Question of the Week This week’s Question of the Week is based on last week’s QT about chain lube, and my brief follow-up in the News item today.—J.M. How Long Have You Used Your Current Chain Lube?
For about 5 years I have been making my own with a mixture of mineral spirits and synthetic motor oil. It’s a formula (ratio and oil wt.) that several of us in our riding club use. I regularly get over 3000 miles on my chains, changing them at 75% wear and relubing them about every 200 miles (one drop per link). I am 190 pounds and ride mainly on the flatlands on my road bike. Some hills, club sprints, body weight, and avg 88 rpm cadence are main wear factors (I don’t ride in the rain intentionally).
I used ProLink for many years riding in Texas and never in the rain.
After moving to Portland, OR, I couldn’t afford a commercial product and started making my own lube just like Six-O is doing. Mineral spirits and synthetic motor oil.
After riding in the rain, I spray on WD-40 to displace the water and wipe the chain as clean as possible. After this dries, I apply my home brew lube VERY liberally. Whatever gets inside the chain is what keeps it running smoothly. Wiping off the extra cleans my chain even more and keeps my chain shiny!
Since the home brew is very inexpensive, I can easily justify lubing and cleaning a lot!
PS – my chains seem to last a very long time.
So, what is the, apparently secret, formula?
hmm… I was turned onto White Lightning about 20 years ago. My 9-speed Campy chains regularly last 9000 miles, and I switch the cassette every other chain – to suggest that I’m really not stretching the chain too much at that point. I measure with a chain stretch gauge frequently. A few years back, I added an 11-speed Campy to my stable, and it’s been going over 12,000 miles each time on White Lightning – on my 4th chain now. I’ll accept that Arizona is not the toughest of environments, but I’m always surprised by reports of how quickly chains wear out with other lubes.
Our club bike mechanic guru introduced us to the mix of 3 parts mineral spirits to 1 part 0-40 Mobil 1. I make mine about 3.5 to 1. The brand and weight of the full synthetic is probably not critical. The mineral spirits carry the oil into the links and then evaporate, leaving just the lube in place. Ideally, lube one day and wipe the chain the next day or before the next ride. I store my mixture in the garage where it gets pretty hot in the summer time. The 3.5 to 1 mix allows a bit of evaporation to occur over time from my lube bottle without it getting too concentrated. I even saw ProLink get more concentrated when I used it. Our guru switched to straight Marvel Mystery Oil and has reported similar results to the synthetic oil mix. He uses plenty and wipes off the excess. I have just as good of results as I did with ProLink at a fraction of the cost. I think that over the counter lubes have excessive markup. Most of the cost is packaging, shipping, and marketing, plus a hefty profit margin for sellers. Charlie above must weigh about 90 pounds to get that many miles on his chains. I started with White Lightning years ago and didn’t those kind of results. I don’t frown on it or other chain lubes. The key is proper maintenance. 6-O
Hmm… 90 lbs with my current power would be nice. More like 170 lbs, and strava says I climbed 389,000 ft last year while riding my 7000 miles.
I think white lightning works well based on durability, but I’m also remembering two chains I bought – maybe 12 years ago – were Shimano or SRAM. One of those was dead in 2000 miles and wiped out my cassette. I also had a wheel with a Shimano 9 speed cluster, at one point. Only got about 6000 miles on that one, as I recall.
So lube is important for durability, but there are other factors that play into the results.