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Paraffin waxed chain skips in freezing temperature

Old 01-21-20, 03:04 PM
  #51  
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Originally Posted by t1k View Post
...I'm thinking I'll try to mix the paraffin with paraffin oil before giving up.
Before doing that, try some Rock 'n' Roll Absolute Dry on the waxed chain.

I tried a freshly waxed chain this weekend but it too felt stiff and sluggish in the cold. I had just received some Rock 'n' Roll Absolute Dry. It seems to be PTFE in naptha, maybe with some paraffin, although it doesn't feel like other lubes with paraffin in solvent.

I drizzled on the Absolute Dry per instructions. The chain loosened up, was very slick and smooth running. No problems on a 36 mile ride Sunday. It also dislodged some road grime that I'd overlooked because I was too lazy to dip the chain in solvent before rewaxing.
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Old 01-21-20, 03:43 PM
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Originally Posted by jadocs View Post
For you waxers, how much of a difference is there from just using straight up Paraffin vs. Paraffin + PTFE? I will be undertaking this and have everything except the PTFE which is in transit (but has a crazy estimated delivery date of 1MAR).
I haven't tried Paraffin + PTFE, but Paraffin by itself works perfectly fine for me, and much better than PTFE, which in my experience is a grit magnet. (I also don't like breathing is vapor.)

Where I live (hills, CA) only gets frost in the winter, so I haven't run into cold temperature problems.
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Old 01-21-20, 05:37 PM
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Too late to the party as it seems...
I'm currently using the low-temperature version of squirt lube. Seems to work well in SW Ontario (it does not survive full-on water spray events, but those aren't that common to really bother).
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Old 01-22-20, 07:56 AM
  #54  
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Originally Posted by wgscott View Post
I haven't tried Paraffin + PTFE, but Paraffin by itself works perfectly fine for me, and much better than PTFE, which in my experience is a grit magnet. (I also don't like breathing is vapor.)

Where I live (hills, CA) only gets frost in the winter, so I haven't run into cold temperature problems.
You have found PTFE powder mixed with paraffin attracts dirt/grit? That's really interesting. I'm still waiting on the powder, but did use straight up paraffin...and you are right, it was like butter.
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Old 01-22-20, 02:42 PM
  #55  
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Spent another half of hour last night flexing the chain links. Made them pretty lose but wasn't able to eliminate the chain skipping completely. Rode the bike to work today and the skipping was improving (less skipping) as I rode.
Looks like I will have to add paraffin oil to the wax bath.

I've seen that DrIsotope recommends adding a puck of Mr. Zog's wax to the mix to soften the wax. Does anyone have much experience with Mr. Zog's?
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Old 01-22-20, 04:38 PM
  #56  
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Originally Posted by Buglady View Post
Bike mechanic (7 years full time in a pro shop) and 12 year Calgary winter commuter - KMC rust resistant chains and Prolink chain lubricant are my top recommendations for the conditions here. And some Tri-flow for derailleur and brake pivots.

But also: TAKING THE BUS when it's minus freaking thirty. NOTHING works the same way at -30 as it does at +10, and the weather here swings from one to the other too quickly to make it realistic to try and repack bearings etc.

Frozen freewheels are usually from water getting inside; frozen freehub bodies are sometimes water, sometimes the grease thickening in the cold.

Chain skipping in the cold that resolves once warmed up: I look at the freewheel/freehub; derailleur pivots; *shifter cable and housing* (bit of ice inside your housing will mess the shifting up and cause skipping); buildup of ice/snow/slush on derailleur or cassette.

Skipping that doesn't change once warmed up: chain wear; stiff link(s); rust in freehub/freewheel; seized derailleur(s); seized cable(s); bent derailleur hanger; cracked frame (I have seen so many rust through at the drive side chainstay)...

(Off topic - I am almost certain I built t1k's e-bike!)
Originally Posted by t1k View Post
Spent another half of hour last night flexing the chain links. Made them pretty lose but wasn't able to eliminate the chain skipping completely. Rode the bike to work today and the skipping was improving (less skipping) as I rode.
Looks like I will have to add paraffin oil to the wax bath.

