Ebike Chain Lubes

Johnny

Well-Known Member
Lately I have switched to waxing and find it to be vastly superior to anything I have ever used. I will leave my previous experience for the curious ones otherwise you can skip to Waxing part.

So I have worn 3 KMC 10 speed Ebike specific chains on my Haibike with Bosch CX motor. During this period I have used several different brands of lubes and here are the results.

Original Chain: Not cleaned as frequently as the later 2. Used Prolink until 1100-1200 miles in CA and the chain stretch was below 0.5. Moved to east coast and rode the bike whole winter, using rock n roll, chain stretched well over 0.5 close to 0.75 before 1450 mile mark.

Second chain: Used muc off dry mostly, later stages switched to Dumonde tech. Chain stretched to 0.5 in around 800 miles and done in 1100 miles. Half winter half summer riding.

Third chain: Used Dumonde tech exclusively, Chain is stretched to 0.75 in around 1000 miles.

Some observations about the lubes I have used(Before each application the chain is cleaner with parktool chain tool, rinsed and dried):

  • Prolink gold: This is a cleanish, light lube. It still gets tacky after a while however overall it is easy to apply, shifts very well and somewhat cheap. For my riding in summer this went for around 100miles before lubrication.
  • Muc off dry: Very clean, shifts well when fresh but gets noisier fast. I lasts merely 50 miles for me and this left the most metal particles in the scrubber.
  • Triflow: Used it once and this is my least favorite. It is heavy, drivetrain gets gunky real fast and doesn't last long
  • Dumonde tech original: I think this is my favorite. The chain stays quiet, shifts are very crisp, does not get tacky easily and drivetrain stays very clean. There is a catch though, you have to wipe the chain with a dry cloth(I use a cheap microfiber tower) after the first 3-4 rides to clean the black residue coming out of the chain until the lube cures. It takes 5-10 seconds, not tacky and very easy to wipe clean unless you let it sit for a couple of days. This lube lasted around 150 miles each application and after the first application I didn't even need to use any degreaser.
  • Dumonde tech Lite: This is in between the original and prolink. It is thinner than dumonde original. Lasts around 120miles. I like it but honestly I don't find any advantage over original. I would just stick with original.
  • Rock n roll Extreme: Cleanest lube of all that I have tested but it is not durable at all for wet conditions. Also no matter how clean it looks from outside you still need to clean the chain before at least the first application. On wet lasted 30-40 miles.

I will not attribute wear to the lubes I don't have enough data for that. The decrease in chain life of subsequent chains is probably due to drivetrain wear. When you put a chain on a worn drivetrain the chain will wear out faster to match the drivetrain and this is probably the reason for less chain life on each new chain.

In short Dumonde Original is my favorite. If you are only riding in dry hot weather only Prolink gold is a good choice. For strictly winter riding on snow, salt, slush I would probably go for a very thick lube like Park tool lube.



----------WAXING----------

Lately I wanted to give waxing a try. I used oz cycle's %10 PTFE %90 food grade paraffin formula( see the video below) and after 100miles on the drivetrain I am amazed how clean it is. It still shifts very crisp, the rollers are free of dirt and unless I am pushing hard chain is mostly quiet. Not as quiet as dumonde tech but quiet.


I use Gulf Wax and Runaway PTFE (Their PTFE mixes as well as the one in the video but these guys seem to know what they are selling):

Since I live in an apartment I did not use the chamicals that he suggests. Instead I used Finish line citrus degreaser(soaked without dilluting for around 30 minutes) then soap to wash it off then a shake in IPA.

This is how my chain looks after a 100 miles(update at 192 miles still looks the same, rollers are free of dirt , clean, rolling freely, update over 300 miles and cassette/ drivetrain still looks almost the same).

UPDATE

I have done 900miles on the first chain since the first time I started waxing(A total of 1150 miles on the chain). I am still measuring around %0.06-0.08 wear which is almost the same as what I measured 900 miles ago. and the drivetrain still looks like the picture. It is amazing how clean everything stays.

Bosch CX, full suspension. Installed a new 11 speed Sram chain, has done 140miles, clean and quiet.

Another 11 speed KMC on my yamaha pw-se powered gravel bike. Second application and still very clean and quiet. No measurable wear.

IMG_20200924_184333.jpg





A word on chain wear measurement:

I do own a simple Parktool wear indicator but it only gives a go/no go answer.

Although I have a digital caliper, because it has the knife edges, it is very hard to reliable measure chain wear in between rollers(measurement that includes roller wear). I didn't want to spend $70 on a KMC caliper since it is nothing more than a cheap digital caliper with flat tips.

