13 August, 2020

Lubricant to Live By

 By Scott

NFS NixFrixShun Chain lube being applied

For years, my regular Sunday afternoon chore/regular maintenance list item was to clean and re-lube the chains of our home's fleet of bikes. We were daily commuters in addition to riding brevets, so I tried to be very diligent about prolonging the life of our chains. I'd take the bikes from our apartment down to the garage area with my little kit of degreaser, rags, and lube. Riding year around, through Vancouver's wet winters, meant I had to keep on top of the chains to avoid them getting too gunked up from all the debris on the roads we rode on.

So, while I'm not a chemist (my wife has a BSC in chemistry, so that sort of counts right?) chain lube is something that I've paid attention to over the years. I'm not as fastidious as some people I've known over the years (one guy I worked with in Vancouver took the chain off the bike, soaked it in degreaser, cleaned each link and reinstalled it EVERY weekend), I'm very much the "clean off the previous application of oil and everything it's picked up over the past XX period of time and apply new oil" kinda of person. 

As a randonneur and cycle-tourist, the key point about chain lube for me is longevity of an oil. There is nothing worse then having a chain go all squeaky and crunchy part way through a long brevet or having to try to find some oil tins (do they still make tins or is it all plastic now?) in the garbage at a service station to try and lube a chain while on tour. So over the years, I've tried a lot of chain lubes. Some are too thick and tend to pick up a lot of dirt and such over time and are a bit tough to try and clean off, especially by the degreaser and rag method I use. Some other lubes, so called "dry lubes" which promised less pick up of dirt, tended to get washed off, especially when I relocated to DC and biked in our summer monsoons.

All this brings me around to the latest addition to VO's catalog - NixFrixShun Chain Lube. Josh who makes this (a local MD fellow) is a long time rider and he gets what a chain lube needs to be - particularly for those who go long. His product got great reviews a few years back in Cycling Tips deep dive into chain lubes. We got some samples at the Philly Bike Expo and we really loved this stuff. It holds held up really well to all sorts of riding and we're pleased to have them in stock.

It comes in a 2 oz bottle with a little nozzle for dispensing. Instructions for application are pretty easy: Wipe off the chain of existing oil, put the chain in the large outer ring and the smallest cog. Randomly drop 12 drops of oil along the chain, rotate the chain 12 times, and then clean the excess off for 12 seconds. So a little goes a long way.

The other product from NFS we've brought in is their Race Grease. We first got some of this from our good friend Tommy at Cutlass Velo. This grease is apparently Tommy's choice for bike builds. When I first saw it, it reminded me of the Bullshot BMX grease from the 80's. We've started using this grease for all our headset and bottom bracket installations, as well as on any complete assemblies that are going out the door. It's easy to apply, sticks well, and doesn't cost an arm and a leg. It comes in a 4 oz jar and we've found that using a small brush to apply it to bottom bracket threads, head tubes, and screws to be ideal and VERY pro.

Does anyone have some tips on chain cleaning they'd like to share with the world? Let us know in the comments.


Anonymous said...

I've been using NFS or the Silca variant for a few years now and like it very much. For degreasing my chains, I like El Duke degreaser, which Rivendell sells. I splurged and bought a metal Park chain cleaner, which at least promises to last longer than the plastic ones I've had. I use it on chains without a quick link. Soaking a chain in the El Duke in a plastic bag seems to get most of the gunk off.
Glad you guys are carrying NFS products now

voyageoftheeye said...

Modern bikes have a fabulous range of gears but are hell compared to old hub geared bikes with enclosed chaincases which could make the chains last almost forever... No deep dished wheels either!

Bruce Hubbell said...

my chain lube consists of half bacon grease and half liquid paraffin which is very light. liquid paraffin is used for candle. you can't this combo outside because it turns to a solid in cold weather. I clean my chain at least once a year :)