Updates on the latest lube releases and testing debacles
Wow it really has been a super exciting time for lubricants, and if I may say, it’s been too long coming but better late than never! Yes yes long article I know – but a lots been happening, there’s a lot of groovy knowledge below so pop your 10 minute attention span hat on and push through, you can do it and you will be wiser for it!
K – Slowly, but gathering good pace now – obvious logic is clicking into place with many riders re just HOW MUCH friction a dirty gritty drip lube chain is sapping, as well as merrily eating through your drive train components, and just how easy that is to avoid with the right lubricant choices.
If I go back just two years, the number of genuine top options was pretty limited, it has been exciting to see that change with the number of manufacturers really understanding and focussing on this space. It’s a double edged sword – we have seen some very powerfully marketed complete rubbish launched, but also – some genuinely great new products have come out too.
As i’m getting asked ALL the time (which seriously is great – every person asking a question is someone putting proper consideration into a very important and previously often overlooked area, so well done) re what are my thoughts on new absoluteBlack lube, the new Silca super secret lube and Silca hot melt wax, how does this compare to Mspeedwax / Tru Tension etc – I will try to cover initial impressions first as it is going to be some time before I can put everything through my exhaustive control testing ( Man I gotta get my you tube happening this stuff will be so much easier…. Im working on it… time time time I need more time…. 🙂
So bear with me here, a bit to cover – but you should be able to read it in parts – the odds of this post being taken down are minimal as I’m not re-publishing already publicly released data hahahaha ;). Stick with it, you will learn lots in relatively short time i promise!
Right – so first – Silca brought out super secret chain lube which is an emulsified version of their now released hot melt wax that Josh Poertner has used for a long time for any athletes and teams they work with for key tdf stages, world champs, world records, ironman world champs etc.
What is emulsified? Basically it means they have found a way via an alcohol based carrier to transport the wax into the chain, then the carrier evaporates, and you are left with a coating of their super fast wax.
In my personal experience & lube knowledge, I much prefer alcohol carrier method. Other wax emulsion lubes (squirt / smoove – which are still good) use water. This takes A LOT longer to evaporate out. Alcohol carrier evaporates faster, leaves a more true solid coating behind, and doesn’t re-emulsify when subjected to wet condions for a long stretch – a problem for lubes that use water as the carrier.
Then Silca released their wax in a hot melt. So its same wax, two different application methods.
Q1 – which should I consider between drip lube or hot melt?
Hot melt / immersive application is always going to be vastly superior. To get wax to become a drip lube there has to be high % by volume of carrier to make a solid product into a liquid that then sets back into a solid. So per treatment you are simply going to get a lot less of the actual good stuff, vs a hot melt immersive coating where all parts are completely coated in 100% of the good stuff.
Also, whilst I have no doubt the super secret lube is going to be all that and a bag of chips as claimed, remember chain is operating externally, so some airborne contamination is inevitable each ride, and over multiple rides – it will add up. If it is a dusty ride / your ride along esplanades where this is a lot of sand in air / on roads, you ride gravel or offroad etc – then there will be a tangible amount of abrasive airborne contamination that has penetrated chain – it is unavoidable – your chain is simply operating completely exposed unlike your bearings. Some contamination per ride gets forcibly pressed into set wax by rider load, and adding 5ml more lube, even 10ml more lube across approx. 108 links does more or less ZERO to remove contamination that is now landlocked in the set wax. (it works out too – lets round it off and call it 0.1ml of lube per link for a 10ml application – not much of a flush clean is possible – especially when existing lube is already set solid).
Over X re lubes and rides, the ratio of abrasive contamination in your lube will obviously continue to become worse, friction will increase, wear will increase. Every now and then you have to pay the piper one way or another re either clean and re-set contamination, or pay with higher friction and wear. But – the best lubes the payments are far far less frequent, and the cost of whats happening between payments re friction and wear is a heck of lot lower than lubes that quickly become liquid sandpaper masquerading as your lubricant – of which sadly the market is riddled with those.
