Never Buy Chain Lube Again? Comparison Test

chain lube according to renegade riders

this is an industry trick to make us

spend money on something we don't need

or more conspiratorial II I'm something

that actually helps change to die sooner

huh such treachery such cause to

investigate at once after some branding

what is chain lube for Lube lubrication

most motorcyclists will say lubrication

but most motorcycle chains say no let's

prefix our test with a piercing game of

Pictionary motorcycle chain makes morons

like me think of metal on metal links

please well these should require

lubricant oh no [ __ ] half-wit but plain

chains paint too simple a picture 95% of

us don't run these anymore

our asinine asses i pulled around by o

or x-ring chains which are internally

permanently lubricated when you have

some outer plates here that hold fast to

rivet pins and then inner plates which

do not right here is where your pivoting

happens so there's a bath of factory

grease to smooth that along here's the

part I can never seem to get through my

head no matter what you put on your

chain it can't touch this if it could

that would mean that your factory seals

are shot in which case the chain is

about as useless as a ventilated condom

now sure

and there's also movement here where the

o-ring joins two independently moving

plates but whatever bollocks moose power

your lubricant claims to find it won't

really decrease the friction between the

seal and the steel your wallet will if

you're poor like me you bought a Rings

these squish to a relatively large

contact area a nitrile on steel doesn't

produce a ton of friction but multiplied

by two seals per link 100 some odd links

well suddenly the chain doesn't like to

been that much rich [ __ ] with their

fancy ex rings get less surface area

they get a second failsafe seal they get

some extra grease lifts in between they

get a chain that bends easier

if an o-ring chain steals one horsepower

on its way to the ground a fancy X ring

anklet is gonna take only about half a

horsepower but wait up wiseguy

and there's also friction here where the

chain contacts the sprocket true but

that's why we have the rollers so they

can hit the socket and then pivot

relative to this inner bushing and

that's happening right about here I'm

putting lubricant on the outside of a

roller is not gonna help anything

in fact it simply will not stay there it

doesn't matter how clingy your lubes

film strength is the monstrous force of

a motorcycle cast it aside like a

one-night stand wherever rollers contact

the sprocket under pressure lube gets

squished away this is not the inside of

an engine there's no system constantly

resupplying oil under pressure train

rollers will be metal on metal contact

within a few rotations and that's okay

so what is chain lube for well the

primary answer is manufacturers are

unafraid to admit is rust prevention

which is awkward because wd-40 will do

that engine oil will do it help cooking

spray should do it of course there's

also a second reason to lube modern

chains and that's to replenish this tiny

bit of unsealed grease between the

roller and the bushing maybe some fancy

lubes will stay there longer

maybe penetrants like wd-40 will seep in

there better and maybe some of them pick

up so much salty abrasive grit that they

undo their own benefit these are the

conspiratorial questions we ask now

let's test some answers


Bellary super clean is the most popular

conventional Lube perhaps because it

dries white and that takes the guess

work out of application but you pay for

it it's 22 bucks a can Maxima chain wax

is only 12 bucks a can and rivals Bell

Rays popularity for that reason it's a

wax based lubricant paraffin to be

precise so it should excel in repelling

water and rust Oxford's mint dry weather

Lube is the opposite it's not waterproof

at all but it contains PTFE substance

like Teflon with one of the lowest

coefficients of friction ever measured

nothing will stick to this stuff it

should win our grit pickup test funny

side note Oxford is legally obligated to

warn that sniffing their product can

kill you yet they made it smell like

tasty mint hmm muck off boasts an

equally feckless feature and that it

glows in ultraviolet light I don't know

about you but I keep many black lights

in my toolbox and of course I want to

keep my over spray patterns hidden to

everyone except Nancy Drew in the cast

of CSI no anyway this long distance

chain lube uses ceramics to be

exceptionally durable tiny dots in the

formula roll around like a million ball

bearings simultaneously creating very

low friction and also an armadillo esque

coat of armour Markov says you can go

longer between applications critics say

that ceramics are abrasives at worst and

