ROHLOFF SPECIAL BIKE CHAIN LUBRICANT
Oil of Rohloff Special Bike Chain Lubricant looks a like a wet lube, runs like a wet lube, and, well, is as viscose as a wet lube. For some people the simple Rohloff logo is enough to induce paroxysms of joy, so flashing the bottle of Rohloff Chain Lube around created a bit of a stir, on the mistaken assumption that I’d got a new Speed Hub. That was until I let on that this was chain oil and not the lube for the legendary hub gear. Even so, it has been put through its paces during the worst time of year to be a bike chain in the UK. I’ve been impressed.
Pros: slick and clean.
Cons: less durable than some.
Rohloff say they’ve developed their Oil of Rohloff Chain Oil for us eon chains and with their Lubmatic chain lubrication system, and that they’ve done so with a leading German manufacturer, although they do not identify them in the blurb.
Without being too specific, Rohloff state that the lube has a synthetic oil base with DCS additives. These aim to enhance existing positive characteristics, reduce negative ones, and introduce some desirable features. Additives are by no means unusual, nor is the notion that chain lube will prevent rust, repel water, and make the chain run smoothly, whilst resisting ‘pressure’ until the oil runs out. However, it must be said, that Oil of Rohloff does these very well, even in tough conditions. If it sounds rather fancy, it is no shrinking violet.
For the ‘green’ conscience, it is biodegradable, and the bottles are reusable – if you have a local dealer. Alternatively, there are workshop quantities available, so you can provide your own refills.
It is a pretty thick mix. In a thoroughly unscientific experiment, which made snail racing seem rapid, it was slower running than Muc-Off’s Wet Lube and that heavy-weight mile-munching hero, Chain L No:5. That’s pretty viscose.
It is also available in I litre and 5 litre versions, with a can pump for refills from the larger versions.
There are no specific instructions, so follow general best practice. Cleaning the chain thoroughly to ensure eviction of former occupants is always best, if not always convenient.
Initially I gave two rotations of the chain a careful dose. First application was left overnight. Second time round, with the same dose, I set off within a few minutes of application. Things went smoothly very quickly, but in absence of a deep clean, there may well have been Rohloff Oil remaining in the rollers.
Go gently, but ensure coverage. The oil runs slowly, so there should be little waste if you go carefully. Even so, I have not felt the need to apply link by link, one drop each.
Durability is very dependent on the weather. Three hundred miles is not massive mileage. Add the context; heavy rain, snow, road salt, mud, flood water, temperatures around zero, general run-of the-mill road, towpath, and forest track dirt. In other words, conditions could barely have been tougher. I’d expect many more miles when the weather improves.
The chain has run with absolute silence until the moment the first quiet resonance of metal on metal sounded. Can’t ask for more. Even better, well-used mechs slickly lifted the chain over rings and cassettes – which were even more well-used. Frankly, differences in friction can be marginal. My gut feeling is that things have been as near to frictionless as possible.
The general theme of high quality continues. Despite the mixed surface mileage in challenging conditions, I did not so much as need to wave a rag in the general direction of the chain. Regular inspection showed dulling of colour as the miles went by, but no sign of significant grime or grot. Even when flooded country lanes had not had the chance to wash muck away, there was none.
Leaving the bike for a couple of days, after a particularly wet commute, some links showed signs of oxidisation. However, I was very pleased to find that, from the first turn of the pedal, things remained silent and smooth. By the time I chained the bike up, full coverage had been restored and stayed put for another 100 miles.
Needless to say, run your hand along the chain and you’ll pick up some grime – but transference by accident to hand, trouser bottoms and onward to other garments has been zero.
General Performance 3.75/5
Overall, this an oil it is hard to go wrong with. Good, as opposed to great durability, slick, and very clean running. Hard to ask for more. Good for the tourist, great for the sensitive gear changer, and perfect for the all-weather commuter. Granted, real mile-munchers will find greater durability, such as Chain Oil No5, or Zefal Nano Ceramic Wet Lube.
However, you can add convenience of application to Rohloff’s qualities. It should suit the get up and go cyclist as well as the maintenance planner. Moreover, purchasing in workshop quantities can save money, both with new applications and convenient top ups.
As with many wet lubes, especially the cleaner ones. A drop on cleat, mechs, and fastenings is appropriate if better is not available, or in an emergency.
All these qualities come at a distinctly mid-range price point. Exotic potions, such as Muc-Off Hydrodynamic come in significantly pricier.
Michael got a couple of hundred more miles out of Zefal’s Nano Ceramic Wet Lube, although it is more likely to require occasional wiping and a bit more care when cleaning – however it comes in at £8.95 for 120ml – around half the price.
Again, seemingly more durable, and very clean, is the Tru Tension Banana Slip Wet Lube. Even so, this comes in at £10 per 50ml. In my opinion, the Rohloff probably edges it in terms of cleanliness, too.
Cheaper is the renowned Chain-L High Mileage Lube, roughly half the price. Although a real long-distance specialist, it can get pretty dirty and is much less convenient to apply.
Mind you, not all the above have Rohloff Oil’s green cred.
This is a competitive field. Rohloff Chain Oil is more refined than many, offers good durability, excellent cleanliness, and is very slick and easy to apply. Add in how environmentalist you want to be, and the picture is complex. On the other hand, unless you are on a budget, £7.99 is not a huge amount for a lube that has much to offer all kinds of cyclist.