A little more than a year ago I stumbled upon Chain-L, a lube that boasted the usual: better, longer protection. Especially when it comes to lubrication and other consumable products, I’m always willing to try something new around the shop, so I ordered one of their sample bottles.
See how that worked out for me after the jump…
Since I had it shipped to the shop, they had also included several partially filled sample bottles to distribute to other mechanics and shops (we have several locations), which I thought was a nice gesture.
The first several times I applied it, I did as they suggested and removed the chain, cleaned it completely and applied a drop to each roller. Gotta admit, it’s a lot of work. However, considering that the application lasted the claimed 500+ miles, it was definitely worth doing it the right way. At first, I used this lube only with my best customers; a serious roadie, an Ironman length triathlete, an urban fixie rider. I also used it on my own bike, of course, and a few friends’ bikes. That was all the one ounce bottle, so I ended up buying the full-size bottle. However, it was so good, I found myself hoarding it, not wanted to “waste” it.
The very first thing you notice once you apply it, is how much quieter the chain becomes. The few times I’ve applied it while the chain is on the bike, you can literally hear the chain become nearly silent. The first chain I used it on lasted significantly longer than normal. It’s hard for me to say exactly, since I am spotty at record-keeping with my mileage, but I’d venture it guess it went 50% longer before needed to be replaced. It also made the bike shift noticeably smoother.
When I eventually replaced it, I soaked the second chain in Chain-L before installing, and that application lasted several hundred miles. However, out of pure laziness, I used another lube (that maybe rhymes with No Rink) on the chain when it needed. While that lube works very well, especially for cleaning the chain, I noticed that chain wore out significantly quicker, the drivetrain was louder and the shifting was clunkier.
I didn’t learn my lesson, and continued using that lube (and hoarding the Chain-L) on the third chain. The shifting was getting worse, and it was getting loud like a worn out chain, only about 500 miles in. It showed very little stretch on the gauge, so I popped open the Chain-L and applied it while the chain was on the bike. If my bike could have sighed, I think it would have. Now it’s got 1,000 miles on it with very little sign of wear, and is shifting like a smooth dream. This past weekend, I rode a couple days in Los Angeles’ Storm Of The Century, and even in a steady downpour, it was quiet and smooth and the Chain-L stayed put. I reapplied, but more because I refused to believe that it was okay, even though I saw no signs that it wasn’t.
I’ve learned my lesson and I won’t make the laziness mistake again; I’ll do the extra work and stick with Chain-L. Now, I just need to get over my hoarding problem… even with all the times I’ve used it on my bike and others, I’ve still only used half this bottle. For $12, that’s not bad at all.