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Anyone using or have tried a 'dry' or wax chain lube?

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    Anyone using or have tried a 'dry' or wax chain lube?

    For what ever reason I have recently had to do a lot of messing around with chains and the mess has really made me dream about a belt drive. That's not going to happen any time soon so was doing research on care and feeding of chains for freezing urban conditions and saw lots of urban commuters using various types of wax but not many in freezing climates. Kinda got interested in a liquid wax brand called Squirt. Looking closer at them found out they have a extreme cold formula. Got a bottle on order so gonna see how it works. If it does well this winter they also have an E bike formula that I will try in the summer if the winter experiment goes well.

    Its about 3x the cost of a typical oil lube but more or less goes on like an oil. No one seems to doubt its lubricating abilities and everyone seems to think its a million times cleaner especially when it comes to trail side repairs where you are not expecting to get dirty. Only argument seems to be is how many watts better than oil is it which for single digits they are usually talking about doesn't matter to me. I want something that needs less daily care and does better with wet conditions. Minimal or no black stains will just be a bonus.

    I will try and report back what I find but was hoping to hear from someone that has tried it for any tips or what they thought of the whole concept. If its a bad idea I'm only out the $15 at this point vs trying it and maybe being out a cheap $40 chain and have a mess to clean up.

    Finally got my new Squirt lube. Apparently its pretty popular because many places it was showing in stock then when I went to order it was out so I had to wait or find another vendor. Ended up also getting a 4oz bottle of their E bile lube to qualify for free shipping. Short version so far so good.

    Longer version........

    So far just trying the low temp stuff since I'm not likely to see above freezing temps for a couple of months around here. Brand new Shimano chain. First soaked it in a can of Gunk carburetor cleaner but I could still feel some of the grease left I hit it with some brake clean before the compressed air. Well used cassette came off and using a Park brush and some foamy engine cleaner then some Lava bar soap on the park brush that too was nice and clean. Note the Park brush's hook thing barely fits between a 10 speed, not sure if they have a newer thinner one for the 11 and 12's. Next time I may just try the Lava soap, that seemed to work really good. I just rubbed the brush on the bar then on the freewheel. Chain ring wasn't that old or dirty so it was easy to clean on the bike with an old toothbrush.

    Since its freezing in my garage and I didn't want to try and heat it or bring a bike inside I just put a couple screws in a 2x4 and stuck a couple old jockey wheels on the screws to hold the chain in a similar position as it would be on the bike. Directions and videos said to go fairly heavy on the first application which I did. It comes in a little bottle just like most of the oil does with the little squeeze squirting tip. Doing individual dabs on each roller seemed less wasteful than just a line down the whole chain like I typically do with the oil. It may be because the oil flows faster and kinda wicks around quicker? The wax stuff you could see fairly often would just sort of blob and hang in the narrow sections if you just went in a line.

    2nd application directions said to do after 5 mins. Some online folks said they did their 2nd the next day. I did both. After 5 mins it didn't look or feel much different. Next day it for sure dried and was sort of an interesting sticky but not sticky wax like coating. Seemed plenty flexible at room temp. It sat for a couple days warm and inside till I put it on the bike at which point I did another light coating the day before a ride. I didn't carefully inspect the chain before the ride but even below freezing it seemed flexible and I didn't notice anything that made me think it was stiff like noises or shifting issues. I was riding on snow which is kinda loud and when I wasn't on snow the tire studs make a lot of noise so if it was subtle I would not have head it. For sure wasn't major because it felt smooth the whole ride which was only about 20 miles mostly on dryish pavement. Couple salty puddles. Couple times having to blast through snowbanks at intersections. Couple sections of not cleared sidewalks in several inches of snow. One parking lot that had not been plowed but had been driven on so lots of flying snow there.

    One heavy and 3 light applications so far maybe used 1/2-3/4 of an oz out of the 4 oz bottle which was around $15 so it seems like a bottle should last. I have a similar size bottle of Park lube that I think I used about half of over about 4 months so maybe the wax uses less per application? Not sure yet but that is my impression. Directions also say don't ever wipe it off which is interesting and different from the typical lube oil. I think one of the things wiping oil off does is take some of the dirt with it. Not sure if the wax stuff maybe just falls off along with any dirt?


