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Yes, lasers and nanotech. Fresh new lube maker Cycle Star Nanotech just popped up out of public:private research partnership with scientists at North Carolina State. The team have been developing a new technology to create super hard nano- & micro-sized balls (carbon, graphene, sapphire & more) at such small sizes and precise tolerances that they can be used to lubricate how two metal surfaces move across each other. Basically they add these tiny particles to a lightweight oil carrier to get them on the chain, and you end up with long-lasting, decreased friction without the need for complicated application. It sounds a bit like ‘snake oil’ (those were Cycle Star’s words, in fact), but the performance has been so promising that they’ve signed on UCI Continental team Holowesko|Citadel pb Hincapie Racing after a successful race-winning trial last season, and have been building some impressive testimonials. Slip bast the break for some more details and how to slide it onto your chain…

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Cycle Star’s first and currently only product is a small 10z/30ml bottle of Nanotech Chain Lubricant that will set you back $40. Inside that little bottle is a simple synthetic oil carrying those laser-crafted nano and micro particles that claim to outlast most other lubricants, and at even lower friction than the recent crop of super treated nanoparticle & waxed chains. Plus, it is applied more like a standard chain lube, although in a much smaller quantity than you are used to. So no need to take the chain off or use some complicated heated or ultrasonic application method.

The Nanotech Chain Lubricant promises to last for a minimum 200-300 miles (320-480km) of regular road or trail riding on a single application, with claims of silent smooth operation for up to 1000mi (1600km) under ideal conditions. I’m personally a fan of the clean, long running of wax-type treatments, so would welcome similar or even better performance from an easier application.

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The laser processes used to create these surface hardening, polishing, and gap-filling nano- and micro-particles  themselves are covered by global patents, so you aren’t likely to run into anyone else using the same tech anytime soon. The reason it even made it into the cycling sphere at all was that a member on NC State’s research board was actually a former Jr Worlds team rider and suggested the application. Now industry insiders like Felt founder Jim Felt, George Hincapie, and his development team’s sports director Thomas Craven and mechanics have been sufficiently impressed that they are using Cycle Star and espousing its smooth running benefits in both wet & dry racing.

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The tech behind it all sounds plausible, even if we are a bit skeptical of a lube that you don’t need much of and works like magic. But if it does work, that $40 bottle should last for a very long, smooth spinning time. We’ll see about trying to get ahold of a bottle ourselves and let you know what we think. Until then, feel free to try it our yourself, and let us know in the comments.

CycleStarlube.com

43 COMMENTS

  1. I’d be interested to know how well this keeps the drive-train clean. I’ve gone to wax on my mtb simply because I hate how badly dust and grime collect on traditional lubricants. Any info as to that?

    • Good question, and we’re working on some infographics to better explain this detail, but in the simplest terms, the creation of clean drivetrain environment is achieved from multiple angles.

      1) 75-80% reduction in oil and no wax or teflon means there’s no base material to begin building up dirt in the first place.
      2) A smoother environment removes the dirt’s ability to stick to a surface.
      3) Static charge (for real) prevents other particulate matter from clinging.

      It’s hard to believe without trying it, and we’ll do our best to post and convey everyone’s experience as more people start to use the lube.

    • I was thinking that. I buy sram 11 speed chains for 14 bucks off ebay. The lube sounds awesome, but the price needs to be relative to chain prices.

      Only new lubes I’m interested in is something that comes on new chains that doesn’t need to be removed. Yeah, I know, some say don’t remove the lube on new chains. All I have to say is where do these people ride? A new chain looks like a shag carpet after the first ride for me. Cleaning that crap off is a pain. I’ll pay more to not deal with that. Maybe this company can get a contract with a chain company? Sealed up the oil should stop corrosion. If the lube last a long time I’m sure plenty of people will buy replacement lube. Me, it’s just not worth it when quality chains can be had for so cheap.

    • If the surface is harder and friction reduced, there’s bound to be an increase in the longevity of a chain (and cassette)… what that exact amount is, we honestly don’t know yet, but we have gotten early feedback and experienced for ourselves, a noticeable increase in chain life.

  2. Was starting to get onboard with this until clicking “The Science” tab on their webpage. Even got past the 120 dB techno music in the video followed by nearly inaudible “Johnathan Crawford, Director of Cyclestar”. Liked him: Simple, informative, hype-free demo. Then back to the techno which blew out my speakers after cranking up the volume to hear him. That’s OK, he’s a nanotech scientist, not a video editor.

    But “The Science” tab … “enhanced fuel efficiencies of 32%* and 33%*”, “a reduction in nitrogen oxide of 24%*”, “a decrease in HC emissions of 30%*”. Gimme a break. Car companies would pay billions for a 2 or 3% benefit in any of those. 2008 study? They would have pushed Elon Musk and Tesla off the pages of Wired and the WSJ years ago if the claims were close to real.

