I’m going crazy trying to find what lube/wax to use for my indoor only bike. I’m new to cycling so don’t have any experience of chain maintenance in general so have been scouring the internet and getting so much contradicting information I thought would be best just to post my own question. This is also my second time looking, about a month ago I was hunting around and decided to get Finish Line Ceramic Wax because it was in an article on Zwift saying its basically made for the job. But after receiving it, it’s like 90% carrier solution so essentially paying £10 for 10g wax and most annoyingly when I Googled how to apply I came across ‘designed for re-application every 50-75miles’! Which is nothing, I do more than that in a single ride sometimes! At that rate I’d be better off just forgetting the lube and buying a new chain.
So at this point I’m basically open to anything, even hot wax if it’s going to give me the best result AND a decent amount of miles between applications. That’s very important, I do not want to have to clean and wax/lube my chain after every ride! If a wet lube is going to allow that then thats ok too - as long as its not going to be flicking off and making a mess then fine. To give an idea of miles, according to Zwift I’ve done 700 miles in last 30 days, so if I could find something that allowed for 400 miles between applications then I could comfortably do it fortnightly which wouldn’t be too bad.
If you prefer to avoid hot waxing, which usually does result in a certain amount of mess right after application, you might consider the Silca products (lube and chain stripper). Indoor bikes will not need frequent application compared to a bike ridden outdoors. Wet lubes should not be flying off the chain unless you apply too much and don’t wipe it off, but they don’t generally perform as well as wax in terms of friction and wear. The best lubricants will significantly reduce chain wear, so when you think about the price of lube, you need to factor in the cost of chains as well.
I have been using plain paraffin as hot wax for over 30 years now so wouldn’t know about the alternatives but I don’t really care either. For indoor use, the flakes on the floor/frame/trainer after installing a freshly waxed chain (I have 2–4 chains in rotation per bike and normally treat 3–4 chains at once) are a bit of a pain, but at least for me the upsides including general cleanliness and drivetrain longevity bordering on the incredible are worth it.
Main downside with wax for me is that I can never seem to remember that touching the drivetrain on other people’s bikes to help them with random mechanical problems requires some kind of hand cleaning chemicals.
I can only echo @Anna_Ronkainen’s post.
Plain food-grade paraffin wax costs pennies per month and has given me chains that ran for 20’000 km (12’427 miles) indoors with barely any wear perceptible. They were still only just showing 0.25 on a couple of Park Tool gauges, despite all that use.
Add to that the greatly reduced wear on cassettes and chain rings, and I can easily say that I’ve saved a great deal of money thanks to switching to waxing, while having superb drive and shifting performance.
There will always be some flakes with wax, it’s the nature of the beast. But a brief clean-up once in a while with a dustpan and brush or vacuum cleaner takes care of them rapidly. They don’t spray up or out, just down onto the righthand chainstay, rear derailleur and the floor below the drivetrain. If your indoor cycling floor surface is carpeted, I can see that being a problem. However, if you have a plastic/rubberized mat under the bike, it’s really a non-issue.
As a rule, I re-wax a chain after around 250-300 km (155-186 miles) and it’s a very simple procedure that became part of my weekly routine. As Anna points out, having more than one chain in rotation means that you can wax more than one at a time, increasing the period between waxings and cutting down on the average time per chain.
When starting to use wax, I also bought some Wippermann Connex links. These allow you to mount/remove the chain without needing any tools whatsoever and are designed for unlimited cycles (or as near as damn it). I’ve used these on Shimano chains (replacing Shimano’s own Quick-Link) and on Wippermann chains that come with them, and they work flawlessly.
Yes, the one-off chore of having to strip a new (or very slightly used) chain of its packing grease can be annoying, but it sounds like Silca’s new Chain Stripper liquid cuts that down to virtually nothing. That stripping process is the only time in that chain’s life that one will need to work to get the chain spotless. After that – as long as no oil-based lubes are added to contaminate the system – each hot-waxing session produces an as-new looking/feeling chain.
I guess I’m lazy.
I use Rock n Roll dry lube.
I clean the exterior of my chain by spraying WD40 on a rag and wipe off the exterior dirt.
Apply copious amt of Rock and Roll and leave over night then wipe it all off.
A good source (pretty much the only source) for independent test results of friction, wear, and cost-per-kilometer performance of various lubricants is Zero Friction Cycling. If you look at their data it’s clear that many popular products perform poorly. There is a lot of hype and mythology about lubricants.
Indeed. I don’t track the numbers that closely, but tend to switch chains when they get wet (not an issue indoors obviously) or after 3–4 weeks (which can mean anything between 500 and 1000 km) in some degree of disbelief regarding how this is still working just fine. As for chain life overall, after a couple of broken chains with a 5-digit km-age on them but no measurable wear at least in the “stretch” direction I have started replacing chains proactively once every 2–3 years (around 10000 km per chain).
Quicklinks do indeed make this so much easier, the first ~10 years I still had to do this the old-fashioned way with a chain tool until I upgraded to 9-speed which came with a quicklink. The Wippermann one is my favourite as well since the locking mechanism doesn’t wear when you open and close it unlike some of the others, do note however that it is directional and supposedly it makes the chain jumpy if you don’t install it in the correct direction.
Oh, and I have never bothered to remove the factory grease from new chains. Heresy, I know. (Actually dirty chains (from using whatever emergency lube or something) I do always clean before waxing, of course.)
Thanks Paul, that might be the most useful site for choosing based off facts and not claims! A lot to wrap my head around still but that has solidified my decision to go down the hot wax route with Mspeedwax new formular so thank you very much. According to their tests the Finish Line drip wax I’m using at the moment is absolute rubbish. I’ll probably just run my current chain till I run out of Finish Line, that’ll give me time to gather everything I need to hot wax some new chains. I’m thinking maybe 4 chains so I can batch clean and wax.
Too bad the site still doesn’t provide a comparison point for plain paraffin… But sure, if you need an authority to tell you that Muc-Off and Finish Line are teh suxx, that it can certainly accomplish.
Well, I wasn’t sure how to interpret the chart.
I figured the wax options were more desirable.
I was happy to see that of the options that I was willing to mess with, the Rock n Roll gold seemed to be on of the better ones but clearly, not as good as wax.
Years ago, when I started using Rock n Roll, I think my options were 1 nothing, 2 motor oil, 3 WD40.
I agree, although I suppose I understand argument from Adam Kerin (ZFC) that the many plain paraffin waxes sold around the world under different labels – or none – have widely differing properties, meaning that his test sample would be unrepresentative for most.
The wax that I buy in 250g blocks from a local pharmacist, apparently supplied from the Netherlands, seems to be particularly brittle, but it still does the job perfectly for me.
The day I ever need to squeeze an extra few watts’ advantage from my drivetrain I might look at a buying a cycle-specific and packaged waxing product with added this or that, but until then I’m a happy camper.
Yeah, the ±1 W differences certainly don’t concern me at all. Also, differences in equipment, riding conditions, maintenance procedures and what have you will probably also introduce variation of comparable magnitude as well.
Initially I used to buy my paraffin at the pharmacy as well, but then I just changed to the stuff used for candles (or indeed even 100% paraffin candles). I see a number of different paraffin options on Amazon in terms of melting point, so that would be one more thing to experiment on. I think I’ll instead just try adding some camphor oil to my next batch of new wax for that authentic bike racing smell…