Latest Zero Friction Cycling News – Testing updates, landscape update – urgent video review needed – due, new lube release marketing concerns – on leave next week.
Latest News 27
Hello dear low friction peoples hope you are all surviving winter. Im not much one for the cold. Good times on mtb where one stays warm vs high speed freezing wind on roady 😊
1 Week Holiday!
Firstly – I am on my second only week of annual leave next week in the last 4.5 years to play with mini me during school hols. Cant wait! Movies, RC car racing, go karting, beyblading….. I get a whole week to pretend im 7 years old. You beauty. Bet I still have to do some vacuuming and cleaning though. Damn adult stuff.
Any orders or enquiries pls ensure in my inbox by 12pm Friday to be answered / out the door that day, otherwise will be attacking inbox on return from hols on Monday 12th.
New lube releases and Testing updates – ermergeerd.
Ok, this really needs to be covered in depth in a you tube vid which is being planned as I type, so will try to keep this brief ish. But overall things are a fudgeking mess, what can be done about it and how, will cover here but be prepared, this is becoming a very complicated area and a lot of work and chips falling into place need to happen before we get manufacturer claims and efficiency testing to a place that is not a bowl of spaghetti.
Lets duck back a bit.
Friction Facts started outright efficiency testing pioneering and FTT (full tension test) and FLT (full load test) method.
Full Tension Test – This has a chain ring, a cog, a weight pulling back cog to tension chain equivalent to 250w “load”. There is a drive motor and a braking motor. A $6k usd torque sensor is mounted on shaft driving chain ring and braking the cog.
This test method is extremely precise if you have the right equipment (ie the quality of the motors, the power supplies, the torque sensors – the calibration protocol that has all components up to temp and stable, and all tests are conducted at same ambient temp and humidity).
There is nothing to get in the way of the loss measure as the measure is taken between two extremely precise torque sensors mounted on the shaft driving the chain ring and the cog. The difference between what goes in and what comes out – that’s your loss from the chain. If you are using the same calibrated control chain, then you have the loss figure for your lubricant efficiency.
However, friction facts found that many lubricants exhibited a sudden and very high jump in loss if kept running for long periods on an FTT machine as both the top and bottom span of chain are under tension (due to tension being by way of a weight pulling cog to introduce tension).
As such for longer test runs (ie to see how lubricant performs over hundreds of kms. Possibly with contamination introduced etc at certain points) the chain – after a short (few mins) efficiency test on FTT machine would be moved to Full Load Test Machine ( basically just set up as a bicycle drivetrain to allow slackening time through bottom span of drive train for lubricant to re align and reset). Long run intervals done on Full load test, then moved back to FTT for periodic outright efficiency measure.
This methodology pioneered by Friction Facts was then purchased by Ceramic Speed and has continued and been broadly accepted as the gold standard for testing chain efficiency.
Other mfg like silca have followed same process for testing their products.
Muc-Off also followed suite – but, with the release of their Nano chain some years back, they appeared (in my opinion) to take advantage of the fact that not all lubricant bases are affected by running for long periods on an FTT set up. So they made base for Nano one that isn’t, ran a 4hr test just on FTT machine, which showed many of their competitors to have terrible results (ie UFO having a sharp increase in losses at just 18mins, and losing 10w+ over the 4hr test).
- What lubricant is going to drop 10w in a 4hr test in a clean lab?
- Ceramic Speed in an open letter response replicated the result in by running the same tests on FTT machine for 4hrs. – I have covered this in “manufacturer testing” document on ZFC website – instructions tab.
- I asked Muc-Off to confirm / deny re if entire test was run on FTT set up, they did not reply.
- Despite the entire Nano chain launch brochure being a 45 page flashy brochure to launch Nano chain as worlds top race chain at the time at 4w loss avg across the 4hr test, in the same brochure they had their own budget c3 dry lube at 2.9w loss.
- Muc-off refused to answer question re that result either, I think they had blocked my email by then.
- I tested Muc Off nano and found it to be the most abrasive lubricant ever tested, it is still sitting bottom of the leaderboard eating through chain at a rate I think I would need to purchase a cutting fluid to match. Again muc off did not responds with any input re my test results.
Next Ab graphene lube launch – now largely I agree with AB re performance of graphene lubricant, it is a brilliant lubricant, however again, a lot of the testing they used in marketing launch was of concern. The data from Wheel energy was concerning in the manner that in some cases a lubricant would start at say 6w, drop to say 4w, increase to circa 8w, then drop to about 3w, all in a very short period. What on earth is happening with a lubricant for such wild swings in losses to occur in a clean lab test. W.E refused to answer questions re results, and their testing methodology is secret.
Also, there was pin on disc test – which is viewed by many (including myself) as not a valid test for comparing a liquid chain lubricant to solid chain coating lubricants like say UFO or hot melt wax. For the liquid lubricant the disc is submerged so the lubricant layer is always replenished. For a solid lubricant, the pin will scrap the solid lubricant off in short order, and poor result ensue.
It is of note this test is not released for graphene wax.
I get emails ALL OF THE TIME from manufacturers around the world looking to have product tested by zfc on the back of promising tribology testing, but as best as I can tell, circa 99% of tribology testing (very specific controlled conditions lab testing for a specific property of what is on test) rarely have any translation / bearing on how the lubricant will perform on a bicycle chain being ridden in the real world. As soon as put on test machine and exposed to contamination, the wear rate shoots up, its simply not a great chain lube.
Moral of the story, take tribology test results with a salt lake of salt.
Recently Allied Grax released a white paper on testing for their new gravel specific lubricant.
