PARK TOOL POLYLUBE 1000
Long Term (8 month) Test 40z £5.99
The Park Tool Polylube 1000 lubricant is a grease developed specifically for bicycle maintenance and been around thirty years. Nonetheless, it remains a very relevant workshop staple, for general lubrication and assembly tasks. However, be sure to wipe away any excess, since it can discolour some pale paintwork.
Pros: Good lubricant and protective qualities, seems compatible with most surfaces, competitively priced.
Cons: Less durable and attracts more dirt than modern ceramics
Park were, understandably coy when it came to specifics, but I can say it’s a synthetic, polyuria-petrochemical blend. Exercise the usual, common sense precautions. Minimise contact with skin, keep away from pets, children, plants and waterways.
Given the formula has remained unchanged fort twenty years, I was concerned about its compatibility with modern composites and rubberised components.
Park advises PPL-1 is safe with many types of plastic (including carbon fibre - not that you should ever grease these) and rubber. However, there are hundreds of different types in use.
So, if you’re in any doubt, check with the component manufacturer before slathering it on. Personally, I’ve not hesitated to pack headsets, hubs, bottom brackets, pedals and contact points. I have shied away from elastomer/bushing/suspension components.
Along with lubrication, most greases are designed to resist moisture, preventing them from being broken down by the elements, extending service intervals and obviously, protecting bearings and surfaces from corrosion/seizure.
Talking compatibility, our 100ml tube has a threaded spout, designed to accommodate most popular grease guns, for accurate delivery and minimal wastage. This Finish Line gun proved a perfect match, ideal for intricate jobs, such as cleat, stem, carrier and mudguard fasteners. Mind you, I’ve plumped for the “toothpaste” method when loading hubs, lower headset races, bottom bracket shells, quill stems and metal seat posts.
I also took this route when introducing fixed sprockets to my newly built wheel, back in the summer. Fixed sprockets are largely forgotten until replacement calls and oft subjected to lashings of gritty, salty water.
Ahem, galvanic corrosion anyone? In terms of viscosity, the synthetic properties have more oomph than more basic, PTFE infused types and are relatively unaffected by temperature. However, while less sticky - in the transferable sense - than those PTFE types, or Green Oil Eco-Grease, White Lightning Crystal Grease is noticeably cleaner and less easily transferred to clothing if you’ve missed a stray glob, post servicing.
A little goes surprisingly far. Deployed strategically, I’ve around 50% left, in our 100ml tube-four bikes, a trailer and several sets of cleats hence.
Hubs and other bearing surfaces feel buttery smooth, although, something like Pure Bike Grease might be a better option for track riders, time triallists and racers, more inclined to prioritise lower friction and accept shorter service intervals.
The blue/green hue is very distinctive, obvious where you’ve been with it. Eight months in, my four-season fixed gear trainer and tubby tourers components still sport plenty, with no hint of tell-tale deterioration - despite a wet and sometimes snowy winter.
Frequent washing, wet roads and exposure to everyday, UV pollution have resulted in some subtle degeneration but here’s a decent layer still mediating between aluminium alloy hub and steel sprockets.
Posts and stems, regardless of material also remain very mobile, no hint of galvanic corrosion - even with titanium and other alloys. All my metal frames are treated with a crude but extremely effective, wax preserve. (This also assumes a liquid, oozy state in warm weather). Not so the PPL-1, it softens a bit but remained stable in temperatures ranging between -5 and +30 degrees.
These also appear mutually compatible. Cleat hardware is notorious for seizing-solid, often to the point where drilling-out is the only option. Mine required some leverage and the threads were desperately thirsty, so I’d recommend quarterly replenishment here. Especially if you’re a mountain biker/rough stuff tourist/gravel/cross racer.
Compatibility with other greases
Greases and materials have evolved considerably over the past twenty years, or so. I’ve not experienced and compatibility flare ups between PPL and traces of other brands, including White Lightning. That said, stripping hosts of their existing prep beforehand is best practice - period. This is particularly true of simple, lithium based products.
Ultimately, PPL1 remains relevant to contemporary audiences, offers decent lubricating and staying prowess. In this latter respect, it trumps generic PTFE infused types and the current version of Green Oil Eco Grease. Mountain bikers and others seeking to ride in the worst weathers, or commuters wanting to keep servicing annual are, in my view, better served by a ceramic type.