Saturday, June 4, 2011
Chain lubricants - A comparison review
I've yet to read the book "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" but just from the title, I get the sense that I will appreciate the message the author tried to convey. When I settle down to work on my bike for a little bit each week, I find that time to be almost meditative. My mind can go blank and I can just work on my bike. (Then again, considering my last entry, maybe my mind going blank is just a frequent occurrence and has nothing to do with meditation at all.)
Having a clean and smooth-running drivetrain on a bike is a sign of someone who cares about his machine. It's no different from a musician taking care of his instrument or a chef taking care of his knives. It is an acknowledgement that "these are the tools of my trade and I take care of them". And one of the essential elements of bike maintenance is chain lubrication. Now the ideal chain lubricant would be easy to apply and would stay on for hundreds of miles in all types of weather. It would keep your drivetrain quiet, reduce the the wear on your chain while not picking up any dust or dirt. And it would be cheap.
Of course, such a lubricant doesn't exist. That's why you see dozens of different lubricants at your local bike shop or online. In general, lubes fall into the "wet" or "dry" categories and each has its pros and cons. Wet lubes stay on the chain longer but pick up dirt and dust. Dry lubes stay far cleaner but require regular application. So here's a comparison of several of the more popular lubricants that I've had a chance to try. One thing that I do to my chains before applying a new lube is to wash it down (actually, degrease the entire chain) to get a good idea of what the new lube is like.
Boeshield T-9 - This is the current lube that I've been using. Apparently it was designed by Boeing to use on their jet engines... and since my legs also spin at the same velocity as a turbojet engine (or not), I figured it'd be worth a try. It's another dry lube that seems to last longer than some of the others. I've ridden ~150miles before requiring re-application. Drivetrain has remained smooth and quiet. Apparently in cold weather it tends to get a little sticky and if you apply too much, it'll build up. But I haven't had much of a problem with it yet. It's not quite as easy to find at local bike stores but easily found on the Internet. $9 for 4oz.
If I were to rank them right now (considering both utility and cost), I'd put them in this order:
White Lightning Clean Ride
Dumonde Tech Lite
Finish Line Krytech Wax
Triflow Superior Lube