Latest News 28 – New Videos Out – Wolf Tooth WT-1 – Evolution of ZFC

Hi all low friction peeps! Righto catching back up a bit after week out of inbox, always a fun time getting back on top of everything, catching up on chain preps and keeping all 3 test machines running.

K first up, latest video is out – Episode 3, this covers maintenance level 1 – just the basics, but unlike 99.9999% of other stuff you will come across on you tube re chain maintenance, I cover things a bit more specifically by covering by main chain lubricant types as the maintenance for a wet lubricant vs a chain coating type or wax is quite different indeed.

Episode 3 has been split into part 1 and part 2 as even though covering the basics, you know me – I go into a bit of depth, and repeat important bits a few times to really try to hammer to key messages home, so Episode 3 – parts 1&2, are a bit longer than the first brief basic vids.

Episode lengths will vary a fair bit depending on what is being discussed – so bear with me if they are 5 mins long or 25 mins long, I will always be doing my best to ensure they are worth your time to watch, and will of course be endeavoring to get better and better at these each new film day (I think up to episode 6 were all filmed on first attempt day so look for me to get a bit better from hopefully episode 7 onwards – I will try, again – I didn’t plan on you tube when I started this so im winging it, but yep – too many very poor info vids out there – need step in with factual information from the worlds most robust testing.

Links to episode 3 & 4 below, again if you can – Pretty please like, share, subscribe – all that stuff, we need to try and get my vids to come up ahead of other vids that will give cyclists either meh, bad or terrible drivetrain running advice. Join the fight to save drivetrains from an early death the world over.

Links to episode 3 part 1 and part 2 below

Wolf Tooth WT-1 First Impressions

Had a fair few questions re this lubricant and its claims, it is probably one of the more prolific re focusing claims on the part of its ability to clean as it lubricates. Whilst many lubricants claim this ability, WT-1 really really claims this ability by way of having detergent as part of the lubricant.

All 3 test machines are booked well into 2022 at this stage so its unlikely I will be able to sneak a test of WT 1 in this year, but i will if I can – its possible one of the mfg’s Im current doing a lot of testing for will not have their latest formula to test to me in time to move from end of one to start of next test, I may be able to sneak it in then, otherwise – it will be 2022 sometime if I keep on test list by then.

In lieu of testing, I can give some first impressions re claims based on what is a pretty solid grounding of lubircants and performance claims.

Firstly I will state that overall im a big fan in general of Wolf Tooth, I have been running their chain rings on my mtb’s and cx / gravel bikes for years, they have been perfect – no chain drops basically every apart from when freehub jammed so it kept driving the chain when I stopped pedalling. Sans that, many years of racing sometimes of course in mtb over really rough terrain, no chain guide, and zero chain drops. Brilliant. And they make a ton of other really cool stuff – they are an aftermarket company I have a lot of admiration for re the innovative, functional and high quality products they bring to market.

The lube however……

I am not a fan of lubricants that aim for high performance by way of cleaning out contamination as they lube. It is simply the wrong approach.

The correct approach is to minimse as much as possible the amount of contamination the lubricant attracts to begin with.  This is where running a solid immersive wax or chain coating type lubricant – especially for offroad use, is VASTLY superior, and for road use – the top known wet lubricants tested like Silca synergetic work by way of needing so little actual lubricant to perfectly lubricant all parts inside the chain, that the chain is far less “wet” on the outside, which lessens the amount of contamination that adheres to chain. A very wet chain just becomes a black, gritty nightmare in short order – every single particle of airborne dust will stick and adhere on contact to a wet chain, there is just no getting around that.

So, approaching the issue by way of “cleaning the chain” – having the detergent move contamination to the outside of the chain so you can then wipe the contamination off – honestly its just an ass backwards away of approaching the number one issue that affects chain friction and therefore chain and drivetrain wear.

It’s a bit like, I have a choice of having a kickass first aid kit to deal with being stabbed with a shiv heaps of times, OR, I can choose not to be stabbed with shiv heaps of times. I’m going to choose the latter approach every time.

Also, in the case of the WT-1 marketing, they are going for what is a very attractive approach for many potential customers, but one that is vastly inferior vs doing the job properly. That is, in the marketing they advise you are fine to just apply the lubricant over the top of your chain as it is, the wonderful cleaning agents of the lubricant will shift the contamination to the surface, where you can wipe it clean. Over X rides of lubing and wiping, you will be wiping away the contamination in your chain and moving it to a better place.

This is a very false (in my opinion…… 😉) claim. Well, maybe so not so much false, as just very misleading vs the result one would attain if they PROPERLY solvent flush cleaned the chain, and added lubricant to a perfectly clean chain.

You will see in Episode 3 part 2, just how many litres of solvent are needed to start to properly make a dent in cleaning a contaminated wet lube chain. Adding circa 5ml or lubricant is only going to be able to flush to the suface X amount, AND – being a wet lube, it is going to be ACTIVELY ATTRACTING CONTAMINATION AT THE SAME TIME. If it doesn’t work out to being a zero sum game, I strongly believe it will work out very close to a zero sum game.

Again, as shown in episode 3 part 2 – this is a what I would call a pretty common real world customer wet lube chain, and you can see just how much gritty crap is in there. In a part that has so many moving parts, even very small amounts of abrasive contamination quickly adds up to measurable watts losses, and these watts of losses GO DIRECTLY INTO EATING THROUGH YOUR CHAIN AND DRIVETRAIN COMPONENTS. Not the best way run your drive train.

Not abrading through your chain and drivetrain components at a prodigious rate is better. And this is achieved by having a PROPERLY cleaned chain, and then running a top lubricant choice that attracts as little contamination as possible.

