Low Friction News 25!

Efficiency Testing Malarcky / You tube update / Project Update / ZFC’s green master plan.

Good day all dear low friction cyclists, quick update as I am nearly on top of inbox post last weeks project week.
Holy batman those weeks fly by. I always have a big plan of what im going to pump through to catch up on many fronts, and always I am lucky to get through half of the list.

I lost one day mostly to delving deep into the latest manufacturer’s efficiency testing to back product release being Allied’s new Grax gravel specific lubricant.

This is pretty key area for me these days as every new manufacturer that steps into outright efficiency testing space, ends up providing another set of data that conflicts with other efficiency test data.


Efficiency test data should help add clarity to cyclists looking to choose a lubricant, instead each new test facility continues to make the waters muddier & muddier.

Personally, and professionally – I find the current landscape of efficiency testing unacceptable, and I am starting to try to chip away at seeing if it is going to be possible to overall move efficiency testing to an agreed upon standard.

I am going to be covering this in depth properly in both a document and you tube soon, as many cyclists will not understand why pro teams can get power data of good accuracy and reliability for a potential athlete, and yet efficiency test data for lube x may vary by a huge amount of watts from one test facility to another.

There are A LOT of traps with outright efficiency testing, and without an agreed upon standard this was a major driver for ZFC going down wear correlation path  – something that has proved invaluable as ZFC is used as the back check for other test facilities results and claims. There is simply no getting away from the correlation that it takes friction to wear through the metal parts of your chain.

Anyhoo I spent most of day putting a document together with main questions and concerns re the Grax testing to send ahead of a call to go over all the questions during project week. The call has not been able to go ahead yet as Allied need more time to delve into the questions and responses, lets hope it is soon as I would like to have their input back re their test before I work on the video.

My brief take in the interim re Allied testing for Grax lube;

Concerns lie with use of electrical consumption to determine losses – this seems easy – how much power is used (volts x amps = watts) to drive motor and braking motor. But oh so many things come into play. Motor efficiency is highly dependent (when trying to measure to 0.1w accuracy) on its temperature. The harder it has to work, the higher the motor temp, the less efficient it becomes, the harder it has to work to maintain X output at shaft (or to braking motor) – so a feedback cycle can easily occur. Every test motors must be at the exact same temp and stable every time, as do the power supplies.

The test also appears to be Full Tension Test for 3 hours straight, this has been proven ad infinitum by Jason smith of friction facts why you cannot keep chain span (top and bottom) under tension for long periods – it produces wonky results for many lubricants as they do not get the slackening time that occurs through the bottom span of a real drivetrain and many chain lubricants (not all) need this slackening time. Full tension set ups can only be used for very short period to gain an accurate efficiency reading, then move chain back to a full load machine (set up like a drive train) to conduct the longer run times, moving back as wished to FTT machine to get efficiency data check points.

Also from what I can gather the Allied testing was conducted at 11.5rpm, with 300newtons load, and so with a starting point equivalent to around 25w rider load. I do not know why one would test lubricant efficiency at 25w load and 11.5rpm. I do not know many gravel cyclists who ride as such.

That is snap shot of main questions and concerns, and so at this time – I am not saying at all that Grax may not be top lubricant choice – I have it due to start testing soon, but I am saying I have EXTREME concerns re their testing, and I need a ton of answers to a ton of questions.

And yes overall soon will cover in depth all the traps of outright efficiency testing, who I know is doing it right, who’s results are concerning and why and questions need answering (other facilities have refused to provide answers to questions. Funny that.).

You Tube!!

K its coming for realz. I had first filming day during project week, video’s being edited now, and will hopefully release the first couple soon, then one every couple of weeks ish after that. So slowly I will start to transfer a bunch of my 20,000 word documents across to vid.

I have kicked off with the basics for people who stumble across zfc for the first time and have no idea what zfc is / does and then into the very basics of chain lubes & maintenance, first round of vids I will apologise in advance im probably about as captivating as a piece of wood talking, but meh – as time goes on I should get better at it and will move into more in depth and fun topics.

The plan when I started ZFC was never for me to get my silly face on video, alas it has just become too apparent with all the really, really, really, really bad information that does come up re chain lubes and waxing & drivetrain maintenance, stepping into the same arena was necessary. 99% of gen pop will choose a 5 to 10 min video any day over my big docs, so video here we go. Again bare with me, im not much of a spotlight person. I need to pretend to be more extroverted on next video’s. Maybe I will start drama classes. Anyhoo, if need be tape over my head on your screen and just listen to the content, at least that part is factual, unlike many others!

