the bicycle chain, in the case of a new one, presents the intent observer with something of a dichotomy, not to say divided opinion. for those who actually remember and hand the bike over to their local bike shop to have the chain replaced, this might fit into the realm of "i didn't know that." the manufacturers of nice new chains very kindly cover them with a thin coating of grease, mostly to keep them in pristine condition until one of us hands over our hard-earned.
however, this thin coating of grease is easily sufficient to provide at least a minimal level of immediate lubrication for those without the patience to look at alternatives. in fact, there are many amongst us who would contend that the true reason for this film of grease is precisely that, to save scrounging about in the bikeshed for that little bottle of lube that was definitely there on saturday morning.
for those deep of pocket, or with a professional contract in their pocket, the chaps and chapesses at muc-off are more than happy to offer, at considerable expense, a fully pre-lubricated bicycle chain, something that, if nothing else, simply muddies the waters even further. however, what is less open to debate is quite how to deal with the situation in hand whatever your point of view on the subject.
in either case, it would take a true quantity of naiveté not to remove the factory applied coating, prior to lubricating the chain with your oil/synthetic lubricant of choice. grease, in case the effect had passed you by, has a tendency to attract grit, dirt and several other unsavoury elements; if you left the chain in its delivered condition, it would be foolish, would it not, to simply attempt to drip some lubricant on top of all that? yes, the chain will work, but its lifecycle will be a tad less than the purchase price might have suggested.
thus, as technology has improved and tolerances have become ever more precise, that can of three-in-one oil on the shelf at the back of the garage has become less relevant to the bicycle and more confined to the lawnmower. nowadays, a lubricant is simply the final stage in the process, being effectively preceded by a liberal coating of degreaser (and if we're really going to be thorough, a scrubbing with a purple harry pipecleaner). either allow that to dry of its own accord, or wipe the chain and cassette with a cloth or towel, before dripping a spot of lube on each chain roller.
it has been pointed out to me on several occasions over the years, that one of the worst things i could use to 'oil' my chain was a liberal dousing of wd40. that, i am happy to inform, is decidedly no longer the case. for in the past month or so, wd40 have introduced a range of bicycle-related products consisting of an aerosol degreaser, an aerosol lubricant matched with small bottles of dry lube and wet lube, the appropriateness of which is engendered by the name.
as one firmly of the 'remove all grease from a new chain' school of thought, the arrival of a brand new review bike from the specialized stable offered the ideal opporchancity to spray it with the wd40 degreaser then apply some lubricant. though i had already carried out a similar process on the considerably less than new chain on the colnago master, on that occasion i opted to lube with the wet lube, a product that proved every bit the equal of the conditions for which it was designed. and not only that, but it was simplicity itself to indulge my occd (obsessive compulsive chain disorder) by placing only a single drop on each chain roller.
in the case of the specialized's eleven-speed sram chain, i opted for the dry lube; in one aspect at least, this was a bit of a disappointment. wd40's yellow topped grey bottles do not require the tops to be removed completely, but simply to twist them open sufficiently to allow the lubricant to flow. while the wet lube is agreeably viscous, the dry lube has the consistency of water. thus, instead of a single drip on each roller, there was a mini-shower; highly effective, but a tad messy and ultimately wasteful. and my wheel rim did not thank me afterwards.
however, in mitigation, the dry lube did work remarkably well under the circumstances, though lack of a thorough dousing with precipitation has yet to offer a clue as to its longevity in the face of adversity. time will tell.
the spray lube has proved its effectiveness on the likes of sticky front mechs, squeaky gateposts and a recalcitrant back door hinge, though i should issue a disclaimer that the latter two are not actually bicycle-related. aside from the less than satisfactory application of the dry lube, these are more than welcome products from a company that surely has to be far better versed in the art of bicycle lubrication than are most of us. more than worth a portion of space on the bikeshed shelf.
500ml of wd40 bicycle degreaser retails at £8.99, the two 100ml bottles of lube cost £6.99 each and the 250ml can of all conditions spray lube can be had for £6.59.
tuesday 26 july 2016..........................................................................................................................................................................................................