I've seen that DrIsotope recommends adding a puck of Mr. Zog's wax to the mix to soften the wax. Does anyone have much experience with Mr. Zog's?
Personally I think avoiding wax and following the mechanic advice on prolink is the most sensible approach....ymmv

As for Mr. Zog's, the Mr. Zogs I am familar with is surfboard wax, meaning you rub it on the board to build up stick bumps so you don't slip. adding this to a chain is just going to attract dirt and increase friction, and make it more likely to freeze up in cold weather
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Old 01-23-20, 09:59 AM
  #57  
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Originally Posted by squirtdad View Post
Personally I think avoiding wax and following the mechanic advice on prolink is the most sensible approach....ymmv

As for Mr. Zog's, the Mr. Zogs I am familar with is surfboard wax, meaning you rub it on the board to build up stick bumps so you don't slip. adding this to a chain is just going to attract dirt and increase friction, and make it more likely to freeze up in cold weather
Thank you for sharing your experience with Mr. Zog's. Sounds like adding it to paraffin wax is not a good idea. I was reading similar reviews of people saying that after applying Mr. Zog's surfaces became less slippery. Which got me questioning whether it worth trying Mr. Zog's in the chain wax.

As for following the mechanic advice: I used prolink before starting toying with paraffin. I know that it works in winter but I had to apply it almost every day (in a cold garage) and wipe the chain (which generates ton of greasy towels I had to throw away). I'm trying to find a better way to lubricate the chain, preferably the way that I can perform inside of the house (warm and with my family) and not generate garbage. If the new way takes more time, so be it.

Last edited by t1k; 01-24-20 at 02:23 PM.
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Old 01-23-20, 10:22 AM
  #58  
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Originally Posted by alias5000 View Post
Too late to the party as it seems...
I'm currently using the low-temperature version of squirt lube. Seems to work well in SW Ontario (it does not survive full-on water spray events, but those aren't that common to really bother).
Squirt lube looks interesting. It might be a good option if the how waxing won't work for me.

Where do you by the low temperature version? My LBS only cares the regular Squirt Dry lube.

Do you experience the black residue build up on the cogs and the cassette?
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Old 01-23-20, 05:35 PM
  #59  
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Originally Posted by t1k View Post
Squirt lube looks interesting. It might be a good option if the how waxing won't work for me.

Where do you by the low temperature version? My LBS only cares the regular Squirt Dry lube.

Do you experience the black residue build up on the cogs and the cassette?
If I happen to be ordering a lot of things (or split an order with friends) to make shipping viable: https://www.bike-components.de
Otherwise: Squirt Cycling Products - Long Lasting Dry Chain Lube Mountain Road bike or

I do experience a negligible buildup of black stuff on the chainrings. It is a bit dirty to the touch, but much much better than Prolink for me. The key is to find the right amount of lube to apply (generally, the rule is generously, but once it has a good layer built up, I find that you can tone it down - which heavily reduces any buildup of gunk).
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Old 01-24-20, 08:34 AM
  #60  
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Originally Posted by t1k View Post
Spent another half of hour last night flexing the chain links. Made them pretty lose but wasn't able to eliminate the chain skipping completely. Rode the bike to work today and the skipping was improving (less skipping) as I rode.
Looks like I will have to add paraffin oil to the wax bath.

I've seen that DrIsotope recommends adding a puck of Mr. Zog's wax to the mix to soften the wax. Does anyone have much experience with Mr. Zog's?
Wax alone should not make your links bind. Did you add something that would change the composition of the wax? If not are you sure your skipping issues aren't related to another problem?.
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Old 01-24-20, 02:21 PM
  #61  
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Originally Posted by jadocs View Post
Wax alone should not make your links bind. Did you add something that would change the composition of the wax? If not are you sure your skipping issues aren't related to another problem?.
I did not add anything to the wax, just used pure paraffin. I'm quite certain that the skipping is caused by the chain stiffness after waxing. I used the same chain before waxing, lubed with prolink and experienced no skipping.
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Old 01-27-20, 02:47 PM
  #62  
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Another update on my chain waxing experiment.
The weather improved dramatically going from -30C (-22F) daily high to +7C (44F).
My chain stopped skipping even after dipping in pure paraffin wax (although chain has to be flexed very well before putting the chain on).

