SEVEN DAY CYCLIST
CYCLING, BUT NOT USUALLY RACING
LATEST UPDATE: MAY 30th
MUC OFF LUDICROUS AF CHAIN LUBE
Muc Off Ludicrous AF Chain Lube is claimed “The fastest race lube” developed in their labs for over 3 years and used by professional teams in the Tour De France, two years running. I was expecting something special and for the most part, its proven very slick and surprisingly durable. However, despite its charms, it’s really intended for those who have invested heavily – top of the line framesets with drool inducing groupsets. Riders looking to attain every last competitive advantage first but who might want a very durable lube for the “also rans” in their fleet.
Pros: low friction, very durable.
Cons: Price, long curing times, attracts dirt in wet, greasy conditions.
Little surprise that Muc-Off are decidedly tight lipped about ingredients. What Muc-Off HQ would say, is that Ludicrous AF is “a stripped back performance race lube, so no colour, no scent. Just a combination of a few simple, readily biodegradable ingredients which are blended with a specific ratio to deliver the perfect balance of speed and durability.”
Frankly, at £1 per ml, there’s no sense in delivering it to worn drivetrain components. Bare minimum, start with a new chain and soak it in your favourite stripper, then scrub for all you’re worth, to dismiss any trace of residual, factory lube. Ditto other drivetrain components, assuming they’re not packet fresh.
Once surgically clean (Muc-Off also offer an ultra-sonic cleaning service for £50) it’s a question of grabbing the bottle, giving it a vigorous shake and then drizzling into every link. Keep your pristine rag handy to collect any overspill, while you spin the cranks. Then give the side plates a quick cat-lick and leave curing for 24hours.
Yes, that’s right 24 hours. Ludicrous AF emerges from the spout, at a controllable pace but clear, so still demands undivided attention, to avoid doubling up, which is not desirable. I’ve applied ours in temperatures between 25 and 3 degrees, with no discernible change in consistency, or curing times.
Ursula may seem like an unlikely candidate, but the old girl racks up huge mileages, rain, snow, sleet slush and sun, so a good gauge as to the lube’s staying prowess. Next up, my TT bike, which is a fixed gear build, based around a 1950’s frameset but with contemporary components. A pared to the essentials, sunny day’s plaything for blasting, essentially.
Both bikes had fresh chains and surgically clean drivetrains beforehand. I had also assembled Ursula’s Hollowtech II crankset using Peaty’s Speed Grease a couple of months previously.
Both chains had been fed Peaty’s Link Lube dry prior to being pensioned off. we don’t have access to wind tunnel and similar laboratory conditions, so we had to set a more realistic control test. My personal best for a ten- mile loop on my TT bike is 30 minutes, 34 seconds. I have a favourite,16-mile, mixed terrain loop which I can usually manage in 50 minutes, riding Ursula. Obviously, these haven’t been the only contexts- I've done a lot of long, steady miles too.
Even allowing for fresh chains, (neither predecessor was unduly worn) I was surprised by the palpable drop in friction. On five morning blasts aboard the TT bike, I managed the ten miles in 29minutes 53 seconds.
Conditions were still and I stuck to my road helmet, bib shorts and lightweight summer jersey - no skinsuits, here. Similar story aboard Ursula- sections where I would usually average 16.3mph, were at 17.5mph, like for like. Ok, not meteoric jumps in performance but tangible benefits, nonetheless. The blend is very temperature stable but regardless of where the mercury was headed, its consistency is wet, yet without feeling syrupy like a lot of wet blends can.
Despite my last comments, it rivals and indeed, trumps many wet lubes in similar conditions. It has often been wet, with waterlogged roads, and as autumn rolled in, decidedly muckier, courtesy of the leaf, bovine dung and spilt diesel cocktail. Then of course, there have been several sudsy bucket washes in between. I have returned at least 700miles from a single application and could’ve gone a good while longer, first time round, had it not been for a joint chain and rear mech implosion at 5am, 6 miles from home.
Given I’m averaging 1150 miles from bog standard electroplated 10 speed chains, I wouldn’t be surprised, during a less challenging period if it clung on, right to the point my chain checker said “bin fodder”. Corrosion resistance is also reassuringly good- Ursula and I often go the scenic route through boggy bridlepath and forest trails. No hint of freckling, even in these contexts, which was a welcome surprise.
Middling .... touch it, say when re-shipping a chain, or fixing a flat and it transfers very readily - the audit trail will be visible and that tenacity means it’s difficult to shift from skin, not so bad on bar tape and saddles, so long as they’ll tolerate being tickled with a medium-stiff brush.
Less problematic in the dry and a moot point since most racers tend to be fastidious fettlers but even if you have been very sparing, it will evolve into a slightly gunky state. If you’re a gravel, or mountain bike racer, give the side plates, jockey wheels and ring(s) and derailleur cages a good weekly cat-lick. Ursula’s chain denotes two weeks’ and 200 mulchy miles.
There’s no getting away from the fact £49.99 is a lot of money for 50ml of lube. It’s certainly the dearest we’ve tested. We’re very fond of some giving change from a tenner but that’s comparing oranges with apples, to some extent. CycleStar Nanotech Lube comes in at £19.99 for 15ml, which works out dearer than the Ludicrous AF. Absolute Black Grafen Lube comes in at £16.99 for 14ml.
Without lab testing facilities, it's difficult to say whether the Ludicrous AF meets all that it claims to, although I have noticed some definite benefits in the last thousand miles all told. Aside from pros, those most likely to benefit are racers who have spared no expense when it comes to frame, wheel and groupsets.
After all, if you’re into several thousand, £50 could prove the final piece. Let’s not forget, that’s who it’s aimed at. Anecdotally, I’ve enjoyed testing the Ludicrous AF and it’s offered some small but significant performance boosts and lasted a decent while into the bargain. Bang for buck, pushing the boat out, Muc Off Hydrodynamic Chain Lube is a better fit for our needs.
Verdict: 3.75/5 A racer’s lube with serious staying power but a price tag to match.
PUBLISHED JANUARY 2022
BUILDER OF STEEL CYCLE FRAMES
Ryton On Dunsmore
Coventry CV8 3FH