    The Tiegang Fang guy seems to be the real deal, lots of serious published research papers. But couldn’t find “Effect of Oil Additive on Gasoline Engine based on in-use Measurement of Emissions of a Toyota Camry Pilot Study” googling him or any of his co-authors.

    Still, I’ll be buying a bottle of this joy juice as soon as I can save up $40. With a 30% increase in my puny 200W FTP those Strava segments are gonna be mine.

    • You negated operating temperature form your conclusion. Maybe prolong high friction application are not valid for this formulation. I’m not saying I totally believe what they are selling but that is a considerable factor to over look

    • One one hand i’ll say that a 30% reduction in friction on a 3 watts loss (nicely lubed clean chain) results approximately in a 1 watt gain. So IF this is working, don’t hope to catch those KOM with chain lube. A car engine has much more friction so another story really, but until i see peer reviewed paper i won’t buy on it.

      • C’mon you guys. My first post, but from years of reading BR I know snarky sarcasm is a time-honored tradition here. Thus my online name.

        So of course 30% of 3W is approximately zero, and car engines are different than bike chains. Hype and BS is routinely (and rightfully) slammed in the comments here — that’s why I read the site. Music aside, these guys come on as believable in the video, their consultant(??) has serious scientific credentials, Cycle Star Nanotech’s post sounds sincere — but their web page references an un-googlable paper whose title has every “Miracle Engine Oil Additive” cliche that’s been around since Henry Ford made the Model T. And most of those bogus tests rely on the fact that just doing an oil change — with any oil — gives a big improvement for the first few miles until it gets dirty.

        And, yeah, I’m a crock pot waxer. Keeps the outside of the chain completely clean, unlike any “dry” lube I ever tried. Chain tattoos don’t bother me. Oil + road grit equals grinding compound eating my cassette and chainrings does.

        Sorry to hear Friction Facts is (effectively) gone. Guess I’ll have to rely on the quality of the dubstep music in chain lube promo videos from now on.

    • New videos and educational material = in the works. Classic case of getting too many bottles out there before being able to support it with information, and we certainly rushed that first one, didn’t we?

      I had wondered and even wrote in an email last week “…think we’re on the tail end of break-beat electronic music being a thing.” Sounds like we def. are then, it’s off to the chopping block and we welcome any suggestions in the meantime.

  3. There’s no putting nanotech back in the bottle (like what I did there?), so I just hope we aren’t creating some future ecological or health crisis by releasing tons of new particles across a bunch of industries into the wild. I realize chain lube is a minor vector, but it’s far from the only way we’re putting new materials in the environment. There’s no denying that little things have a way of bio-accumulating in unexpected ways. Fingers crossed, right?

      • You do know that BPA is actually benign unless you inject it, right? As long as you avoid shooting up with this nanotech you’re probably gonna be fine

        • Thanks for the science lesson professor John, I feel much safer now. America would be so much greater if we just let companies regulate safety themselves, that’s worked in the past amiright?

          • Where was there anything about companies self-regulating? And do note that you’re implicitly arguing along the same vein as the anti-vaccer types that cry wolf with no real understanding of the science. It’s the same – lobbying… just from the other perspective.

    • Vaccines have been studied and clearly shown to be safe. BPA has not been proven to be either benign or dangerous to humans, the effects are not clearly known at this point. The nano-technology industry has not been studied at all, hence self regulation comment, they’re just tossing out products with modest ,if any at all, benefit to our standard of living without understanding the implications. Tiny, sharp and durable? sounds a lot like asbestos to me.

  4. That intro/outro music in the instructional video lets me know this is the real deal. Oooowee!

    Timbo, you make a good point about environmental impacts, though in this application I’m sure the impact has got to be negligible–especially if you use so little and do in fact get the bonding they advertise. Sounds like some cool stuff! I’d be very curious if their claimed mileage is on dry road/perfect weather, or if this stuff washes off as soon as you hit a puddle.. ?

    • Our claimed mileage of 1000+ is based on the drier conditions we’ve experienced over the summer, here in the Southeast. The oil itself will wash off like any other similarly weighted oil, but when Cycle Star is applied correctly to a clean chain, there is enough surface bonding of the particles to retain lubricity for quite some time without oil. Going further, after a few hundred miles of initial, a higher level of micro-surface polishing will also contribute to a reduction in friction.

      Current CX testers are reporting the ability to power wash the drivetrain 4+ times in a race day and still have a quiet, smoothly running chain that repels mud/dirt.