Since, my experience showed that the pure paraffin make the chain to stiff to work smoothly when the temperature drops below -10C (14F), I've decided to experiment with thinning paraffin with paraffin oil.
I found paraffin based lamp oil in a store. It had some additives in addition to the paraffin oil (mineral oil and pomegranate scent). I wasn't sure how much oil to add to the wax, and decided to add 1 part of oil to 2 parts of wax.
I've used a pound of the wax and added 200 grams of the paraffin oil. I've read that some people mix the paraffin and the oil one to one, but they must be measuring the proportions based on the volume rather than weight.

Volume wise 200 grams of paraffin oil was the same as one pound of the paraffin wax. It felt like way too much of the oil in the wax solution. The wax was too runny but, on a bright side, had a nice pomegranate smell to it.
I didn't think that that wax mix will work but decided to test it anyways. After waxing the chain turned out just barely stiff. It flexed easily but while flexing I could feel metal rubbing on metal. The wax on the chain had a consistency of a soft cream and was quite oily.

I didn't event put the chain on the bike and tested it. Thinking that I just wasted a pound of paraffin and a couple of hours of time, I've decided to add some bee wax that I had running around. The bee wax sticks to surfaces better than paraffin but it's less slippery.
So I've added 150 grams of bee wax, waxed the chain, didn't even flex it. Put the chain on the bike and went for a test ride. The chain worked very well: the quietest it's ever been, smooth shifting and no skipping. There's still oily feeling to the chain and when a try to bend the chain (mimicking the situation when the chain is running on an angle) when flexing, I can feel slight metal rubbing.

I'm thinking to split the wax mix I've got to two pieces. Save one as a extremely cold weather wax. Add maybe 100 grams of paraffin to the other half and see if the oily feel and rubbing improve.

Last edited by t1k; 01-27-20 at 04:41 PM.
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Old 01-27-20, 04:12 PM
  #63  
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Paraffin oil is mineral oil. It's just a simple alkane. Mineral oil from the drugstore is the cleanest purest variety. Petroleum jelly - Vaseline - is the same thing. Simple alkanes. Paraffin wax is a long chain simple alkane. Short chain is liquid, long chain is solid.

Wax doesn't work in cold and doesn't work well under heavy load. When someone tells you wax lasts a l-o-o-o-o-ng time mostly it's because they don't ride that hard. The shop selling the prepped and waxed 'racing chain' will tell you one hard ride.

NFS chainlube. 12 drops does a complete chain. Really. The disbelief is the reason they can't sell much. I add one or two drops every hundred miles. If using the bike in brine yes more maintenance is required on every part of the bike. But not so much for the chain. Currently I no longer ride at -20 Fahrenheit but I have. I can tell you NFS works quite well at -5. If heavily brined maybe add two drops per hour the bike was outside. Add the oil just before you head out so that it spreads around. If you just have to add oil before parking it run the cranks backwards a dozen times . That's all that is required. Could not be simpler.

When it's super cold it's more like short dashes on the bike than long rides anyway. In years past used to bring the bike in with 20 and 30 pounds of ice all over everything. Never much worried about the chain. Getting clothes clean and coping with the flood on the floor was the hard part.
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Old 01-28-20, 02:20 PM
  #64  
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Originally Posted by 63rickert View Post
...NFS chainlube. 12 drops does a complete chain. Really. The disbelief is the reason they can't sell much. I add one or two drops every hundred miles...
I'll be darned. I just Googled NFS chain lube. All this time I thought it was an inside joke on bike forums. It's a real thing.

