The Who, What, Why of Chain Lubes



All cyclists beyond the most casual ones are consumers of chain lubricant. And anyone who has bought chain lube knows that there is a vast array of choices.

But how do you choose?

How about “eeny, meany, miny, mo”? Are they all the same thing in different packages? And what do want your lube to do? Stop your chain from squeaking? Protect your chain? Keep your chain clean enough that you won’t get a Cat 5 tattoo on your calf if you touch it against the chain? Have the lowest friction? Stay on the chain through hours of riding in the rain? Require reapplication as seldom as possible?

I endeavored at this Interbike show to understand more about chain-lube technology and find out who’s doing what, and why. Each manufacturer was eager to espouse the advantages of its lubes and many were also quite happy to call BS on the claims of other lube makers. I left less certain of what to choose than when I started and with a deep respect for the dedication of lube companies to producing the best product they can.

Even though the Interbike of 2017 is considerably smaller than what it once was, it still is one of the best opportunities to talk to such companies. There are over 50 different lubes between the Friction Facts chain-lube test we published in VeloNews and those shown in the graph in UK lube maker Muc-Off’s promotional material, but only seven of those included lube manufacturers had booths at the 2017 Interbike show, namely: Muc-Off, Motorex, Finish Line, White Lightning, Park Tool, Phil Wood, Boeshield T-9, and Tetra Bike. Additionally, two more that are not on either graph, namely Maxima and Tetra Bike, were at the show, also with compelling stories to tell.