      Have not put a lot of miles on but the few I have done have had wet and salty sections and so far the first bike I did the Squirt on is looking fine. Yesterday I did the other bike and took that for a ride today which was about 20*F and it rode fine and looked alright when I got home. Seems like its about 1/4 oz per application so depending on how often you need to lube you can figure out how long it will last. I'm sure not gonna miss having to deal with the black staining goo.


        I've been using Squirt for a while now. But freezing is not an issue for me. I find it works well and stays where you put it. I just wipe and brush any loose dirt off the chain and put a drop on the inner side of each pin every few days. I do wipe the old lube off of the chain ring to allow a new coating to form there. I find it seals the chain, lubes well, and doesn't attract much sand. Petroleum lubes may seem to lube better but if they attract sand they become abrasive. I find it's easy enough to use that frequent application is not an inconvenience.


          Maybe that is how it works, you don't get any lube inside the pins but they figured nothing is better than grime? The outside of the chain seems to have some lubrication like properties to it. Today I was doing some more work to the bike I just switched to the squirt and had to take the chain off. Its still below freezing and it felt a little sticky but at least in the stand seemed to still work fine. Best part is what got on my hands just wiped off. I did notice some build up on my small sprocket which was where it was during the final application on the bike yesterday before the ride. I thought it was snow because there is still snow in other places on the bike but I poked at it and its wax. Looks like if it wasn't so cold it would just fall off on its own.


            Back in moto racing days the only topic more like religion or politics than motor oil was chain maintenance

            All I can say is I've got ~3000mi silly hard miles on my chain and measured it this weekend with about 1.5mm overall stretch... gonna replace it soon even though it's way less than "they" say it's time... $30 chain, why not?

            Point being I'm not going to say more than just stay on top of them... method and product matters waaaaaay less... and chains are cheap...


              The runny 'liquid wax' lube I tried was flammable and it's solvent hazardous, and then performed like oily water.

              I'm experimenting and using only a bar of wax, mostly on the cassette.

              Because: Avoiding the accumulation of sand ( sticky petroleum or silicon oils or 'liquid wax') contributing to wear of chain details seems vital.


                I used to clean and then dip my chain in melted wax to get it into the pins. But a couple broken Connex links convinced me to rivet my chain. Now that I rivet my chain the Squirt wax seems OK.
                If it was freezing outside, then staying indoors and dipping the chain in hot wax might be an attractive option.
                If you want to remove the chain, strip it down and lube it internally no one is going to stop you. If you just want something to put on the chain then Squirt works about as well as other similar products. Refresh it fairly often to keep the inside of the chain clean, or strip and wax dip it every now and then of you want to.
                Last edited by Retrorockit; 01-31-2021, 07:39 AM.


                  Just looked at a squirt bottle and it says non flammable. I looked to see if they had a solvent and all they sell is their general 'bike cleaner' which appears to be pretty similar to most of the bike cleaners on the market.

                  For how sticky mine felt it didn't seem dirty. My tires are covered with salt and sand and its on the chain stay and crank arms and my boots so for sure some had to have got on the chain. Will have to check it today and see if there are any signs of rust now that it has been sitting for a day.


                    Some people feel that the act of washing a chain drives the grit into the pins. Like AZ said this gets to be an article of contention, probably because no one has actual facts. Also we all have our own riding conditions.
                    But like AZ, I just accept the fact that bicycle chains on 1500W Ebikes don't die of old age anyway. Tires,brake pads, chains, casettes are all wearing parts.


                    • us56456712
                      us56456712 commented
                      Editing a comment
                      The pros wash chains. Some pro mechanics for the racers remove the chain, shake it for 10 minutes in a jar of Goo Gone, then shake it for ten minutes in Simple Green, then scrub it with Dawn and a brush, then a boiling or warm water rinse and once dry hand work chain lube into each link. They also use this process using an ultrasonic bath instead of shaking if there is electricity available. This gets it as clean as possible. I guess they don’t worry about driving grit in, they want performance and toss chains way more than the rest of us. I use the shaking process myself and it works well, unless the chain is really badly neglected with rust.
                      Last edited by us56456712; 05-13-2021, 06:10 AM.