Kinda tempted to try some now, at least on the bike that gets ridden in the wet occasionally.
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Old 01-28-20, 02:53 PM
  #65  
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Originally Posted by canklecat View Post
I'll be darned. I just Googled NFS chain lube. All this time I thought it was an inside joke on bike forums. It's a real thing.

Kinda tempted to try some now, at least on the bike that gets ridden in the wet occasionally.
I've plugged it here half a dozen times with no response at all. Riders are loyal to their chain lube. Will take your response as license to give it another plug. It's a bit pricey and shipping is too darn high but you don't use much. I do maybe 6000 miles a year and my wife about half that and we have a fleet of bikes. Took us four years to use up the first 2 ounce bottle. Would of lasted longer than that but ends up being used for lots of stuff besides chains. Chains are oily but much cleaner than chains with normal oil. Just not as wet as when it is necessary to oil every link.

I was sold when I saw Lon Haldeman's endorsement. Lon still earns income as a product tester which means he basically keeps his mouth shut regarding kit. NFS was so good he made a huge exception. And he gets no payment for endorsing, they have no budget for that. Also sold by Richard Sachs and Josh Poertner/Silca. Also endorsed by Tom Kellogg. Those guys are seldom wrong about anything.

I don't much ride in rain any longer. Have been caught in rain for three hours and 50 miles with NFS on chain. No squeak, no rust. Gave the chain a couple drops extra, no big deal. For ordinary town riding in salt slush, leaving the bike locked up outside for hours in rain or snow with only saddle leather protected, NFS laughs it off.
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Old 01-29-20, 03:10 PM
  #66  
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i use wax for most the season and the silca NFS version in the winter. I'd say 12 drops/application is optimistic. I tried and it seems somewhat noisy and not that long lasting. Went to 1/2 drop/link and it is much quiter and longer lasting in the rain/muck. Pedal it through for a few mins, wipe off the excess. You might be able to reapply with less drops directly but I always pull and wash the chain in OMS like I do for waxing. It seems like there is less friction than the Chain-L I was using before and about half the life, 500miles vs 1000 miles
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Old 01-30-20, 09:11 AM
  #67  
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Originally Posted by 63rickert View Post
Wax doesn't work in cold and doesn't work well under heavy load. When someone tells you wax lasts a l-o-o-o-o-ng time mostly it's because they don't ride that hard. The shop selling the prepped and waxed 'racing chain' will tell you one hard ride.
I agree that pure paraffin doesn't work in extreme cold. But what if it's mixed with some thinner oils? The mix, that I made a few days ago, worked in temperatures down to -15C (0 F) quite well.
Why do you think that wax doesn't work well under heavy load (I assume that you mean high torque here)? I'm just curious. I was never good at chemistry, but intuitively it feels that thicker wax will work better under high torque than thin lubes.

Originally Posted by 63rickert View Post
NFS chainlube. 12 drops does a complete chain. Really. The disbelief is the reason they can't sell much. I add one or two drops every hundred miles.
I've done a bit of research on the NSF lube. The application instructions make the impression that there's some magic involved. How does dropping 12 drops in random places on the chain make all the rollers lubricated?
1. With your chain in the big ring and the smallest cog apply 8 to 10 drops of NFS at random and run the chain backwards to distribute the lube. A very good method is the 12:12:12 method. follow the instructions for chain position than add 12 random drops, rotate the chain 12 times than wipe it with a clean cotton cloth for 12 seconds.
I'm skeptical that this method will yield in a well lubricated chain. But I seen that all the people who tries this lube love it. So I might try it.

Where do you buy this lube? Looks like it's not that easy to find.
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Old 01-30-20, 09:44 AM
  #68  
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Originally Posted by t1k View Post
I agree that pure paraffin doesn't work in extreme cold. But what if it's mixed with some thinner oils? The mix, that I made a few days ago, worked in temperatures down to -15C (0 F) quite well.
Why do you think that wax doesn't work well under heavy load (I assume that you mean high torque here)? I'm just curious. I was never good at chemistry, but intuitively it feels that thicker wax will work better under high torque than thin lubes.


