Frequently Asked Questions
What Is Chain-L ?
In a word, it’s oil. More specifically, Chain-L is a blend of
extreme pressure (EP) lubricants in a high film-strength
mineral oil base, formulated to provide the maximum possible
lubrication to the tiny bearings that make up a chain. Chain-L
also contains rust inhibitors and other additives to improve its
longevity and wet-weather performance.
It Seems Similar to Other Oils I Know.
Is it _________ ?
We hear this all the time! It looks, feels, smells, tastes (?) like
motor oil, transmission fluid, chain saw oil, gear oil, cutting oil,
etc. (Pick one) Chain-L shares many characteristics of these
and other quality lubricants because it’s made to satisfy
similar lubrication needs, and therefore uses many of the
same ingredients. However, the final formula is specifically for
bicycle chains and is the result of thousands of miles of road
testing by a pool of over 100 test riders. By analogy, consider
tomato sauce. All tomato sauces contain the same basic
ingredients and are fairly similar. Yet, you wouldn’t
tell Grandma that her tomato sauce is the same as Ragu,
Why Mineral Oil ?
Millions of dollars have been invested by automotive, aircraft
and industrial companies to develop lubricants that meet their
demanding and exacting requirements. With few exceptions,
mineral oil and additive blends are the universal favorite of
their engineers. We felt that if they all settled on certain
classes of lubricants and additives, it might be wise to respect
and benefit from their expertise.
Why Not a Dry Lube ?
Chains operate at extremely high bearing loads, generally over
two thirds of the load of the bottom bracket, which has vastly
larger ball bearings. At these pressures, any material will wear
away at the point of contact.
Typically, five thousandths of an inch of steel will be worn off
the chain pin and inner plates in 50-100 hours of riding time,
so you can imagine how long a thin, dry lubricating film might
last. The solution lies in wetting action whereby the lubricant
re-applies itself to the contact zone after each cycle. Dry lubes
can’t do that. Think about elsewhere on a bicycle -- Would you
consider using a dry lube for any of those bearings?
What About the Environment ?
We didn’t start out to create an environmental product -- our
mission was simply better lubrication for better chain life.
Being a petroleum product, we don’t make bio-degradability or
eco-friendly claims. But the total picture is complex. First,
small quantities Chain-L will be broken down by microbes and
chemicals in soil. Second, it doesn’t contain solvents (VOC’s)
which contribute to urban smog. Further, little Chain-L is used
per application and each application lasts a long time, so less
total product escapes into the environment -- leaving the
question of what’s better: Tiny amounts of a not so eco-friendly
product or greater amounts of a friendlier product?
Finally, stepping back and looking at the total question,
compare the environmental impact of small amounts of
lubricant to the energy consumed and pollution created when
new chains are produced to replace those that wear out
So, Is It CLEAN ?
We wonder if the marketers of the clean lubes are ever asked
“Does it lubricate?” Frankly, Chain-L, being a sticky oil has
the potential to be extremely messy. But if applied correctly,
with the understanding that it works inside the chain and not
on the surface, it's surprisingly clean and not really any
messier than most of the so-called clean lubes.
Moreover, it’s long service life means that a chain may be “dry
cleaned” by running it through a paper towel from time to time
without needing to re-lube. All in all, it takes less time and
effort to maintain a clean and well-lubed chain with Chain-L
than it does with so-called clean lubes.
It’s So Thick! How Can It Soak In ?
Chain-L soaks into chains using the same capillary action as
thinner lubes -- It just takes longer. We experimented with
thinners and solvents to speed penetration but the lubrication
suffered. Solvents take space and we ended up with very little
oil inside the chain after they evaporated. In the end, we
decided that, all things considered, we’d stick with the pure
product because its superior performance is worth waiting for.
Road or Mountain ? Wet or Dry ?
How Can One Lube Do All ?
From a wear point of view, all chains are the same. They wear
internally as they flex onto and off of the sprockets and this is
independent of what happens on the outside. Chain-L was
originally targeted at the high-mileage road cyclist or triathlete
and our instructions are based on their needs. Later, we
learned that mountain bikers also benefitted though they
might adjust the basic approach by leaving excess oil on the
outside for extremely wet or muddy conditions where it’s going
to be messy anyway, or wiping the outside as dry as possible
for dusty conditions.
How Do I Apply Chain-L ?
Almost all chain lubes are applied the same way -- apply, soak
in, wipe off excess -- and Chain-L is no exception. Because of
its unique properties, it requires some extra attention to detail
and we suggest that you follow our instructions, keeping in
mind that it’s only the oil inside counts and any excess is
How Do I Reach You
If I Have Another Question ?
You may email us!
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