  5. my god. that music is awful. Do all the research you want and show your evidence, but if you put dubstep at each end of your video (blasting loud volume) forget it. Oh and thanks for making the part where he speaks super quiet that way the dubstep garbage blows up my speakers during lunch break! dammit.

    also dumonde tech is awesome, never had issue with it getting too dirty and lasts a long time too.

  6. +1 on Dumonde.

    That said, espousing nanotech as something new in lubricants is silly. One of the historically traditional industrial lubricants, MoS2, works because individual S-Mo-S sheets are weakly bound by van der Waals forces and can ‘slip’ at the atomic scale. Referring back to this tech, I don’t see how nano-balls could be better… Unlike parallel planes, a ball is kind of an impossible idea at the atomic/chemical bond scale.

    • Yeah, regarding the benefits of spherical vs parallel plane particles, it is a little confusing. Another poster above says that this product is advertised to bond to the surface, but even if it did so, I don’t think it is necessarily better to have a “bumpy” surface composed of spheres, vs. a flatter surface covered in flat slippery plates. If this product does not, in fact, bond, then it could function as 1000s of mini ball bearings within the chain links, but if that is the case it will be interesting to see if it really does stay in place as well as they advertise. If these particles aren’t perfectly shaped and sized, they could even act as an abrasive.

      • And one more thought, I forgot to add. It would be really cool if this was a new revolution in chain lube tech, and I am open to the possibility, but it is a bummer that Friction Facts is no longer independent, as without reliable testing against existing benchmarks it will be tough to tell.

  7. Our shop in Greenville, SC (Carolina Triathlon) just got the stuff in. Two employees have been riding it and acknowledged a much quieter drive train. The employee who has used it for four weeks has also commented on the cleanliness of his chain. Plus, only needing a pipette of the stuff means a small bottle will last a long time.

  8. I’m really worried that those particles are micro-plastics that are currently getting outlawed in Ontario because they are killing fish and aquatic organisms. I would never buy it without those reassurances.

    • squirt is ok , i use it half the time but it is a bit sticky compared with clean ride but it does last better. I would try out the nanotechs as i geek out on this stuff, but i would prefer a sample or half bottle for $25.

  9. Surprisingly another +1 on both Squirt and Dumonde Tech, as we are a materials-focused company and therefore do not get down as much with chemistry, so nothing but respect for two companies that have made such a big impact in this industry.

    HUGE bummer that Friction Facts is no longer it’s own thing, they were the first people we called, but were booked up in August, then everyone knows what happened next. Another option is testing our lubricant at the competition, or just buy our own dynamometer… then the lube is either going to be “not as fast” or save more than current offerings until proven otherwise. So until we’re independently tested, a collective experience of early users will have to serve as our wattage-savings indicator.

    The nano-additive is 100% non-toxic and contains no plastics or chemical additives. No fish will be harmed because of us, unless of course people start using it on Shimano fishing reels.

    Glad to hear that, thanks Carolina Triathlon! And thank you to everyone else who has commented, we truly love feedback and will do our best to make improvements based on that input. I will say this here, and let our website and social media speak to it going forward, but both myself and the founding board member responsible for Cycle Star’s existence are your classic diehard, skeptical riders who only stick with things that truly work. That sounds so cheesy out loud, but when I was handed a label-less bottle 5 months ago it was clear this was something very very special.

  10. Chain lube dork checking in (chemical engineer). Squirt and Dumonde are great, but both have horrific “endpoints”. When they are gone, it sounds like extreme chain torture has commenced. I do mtb endurance racing, and my best solution to date has been Finish Line Wet, cut a bit with brake cleaner, or heated a bit prior to application. Put it on tonight, wipe and ride tomorrow kind of thing. Lasts a long time.

    But I’m always looking for the next best thing, and my “combo” is not super clean. I’ll be giving this stuff a try, but wonder why not use the old tried and true method of one drop on each link?

  11. $40 for 1oz seems… pricey?

    $3 for ordinary paraffin wax + $15 for lunch sized crock-pot = super quiet and clean chain for 300-400 miles between treatments and 1 lb of wax will last you about 5 years.

    I know it’s not micro/nano/whatever or any other buzz-worthy tech, but it works. It works REALLY well.

    • Airplanes have been around for 100+ years now, and people still like to take trains and ride horses… To that we’re not claiming to be The Only Thing you’ll need for everything, forever, but we are extremely confident that the technology in our tiny bottle isn’t just the beginning of a big change in lubricants, but also in the way we think about lubrication itself.

      Yes, it’s going to sound cheesy and completely over-the-top until enough people have ridden on the stuff. Because of that, we’ve made it a priority to let any early traction and buzz happen as organically as possible, without blindly soliciting reviews and shares from every Tom, Dick and Henrietta on social media.

What do you think?