I've done a bit of research on the NSF lube. The application instructions make the impression that there's some magic involved. How does dropping 12 drops in random places on the chain make all the rollers lubricated?

I'm skeptical that this method will yield in a well lubricated chain. But I seen that all the people who tries this lube love it. So I might try it.

Where do you buy this lube? Looks like it's not that easy to find.
I tried wax once in the 1970s and once in the 1990s .The cleaning process is extreme. I was motivated and did the job very thoughly. Without an immaculately clean chain just no chance the wax will go where it can work. The cleaning uses enough solvent with enough opportunity for error it is just not something that should be done by large numbers of people. Let me point out here that paraffin, paraffin oil, all the solvents, are all petroleum products. Waxes are a simple chemical and occur naturally in all sorts of biological forms. What you buy at the store came from an oil well. Few will or even could use beeswax. Otherwise waxing chains is needlessly bad for environment.

No, wax does not last long. If you buy the race chain it is good for one 40k TT. A few track events. Lower power riders can get more miles. I didn't. The squeak alone is enough to deter any further experiments.

NFS is online only. From the maker or from Silca or from Richard Sachs. Put 12 drops on chain. Ride one mile and it is distributed over whole chain. At that point your chain is running smoother and quieter than you have ever experienced. A one mile trial and you will not go back.

Downside? You are going to bore your friends talking about chain lube and none of them will believe you. If your chain was previously waxed oil is not going to work. When first applied the NFS will attach to metal and drive off the old oil. You will need to keep wiping off the old oil after your ride a good while before it is all gone.
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Old 01-30-20, 10:55 AM
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Originally Posted by t1k View Post
I agree that pure paraffin doesn't work in extreme cold. But what if it's mixed with some thinner oils? The mix, that I made a few days ago, worked in temperatures down to -15C (0 F) quite well.
Why do you think that wax doesn't work well under heavy load (I assume that you mean high torque here)? I'm just curious. I was never good at chemistry, but intuitively it feels that thicker wax will work better under high torque than thin lubes.


I've done a bit of research on the NSF lube. The application instructions make the impression that there's some magic involved. How does dropping 12 drops in random places on the chain make all the rollers lubricated?

I'm skeptical that this method will yield in a well lubricated chain. But I seen that all the people who tries this lube love it. So I might try it.

Where do you buy this lube? Looks like it's not that easy to find.
FYI if starting from a clean chain 1 drop per link after testing my zero friction found 12 drops inadequate
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Old 01-30-20, 11:16 AM
  #70  
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Interesting, "Friction Facts" tests indicate that Molten Speed Wax outperformed Silica NFS in both durability and friction. Silica NFS was their pick for drip lubes for ease of use.

Paraffin + PTFE was tested against Molten Speed Wax by Oz Cycling and his findings show Paraffin + PTFE to be superior.

Last edited by jadocs; 01-30-20 at 11:33 AM.
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Old 01-30-20, 01:38 PM
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Originally Posted by jadocs View Post
Interesting, "Friction Facts" tests indicate that Molten Speed Wax outperformed Silica NFS in both durability and friction. Silica NFS was their pick for drip lubes for ease of use.

Paraffin + PTFE was tested against Molten Speed Wax by Oz Cycling and his findings show Paraffin + PTFE to be superior.
We get way more than 10,000 miles to a bottle in this house. Three or four times that. Applying 12 drops every 300 miles would result in a sloppy wet chain. Applying a drop to every link would just cause a dirty oily bike. Whenever a bike or chain is done first time with NFS there is just no need to strip the chain bare. Maybe the old lube or packaging lube is working in our favor.