As best as I can tell from the white paper, they have used electrical consumption as the measure for loss – which has a lot of potential issues.
In short – with using electrical loss, it is extremely easy to get feedback loop. A motors efficiency is heavily dependent on its temperature. The harder it has to work, the warmer it becomes, the less efficient it becomes, the more power it needs to consume to maintain same power at the shaft, the warmer it becomes, the less efficient it becomes, the more power it needs to consume etc etc.
If one is shooting for a ballpark figure and tightly controls motor and power supply temp, you can kinda get a ballpark result. But considering these days the top 15 lubricants are separated by about 1w, it’s a dangerous way to go, but a tempting way as the component cost is low vs spending 6k usd for high quality torque sensors – x 2. And it seems easy – power consumption is simply volts x amps. If it takes more amps at same volts or more volts at same amps to drive chain at same load with one lube vs another – it seems a slam dunk case – there is your difference.
But – considering the above, as soon as something becomes higher load, a feedback loop can ensue.
Then, if one conducts the test just in an FTT manner, which for many lubricants will deliver a jump in efficiency loss, then the feedback loop of motor working harder, heating up, losing efficiency, needing to work harder therefore heating up further and losing efficiency – that will kick in big time.
This would appear the obvious culprit as to how Allied had UFO delivering a whopping 25w loss result in their test.
Honestly – if you get a result of 25w loss, for a lubricant billed as worlds fastest lubricant, tested by the process pioneered by friction facts and they obtained a 2.8w loss result – would you not double check this before going to press.
The above questions and many more I put to Allied, we had a call scheduled to discuss, they cancelled the call as need more time to prep answers, im still waiting, its been some weeks.
I am testing Grax as I type – initial results are pretty average – it may, ,may match other wax emulsion lubricants like original squirt – but same very high wear in block one denoting the exact same initial penetration issues that plague such lubricants, and then it wasn’t great through the dry contamination block either. Near end of wet contamination block, im worried for it.
Stay tuned there is going to be another lube release soon which is going to need some decent coverage, so take the above as some pre prep notes as it will all be relevant.
What are we to do?
Clearly the world needs a dependable, independent efficiency test lab. I (and many others) have severe concerns re the results that have come out of W.E.
When it comes to outright efficiency testing, step 1 would be we need a group of suitable people high up in this field to sign off an agreed protocol (I would expect the FTT / FLT protocol).
But everything must be EXACT – motors used, power supplies, torque sensors, chain ring size, cog size, cadence, ambient temp and humidity, calibration and test protocol.
Without the above (and some more factors) being absolutely exact in one test lab in one country vs another, differing results will be produced. The more conflicting results we have in outright efficiency testing, the muddier and more bowl of spaghetti like the landscape for outright efficiency testing becomes.
Initially I had planned for ZFC to step into this space to add this service / test onto existing wear correlation testing (which currently acts as a great back check re other test lab results), however without the above being agreed upon, signed off and certified by X Body – I would be just another lab pumping out just another differing set of results.
Considering I can barely (actually, im failing) in keeping up with existing testing and detail reviews, – the cost of building such a machine the very time intensive nature to run – there is zero capacity nor motivation to move down this path unless it is a certified path and ZFC test lab was an “approved” independent lab by Body “X”.
That’s step one.
Step 2 – if the above happens and ZFC decided to go down this path, I would need to separate the ZFC retail and test side of business – something im already pondering since I cannot keep up with detail reviews and testing and retail as it is. The hobby business has grown to a point where I need to consider the above – but things are just in ponderings stage at the moment, and any movement in this direction will keep updated.
In the interim, apologies again re delays in test updates, detail reviews etc – I am super overdue for synergetic review, graphene wax, then now grax, will have msw new formula, and likely a couple of others from private testing under way that is going well. Even with dedicated project weeks, the focus on also moving content to you-tube – im still running out of hours – so Im either going to be in situation where it is months and months from end of a test to detail review – or even if not stepping into outright efficiency space – I need to consider splitting off retail side (with me still pre prepping the chains of course 😊) – I will be investigating formats re this – it would be a very big business model change from retail paying for the testing, to relying on income from private paid tests and you tube vids covering all the good stuff we learn / have learnt thus far.
Anyhoo – just keeping thee lovely peeps in the loop, and apologies again delays re detail reviews – running 3 test machines flat out for private testing and chain preps and retail side – holy batman busy, but again your support by your patronage, sharing with your friends, and also wanting to have a true, trusted independent source of information that will save you a handy bunch of watts and a ton of easily avoided drivetrain wear – has played a huge part to bring ZFC from a little experimental idea, to a place where some fun future direction decisions need to be pondered.
Behind the scenes I am in discussions with some key people with regards to having an agreed upon gold standard test process based on what was founded by Friction Facts, and so am doing my best to move outright efficiency testing from a landscape where every new lube release where a mfg just has a crack at it and makes the landscape more confusing, to slowly see if we can bring it to a place where outright efficiency testing adds clarity to your lubricant choice.
Speaking of which – again this is a prelude to another update that will follow soon on the heels of another imminent lube release, one that I will probably even duck back to pc early one morning straight after watching TDF to do update during hols.
**PS – forgive there may be many many typos’ the above was done in mega rush this morning, much on before leave next week but had to pump it out and prep for next update**
As always – please share with friends, huge thanks to all my loyal customers / followers / supporters – you are really playing a genuine part re can we untangle the growing mess and maybe move things to a place of clarity. It will be a hard journey, but nothing we ever do that is truly worthwhile is ever easy. The time will pass anyway, may as well spend it working towards something truly worthwhile 😊