my GF's 1x CX race bike, it ate the chain in less than 800 miles. Like, completely worn out per Rohloff chain wear indicator. So, perhaps the moral of the story with NFS is don't mix it with dirt and/or repeated bike washing. We'll be going back to R'n'R Gold on the CX bikes next season.

Tania
04-01-2019, 11:05 AM
Cons: The chain gets fairly noisy pretty quickly; within about 100 miles.



Squirt always seems to be on hand at NICA races (kinda like how Stans is at mtb/gravel races) so I've been using it on my never-been-outside-cheap-and-basically-a-POS-from-Performance-sell-off trainer bike and I've noticed that the chain noise disappears each time I reapply and comes back fairly quickly.

Harry Meatmotor
04-02-2019, 06:20 PM
It seems like most of the noise is from the plates and the chainring teeth especially in cross chaining situations, not the typical dry-chain roller-rattle. I'm okay with it as long as I don't start seeing roller/pin wear. My instinct tells me once the wax gets in between the rollers and the pins, there isn't an easy way for it to get out/worn off. Which is a good thing. I'm kind of tempted to take my cassette and clean the bejeesus out of it then dip it in the wax just to see if that helps without mucking up the shifting.

Brett L.
04-02-2019, 06:50 PM
Ceramic speed released a "study" not too long ago indicating that a noisy chain isn't necessarily slower. Seems like their UFO wax also can be a bit noisy. I think you're assessment is probably correct; the noise is from the plates rather than pins and rollers, and as long as the pins don't wear, the chain won't really stretch (hypothetically).

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dkel
04-02-2019, 09:20 PM
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=He7TnoCM7fo

mstone
04-03-2019, 01:04 PM
Ceramic speed released a "study" not too long ago indicating that a noisy chain isn't necessarily slower. Seems like their UFO wax also can be a bit noisy.

Who cares how fast it is if it drives you nuts before you get there?

Brett L.
04-03-2019, 03:37 PM
Who cares how fast it is if it drives you nuts before you get there?

Even better if it drives your competitors nuts and they drop back!