SEVEN DAY CYCLIST
CYCLING, BUT NOT USUALLY RACING
LATEST UPDATE: MAY 25th
ROCK 'N' ROLL HOLY COW CHAIN LUBE
4oz (117ml) £8.95
Holy Cow sits neatly in Rock ‘n’ Roll’s range of chain lubes – although it is, at least, a little different. It is described as a “One Step” potion that “cleans as it lubes.” Testing has been during two distinct periods – extremely wet and bone dry. As you’d expect that has proved a challenge, as it would to any lube. However, it has not hidden Holy Cow’s merits.
Pros: mixes some of the benefits of dry lubes with those of wet.
Cons: very runny, works best after a night spent curing.
Oil it isn’t. Beyond that Rock ‘n’ Roll don’t go. However, it seems to have a different solvent to that in the rest of their range. Apply basic safety measures.
Rock ‘n’ Roll’s range of lubes are generally compatible with one another. In other words, you do not have to clean the chain if you are adding, say, Extreme Wet over Absolute Dry. Holy Cow, however, is designed to clean as it lubes.
Well, could not really be simpler. Begin with the hardest bit. Shake it well, very well. Left on the shelf, sediment sinks to the bottom. Having given the bottle what I thought was a vigorous shake, there was still a layer of sediment – which I suspect is a really active agent – holding on in there. Shake well means SHAKE WELL. Take a little look to check you have succeeded in mixing things up.
After that, just follow the instructions. Don’t drip it on, but pour a continuous line. Be generous, suggest the importers. Pretty runny, you will get drops running off the chain; so, avoid lubing your chain over the shag-pile carpet. Having said that, catching the run-off on a rag allowed recycling for later wiping of the chain.
I began with two rotations worth of Holy Cow on a chain which had been given a good wash with Rock ‘n’ Roll Miracle Red, as part of cleaning the stygian frame after several long rides through bucolic lanes in January in the UK. Rotating the chain slowly backward for several rotations pushed more dirt to the surface. I wiped this off and re-applied.
Next came a dirty, discoloured chain, belonging to a road bike that had been ridden and left for three winter weeks. Three rotations-worth brought things back to life. With little dirt being brought to the surface, I left things in place, ad looked forward to a ride.
I was a little unhappy with initial results, so had another go. This time I used Oxford’s Mint Chain Cleaner to ensure a really deep clean before applying the Holy Cow.
The importers suggest that best results will come from a twelve-hour cure.
Rock ‘n’ Roll recommend wiping your chain after each ride. This is to remove accumulations of muck which have hitched a ride. It won’t remove the lube which has penetrated the chain’s vitals. If things have been particularly dirty, it is worth giving a once over to other drive train components, too.
Multi-purpose products often do one thing better than others. On first application one could clearly see dirt being lifted out as the chain was rotated. The chain was filthy, and seemed to exhaust the application pretty quickly. A wipe over to remove the dirt left things looking nice. However, one hundred miles of wet riding was less than I’d expect from a wet lube.
Waiting for a dry UK spring and a second application to a less soiled chain resulted in both cleaner chain and longer, much longer life.
Overnight cure complete, things were nice and smooth without being as silky as hi-tec potions like Muc-Off’s Hydrodynamic Lube. That’s a bit unfair as a comparison, because not that many things are. Comparing smooth running isn’t a precise science, but it felt much like all-weather mixes and some stauncher dry lubes.
Worth noting, is that Rock ‘n’ Roll describe Holy Cow as “pretty wet.” However, it is not in the same league as viscose monsters such as Chain L High Mileage. So, keep expectations real.
During the test, a disc brake issue put the test machine out of action for a while. Interestingly, the silty deposits of the local river valley were left high and dry on a discoloured chain – yet, things continued to run smoothly when trials resumed. However, wanting to avoid a stiff link, I wiped things down and added four chain rotations worth of Holy Cow. In a few turns I was no longer ashamed of my chain. Even better, it was two hundred February miles before things began to look nasty again. A quick single dose set things right.
First dose was, literally, plunged in to flooded back lanes. Fifty miles in a dirty, black coating had formed. However, a wipe a gentle wipe saw to that. Inside, everything was going smoothly. After a hundred miles, over five days, the first death rattle sounded. Not great, but the second dose just about double that – loads of mud and rain, but a different commute avoiding the floods. The good news was, of course, that it could just be re-applied.
Come some drier weather and I’ve managed some 350 plus miles. With a wipe over the dirt has departed, but the Holy Cow has stayed in place. Others have gone for longer.
It is much less of a contaminant magnet than truly hefty wet lubes, and beats many dry ones – with a gentle post-ride wipe.
Silty grains – see above – were not transferred to hands and clothing easily, as is often the case with more glutinous wet lubes. Nor was the lube itself, although taking the usual precautions with smart gear is advisable.
On initial application deep-seated grime was lifted out as the chain was rotated. Coupled with the words “One Step” on the label made me wonder if Holy Cow would act like Finish Line One Step. However, initial deep cleaning seemed to have the best results: then just wipe and top up with another layer, as necessary.
Holy Cow may be “pretty wet” but is barely damp compared to some wet lubes – and not just the real gloop monsters. However, it isn’t quite the same as an all-year round Jack of All seasons.
Zefal’s Pro Wet Lube, is significantly cheaper, but may attract more dirt. Lighter, all round lubes such as Silkolene’s Premium Everyday command a similar price – I’ve seen Holy Cow discounted.
Holy Cow’s Rock ‘n’ Roll siblings offer competition, too. Although Absolute Dry and Extreme LV have different characteristics, they are not incompatible as rides and seasons change.
Finish Line’s One Step seems to me to be a slightly more effective cleaner, but things are pretty close in terms of durability. The latter also scores well on smooth running
The Holy Cow is an unusual beast. Long distance mile-munchers might appreciate it most, with just a wipe and plenty of miles in each application in anything but the wettest of wet weather. If you can manage to remember to apply the night before you ride, then I could see it joining touring kit, too. It has its fans amongst road racers I have spoken to as well.
Overall, a useful cleaner and better lube, in my opinion, most suitable for fairer weather.
Verdict 3.5/5 An interesting addition to the Rock ‘n’ Roll lube jukebox, mixing cleanliness with longevity.
PUBLISHED MAY 2020
BUILDER OF STEEL CYCLE FRAMES
Ryton On Dunsmore
Coventry CV8 3FH