With a hot melt application, the remaining bit of old wax melts off into pot, and the chain is swished in typically 400 to 500ml of wax. Over time of course the wax in pot becomes more contaminated so you should change to fresh wax, but this takes quite some time before you need to worry. Again we are comparing trying to have 5 to 10ml across 108 links deal with any contamination that has penetrated vs swishing in a 400 to 500ml pool of lubricant. The latter simply re-sets contamination levels in chain back to practically zero every time for a very long time with no cleaning intervention necessary. This is simply one of the unassailable advantages of immersive waxing – as well as each time all sliding surface components of the chain are re-coated in a solid super slippery wax. It is just extremely hard for drip lubes to compete with hot melt waxing for 99.9% of day in day out low friction riding and racing low friction, cleanliness and wear with zero cleaning maintenance required in between.
So – The silca super secret drip lube I know even before testing from the info available will be quite something, I can tell just by what it’s made of, and who has made it – just note that you will get much lesser coating per application vs a hot melt application of either Silca hot melt wax or Mspeedwax, and the build up of abrasive contamination vs lube in chain will be much faster with a drip on chain coating vs remaining basically near zero for a very long stretch with immersive waxing – BUT, remember also the contamination build up in a drip lube that sets to a solid coating will be a lot less than wet lubes where every particle of airborne dust sticks on contact.
That is the main bits for first question I’ve been getting a lot re Silca drip lube vs hot melt. Hot melt is definitely the way to go. Popping chain on and off is super easy, and yes you can use the silca drip lube if need to in between if for some reason you have trouble staying on top of re-waxing.
Q2 – Can I use silca drip lube on my Mspeedwax chain?
Yes you can use Silca drip lube for mspeedwax chains as a great in between waxing if needed, cycling holidays etc. The friction modifiers used may differ a little, but the base is still lab grade paraffin – they will be great friends in the playground.
Q3 – whats the difference be Silca hot melt and MSW?
One – the price! Two – Silca obviously claims it is faster as use faster friction modifiers – how much faster may it be? Is that empirically proven? At this time this is unknown. Silca have used their formula to great success, but Friction Facts / MSW also arrived at their formula after a heck of lot extreme precision testing and trialling every friction modifier you can think of at the time.
Mspeedwax also has a heck of lot of wins at the absolute top level with Olympic golds, world champs, and at world level / national level races more wins than one could possible keep track of. I’ve had a good bit of fun myself in Aus with mspeedwax prepped chains clocking up national champs, national champs KOM, Cycling aus track team set a new world record for pursuit etc – and I’ve really only just begun
The reality is, you can’t go wrong with either, nor can you go wrong with a UFO chain or UFO drip. You now have 3 guaranteed astounding low friction options, its really down to who you like more. I’ll be stocking all of them of course
Until we can get a super accurate and trusted independent FTT test lab to confirm, we just won’t know who may be a fraction of a watt faster than the other. My test equipment will not pick this up – I will be surprised if any difference shows up on my testing based on wear rate as both use highest lab grade paraffin as base. We don’t currently have a trusted independent FTT test lab in the world.
I’m working on it for new workshop, but this type of testing is fraught with some challenges, and we really need a global standard – which we won’t get. But again, im working on it.
Q4 – Would race powdering help with silca hot melt?
Yes it should. Race powdering an Mspeedwax chain typically reduces treatment friction by a further 0.3 to 0.5w, and since both are lab grade paraffin with just some different friction modifiers, dry powdering should also help Silca hot melt be faster and stay faster. The super slippery race powder also takes up space abrasive airborne dust would otherwise like to try to occupy. Josh of Silca would powder the race chains for the pro athletes, but they haven’t yet released an accompanying race powder – maybe that’s coming next.
In the interim if I was me, I would us the msw race powder for an A priority race if I waxed with Silca hot melt. Same rules apply re must first do at least a 20 to 40 min break in run of wax treatment before powdering otherwise powder cannot penetrate.
Q5 – What do I think of the sous vide bag?
Personally not a fan / believer of this aspect – sorry josh!! Just put the wax in a dedicated $16 1.5 litre slow cooker from woollies, you will get a much better swish. A better swish means all the good stuff – the friction modifiers, are evenly distributed through the wax that is coating your chain parts.
In the sous vide bag, they are all going to settle to the bottom the wax in the bag. So yes you have to shake the bag, but this still wont be as good at all as swishing chain in a pot with a swisher (you can really get things moving with a swisher) and then you have to fish chain out of bag.