I can however measure stretch without the addition of roller wear( which is said to be the right measure since play in subsequent rollers cancel each other out) from outside, in between edges of outer plates. I use 5 full links (5 inches) and I can have consistent , repeatable measurements this way, 5.01 ~ 0.20 5.025~ 0.5, 5.05 ~ 0.1 wear.
So with a digital caliper with standard knife edges I measure my chains the following way. While the chain is under tension (measuring it on the bike is the best) measure 5 links from outside(every full link is 1" initially) since most standard digital calipers are 6" max this is a good length to get consistent measurements.
chainMeasurementtip.png




After 900 miles on the kmc 11 speed the chain still measures <%0.1. Waxing seems to work.
After 250miles on the Yamaha pw-se mid drive, there is no difference compared to when the chain was new. But it is too new to judge.
Bosch CX mid drive has done 400+ miles since the waxing and the wear did not increase measurably.

Below are recent pictures, one can see how clean they still are. Last time I cleaned these cassettes are 250 and 700 miles ago respectively.

IMG_20210317_173310.jpg

WaxedCassette.jpg













OLD THREAD------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
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Ok I searched for it but couldn't find a general thread on the subject. We have a couple of threads on specific products or bikes.

I think this is an important topic. I will be very happy to see your experiences with different lubes, especially their longevity.


About 2.5 months ago I changed my lube to Rock n Roll extreme after seeing the great reviews and the article on how efficient it is I wanted to give it a try. It is a wax based lube, You apply it to the chain until it is dripping wet, wait a couple of minutes then wipe with a dry cloth. It does a very good job of cleaning and keeping the chain clean during the rides. At first I thought this was it.

The problem is when I started this lube I had around 1000-1100 miles and when I measured the chain with a ruler it was almost like new. After 3-4 applications and 300 miles later I measured again and it was significantly extended. To make sure I got a park tool measuring gauge and wow, around the missing link it is 0.5 (one measurement may even be 0.75!!!) and the other half is less than but close to 0.5.

Given that I rode the bike in snow twice and 3-4 times when it was raining I didn't expect this kind of wear so quickly.

Now I don't want to bash the products , I actually want to like it since it stays much much cleaner than oil based lubes and chain is silent in the first couple of days but today I gave it a light wipe and the cloth was again covered with a dark grey dust. I cleaned and lubed the chain 6 days / 40 miles ago.

Before moving onto another lube I wanted to see what others are using. I like to get more than 1500miles out of a $50 chain if possible.

Some additional information:
-It is a KMC e10 Silver chain.
-The support level I use on my Bosch is almost never over ECO, lately I actually am using custom modes and decreased the assist level to %20 percent (feels like a nice road bike, getting great mileage of course).

I may switch to Smoove since I really liked the wax based lubes but this wear issue is a deal breaker.

Your experiences will be appreciated.
 

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Ebiker01

Well-Known Member
In order to comply with e bikes very specific gadgets( e bike helmets, chains, tires..) the industry should launch Mid drive / IGH /DD specific chain lubes . So when Bosch will make diff. chain lubes for their mid drives( 1 for a 250watts motor, a 2nd one for the performance cx motor) then this problem should be resolved. I ride easy motion so i am waiting for a BH chain lube addressed for motors with 500watts, max. 90nm torque . In the meantime i use a 5$ lube bought from amazon and i don’t grind the gears or Pedal below 70rpm.
 

indianajo

Well-Known Member
I wear crank sockets out before I wear out chains. Fought a worn out crank this weekend on a very used bike I wanted to cable up outside the symphony hall. I wear tips of rear sprockets off, too without stretching the chain. At about 5-8 years and 10000-16000 miles. I'm using sus 32 hydraulic fluid, sae 5, also known in the US consumer market as type A auto transmission fluid. NOT DEXRON or motor oil, those contain detergent that sucks water out of the air. NOT hydraulic fluid meeting specs of John Deere, Catapiller, New Holland. The generic grade at the farm supply. Caveat, I have a hub drive which doesn't stress the chain as much as a mid-drive motor. I do pedal 300 lb up 15% grades, before electricity. Your wax lubes make the outside pretty but don't penetrate and lube the rollers & pins inside. Factories with a lot of chain use the same product, called "rock oil" at the last one I worked at because it was used in the air drills that miners use for explosive holes. Factory chains transmit up to 5 hp where I worked. I don't worry about dirt on the outside of the chain. I wear a clip on my long pants to keep the fabric off the chain. I oil with a pump oiler monthly or more often, letting it drip off. Also derailleur wheels, cables, pivots of brakes & shifters, levers, stem bearing, crank bearing. My bike sits in the rain & snow when I work or shop.
 