So I am not a fan of messaging / marketing that installs a false sense of security with cyclists that they can just add some WT-1 onto their dirty chain, and in a few rides and re-lubes, the wonderful WT-1 with its detergent will deliver you a chain where deep inside chain where it matters it will be running clean and clear of abrasive contamination. I feel EXTRAORDINARILY CONFIDENT in saying it will not.

A more accurate / much better for the customers drivetrain marketing would have been to advise customers to ensure they start with a properly cleaned chain, and that the additives in WT-1 they believe will keep chain running cleaner for longer vs other wet lubricants, however good periodic maintenance to properly reset is still recommended.

I strongly suspect however that Wolf Tooth are actually being pretty clever here re their target market. I can tell you from years of work in this space that mtb is by FAR the slowest to start to work out just how much drivetrain parts wear they can save by running a proper good lubricant choice. Triathletes will throw $500 at you in a blink to save ¼ of a watt. Road cyclists take drivetrain friction and wear seriously. CX racers have been catching up well. Mtb riders who stand to gain an enormous increase in drivetrain parts lifespan – much more so that road cyclists – for about 95% of that demographic – focus on running a proper chain lubricant just hasn’t clicked yet. Its getting there slowly now thanks to the cost of high end eagle / xtr parts – but still very slowly.

The traditional way an mtb rider runs their drivetrain is to just keep adding more wet lube and wipe chain ride entire drivetrain until its unrideable then replace everything. Vs running a super low friction, super clean lubricant choice, replace chain before recommended wear replacement mark, and get multiple chains to your very expensive cassette. And not have a ton of riding time riding on a horrible running drivetrain as it moves into its clapped out phase before you end up having to replace everything.

Moving to immersive waxing or chain coating type lubricants for majority of mtb riders is just a step into a weird unknown they are not comfortable to take, they add wet lube and wipe chain, that’s hows its always been done, and that’s how they are going to continue to do it, talk of anything else is just weird.

So Wolf Tooths marketing to its target audience is absolutely bang on point. Just add more wet lube and Abracadabra the lube will magically clean your chain for you. Yeehaa.

Again, not to sound disparaging to mtb demographic, but as I sponsor road, tt, cx and mtb events locally for last few years, and I race in those demographics myself and talk to the racing field, the mtb demographic is just miles and miles and miles behind all other demographics when it comes to thinking about how to avoid their chain lubricant quickly becoming an abrasive grinding paste masquerading as a lubricant, thinking about chain wear checking, waxing or chain coating lubricants etc. It is getting there, just really, really slowly, and so WT-1 is still pitching very well to exactly where the bulk of mtb demographic still resides at the moment re their thinking on how to run drivetrain.

But if you’re an mtb rider and reading this – get the cogs turning. The average wear rate for the top 5 chain coating type lubricants in the world of dirt and dust is less than ONE FIFTH the average wear rate for top 5 wet lubricants tested to date. This makes sense. Have every particle of dust stick on contact, or run a solid lubricant with highest level of dry contamination resistance. Have a first aid kit to deal with innumerable stab wounds, or avoid getting stabbed to start with – pick your path.

The main point I want to hammer home aside from the above is that for every rider that just adds lube to take care of cleaning chain of abrasive contamination vs cleaning properly then using a proven contamination resistant lubricant choice is another drivetrain headed to an early grave.

I am not saying that WT-1 is likely a poor lubricant. It may be an excellent lubricant. Maybe it will top the charts for a wet lubricant in dry contamination and wet contamination test blocks – until I get to test, I just do not know. I do know however that vs the wear rate results one would obtain by properly cleaning chain and then using a top immersive wax or chain coating type lubricant vs adding this over the top of an existing used and contaminated chain – I feel EXTREMELY CONFIDENT that the latter option will deliver vastly lower wear rates and longer drivetrain lifespan. 5 ish ml of a lubricant can only clean so much vs a proper flush clean, and being a wet lubricant, contamination will still be actively attracted and absorbed – vs a full flush clean and super slippery solid coating lubricants, it is pretty much laws of physics impossible for WT-1 approach to match lower friction and wear of the latter approach.

If however you are already firmly rooted in the camp and never planning on moving of just adding wet lube on top of wet lube and wiping chain – then WT-1 is possibly worth a look, if it does do some of what it claims, then you will be ahead if you are just on a random wet lube choice.

Next Evolution of ZFC

Ok, as I have used up well enough length on first two topics – so will cover this as briefly as I can – testing work volumes and retail work volumes as well as need to sort out outright efficiency testing bowl of spaghetti, I am starting the initial steps to split the retail side of ZFC off to a trusted person to run so I can focus 100% on the testing side of ZFC. All will still be through the one website and it will be the one business, it is just quickly becoming impossible for one person to manage volumes on both sides of ZFC (as evidenced by the huge delays now from finishing test to completing detail review – getting data and performance reviews back to mfg’s paying for testing has to take priority as they are using the test results as part of their lubricant development – the testing side of ZFC takes a lot of time resources, as does the retail side to ensure best possible customer service, and there simply are not enough hours left in the day to cover both sides, it is now time to have an awesome person take over retail side so I can concentrate fully on testing and improve further the work being done in that space, which will then of course continue to improve stock choices, recommendations and information on the ZFC  retail side.

That’s the quick version – more updates on where im at with this big next step soon.

As always, thanks to all for your support and patronage which is making the next step in ZFC evolution viable. It has been a great journey to get to this stage, and then when this step is taken and I can concentrate on the testing and information side 100% vs answering 100 questions per night from around the world on immersive waxing, I will be able to greatly improve staying on top of detail reviews, update and improve website instruction documents and more & better you tube vids. Exciting!