The best lube for smart trainer- Definitive Answer needed!

I am currently using Finish Line Ceramic Wax- but not at all convinced it is the ‘best’ for indoor riding.
When reading about certain lubes there are claims of extra watts- do these actually translate to numbers on the screen when Zwifting?
Not ready to go hot waxing route (yet), would rather buy a bottle of something.

I use “dry” chain lube since it’s indoors and no threat of wet conditions, no idea if wax is any better?

I probably did almost the exact same research you’re doing right now. The best ‘non-intensive’ solution I read up on was “Squirt”; this being based of reading quite a few opinions on various message forums. It’s important to read the directions and apply it well ahead of time (I’m not sure how long it takes to dry but I’ve been leaving it overnight). And you have to clean your drivetrain really good if you had something else on it beforehand. Also (in case you live in a cold climate) it doesn’t handle freezing well.

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Firstly i’m riding for a team sponsored by Ceramic Speed, so i’m probably a bit biased. There are definitely some difference in lubes that would translate into watts being saved, with the best setups coming in around 96-98 % efficiency depending on which data you rely on. According to zerofrictioncycling (ZFC) the difference between good and bad lubes can be upwards to 10 watts at 250 watts load. However, the lube can be the fastest in the world, but without a properly cleaned and maintained chain and drivetrain there will be much more lost than 10 watts, with efficiency levels under 90 % for badly maintained/very dirty setups

If you look at test results from ZFC and Ceramicspeed, the UFO Drip is the fastest when not going with hot wax, but if you want a cheaper fast lube Squirt Dry lube is a good alternative, if you are just looking at wattage saved, and something i used before Ceramicspeed.

Different lubes will cause different wear to your chain, so thats something to remember as well, with the the actual running cost being lowest for Moltenspeedwax and the UFO Drip. Some chains are also faster than others, with the Dura-ace 11 speed chain being one of the best chains to choose. Recommend you check out the website, since there loads of testing and guides about lubes, chains etc.

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squirt lube is good stuff but you can use basically anything if it’s purely indoors. as little as possible IMO. sometimes i just oil a chain normally, then wipe all of the oil off, and anything that’s already seeped into a roller crevices are all that’s left

i recommend spending the little extra and getting a dura ace chain though, the chain itself will make a much bigger difference and arguably is probably the single most important part of any groupset when it comes to actually helping you get the most power out of your frame

Disclaimer: I have been in the pocket of Big Paraffin for over a quarter century now and obviously consider anyone using alternative methods of chain lubrication an uniformed fool. Still, the trouble with using a hot-waxed chain on the trainer is all the flakes of excess wax you get on your chainstay and the floor/mat especially after the first ride or two. Doing those rides outdoors instead helps of course, but unfortunately that is generally not an option for my trainer bike.

That being said, and since I prefer to at least validate my prejudices every now and then, I recently tried something else (factory grease to be more specific) on my trainer bike mainly to see if it would reduce drivetrain noise (it didn’t) and went back to hot wax from the next maintenance cycle on. After a thorough cleaning of the entire drivetrain, of course.

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You stated in your OP that you’re not ready to go the hot waxing route (yet). I totally get that, but I’m with Anna on this one. It’s a wonderful solution for indoor riding, bar the flakes – but even they are easy to take care of in seconds with a dustpan and brush.

Using just standard food-grade paraffin wax from a pharmacist (extremely cheap) and a simple slow cooker, my current indoor-only waxed chain has done 10’600 km and is still showing less than 25% wear. That seems to be hard or impossible to achieve with a penetrating liquid lube, unless you are heavily washing and then reapplying fresh lube after almost every ride.

Once a week, I do the wax and re-install routine as part of my chores, and that only takes about 25 minutes of my time at most (not counting heat-up time).
Very little fuss or mess, no water/power washing or degreaser involved, and the drivetrain is consistently smooth, never turns black, and can be touched/handled without staining. Yes, completely stripping the chain of the packing grease when new is tedious, but it’s a one-time per chain task.

Yeah, the flakes are annoying, even more so if an unusually large one happens to end up in the trainer and start making noise, but at least the flakes are a good reminder to vacuum both the floor and the trainer.

I rotate 2–3 chains per bike and only switch chains every 3–4 weeks (or after riding in the rain which of course isn’t a concern indoors), so I only need to cook me some chains (3–4 at a time) maybe once every 6–8 weeks.

I started initially with food-grade paraffin as well but for ages I have been slumming it with paraffin candles and I don’t even bother with removing the factory grease as long as the chain is otherwise clean, just a little extra flavour to the mix.

The chains (and the rest of the drivetrain) do last forever, even to the point that I have started replacing chains early for safety reasons (after a couple of broken chains with 10,000–20,000 km on them) once every few years even though they have not even reached the stretch/wear limit.

After 25 years you should have worked out how to soften the wax and make it stick to eliminate the flakes. PTFE does this, so does mineral oil (it is paraffin oil by another name) or gear oil.

I use wax on the road, but only finish line wet lube on my trainer.

This is also my go to on the trainer. There is no dust and dirt on the trainer so I think you just nee to keep it lubed for less friction and to keep the rust away.

I just use cheap chains and bin them once they are covered in gunk.
Perhaps not cost effective but saves any hassle.

I’m not sure I’d notice the single digit watt benefit of a clean chain.

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Well, my grand total of indoor (rollers/trainer) hours in the first 22 of those 25 years is well under 100 and I certainly never had to change a chain from only indoor riding before, so… But anyway, the flakes don’t bother me enough to start experimenting with the mix, quite happy with my maintenance routine the way it is now.

I’ve been using BoeShield outside for several years but I’m planning on changing over to this:

I got right before my Moment on the 10th of November so I haven’t gotten a chance to see if it’s any better. All indications suggest it is but until I ride with it…

Here’s a vid 'splaining how to prep and lube a chain for wax: Ask the Expert Ep 007: Chain Maintenance - YouTube

My logic is the same.