it's possible i may have dreamt this, but i'm sure i have recollections of a bicycle lubrication system which continuously dribbled oil onto the chain as both rider and weather did their level best to nullify its lubricating effects. if this was truly a real thing, i believe the lube won. as well it should, in order to offset the undoubted faff and added weight that such a contraption undoubtedly imposed upon the average bicycle. to my mind, it compares as disfavourably as the remote key access provided with all new motor cars.
how hard was it really to turn a key in the door lock?
i did, however, once review a pre-lubricated chain, obtainable at a considerable price premium over the more standard offering. according to the accompanying literature, this impregnated lubricant ought to have lasted in excess of 1000km, but long before i made it to 800km, the squeaking had driven me distractedly to the more usual practice of dripping a solitary drop of lube on each chain roller. yes, life really is that simple.
i will, however, confess to being something of a traditionalist, no matter the manufacturer's protestations on the label. when i was the not so proud owner of a raleigh twenty shopping bike (an excellent choice, if each morning was occupied with delivering newspapers), my father had impressed upon me the need for regular and preventative maintenance, a weekly routine that mostly achieved what it set out to do, apart from a constant slipping in second gear in that sturmey archer hub gear.
prior to the arrival of the wide variety of synthetic lubes available today, the sole option to keep the chain from squeaking was via a small can of three-in-one oil. this too was to be dripped a drop at a time onto each chain roller before a quick wipe with a rag to remove any excess. i still find this the most efficient manner of oiling a chain, but the higher viscosity of many current options has had me occasionally miss out every second roller in order that the chain not become over-saturated.
as i may have mentioned once or twice before, i have a curious predilection for a clean, shiny chain, something that several wet lubes seem hell-bent on preventing. i will gladly accept that, despite this propensity to create a mucky chain after only a few kilometres, the chain is possibly in far less danger of suffering untoward friction or even corrosion. but really, i'd prefer it do so in cleaner fashion. the only lubes that seem to adhere to such sparkle are the so-called dry-lubes and in the hebridean months between september and april, those are a less than auspicious choice.
wickens and soderstrom, a company that still sounds more like a legal firm than those offering bicycle care, have augmented their well-respected drivetrain lube no.5 with a product bearing the number three. according to w & s, its constitution is made up from 'oils, waxes and micro particles' all of which combine to provide reduced friction, reduced vibration, less noise but greater protection against dirt and moisture. additionally, wickens and soderstrom portend, it cleans as it lubricates.
in order that one lubricant might not be responsible for the affectations of another, i made sure that the chains on both the specialized crux and the colnago master were suitable degreased, cleaned and dried prior to application of lube no.3. on the crux, i applied a drop to each roller, while the colnago benefitted from half as much; only on every second roller.
i have no scientific means of quantifying the efficacy of any chain lube, other than the subjectivity of the rider. i'd be lying if i said lube no.3 offered the benefits of increased speed and a lightness of pedal courtesy of the promised reduced friction. however, it does appear to have a tenacity that keeps it stuck to the chain even in the face of heavy precipitation which is always a welcome trait in any chain lube. as to the self-cleaning feature, this was less readily apparent. in fact the chain rollers were a liquidy black after only seventy cold kilometres.
as with many other chain lubes that preceded the wickens and soderstrom, a gentle wipe with a rag cleaned most of that away, but so far, each ride has ended with the chain in similar condition. however, unless you have a similar level of chain ocd as yours truly, this is scarcely a tangible problem in need of a quick fix. at a cost of around £8 for a 125ml bottle, wickens & soderstrom no.3 chain lube is a cost effective means of keeping the bicycle running smoothly and relatively quietly. in other words it does precisely what it says on the tin; well, apart from the cleaning bit.
friday 23 december 2016..........................................................................................................................................................................................................