Will update when episodes 1 & 2 drop, and share with all your cycling buddies to help ensure you join the fight against drivetrains meeting an early death by abrasion, and also lets see how much solvent & degreaser use around the world we can cut / eliminate over time by people making better product and maintenance choices. The more you share, the more we will save from information pulled out of somewhere biased vs factual, and the more drivetrains we will save.

Project Update

Didn’t get far. Between investigation and prepping a many page doc for Allied in prep for a call that didn’t happen, prepping for vids, vid shooting day, and was also prepping and interview on the Leadville 100 podcast (that should be out soon too, will update with link, good low friction info for all in there!), running 3 test machines flat out and prepping a ton of chains – making progress on my detail review backlog was almost non existent.

I am chipping away where I can now on the synergetic review, then graphene wax review. I have a bunch of private tests running at the moment but shortly about to start testing grax, and by the time that is finished will have finalized agreement re testing MSW new formula which has actually been out for awhile, and MSW urgently needs re testing as the current gap shown between hot melt and msw is not going to be accurate. MSW has also moved to tungsten disulphide vs moly, removed ptfe, the latest formula I know from discussing with them for a long time they had been honing and perfecting for years so I need to re test so I get updated results. At the moment we have the O.G msw vs hot melt which is showing a big gap to Hot Melt. Hot melt absolutely slayed it, will the new msw formula bridge gap, close gap a lot, a little – unfortunately results will be a bit away but will be in by end of 2021.

Fingers crossed for Grax about to go on test starting in next week ish – despite the concerns re their efficiency test process, I can say from discussions they are at least genuine re the effort they have put into the lubricant – and they have at least been open to discussing their testing – which is more than I can say for a number of other manufacturers.

It is possible that they made a bunch of test mistakes but the lubricant is brilliant. It is possible I am wrong on all of my concerns and their testing is perfect and lubricant is brilliant. It is possible testing is way off and lubricant is way off. Im honestly hoping it is a good lubricant, honestly Allied really seem genuine re the attempt here vs pumping all the money into flashy marketing on all major social media outlets.

I will close on this pre test though that so far wet lubricants are miles and miles away vs chain coating type lubricants / immersive waxing in the world of dust. The zfc testing results for dry contamination block are pretty clear with the top 5 wet lubricants tested thus far averaging over 27% wear rate for this block, and the top 5 chain coating type / immersive waxes averaging 4.3% for same block.

Running wet lubes offroad….. not surprisingly every particle of dust sticks on contact to a wet lube, so the large performance gap between the lubricant types has not been a surprise – at this time honestly I have no idea why one would choose a wet lube if ride offroad vs the other amazing options available that will deliver 1/5th the wear rate, require not solvent maintenance etc etc – but….. despite history stacked against it – maybe grax being an offroad specific wet lube will deliver a surprise.

It will certainly be a surprise. But again, fingers and toes crossed for them.

ZFC getting greener and greener!

The master plan is coming together! It started of course with new custom workshop and expanded test facilities at the new home of low friction. ZFC has already been recycling solvents used in chain prep for a long time via alcohol distillers, and the new home has 86 panel / 25kwh solar system so this is done when sun is shining and so at zero grid draw to recycle.

Have now just added 3 x Tesla power wall 2+’s so even testing that runs overnight or if I need to distill on dark wintery days – we are covered.

Based on data so far since move for entire house and one (hopefully soon 2) full electric cars – entire house & vehicle energy needs will be met by solar for around 6 to 8 months of year, with only small amount of grid needed for charging vehicles other months of the year.

Yeehaa. As close to zero consumption for house, workshop and vehicles as we could get (there are only so many panels you can fit on a house roof!! 😊).

But I feel confident in saying pre-prepped chains by ZFC have the lowest energy and solvent footprint of any prepped chain in the world, and of course they are prepped to perfection every time.  On track for circa 3000+ prepped chains this year – each one saves some one faffing at home with solvents ending up goodness knows where and how well prepped – it wont be as good as ZFC’s bank of high end ultrasonics! The biggest challenge these days is physically get hold of chains to prep. If you need, plan ahead!

Right back to inbox, hope to be up to date by end of today, next project week is week starting Monday 5th July, and there is a solid 3 week lead time on full race prep chains – so if have a big event coming up ensure you have order in with enough lead time.