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Nova Haibike

Well-Known Member
Hmm. I have been using Rock 'n' Roll Gold, which is supposed to be not quite as good as Extreme (if you go strictly by the Friction Facts tests). Before I stopped riding due to injury, I had 2400 miles on the chain with not much wear at all. My bike uses the same KMC e10 chain, and I ride in all modes, including a lot of de-restricted riding at over 25 mph. I cannot explain why my results are different than yours, other than that I have not ridden in the snow. After you applied the lube, did you turn the cranks at high speed? The instructions specify to spin the chain quickly to move all the contaminants to the surface so you can wipe it off.
 

Johnny

Well-Known Member
Hmm. I have been using Rock 'n' Roll Gold, which is supposed to be not quite as good as Extreme (if you go strictly by the Friction Facts tests). Before I stopped riding due to injury, I had 2400 miles on the chain with not much wear at all. My bike uses the same KMC e10 chain, and I ride in all modes, including a lot of de-restricted riding at over 25 mph. I cannot explain why my results are different than yours, other than that I have not ridden in the snow. After you applied the lube, did you turn the cranks at high speed? The instructions specify to spin the chain quickly to move all the contaminants to the surface so you can wipe it off.

I was also thinking "extreme" should be better, more durable so I got it. Although winter is quite cold here I rarely ride in snow or rain. Usually I choose a very dry path, avoid mud, puddles etc.

I am planning to give a dry lube a go this time maybe this extreme lube is not good for anything other than wet conditions.
 

6zfshdb

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Northeast Pennsylvania
I've used this Park chain cleaner every 300 miles or so on my MTB's:

71LMYdHsEtL._SL1181_.jpg
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B007Q4NCZI/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o04__o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

It's amazing what crap comes out of a chain after such a short distance.

I like Finish Line dry lube:

81-pDGY5z8L._SL1500_.jpg
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00Z779GMO/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o04__o00_s01?ie=UTF8&psc=1

I'm still using the original chain on my MTB with almost 6K miles. I'm using the same chain maintenance on my e-bike with 1K on it so far. Too early to tell if I'll get the same results.
 

Johnny

Well-Known Member
This is really interesting. I am hearing people having relube/cleaning intervals of 200+ yet I was doing only maybe 100miles between maintenance intervals.

I had that parktool chain scrubber and I don't like it much, I feel like if you are keeping your chain clean regularly a brush is less messy. So I decided to clean with a brush and once a year just take off the chain and put it in dilluted citrus degreaser.

With prolink it was gunky , only kept crisp shifting for maybe 50 miles but even after 100miles I didn't have this chain wear.

The interesting thing is the chain flexed the most close to the missing link, almost 0.75 on one measurement and on the opposing side it is not even 0.5.

I will buy a spare chain just in case but I am kinda disappointed.
 

ebikemom

Well-Known Member
My bike tech says not to use any kind of degreaser on the bike, because it can work it's way into the "sealed" bearings in the wheels. So with degreaser, he says to remove the chain and put it in a jar with the degreaser, if that level of cleaning is needed.
 

Johnny

Well-Known Member
I've been working on bikes for many years and ride several thousand miles every year. Hands down the best stuff I found is Chain-L http://www.chain-l.com/
It's thick as honey and a little harder to put on (no quick job) but I consistently get 500-1000 miles between applications.

500-1000 miles! that is a lot, does it shift smoothly until your next lube ? I have heard good things about ChainL but there are so many choices so can not try them in person.

The problem with the lubes like Rock n Roll it is hard to know whether it penetrated properly or not. The chain looks and feels clean to the touch but for example the first time I rode it it felt very smooth yet that feeling subsided maybe after 15 miles. It didn't squeak though. Maybe when switching to these lubes one has to apply 2 times the first time. Btw I always applied it as instructed moreover I waited one night before taking it to a ride(of course one needs to apply it in a warm place).
 

batmick1

Active Member
500-1000 miles! that is a lot, does it shift smoothly until your next lube ? I have heard good things about ChainL but there are so many choices so can not try them in person.

The problem with the lubes like Rock n Roll it is hard to know whether it penetrated properly or not. The chain looks and feels clean to the touch but for example the first time I rode it it felt very smooth yet that feeling subsided maybe after 15 miles. It didn't squeak though. Maybe when switching to these lubes one has to apply 2 times the first time. Btw I always applied it as instructed moreover I waited one night before taking it to a ride(of course one needs to apply it in a warm place).


