Bicycle chain lube has come a long way in the past 20 years. Gone are the days of dripping 3-in-1 oil on your chain, wiping it with an old washcloth and calling it good. These days, chain lube is researched almost as much as any other component on your bike.
In the quest for “marginal gains, ” chain lube is one of the new frontiers. While aerodynamic gains are still the king of the hill in terms of gaining seconds during a time trial or race, chain lube efficiency can save a few extra watts. Combine those few watts with savings from ceramic bearings, derailleur pulley bearing, and pedal bearings and you could be saving 5-6% of your energy.
Friction Facts is one of the kings of evaluating your drive train efficiency. They have published tons of material on chain lube efficiency in the past. After doing some reading about the process, I decided to give it a try and see how effective (and long lasting) it is.
Check out my experience after the jump and learn how you can try this bicycle chain lube process yourself at home.
The Science Behind Efficiency
Every time you push the pedals on your bike, you're creating power in the crankset. Power is transferred through the geared rings on the crankset, a chain and toothed cassette cogs. The chain wraps around rear derailleur pulleys as well. The whole system allows power to be transferred to the rear wheel. Along the way, the friction in that system will cause some of that power to be lost. It's lost mostly because power is needed to overcome the coefficient of friction in the system (to move the individual chain links, spin the derailleur pulleys and during contact with chainring and cog teeth.)
Friction Facts publishes a lot of data on different ways to increase your drivetrain efficiency. They claim to be able to save you 78 seconds per hour by addressing drivetrain efficiency. By downloading their reports package, you'll learn how to save 4+ watts on chain lube, 3 watts by avoiding cross chaining, 1.8 watts on your bottom bracket and 1.3 watts for your derailleur pulleys. If you took just those 4 items, you could save 10+ watts on your next ride. For many people, that's close to 5% of their functional threshold power.
When you're trying to squeeze the maximum possible fitness out of your body, there's no reason to neglect a drivetrain that's sapping your wattage.
After reading through the Friction Facts efficiency reports I decided to give the process a try the next time I needed to replace a chain.
Homemade Bicycle Chain Lube
In order to wax a chain with the Friction Facts chain lube process, you'll need a few ingredients. You can easily find them over at Amazon, and I'll give you links to them below.