SEVEN DAY CYCLIST
CYCLING, BUT NOT USUALLY RACING
LATEST UPDATE: MAY 30th
CHAIN L HIGH MILEAGE FORMULA CHAIN OIL
4oz (about 113 ml) £7.95
Deliberately sticky and likely to keep dirt hanging on may not be the message we want to hear when it comes to chain lube. However, with a suggested 1000 miles per application and a max recorded of around 2400, there may be more than meets the eye. Chain-L is an interesting chain oil all the way from the USA. It’s certainly long-lasting, but requires a bit more regular care than some keener muck flingers.
Pros: many miles, good value.
Cons: takes a bit of care.
Very much the old school petroleum-based bicycle chain oil (officially “proprietary formula petroleum-based oil”), there’s not a lot to say about its composition. It is thick as honey and some would say primitive. Mind you, it is aimed very much at the mile-munching enduro or expedition rider. Sunday best café-runners requiring sparkly chains may look askance, but once applied, and with a degree of care, this should last a long time and may not be so much muckier than some other wet lubes. On the other hand, commuters might beware of splattering their smarts and I’ve found keeping a packet of Cranaklicious K-Wipes handy beneficial: mind you, that’s true with most wet lubes.
Don’t worry about cleaning a new chain, just apply – so sayeth Chain L. Otherwise give the chain a thorough clean – as much to get rid of contaminating dirt and grit as remnants of old lube.
Chain L suggest taking the chain off to apply. There’s something to be said for that in terms of economy and accuracy. I found, but it is not crucial I’ve tried both on and off, more a function of time than necessity.
A little goes a long way – 15-25 applications per bottle is the manufacturers suggestion, but I’d aim for the upper end. It is not the easiest to apply, given its viscosity. If stored in the cold, consider warming it up a little – bowl of hot water, not microwave; in fact, consider it anyway, to aid penetration.
In line with what your Grandad told you, a generous drop on each link should be sufficient. Spin the chain backward a few times ad go and have a brew and a biscuit for at least ten minutes. By the time you’ve finished, things should be ready to roll, once you’ve wiped excess away from the jockey wheels and plates.
Whilst application takes a little more time than some, the big question is whether it is worth it.
Initially it will pull grot of your cassette and rings – unless you’ve given them a good once over before application. Expect your nice clean chain to quickly look filthy. Never fear, a wipe with a cloth gets rid of it.
As the manufacturer’s blurb says, it is the rollers that really matter. A regular gentle wipe doesn’t affect their performance. As the oil migrates to the plates, just wipe it off until you get the death rattle. Then reapply. I have found that pretty much to be the case, though wipe-overs have been more frequent than a better mud-flinger such as Silkolene’s Premium Wet Lube. Given the warnings on the info sheet, things have not got as mucky as expected on a mixed terrain test.
Worth noting that, once again as the manufacturer says, a wipe over after a wet ride prevents rust-red colouration if you leave the bike for a couple of days. Whilst that hasn’t impacted on performance, I did manage to get a stiff link by not following procedure and hibernating a bike for a few weeks in the depth of winter.
Will it go a thousand miles and still bring you smiles? Well quite likely. I’ve got up to 750 through the depths of a UK winter. That’s pretty damn good – and only minimal basic care - and it is still hanging on. Even if you do get as many miles as some claim to have done, it may well be that your chain – especially eleven and twelve speeds - gives out before Chain L lube finally departs.
There’s no reason why a dab or two should not go on cleats in principle and surgically clean environments – but the grot attraction factor discouraged me from experimenting too much., and I’d not really see this one as a grease substitute, especially on cables.
Even in the above context, I’ve not managed to get things as filthy as I’d imagined. Mind you, mid-winter country lanes may be a mess, but I’ve not taken this round single-track – though he post ride blow-over at the trail-head would restore order.
Definitely one for the mile-munching touring or Audax machine. It ain’t as messy as one might fear, and with a little care will go a long, long way. So, you get many miles for your money, compared to some wet lubes, for example Pure Wet Lube. Sophisticates might prefer Muc-Off’s Hydro Dynamic Lube– which has given me almost as many miles (although not purely over winter) Perhaps Nasty Siberian Chain Lube is the best direct comparator – and there’s not a lot to choose between them, in my opinion.
Verdict 4/5 Treat it right and you’ll go far, but there are cleaner, more flexible wet lubes.
PUBLISHED MARCH 2019
BUILDER OF STEEL CYCLE FRAMES
Ryton On Dunsmore
Coventry CV8 3FH