Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Stuff about Stuff: let's talk about lubrication

The Guardian's Bike Blog had a North London singularity of a story today: Sustrans, Countryfile and The Grauniad all combined in sub-Top Gear style story of varied forms of transport across Wales. It reminded me of our battle with NCR4 on the Tristesse Endura. You may, Dear Reader, also be reminded of our troubled chains on that ride, just as I was: Hudson Bay's dramatic chain break and my squeaky approach to Swansea (Dr Doug will no doubt recall). And so, on to the main business of the day, a short review of that all important swig of pinguidity: chain lubrication.

Sadly lacking a free pair of Dromarti Sportivos to review, I have had to splash out my own hard-won cash on a series of bottles of oil, wax and unidentified forms of lubrication over the last year. These are my thoughts.

1. Cycle Oil (far right). Some sort of generic brand, probably purchased from Evans, by the size of the sticker on it. In sum, not very pleasant. Good for bits and pieces on the bike, such as the hub of your Mavic Aksiums, if the pawls are playing up, but thick, messy and sticky for a chain. Gathers dirt and ruins trousers.

2. Green Oil White (second from the right). I like this. It smells nice. It is environmentally sound, and pretty local. There are vaguely amusing notes on the packaging, a la Innocent Drinks. However, your chain will squeak, even after repeating cleanings (I can recommend their chain cleaning product), and you get though a fair bit. I should note it's a wax, not an oil, which is carried on ethanol over the links. Your chain runs well, and stays clean (as do trousers), but isn't up to the strain of a road bike. On the Brompton, it is brilliant, and is the lube of choice for that. Not really been tested in the wet, however.

3. Purple Extreme synthetic lubricant. Not shown. Perhaps my favourite. Based on oils (?) used to lubricate deep sea drill bits, it's clean, lasts a long time, doesn't attract dirt, and shrugs off a fair bit of wet. Only drawback is that you need to clean your chain after a ride, and it ain't so great for a commuting bike, as it leaves a mark.

4. Green Oil (next in from right). Eco-credentials. More 'amusing' blurb on the package. Pretty good, lasts well, works, but attracts dirt and leaves nasty marks.

5. ProLink Chain Lube. The choice of the Zen of Bike Maintenance guy, I gather, and comes strongly recommended by Jon. Upsides: it's clean, quiet, looks like it lasts long, and lubricates really well. Downsides: it flushed out dirt and lubricants from your chain, splashing black tar around the place until the chain is clean. It's taken me three cycles of lube, spin, wipe, to get the stuff on to my satisfaction. I also stupidly snipped off the applicator thingy. Don't. It will go everywhere, leading to the final Downside: it smells of petrol. This ain't no Green Oil White, which I would gladly shower in. Once you get used to how to apply, and don't snip off the applicator, then this is likely to be a winner. Just need to test in the wet.

Verdict: Purple Extreme nudges ahead for practicality, ProLink gets official approval for sportive and commuting use by the Trois V, while Green Oil White gets a big kiss from my Brompton.


Trois V!

1 comment:

  1. I came perilously close to snapping off the applicator of my ProLink Chain Lube. It seems to be the only thing missing from their (unhilarious) instructions, which are helpfully provided in a European Union's worth of languages.