By Rick Schultz
Lessons Learned from an actual tester of chains. I will attest Thomas Prehn’s reply regarding wax-based lubes. Not to be confused with paraffin-wax, two manufacturers I have tested were Squirt and Smoove.
Bottom Line: Both Great Chain Lubes!
Background: I used to be a product tester for one of the major component manufacturers and was given a bunch of chains to test. I was initially asked to test how well the new 11-speed chains worked on 10-speed drivetrains and later was sent certain lubes to test in real life – not on a machine which, for most purposes, does not parallel or give the same results as real-life wear. I tested to 90 percent wear and turned in wear data every 250 miles, so these results are well documented.
Findings: Every one of the ‘premium’ non-wax-based lubes would result in 1,500 or so miles out of a chain. When they sent me Squirt (and later Smoove) I immediately more than doubled the mileage (3,200-3,400 miles) out of these chains.
- For motorcycle sport bikes, these are great lubes since they do not cause chain-lube “fling.”
- Chains need to be completely degreased prior to applying Squirt / Smoove
- Results proved to NEVER put a 10-speed chain on a 10-speed drivetrain, ALWAYS use an 11-speed chain.
- Apply new Squirt / Smoove every 250 miles to achieve maximum life of chain. Never clean with any chemicals, just wipe down chain, Rear Derailleur jockey wheels.
- This applies to outside riding. Since C-19, many cyclists have migrated to indoor cycling. Main problem here is sweat getting on all components, especially the chain. For indoor cycling, I have my own mixture of 90-weight gear oil and a few other friction inhibitors added. I apply a thick coating of oil to the chain daily and wipe lightly. If not, I find my chains rust within several rides.
- The indoor riding system includes a Wahoo Kickr, my Cervelo road bike, and the Rouvy platform. How much have I ridden indoors in 2021? 6,777 miles and 1,230,390 feet of climbing so yes, I abuse the chains.
- My goto chain is the Shimano Ultegra chain, if you can find it. Second is KMC chains. Don’t go for the cheap ebay chains since many show 50 percent wear right out of the box. Premium 11-speed chains need at least 250 miles to be broken in enough to actually allow the chain checking tool’s pins to drop in between the links.
Smoove manufacturer website. https://www.smoovelube.com/
Squirt manufacturer website. https://squirtcycling.us/collections/chain-lubricants
Coach Rick Schultz is an avid cyclist who trains, races and coaches in Southern California. Rick is an engineer by trade, and in addition to being a coach, he’s a bike fitter and prolific product reviewer. He’s the author of Stretching & Core Strengthening for the Cyclist and Bike Fit 101: Your Toolset for a Great Bike Fit in the RBR eBookstore. Check his product reviews website, www.biketestreviews.com, and his coaching site, www.bikefitnesscoaching.com. Click to read Rick’s full bio.