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Silca Super Secret Chain Coating
£32 120ml (about 4.06 oz)

The Silca Super Secret Chain Coating claims to combine the speed and silent running of a hot melt wax-sipped chain with the convenience of a dropper bottle. Friction is palpably lower than many I’ve used, it cures quickly and runs incredibly clean, which lends itself to bikes with high end drivetrains. Ours has extended chain life by 200 miles during a harsh, wet winter. However, despite the waterproof tag, I’ve found its properties best appreciated in drier conditions.

Pros: Clean, quick curing, silent drivetrains, low friction.

Cons: Pricey Modest durability in wet, wintry conditions.

Materials/Specification 

What I can tell you is the Silca Super Secret Chain Coating is a wax blend with alcohol carrier. The “good stuff” is tungsten disulfide, an extremely thin, dry film coating that fights friction and abrasion. Its origins lie in the aerospace industries and theoretically, the tungsten part smooths out imperfections with repeat applications, evolves into a slick, protective surface.

Friction on paper is lower than a snake’s testicles - 50% lower than Teflon, 60% lower than graphite and 40% lower than ceramics. These components ensure it will seep deep within the chain’s moving parts. It assumes a waxy film, which works to the same principle as traditional waxes, i.e. will eventually flake away, taking contaminant before this can start wearing the chain. These characteristics mean the excess can also be applied to cables, derailleur jockey wheels etc.  

bicycle bike velo rad chain lube oil test review

I’m told the ultimate experience of this technology is their Super Secret Chain Blend Hot Melt Wax, which involves submerging the clean chain in a warm Hot Wax bath and allowing it to drip dry). 200 miles or so later, give the chain a quick cat lick, using a clean rag and then applying some Secret Chain Coating.

Application 3/5

Curing times are around 30-40 minutes, even at a wintry minus 3. However, I’m advised it’s best applied at 5 degrees plus. (I’ve left ours standing in a bucket of hot water for a few minutes on colder days). Drivetrain cleaning needs to be painstakingly thorough. Silca has video tutorials, and some folks recommend ultrasonic cleaners, which are undoubtedly nice. In my experience basting a neat degreaser, such as the Weldtite Bike Cleaner Concentrate into rings, chain, cassette and derailleurs, tickling with a suitably stiff, nimble brush then rinsing thoroughly comes a close second. If your drivetrain is particularly gooey, remove the ring(s), cassette and chain. Leave them marinating in the parts washer overnight and then get busy with the brushes.

 

Once you’ve rinsed everything through, dry with a clean rag. Park bike(s) outside- in the garage is also fine, just swerve expensive flooring and pretty carpets. Oh, and grab some old clean rag-not just to protect the floor- bear with me.

Give the bottle a good shake to mix everything properly. 30 seconds should be fine, but I’ve gone a full minute or so, when the mercury’s been sliding to minus figures. Silca recommends dropping lube into the links, while turning the cranks backwards and then massaging the excess into the chain for thorough penetration. In practice, I’ve put a drop into every link, turning the cranks very slowly, catching any overspill with a clean rag.

test review chain lube bi
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Wipe any excess from the side plates and transfer that to the jockey wheels, pivot points etc. With practice, spatter on floor and chainstays will be minimal. It's also good practice to give the cranks a few turns, while shifting along the block to really coax it deep into the chain. Left 30-40 minutes, the Secret Formula will cure to a clear glaze and you’re ready to scoot off. A little pedestrian compared with Tru Tension Banana Split Tungsten All Weather Lube but heaps quicker than traditional waxes and some other, high-tech formulas. Practical for touring and to some extent, longer group rides where chances are, you’ll stop off for some scoff, or a couple of coffees.   

Test Bike/Contexts

I’ve run ours through November, December and January, which have been very wet, sometimes cold and icy. Some would argue this isn’t what the Secret Formula was intended for, but I’d argue Silca doesn’t say for dry/dusty conditions and weather can quickly switch from dry and calm to showery, or stormy during a long ride.

Ursula’s Deore/Tiagra & STX drivetrain is arguably a little “workman like” for a top-flight lube but reliable, relatively inexpensive and on these counts, well suited to four season riding. The chain was also registering .5 on my chain checker, after 450 miles, so I was interested to see how far the Silca lube would extend its life -.7 means it’s off to the great bike shop in the sky.