the gimmick at best

we'll see modal's c5 chain paste goes on

like paint so I never worry about

spritzing my brake discs by mistake I

also never worry about throwing it in my

side case only to pop a lid and soak my

undies and aerosol in fact without

needing a carrier to propel active

ingredients through the air you probably

get more of the good stuff in 150 mils

of this and then 400 mils of the others

it's the Rafal unit choice wd-40

is your famous water displacer rust

preventer and we saw in the last test

video that it makes a passable chain

cleaner so if it survives our lube tests

that's gonna be a damn tempting

one-and-done gear oil is another cheap

fix it's also what my current chain

recommends which I'd have known a long

time ago if I actually read the

instructions that came with it

most chains suggest something thick 75

80 90 weight so it doesn't fling off

everywhere and turn your motorcycle into

a green piece wet nightmare and finally

cooking spray because I'm curious if

household lubes do a passable job and

this is the most pg-13 one I could find

the contestants are given 10 minutes to

dig in before being assaulted by salty

water blown completely dry and then

soaked once more how much rust appears

will be our measure of a lubes ability

to hold its barrier against rainy windy

rides muck off and Belle Rae invite all

their fairest friends over to party

there are some middling options who keep

it to a small gathering then maxima and

gear oil completely lock the door on

rust however we know that replenishing

the rollers lubricant is also relevant

the fluidity of this rotation is what

we're trying to isolate so I harvest a

bunch of inner links as always from a

brand new chain then strip them of

existing grease with a nice relaxing

gasoline bath the links are then re

lubricated with each of our chain lubes

and left to dig in or dry out as the

case may be overnight

I placed the first link on a scale and

use a rubber wheel of constant power

output to get the rollers rolling

pressure is slowly applied until the

friction force beneath the rollers

overcomes the force of our electric

motor this control link which was

stripped with gasoline but never really

brocaded grinds to a halt at a mere 380

grams of pressure if our lubes do

anything to decrease that friction they

should stay spinning under heavier loads

than that


so muck off ceramic balls are no joke

neither is Maxima or gear oil both of

which slipped beneath our rollers

similarly well it seems that wd-40 had

the least benefit over an unlubricated

chain my guess is that it penetrated all

right but evaporated overnight so we've

tested what we want our Lube to do stop

rust and roll rollers but there are also

a couple things we don't want it to do

and make a mess of our rear wheel and

pick up abrasive grit 8 test subjects

are thoroughly cleaned lubricated and

given time to set they are spun at a

constant speed and the splatter pattern

is observed at a constant distance the

chains are then allowed to pick up a

teaspoon of conveniently colorful grit

and flung for another 10 seconds true to

its name Bell Ray's super clean chain

lube left our spray catcher pretty clean

a visual inspection of the chain shows

that it's stuck to a decent amount of

dirt though I'll spare you the tedious

repetition of a light and science which

I've narrowly if not completely avoided

and zoom ahead to the results in order

of messiness cooking oil wd-40 maxima

and engine oil immediately sling off the

chain and make a murder scene of my

index card meanwhile muck off slimy long

distance lube holds true to its name

durably clinging to links and therefore

leaving nearly no splatter

Britt adhesion hosts the Revenge of the

reasonably-priced with wd-40 and cooking

oil keeping their noses clean Oxford's

Teflon loaded dry lube also

unsurprisingly does well modal gear oil

and muck off are middling than Bell ray

and maxima lose picking up every salty

abrasive chain killing Colonel they come

into contact with so we have four scores

from four tests rust prevention roller

lubrication anti splatter and anti grit

thus our combined ranking is finally set

assuming that performance in every area

matters to you I'll know that gear oil

Oxford and modal are the most consistent



so I for one will never buy chain lube

again gear oil is what most

manufacturers recommend and almost as if

they done R&D on the subject that proves

to be the best choice I had hope wd-40

would make a passable lube because

cleaning and greasing my chain with one

cheap thing would make my heart sing

but alas science cares not for our hopes

and dreams nor their hopes and dreams of

selling an inferior product for 15 bucks

it can stay greasy my friends

what is that [ __ ]