- Goes on easily
- Doesn’t fling off
- Chain stays relatively clean
- Chain squeaks in wet conditions
- Less mileage between applications than claimed, making it. . .
Price: $11 (4-oz. bottle)
Source: website, bike shops
How obtained: sample from company
RBR Advertiser: no
Tested: 80 hours
I’m a ProLink guy when it comes to chain lube. This slippery stuff has served me well for several years.
So when I received samples of a new synthetic chain lube called Purple Extreme, I was skeptical.
First, any product with the word “Extreme” in the name might be more hype than substance. Second, how could it be better than ProLink, the current standard by which other lubes are judged at RBR?
When I uncapped the bottle and squirted some on a chain link, its thin consistency didn’t inspire confidence. I wondered if a lube with such a watery viscosity could keep a chain running smoothly and squeak-free in all conditions.
But according to Purple Extreme’s website, this is “the world’s most advanced bicycle chain lubricant.” It was developed to lube chains on drilling rigs submerged in salt water. So if it can handle that level of corrosion, dirty roads and trails should be easy, right? In fact,the website claims that most cyclists get at least 400 miles between applications.
I used Purple Extreme for several months on my road bike, including a 450-mile week at a cycling camp in Arizona. I experienced chain squeak in that dry and dusty environment and had to re-lube about every 100 miles. The chain stayed clean to the eye, but touching it left a black deposit on my fingers.
I installed a new chain on one bike and it wore slightly during approximately 1,000 miles of riding with Purple Extreme, but not enough to need replacement.
I subjected the lube to a much harsher test — five days of singletrack riding in Crested Butte, CO, on my mountain bike. There, I encountered dusty trails, cow manure, stream crossings, mud puddles and one day of torrential rain and hail. Your road bike’s chain won’t take that kind of beating this side of Paris-Roubaix.
In those conditions, Purple Extreme didn’t work well. A new chain wore out in 5 rides as measured with a Park Tool CC-3 Chain Wear Indicator. To avoid chain squeak I had to re-lube after every ride. During one rainy and muddy slog, the lube seemed to wash completely out of the chain, resulting in an annoying chirp in the last few miles.
Al Ardizone, owner of Cascade Bicycles in Montrose, CO, tried Purple Extreme on his road bike. Here’s his take: “This lube didn’t meet their claims. I ran a new and clean chain exactly as their website instructs. But I couldn’t get through a 40-60 mile ride without having the chain squeak. Also, the chain got dirty quickly.”
Bottom line: Purple Extreme works okay on the road in relatively benign conditions, although you may have to re-lube more often than the company claims. In wet riding, it can’t compete with lubes having more body.
Coach Fred Matheny is an RBR co-founder who has four decades of road cycling and coaching experience. He has written 14 eBooks and eArticles on cycling training, available in RBR’s eBookstore at Coach Fred Matheny, including the classic Complete Book of Road Bike Training, which includes 4 eBooks comprising 250 pages of timeless, detailed advice and training plans. The Complete Book is one of the many perks of an RBR Premium Membership. Click to read Fred's full bio.