Lubrication & Durability Foul Weather 3/5

In common with The Tru Tension All Weather Lube, I was immediately struck by how serenely quiet and smartly the KMC chain ran. Shifts were equally light and snappy. Our first 70 miles were done in minus 4, roads caked in a mix of black and churned, slushy ice. Again, the Silca Super-Secret Chain Coating’s characteristics remained unaffected by the temperature, which is impressive since some can turn brittle and flake prematurely. 

The chain remained silent through this period and even though contaminant had dropped off, a tangible lubricant layer remained. Conditions thawed, resulting in stretches of standing water. 

bicycle flood water test review

Thirty miles in these conditions, the lubricant layer became somewhat filmier, but I was yet to hit tangible friction and that faint but familiar metal on metal tinkling. Even with this kind of flooding I’ve managed 60 miles from a single application and though there was faint tainting, the protective lubricant layer was basically doing its job. On paper, not particularly impressive but no worse than several traditional wax lubes in similar contexts.

test review bike chain lube

In middling wintry conditions, I’ve managed 130-225 miles from a single application, much the same story along gravel roads. Not a patch on Muc Off Ludicrous AF, which has managed 700 miles from a single helping, while offering similarly low friction. However, Ludicrous AF attracts more contaminant, must be stripped completely before a fresh helping can be applied and must be left 24hours to cure. 

Fair Weather 3.5/5

A colder, considerably drier spell saw me returning 280 miles per moderate application, allowing me to better appreciate its friction busting, blissfully silent and ultra clean, dirt phobic charms.  

Cleanliness 4/5

This leads me nicely to cleanliness and where The Silca Secret Formula has some very real advantages. Aside from chains being that bit cleaner, so just a matter of topping up. The lack of contaminant saw I managed 850 miles from the KMC chain before it needed pensioning off. I typically get 1100-1300 miles from these 10-speed staple, but the weather had been so harsh, I’d been running heavy duty wet lubes. Flooding, ice and road salt meant lots of grime and by 450miles, it was 75% worn. The Silca Secret Formula meant another 400miles service before becoming bin-fodder.  

Aside from being a self-cleansing blend, transfer to hands, calve prints etc has been next to non-existent. You’re not going to find it clinging to embossed bar tape, saddle covers, door handles, light switches etc. Mind you, I wouldn’t top up on the best carpet.    

Value 2.75/5

There’s no swerving the fact that £32 is a lot to pay for 120ml (about 4.06 oz) chain lube- buys two 10spd chains. The Muc Off Ludicrous AF tops it but, in my experience, also lasts longer, albeit while attracting palpably more grot. A more direct comparator, ingredients-wise, is the Tru Tension All Weather Lube, which is £10 for 50ml (about 1.69 oz) and arguably returns a much higher mileage per application. 

Another consideration, beyond the ticket price and miles per application, is the cost of your drivetrain. A cheaper lube may indeed last longer but if your drivetrain is covered in oily grime, mud and other debris it could well be worn out faster. I’ve exhausted 10speed chains in as little as 700 miles during winter. Cleaner lubes, and 1800 miles (about 2896.82 km) isn’t unheard of. £32 is a lot cheaper than new rings, jockey wheels-especially on a higher end group- say Shimano SLX, XT, XTR, Campagnolo Super Record etc. 

Summary

While there’s no denying the draw of Silca Secret formula’s cleanliness and friction busting charms, these are qualities arguably best appreciated on race, or fair weather/ best bike(s) with top draw groupsets. In these contexts, I’m confident you’d recoup the investment in reduced maintenance intervals and extended drivetrain life. Through our wet, wintry test period, it has extended the life of Ursula’s fast wearing 10 speed KMC, albeit with frequent reapplication. That said; there are better choices for more changeable weather - Tru Tension All Weather Lube and Smoove Universal Chain Lube being cheaper cases in point.

Verdict: 3.25/5 Impressively slick, silent and low maintenance lube but best suited to fair weather riding.

 

Michael Stenning

 

Saddleback | The Home of Elite Performance Cycling - Road & MTB – Saddleback Elite Performance Cycling

 

PUBLISHED MARCH 2024

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