Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Slippery Subject Part 3

 More slippin' and slidin'

Read Part 2 HERE. Recently a sort of war has broken out on that infamous video channel between the "Friction Fiction" fellow (I use that name because he's been making threats of legal action against his detractors who have called him out by his or his company's name) and a fellow Aussie who has posted some rather crude criticism of the man and his company.

Zio ran afoul of "Friction Fiction" when he emailed to ask why no test results were on his website for Finish Line Wet, a popular chain lube, but the guy's finally managed to post some after first claiming it wasn't popular and that other Finish Line products he tested were NFG, so why bother? Of course the results for this one aren't very good either - no surprise there.

But the fellow did ask for experiences with this lube and since Zio's used it for years here's one:

Shimano 11-speed chain on GRX equipped gravel bike. Bike used from new with factory grease then periodically relubed with Finish Line Wet. Drivetrain cleaned now and then with a tablespoon or two of common diesel fuel as outlined in various bike wash regimens.

Roughly 50% of this bike's use has been on unpaved, dusty bike trails. Chain gets wiped-off now and then and relubed when it appears dry. A few drops on each side of the rollers while backpedaling to distribute the lube, then excess is wiped off.

The result - after 4200+ kilometers the chain now measures (via KMC digital chain-checker) wear of .15 mm averaged between 3 measurements. KMC says change 'em before wear exceeds .8 mm while Zio will install a new one when it gets to .4 mm.

Why change at .4 mm? The chain costs $30. Why take a chance on wearing the sprockets and cogs out just to squeeze a bit more life out of a cheap, easily replaceable component? Back when Zio maintained a fleet of rental bikes he swapped the chains out at just 2000 kms for the same reason. Just like pro racing teams he wanted to be sure any chain on any bike in the fleet would run happily (no skipping!) on any wheel.

Is Zio a huge fan of this lube? He does like the applicator bottle but wonders if the Mobil 1 SHC 75/90 gear oil he's also used for years (but doesn't have any data for) isn't just as good? Another wax-cult guy recently showed some tests of lubricant film-strength and Zio wonders what could be better in film strength than a lube designed for automotive manual transmissions and/or differential gears? But is film strength all that matters?

What does matter to Zio is that this test chain received pretty much zero care compared to the wax-cult regimen: no solvent cleaning to bare metal, no boiling in a wax cooker purchased just for the purpose, no $50 bags o' wax pellets or $30 squirt bottles of liquid wax for in-between lubes before removing the chain for retreatments. 

And no unfastening/refastening of the chain quick-links, which Zio thinks eventually will fail if you do this too many times. Those sell for $3-5 each. It all ads up, so the "Save money by buying my expensive product(s)" claims seem like most of the too-good-to-be true claims out there.

Could Zio realize double or triple the lifespan of this chain via religious and expensive waxing treatments? Maybe. But $90 for three of these chains is less than the solvent, a wax cooker and bag o' snake wax pellets, etc. not to mention the time spent fooling around with all this stuff. He guesses this chain will easily go another 2000 kms before replacement at .4 mm of wear.

When you make an objective comparison (Zio's not selling ANYTHING and gets nothing from Finish Line or Mobil) for his money "old school" oil still seems the simplest (and cheapest) way to take care of your chain, despite what the wax-cult zealots would like you to believe.

But feel free to wax away if you like! Chain, legs, mustache, "bikini area" ..whatever. Stay clean, enjoy the miniscule efficiency improvements touted, etc. But don't waste time in recruitment efforts on Zio to join the cult, OK?

The Friction fellow also claimed he'd asked Finish Line repeatedly for data to back up their marketing claims for their "WET" lube. But when Zio contacted Finish Line they said the guy had never contacted them. Seems like more marketing of whatever you sell vs stuff you don't with "data" to prove the stuff you sell is the best? 

Zio's gonna try using Mobil 1 on the chain of his new e-bike rather than Finish Line to see how it does in comparison. He might have some useful data in 6 months maybe? If film strength is all that matters the chain wear should be pretty low. Time and distance will tell, but even the exclusive 13 speed chain for this bike costs less than $50 so...

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