SQUIRT LOW TEMPERATURE CHAIN LUBE
The Squirt Low Temperature Chain Lube is a water-based blend designed to perform in bitterly cold weather. Waxes are commonly associated with spring summer but this one has been blended to flow and moreover, remain in place in temperatures as low as –18. However, curing times are long and while performance in changeable conditions is passable, its ideally suited to cold, dry weather.
Pros: Clean, low friction, genuinely works in freezing temperatures.
Cons: Long curing times, temperature specific, best suited to dry weather.
Waxes aren’t the obvious choice for British winters. Wet roads aside, even if they’re left curing at room temperature, they tend to scab up and fall away very quickly. However, while I appreciate stay-put wet blends, these also require frequent clean-rag cat-licks to keep contaminant from chewing through the drivetrain.
On paper at least, waxes just need topping up. Gritty muck may look unsightly but is quarantined within the wax, which falls away, leaving the chain unscathed, with a thin lubricant layer behind.
Squirt’s low temperature version is recommended when the mercury slides to 5 degrees and has been tested in Russia, to minus 18! Conversely, it apparently doesn’t last long in summer.
In common with its standard sibling, Squirt employs a water-based carrier (60-70%) which traffics the (28-35%) paraffin & hydrocarbon wax deep within the rollers. In case you were wondering, the other 5% are emulsifiers.
Beig a water-based product, it’s even more important that recipient chains and drivetrain components are surgically clean. Otherwise, the Squirt won’t adhere. If you’re going the whole hog, Squirt Bike Degreaser Concentrate (review to follow) is an effective option but if you’re against the clock, Weldtite Jet Blast Degreaser is a good shortcut.
Chain, cassette and rings purged, give the Squirt a shake and then apply a layer to the chain, holding a clean rage beneath to catch and redistribute the runny, milky elixir. Now leave five minutes, before applying the next coat. Water based products work best when built up in coats, so I've tried to apply four - leaving ten minutes between them and allowing to cure thoroughly. Squirt cites 4 hours, which is accurate but overnight seems ideal.
Once cured, it assumes a soft, waxy state. Spin the cranks and the chain runs slick and silent, without feeling remotely syrupy.
Since it seeps deep within the chain, lubrication is comprehensive and while I’ve no means of measuring watts saved, shifts are crisp and snappy. I’ve tested ours in temperatures between –3 and –5 degrees and the wax has remained soft, adhering to the rollers, so doesn’t dry and flake-off prematurely. Buttery smooth and silent, especially around the derailleur jockey wheels. Characteristics that lasted in the dry, bitterly cold outings.
On derailleur transmissions, the cassette will collect residual wax, which like several others, is reclaimed by the chain, with regular shifting. However, the lack of any oil-based product means chains, even those with a thicker electroplated coating, quickly showed brown freckling. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this was most apparent on fixed, single-speed, and hub gear chains.
Embedded grit and dirt quickly becomes apparent and, arguably, a little unsightly - especially when roads are greasy. Crucially, any trapped within the top layer will drop off, revealing clean side plates, jockey wheels and rollers. There’s no risk of it becoming a nasty, chain-knackering paste. Bear in mind it remains tacky to touch though, so will transfer to hands, frame and other surfaces, should you need to tend a roadside flat. Inconvenient but easily dismissed post ride.
Staying prowess in bitterly cold, predominantly dry, conditions has returned 200 miles, on par with a bog-standard PTFE infused middleweight chain lube and without any clean up, when replenishment is needed. However, when sleet, standing water and rain are thrown into the mix, we’re talking 80 miles - tops.
This may be a minor point for competitive riders presiding cleanliness and low friction over staying prowess and more frequent cleaning. However, coupled with the curing times, impractical for commuting, touring and extended winter training rides. Wax devotees are better served by Smoove Universal Chain Lube which also requires long curing times but has returned 130 miles per application, in comparable contexts.
£12.99 for 120ml is at the upper end of the wax spectrum and if we’re comparing it with other/more traditional winter lubes, expensive, since a few coats are required and top ups more frequent. Probably the closest comparator is Smoove Universal Chain Lube, which comes in at £14.99 for 125ml. Though not a cold specific blend, Juice Lubes Chain Juice Wax is £11.99 for 130ml. Muc-Off Dry Chain Lube is £7.99 for 120ml. If you want cleanliness and aren’t completely sold on a wax formula, Rock 'n’ Roll Absolute Dry (now £6.95 for 4ozs) has proven surprisingly durable and very clean.
The Squirt Low Temperature Chain Wax is by no means poor, rather a bit a bit niche. It’s a racer’s lube for when it’s cold but crucially, dry. Would I TT with it, yes. Commute, or expect it to return big mileages in wet weather and you’ll be disappointed.