                    Originally posted by AZguy View Post
                    Back in moto racing days the only topic more like religion or politics than motor oil was chain maintenance...
                    Amen! Nothing has changed!

                    I've tried a couple different things. Store bought wax lube seemed OK, but was fairly expensive. Melted down a couple of candles, added some mineral oil, moly disulfide, and a bit of methanol. Way cheaper and seemed to work just as well, or actually a bit better as it did not seem to get as stiff in the cold. Seem to have better luck with oil based lubes in the rain/mud, but they do suck up dry dirt. For cleaning, nothing seems to beat a good run in the ultrasonic bath...just seems like the dirt 'explodes' out of ever small crevice.

                    But overall, keeping some type of lube on the chain and cleaning it periodically is 98% of the game and you can spend as much money as a new chain or more chasing that last few percent.


                    • Retrorockit
                      Retrorockit commented
                      Editing a comment
                      I did the ultrasonic bath thing, and threw the casette in there too. But that stopped when I found out the BBSHD could spread the Connex links.I suppose i could carry a spare Connex. But handling a dirty chain at night by the side of the road doesn't appeal to me very much.

                    Personally, I think people waaaaaay overthink and overkill maintenance on chains that cost less than $30 - there, I said it... that's my religion!

                    I just pulled my chain and measured stretch last weekend... it was about 1.5mm so I'm going to change it within a couple of hundred miles or so... it has about 3000 very hard miles in very dusty conditions with more than a little exposure to water and mud

                    Every 100+mi or so I'll wipe it off and lube it and have used different products, I'm not very fussy as long as it's not messy , easy and quick to apply - sometimes even just motor oil or transmission fluid if that's the only thing laying around... cleaning has never been done with the chain removed, no fancy baths or ultrasonics, just a wipe down while on the bike before I lube... easy peasy... point being is I just do it reasonably often...

                    Fer pete's sake, they're cheap!!! Even if you don't maintain them as often as is optimal just replace them before they stretch much... or don't but be prepared to replace the cassette and ring which often enough are also cheap... Even on a chain I *never* maintained I got over 1000mi...


                      If you can avoid getting wet not doing anything seems possible. Not a lot of extra lube to attract dirt that way so I could see a pretty long life. Back in my early days I don't remember messing with the chain much at all especially on my road bike. Right now I have to keep up on em because any time I go out there is either going to be salt dust or wet salt and with nothing on the chain it will be too stiff to move within days.


                        I got some of that squirt wax line, seems good so far much nicer to handle the chain than with typical chain lube.


                        • 73Eldo
                          73Eldo commented
                          Editing a comment
                          That is the key feature I was looking for. Save some watts? Add some life? Great if it does and if it doesn't thats fine too as long as its within reason. If I had to replace the chain twice as often with it maybe then I would not bother but if its similar I'm all for less mess which so far looks to be true. I'm not riding as much in the snow and ice so hard to tell for sure but the rides I do do have to be harder on the chain than summer rides even if they are longer.

                        I've reached about the same conclusion AZ has, but for urban riding the chain is mission critical, so mine costs a lot more than $30. If I can find a Wippermann 8SE for under $50 I grab it.
                        My chain line isn't perfect and I don't have a Wide/Narrow ring so when my chain gets dry it starts to jump around even with a chain guide. I had to use power steering fluid from a convenience store to get home once. What a mess that was to clean up!


                        • us56456712
                          us56456712 commented
                          Editing a comment
                          In the 1970s before there was a way to get a lot of bike information I came up with using melted paraffin. Take the chain off and shake it for ten minutes in a jar of solvent. Then I used Dawn dish soap and a old tooth brush. Then I pored boiling water over the chain. After it dried I melted paraffin wax in an old porcelain pot and dumped the chain in. I occasionally stirred it up and more gunk came out as melted paraffin must have some solvent properties. The chain eventually becomes very hot. That’s when you take it out of the paraffin. Hang the chain to drip dry over newspaper. Brush of excess when cooled, flex the links and reinstall. Once a month seems good. I don’t know if this way is as good, worse or better than modern dry lube but that’s what I did. I have also used dry slide, a 100%. Dry graphite gun lube. Dirt still gets in the chain, even with dry slide and it needs to be cleaned.