Yes, very smooth shifting and it runs very quiet too. In fact, before I started using it I used the sound of the chain as an indicator that it was time for checking wear and replacing. After I started using chain-l I missed the stretch because it was so silent.

They have a free sample offer and that sample is good enough for a couple of applications. Give it a try. They also have pretty good instructions on how to clean/prep the chain before using it.

Correction: Looks like they no longer send a sample bottle but you have to go to a dealer for a free application.
 
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Randroid

Member
Anybody tried paraffin wax ? I live in a dry climate (Arizona), and that is all I use on my Trek road and hybrid bikes. Looking to buy an E- bike soon.
 

elliot friedman

Active Member
Yes, I've been using a Paraffin wax and paraffin oil combination for the last year without any issues.
I enjoy the whole procedure.
As far as cleaning, I use a mineral spirits bath in the jar instead of the gasoline he uses in the video. Sometimes once, and if extra dirty twice. Then one or two soaks and shakes in a jar filled with denatured alcohol. You can let it sit indefinitely in the mineral spirits but not the alcohol do to the small content of water in it.


 
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Johnny

Well-Known Member
Yes, I've been using a Paraffin wax and paraffin oil combination for the last year without any issues.
I enjoy the whole procedure.
As far as cleaning, I use a mineral spirits bath in the jar instead of the gasoline he uses in the video. Sometimes once, and if extra dirty twice. Then one or two soaks and shakes in a jar filled with denatured alcohol. You can let it sit indefinitely in the mineral spirits but not the alcohol do to the small content of water in it.



Although I will use muc off dry with current chain (The factory lube began making noise after 80-90 miles or so I degreased with a mild degreaser and started muc off dry) to test for chain life I am planning to give this a try with my next chain.

So how is the wear on your chain with paraffin wax? Can you compare it with the drip lubes you have used ? I am curious how it holds up with the additional power of a mid drive. Also how does it hold under wet conditions ?


There seem to be different opinions on this , zfc says it is best to use wax alone without any additional oil, in the videos you have posted it is advised to mix it with paraffin oil. I also read blogs claiming that crossing the chain simply strips the paraffin wax and decreases its effectiveness.
 

Johnny

Well-Known Member
As my search for finding the right chain lube continues I was wondering if anyone used the following?

Finish Line Ebike specific lube


and

Royal Extreme

I am searching for a lube with very high film strength so that when pushing 400W+ (rider + motor) the chain does not wear much.


On a side note, my experience so far is I can never get over 150miles on a single lube application. 150 miles was with Dumonde original, the prox light was like 120 and was worse in dusty conditions. The wax based lubes I used usually dried out before 50 mile mark. On a friend's new emtb with Bosch CX we will be using only prolink gold so that will be a good experiment in parallel.
 

6zfshdb

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Northeast Pennsylvania
As I mentioned in an earlier post, I've used Finish Line Dry Teflon lube for years on my conventional bikes.

I tried Finish Line ebike lube when I started riding ebikes but switched back to the dry teflon. I do mostly trail riding and wet lubes attract too much grit. I apply the Red Line Teflon every 200 miles or so and am still using the original chain after just under 2000 miles. My bike has a rear hub motor though so I can't speak for mid drive bikes which put more stress on a chain.
 

Johnny

Well-Known Member
As I mentioned in an earlier post, I've used Finish Line Dry Teflon lube for years on my conventional bikes.

I tried Finish Line ebike lube when I started riding ebikes but switched back to the dry teflon. I do mostly trail riding and wet lubes attract too much grit. I apply the Red Line Teflon every 200 miles or so and am still using the original chain after just under 2000 miles. My bike has a rear hub motor though so I can't speak for mid drive bikes which put more stress on a chain.

Thank you, right now my objective is to prolong chainlife while having decent lube intervals (100miles+).

Both regular bikes and rear hub ebikes are very similar in the amount of stress on the chain (only rider input is transferred through chain). Unfortunately with a mid drive it is motor plus rider input which can go very high. In my case according to Nyon I am usually over 200-250 and if I want to go fast the motor adds a similar amount(even in eco reaching 350+),

Btw with your parktool which degreaser do you use. I was using finish line citrus degreaser and it is strong even when dilluted , the parktool one which is supposed to be soy based (I think finish like has a similar product) seems somewhat weaker and needs to be used full strength.
 
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elliot friedman

Active Member
Johnny,
Have you checked out UFO chain lube.
It's been around for a couple of years now.
I have never used it, too much for my blood.
Sounds impressive.
I'm still sticking with waxing for now.
Be well