Saturday, March 9, 2013

Revenge Of The Wax

Okay, I've moped enough. Time to get back to the minutiae that's so adored by what our pals over the pond would call bike anoraks. Note to my wife (a.k.a. half my readership): yes, dear, this is one of those posts that will bore you.

Today, I'm taking great glee at the aftermath of a recent VeloNews test on the efficiency of chain lubes. Of course, being teases (and wanting you to buy the archaic dead-tree version of their rag), the VN folks didn't publish the results of this testing on the Internets. You can, however, glean a key takeaway from Lennard Zinn's follow-up FAQ, namely that cheap, humble, not-a-supporter-of-magazines-through-advertising-dollars paraffin wax proved to be the most efficient lube (quoth Zinn: "I never would have guessed that paraffin would outperform everything.")

Why does this give me such glee? Well, first of all, it's not often that I get to say The Cycle scooped VeloNews by several years. And -- being the grouchiest of retro-grouches -- it's also not often that I get to watch as something from olden times soundly thrashes the supposedly-latest-and-greatest. Just the title of Zinn's FAQ ("Wax chain lube, really? What now?") gives me shudders of schadenfreude. You can almost hear the disillusionment in each question mark.

Granted, the testing in question was looking at only one aspect of lubrication (efficiency) in a very controlled laboratory setting, so extrapolating this result to the real world is a risky business. And I'd be flat-out lying if I claimed that I knew (or cared) that wax was more efficient. I just use it because it's cheap, clean, and seemingly effective. But man, getting a little vindication after years of mainstream snickering? I'll take it. In fact, I think this calls for another chain wax haiku, so I can (again) claim to be waxing poetic:

VeloNews tested,
and humble paraffin won.
Take that, pricy lubes.

(Aside: Does Lennard Zinn really wipe down and lube his chain with ProLink after almost EVERY ride as he claims -- something he describes as being akin to taking a post-ride shower? That's a man who doesn't pay for his own chain lube and/or has way too much free time. I'm just sayin'.) 


Scott Loveless said...

I'll see your retrogrouch and raise one engineer.

"Paraffin (canning wax), although clean, works poorly because it is not mobile and cannot replenish the bearing surfaces once it has been displaced." --Jobst. From

Jason T. Nunemaker said...

Oh, Jobst, Jobst, Jobst... (yikes, did I just compel him to appear, like Beetlejuice?)

Suffice to say, I'm not a fan (I'd pay to watch a Jobst Brandt vs. Gary Fisher slap-fight). I'm sure he's probably right on some level, but I still have a chain a'cookin' in the Crock Pot as we speak.