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 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.
Gary Turney says
Re: number 3 – always use an 11-speed chain on a 10-speed drivetrain – is that correct? If so, can you elaborate why?
Joe VanLeuven says
Same question – this makes no sense to me
Higher tolerance, smoother shifting, longer wear life. Many 10 speed chains, including dura ace have shown up to 50% wear right out of the box. Same 11 speed chains I need to run the bike at least 250 miles before I can even drop the park chain checker into the links. Cheapest 10 speed drivetrain upgrade
Thanks Rick; always intersting reading !! How do Squirt and Smoove differ from the wax dipping method, aside from being so much easier to apply and re-lube.. ? Please if you would elaborate on these differences as I still have a giant tub of wax still left over in my chain waxing system..
In my experience, wax flakes off especially when chain has extreme deflection. These lubes are wax based but sticky so they stay where placed.
Dave Le Fevre says
(Just this once, I wanted to be notified of follow-up comments. However, I can’t find a way of doing so without posting a comment.)
Same question – always use an 11 speed chain on a 10 speed drivetrain? Why?
Will Haltiwanger says
I have been using Smoove for a while now. When my wife and I got Lynskey GR 300s for our 45 anniversary I cleaned the SRAM 12 speed chains and lubed them with Smoove. I have followed their recommendation of lubing every 600 miles unless there is a significant event like the day we rode the GAP during the rain from Hurricane Floyd. After 3900 miles both our chains show 25% wear using my Park gauge. We are senior citizens so more spinning than standing, but I think this is outstanding. Drivetrain is quiet. I do nothing but brush and wipe the chain before relubing.
Exactly my experience. Thanks for posting
Rocky Rockwell says
I’ve been using Squirt exclusively for years. I tend to clean and lube about every 125 miles. Some might consider me a bit over the top; but the drivetrain is Super Smooth, and Quiet as well. Absolutely extends life of chains well beyond those achieved using the many other other big name products I’ve tried. Squirt rocks!
My experience as well but I relubed every 250 miles. Thanks for posting
David Champlin says
I’m surprised that no one has mentioned Zero Friction as a data source.
they have done far more objective testing than anyone.