ZEFAL PRO WET CHAIN LUBE
120ml 128g £5.99 Long Term (6 Month) Test
The Zefal Pro Wet Lube looks like a very traditional pour 'n’ go middleweight formula. The sort well suited to winter training, mountain biking and touring; contexts where you want something that’s quick 'n’ easy to apply, long lasting and relatively clean. Several months down the line, this understated blend has delivered in most respects. However, staying prowess seemed to improve, during wetter, cooler conditions.
Pros: Relatively inexpensive, durable, easy to apply.
Cons: Transfers more readily to hands and clothing, compared to some.
Little surprise that the Pro Wet Lube is a blend of oils. Many around this price point are made from a relatively crude mix of ISO/Mineral oils, sometimes with friction busting PTFE thrown in. However, it’s made using synthetic esters, which are manufactured from carbolic acids and alcohols.
These can be tuned and tweaked to achieve the desired properties. So, theory goes, we get high performing, long lasting oils that are still biodegradable.
Apparently, though not water soluble, flung droplets/spatter will sit on the upper layer(s) of soil, where things break down. They also reckon this helps ensure a consistent viscosity, one that theoretically remains stable, regardless whether its -3 or +33.
Most oils (save for Rock 'n’ Roll’s family) are mutually incompatible these days. So, blitz the chain, and where appropriate; rings, cassette, derailleur cages and jockey wheels of any pre-existing lube. I’m particularly fond of Crankalicious Gumchained Remedy and Green Oil Chain Degreaser Jelly but Turpentine spirit is a very efficient standby, provided its applied in a well-ventilated area, away from sources of ignition.
Regardless of preferred stripper, give the Pro-Wet a quick shake to mix everything evenly. Now drizzle into every link and where necessary, purge any excess, with a clean rag. Not one for a cheeky kitchen top-up, but fine to apply in the garage/outbuilding. Despite following directions to the letter, I was surprised to discover the pro wet affected by temperature.
Much runnier during the summer months, stockier come September, where it fell to around the mid-teens. In some respects, this called stability, and some of Zefal’s claims, into question; in other ways it worked to my advantage. Summer usually permits a lighter lubricant.
Therefore, I could use less, and it penetrated the chain’s inner sanctum promptly but without the mess associated with some summer preps. The long, precision spout certainly helps. That done, you’re ready to ride.
Much like traditional wet formulas, spin the cranks and you can tell the chain’s been thoroughly lubricated. However, it lacks that syrupy feel of some hell 'n’ high water blends - feels closer to the middleweight PTFE infused types.
This was particularly apparent on my geared builds. Shifts felt snappy and positive, in both directions. It has also clung very convincingly to my fixed gear winter/trainer's highly polished, electroplated chain, so all I’ve been conscious of, is that cushioned, serene “swoosh” with every revolution.
Now, during the warmer months, the runnier consistency meant it was less effective as a grease substitute (think mudguard/similar fasteners) but great for electroplated Allen bolts, cleat mechanisms and others that need a light “taste”. Come October, it was still effective on cleats/locking mechanisms but a passable grease substitute. Used it to good effect on my Univega’s stem bolts (having swapped to the Soma Condor bar).
I’d expect a wet blend to stay put, and the Pro Wet certainly has, despite some torrential rains and waterlogged roads. Again, I wasn’t surprised to cruise past the 300 -mile marker through a changeable August. After all, bog-standard PTFE infused types will usually return 250, in similar contexts However, from mid-September, we’ve had deluges of persistent, and seemingly, biblical proportions. Lanes were quickly becoming lakes, thanks to localised flooding. Though less stoical than some of the heavyweight formulas, including Weldtite TF2 Extreme Wet or Finish Line Cross Country Wet Chain lube. Given two weeks, and 260 miles, links, water and spray had superficially dismissed much of the lube.
Touching revealed a thin, stubborn and relatively clean layer. I racked up 375 miles from that single application, which is reassuringly good, from a middleweight blend, in these conditions.
Save for a quick wipe-over, I could simply top up, and scoot off. Despite the riding conditions described, coupled with some mixed terrain shenanigans on my Univega, chains didn’t accumulate much grime.
Yes, there was a faintly stubbly patina along the side-plates, which I exorcised with some clean rag, every 10 days, or so. However, it didn’t evolve into that evil-looking, transmission gobbling gunge. It has also transferred less readily to hands and clothing than I’d expected.
However, commuters, especially those in office smarts might be better served by something like Rock 'n’ Roll Extreme LV.
£5.99 is at the very affordable end of the market and there’s no doubt in my mind that it represents good value. However, Weldtite TF2 Performance All Weather Lubricant comes in at £3.99 for 100ml. Its Extreme Wet cousin is stockier, has racked up massive mileages and commands the same cash. Similarly, if you can tolerate the curing times, Rock 'n’ Roll Extreme is cleaner, and has an edge, in this respect.
Overall, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the Pro Wet’s “everyman” charm. A decent middleweight default for changeable weather. That said; middling cleanliness mean it’s better suited to training, touring/Audax duties.