Reading through that document my impression is they have realized no one believes them and if all the world insists on overusing lube they will sell it to you. This household now has five years experience with the product, the formula here is one or two drops each hundred miles. Look at the chain. If it looks dry, was out in rain, use two drops, maybe even three if lots of rain or if used in salt slush. If chain still looks wet, runs smooth, only one drop.
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Old 01-30-20, 01:42 PM
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OOps. Was attempting to quote redlude97, not jadocs.
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Old 01-30-20, 04:00 PM
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Originally Posted by 63rickert View Post
We get way more than 10,000 miles to a bottle in this house. Three or four times that. Applying 12 drops every 300 miles would result in a sloppy wet chain. Applying a drop to every link would just cause a dirty oily bike. Whenever a bike or chain is done first time with NFS there is just no need to strip the chain bare. Maybe the old lube or packaging lube is working in our favor.

Reading through that document my impression is they have realized no one believes them and if all the world insists on overusing lube they will sell it to you. This household now has five years experience with the product, the formula here is one or two drops each hundred miles. Look at the chain. If it looks dry, was out in rain, use two drops, maybe even three if lots of rain or if used in salt slush. If chain still looks wet, runs smooth, only one drop.
If you are looking for maximizing watts saved then you should clean the chain thoroughly to remove any other lubricant just like you would with a waxed chain. NFS doesn't have any solvents to flush out old lubricant. Like I said above I apply 1/2 drop per link when clean and it works fine, it doesn't drip and you wipe off the excess. I don't usually reapply to a dirty chain and prefer to wash in batches in OMS and even with adding to each link I get quite a bit of mileage out of it.
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Old 01-31-20, 10:58 AM
  #74  
63rickert
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I can't use the newer instructions. Have never owned a bike with an 11 or 12 tooth cog. One of the reasons for buying the NFS in the first place was their old and original marketing. They would answer queries with answers approximating "How much do you need to know to put oil on a chain? If you are that obsessive this lube is not for you." That marketing worked for me.

Myself have completely cleaned a chain in mineral spirits exactly twice in my life. Experiments with paraffin. Can't imagine another reason to do such a thing. Would never recommend to anyone they should be sloshing around in flammables. All on this forum are conspicuously above average and would never start a fire. Couldn't possibly happen. Reciting 'flashpoint' under your breath is an incantation that keeps flames at bay.
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Old 02-02-20, 02:55 AM
  #75  
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Originally Posted by canklecat View Post
Before doing that, try some Rock 'n' Roll Absolute Dry on the waxed chain.

I tried a freshly waxed chain this weekend but it too felt stiff and sluggish in the cold. I had just received some Rock 'n' Roll Absolute Dry. It seems to be PTFE in naptha, maybe with some paraffin, although it doesn't feel like other lubes with paraffin in solvent.

I drizzled on the Absolute Dry per instructions. The chain loosened up, was very slick and smooth running. No problems on a 36 mile ride Sunday. It also dislodged some road grime that I'd overlooked because I was too lazy to dip the chain in solvent before rewaxing.
Updating my suggestion from Jan 21, I've been using Rock 'n' Roll Absolute Dry for a couple of weeks on a chain that was freshly waxed mid-January. So far I'm satisfied with the results.

As I noted earlier, I'm betting Absolute Dry is PTFE in naptha. Applied as directed it seems to be compatible with the waxed chain. The drivetrain is noticeably slicker. And while it's not quite as clean as "dry" wax, it's much easier to clean than other wet lubes I've tried, including Boeshield T9 (reportedly mostly paraffin in some unspecified solvent) and much cleaner than White Lightning Easy Lube, which left such sticky snot wads of wax on the cassette and pulleys I had to disassemble the pulleys and floss the cassettes/freewheels.

Absolute Dry wipes off pretty cleanly and leaves a slick feeling residue that's not quite like paraffin, and nothing like most oily residues. When I handle the chain, freewheel, pulleys and chainrings with bare hands, there's some black grime but it doesn't feel gritty -- I'm not feeling an accumulation of road debris like I do with other wet lubes.

The only downside is it needs to be reapplied pretty much every ride if I want a quiet drivetrain. It'll go longer, but will sound noisier, although it doesn't feel draggy.

Time will tell whether it also translates to longer chain life. As some studies by Friction Facts and others have noted, slicker lubes with less friction don't necessarily translate to less chain wear.
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