My personal opinion at this time is I believe they have released the bag to solve a market perception problem – I thinky they perceive a barrier to potential customers taking up hot melt waxing are possible concerns that people don’t want to buy a dedicated crock pot, so hey use an existing pot with a sous vide bag. But the reality is, a small crock pot doesn’t take much room to pack away (about the same space as sous vide bag), you WILL get a better distribution in the wax more easily in a crock pot and swishing vs shaking a bag. And if you leave it and forget about it, your wax and chain will be perfectly fine. Forget about your sous vide bag overnight, and you will have a problem indeed after all the water has evaporated.
Just buy a pot and bend a bit of wire into a swisher, it’s a one off investment that will last you around 10 years for $16 to achieve better result much more easily.
Q6 – Should I get an ultrasonic?
Unless prepping race chains no. Again the video showing to infuse wax best as possible with ultrasonic is not quite correct. Friction facts testing in the early wax race chain days proved that ultrasonic application alone was not as good as swishing due to poor distribution of the friction modifiers in the wax. To get best possible result for race chain?
- Swish bejeezes out of chain in wax pot with wax heated to 80 to 90dg c.
- Pour wax into small but powerful high quality temp contol ultrasonic set to 80dg c (normal max temp for ultrasonics) and blitz wax with stick blender.
- Put chain in then run ultrasonic for 2 mins. Remove chain and hang to set. Whilst this is happening boil kettle. Blitz wax again and pour wax back into pot, remining little bit of wax in ultrasonic (if using ultrasonic for cleaning purposes as well) pour in boiling water, swill around, pour out, wipe pot clean with microfiber cloth. **dedicated race chains should have dedicated race pot vs waxing with same wax used to re-wax training chains to that it is as clean and contamination free as possible. Commercial race chains from ZFC / MSW are prepped with fresh wax.
Too often Ultrasonics are portrayed as the be all and end all for best clean, best lube application – they CAN be – if other steps preceeding this are done correctly. Just bunging stuff in an ultrasonic and turning on will not be the magic result you expect.
Q7 – what about absoluteBlack graphene – is it what it claims and is it worth the cost?
Ok so this strays into a more fun area that really has two components to it. Part 1) the claims from AB re the graphene lube and part b) the testing data put up for competitor lubes.
Part 1 – From my testing (OF THE PROTOTYPE THAT I CANT REALLY TALK ABOUT) I have no reason to doubt their claims, especially its extraordinary single application longevity – in that particular aspect its astounding. Literally astounding.
Part 2 – There are huge (HUGE) (REALLY HUGE) concerns re the other data put up on competitor lubes from Wheel energy. Im not saying wheel energy testing is wrong, but I can say it doesn’t match Friction facts testing, it doesn’t match my wear rate correlation testing, we have near zero transparency on the testing equipment re how it works and the protocol, and I haven’t been able to get answers to some rather pertinent questions such as where did 5w of friction loss increase come from if for same period in my testing there is 0.00mm wear and other trusted testing (friction facts) shows zero increase etc. These are questions that need answering.
Yet again – im working on it.
So at the moment, personally I will say I have grave concerns re data for other lubes, however all testing I have done on the AB lube, it really something.
The cost is…. Big, and the initial prep MUST MUST be immersive so that’s possibly a bit too faffy or messy for some (ZFC should be here to help on that front soon), but for very long harsh conditions events, or for those not wanting the day in day out super clean low friction and wear of hot melt waxing and want extremely long intervals between re-lubes – this will be your lube.
Normally I stick extremely stringently to my own business rule of test to find the genuine best lubricants to stock – but in the case of the new silca lubes I know enough about them already to confidently add to ZFC’s very select line up, and for AB lube, having already been involved extensively in testing during its development, I will be stocking both asap, but still testing the commercial products as soon as I can for full benchmarking and detail reviews – alas that just takes a long time – too long to wait to stock products I know are at the top like Mspeedwax.
As the home of low friction, I need to ensure I have the genuine best products on hand. If any surprises pop up in testing the production versions, I can amend decision, but the likelihood of this is so low I will be moving forwards on stocking all the cool options.
And of course, to take the faffy difficult bit out of the equation, offering pre-prepped options for msw / Silca hot melt and AB so you can skip straight to the fun low friction part. Stay tuned for webstore update!