ZEFAL EXTRA DRY CHAIN WAX
120ml 128g £8.50
The Zefal Extra Dry Premium Quality Chain Wax is, as it says on the tin, a clean running wax formula. One designed primarily for dry, dusty contexts, although packaging suggests it’ll also stay put in showery conditions. Overall performance rivals that of similar lubes, and curing times are more practical than some, for commuting/touring.
Pros: Quick curing, clean running and competitively priced.
Cons: Less stoical than some blends.
Zefal don’t give much away, least of all on the bottle. However, I’m told it’s a petrochemical based lubricant, employing a water-based carrier. As with purely petrochemical formulas, the two parts are mixed by shaking the bottle. Introduced, to the chain’s links, it goes on like an emulsion, then cures to a white, waxy state. The wax captures dirt and grime, then scabs off, leaving only that familiar, filmy coating behind.
Ease of Application 2.5/5
Standard MO really. Round up a couple of rags, then park bikes outside, in your designated fettling spot. Purge chain(s) of any pre-existing lube (including the factory stuff) and contaminant, using your solvent of choice. Less important on balmy days, but otherwise wipe any residual away, with a clean rag. For sheer convenience, when it comes to derailleur transmissions, I’ve shifted to the middle of the cassette.
Now give the Zefal Premium Wax Chain lube a vigorous 30 second shake, to get everything nicely mixed. Undo the cap, then drizzle into the chain, keeping a rag beneath to capture the overspill.
Even allowing for a more precise spout, some ground spatter is inevitable. I’ve managed to capture and redistribute the overspill to cables, derailleur pivot points, trailer hitches and similar, metal-on-metal interfaces.
In keeping with other brands equivalents, I initially defaulted to two coats, in quick succession (mopping up in-between). Though there’s no clue on the packaging, Zefal cites 60minute curing times.
To my surprise, this seems so, even with the mercury struggling to reach 13/14degrees. That said; I still err on the overnight practice, where situations allow. Oh, and in common with Squirt Long Lasting Dry Lube when you’re down to a filmy layer, simply top-up.
Much like Squirt Long Lasting Chain Lube and Joes-No Flats Nano Dry Lube (arguably its closest competitor), friction and ultimately, shifting is crisp. Not in quite the same league, as more sophisticated ceramics, including Weldtite TF2 Advanced Ceramic Chain Wax.
The thin, runny consistency’s invasive properties ensured comprehensive coating. So, the only thing I’ve been conscious of, is the gentle swoosh, and easy sweep of the chain, across the block. The soft, waxy compound also gets left behind, on the cassette, reclaimed by the chain on a derailleur setup.
Smooth, serene silence also rung out, on the fixed. Several hundred miles in, I’m convinced the Passport Elements Single Speed Chain’s slightly sand-papery texture retains lubes better than Inox, or shinier nickel-plated models. That said, a really stocky blend, such as SKS Lube Your Chain wins hands down, in this respect.
Whether made from sophisticated, or traditional petrochemical bases, the idea is to lock lubrication in, trapping grot within the top layer. Our testing period coincided with widespread road resurfacing. Aside from feeling like you’re navigating a massive cat-litter tray, these gravelly chippings generate a fair bit of dust.
As with other waxy types, the white, candle-esque coating turned gungy black, within three miles. Once saturated, they’ve flaked away, so chain, cassette, rings and derailleur cages can be left to their own devices, with no fear of them turning cannibal. It always remains slightly tacky, even towards the end.
Transfer to clothing and skin is middling. I’ve managed to dodge the side-plate branding on light coloured trousers/bib shorts, when shouldering bikes. Hand to chain contact (when tweaking my fixed’s tension) was much easier, so I’d pop some latex type examination gloves in your wedge pack, in case of roadside mechanicals.
Now, wax formulas are designed to perform at their best, in dry, dusty conditions, and staying prowess has been favourable. Indeed, intermittent showery weather hasn’t overly taxed it either.
Though a changeable May, from a single, triple coating, I’ve returned 220 road and 150 mixed terrain miles. However, persistent, heavy rains and waterlogged coastal roads flushed it away in a mere 45.
Come the next morning, links also showed some unsightly surface rust. Drying the chain, then applying three fresh coats (left curing for 90 minutes, all told) improved this quite considerably - around 85 miles, in similar contexts.
At the other extreme, when temperatures climb into the mid-20s, the wax will liquify and redistribute lubricant within the chain, reducing top-up frequency. Poor compared with SKS Lube Your Chain (which managed 230 miles, in snowy, slushy weather) but level-pegging with Joe’s No-Flats Nano Dry Lube, in identical contexts.
Where both score over more stoical types, is the ability to top-up and be on the road again. Joes-No-Flats Nano Lube is literally ready, in minutes. The Zefal needs a full hour, but that’s still realistic for touring, allowing for a rest stop, lunch break, or day’s end.
On paper, £8.95 is favourable, alongside Joes-No-Flats Dry Lube and Weldtite TF2 Ultra Dry Chain Wax. However, providing you can stomach the long curing times, Rock n’ Roll Absolute Dry Chain Lube returns similar cleanliness and noticeably more MPA (miles per Application).
Overall, and for the money, Zefal Performance Extra Dry Wax performs to a decent standard in dry, dusty and other fair-weather contexts. That said; we’re in swings n’ roundabouts territory. Quicker than typical curing times, are another definite plus. Head to Head, Joe’s No Flats Nano Dry Lube has the edge. Similarly, if you are a wax devotee and happy with petrochemicals, SKS Lube Your Chain is a realistic option- year round.