Dry Lube in Winter? Is This Heresy?

I am planning to do a couple of blog posts on my favourite topic, lube. More specifically, chain lube. Let me first point out, I am not going to discuss wet lubes and, while I am happy for customers to request wet lube as part of their winter/premium service, I will generally try and persuade them otherwise, even in the vilest weathers. Why? Put simply, wet lube is sticky, it’s designed to be, it allows contaminants to stick to it and form that nasty black grinding paste which speeds component wear. Many will argue I’m sure, but that is my opinion and backed by many others too.

I’ll also point out that, I would still, at the moment, push for the hardwax/dry lube route, on road bikes, through both winter and summer. I will do this until I have fully, real-world tested other lubes.

However, last week I had a visit from the Interflon Rep to demonstrate their Fin Super Dry Lube and, from the workshop demonstration, I was suitably impressed. I wanted to test it in the real-world, especially in the sticky, gritty mud of my local White Peak MTB routes. At the same time, I am also testing Muc Off’s HCB-1, marketed as the antithesis of water, mud and any other wet grime that could stick to metal parts. Knowing MO’s penchant for extreme marketing, I am always a little sceptical with their claims, mud still doesn’t drip off my bike even after twenty years of using their bike wash.

So, here’s what I did. I coated the cassette and chainring with HCB-1 and used the Fin Super sparingly on my chain, then I went on a very muddy ride (after leaving the recommended setting time for the HCB-1). I rode from my workshop down into Lathkilldale, across the six-inch mud of muddy sheep field and down to the A6. I then shot across the bridal way to the Monsall trail, up the road and down the packed grit of the bridal way into Edensor. Then, following the grass trail through the deer fields I came out at Calton Leys. This led onto the long sandy grind of the green lane to the top of Beeley Hill and then back down to swing left onto the farm track, over the wooden bridge and down the rocky, mulchy mud descent. Then back to the workshop. At no point during the ride did I suffer a mis-shift and, no matter how many gritty puddles I charged through, I never suffered that awful gritty/grindy chain feeling, the drivetrain was silent throughout the ride.

Instead of cleaning there and then I decided to leave the bike overnight, to monitor the onset of the dreaded orange stuff, if there was any.

Thursday morning, a quick check of my drivetrain shows a distinct lack of oxidisation on any of the drivetrain components, even after a night in the warm workshop – so far so good. Upon closer inspection I notice there is a distinct difference between the chain, cassette and the chain ring. The latter two, both treated in HCB-1 have held on to the mud fairly consistently. The jockey wheels (also coated with HCB-1) are almost locked up with mud – slightly disappointing but then I did ride through a lot of mud. The chain, on the other hand, was relatively clean.

Next, I sprayed the drivetrain with water, testing the claims of both companies. Once again, I was disappointed with one and the other fared much better.

I will emphasise at this point, the Interflon Rep claimed that Super Fin, even though it is a dry lube, is suitable for all weathers. Muc Off market HCB-1 as a specific wet weather protector. However, to remove the mud off the Cassette, jockey wheels and chainring took some elbow grease, with me eventually succumbing to the lure of degreaser. While I am slightly disappointed with having to resort to the scrubbing brush and soap, I must point out again that there was no rust on any of the parts, so, going by the letter of MO’s marketing, the HCB-1 had done its job.

Finally, I ran the chain through the Park Tool chain cleaner filled with water and then, I removed the chain and popped it into the ultrasonic cleaner. Whenever I put a chain in the cleaner, there is almost always a residue as old grease/muck/swarf is vibrated out of the inside. On this occasion, I perceived no residue being removed which, I had to conclude, meant that the Fin Super had adhered to the internal rollers and stayed there, even under ultrasonic cleaning.

To conclude, and it should be noted, I am not a scientist, but I feel in this little real-world test, the Fin Super has come out on top. While the Muc Off HCB-1 did offer some level of protection, it didn’t seem to reject the mud as the marketing would lead you to believe it should. I would, before recommending either, like to conduct some further tests. To that end, I have given one of the Fin Super bottles to one of the local high-mileage road riders to test and to a weekend MTBer from Sheffield to test in the Dark Peaks. I am also testing the Fin Super spray on Stanchions of my Forks, Seatpost and Shock – more on that in another post. My next test will be to coat the cassette and chainrings with the Fin Super spray and see how they fare in the local tenaciously sticky mud.

While it is a little early to wholeheartedly back the Fin Super, I am suitably impressed that, for the most part, the claims the Rep made have seemingly borne out. I would normally, in wet, muddy riding conditions, expect to hear and feel the gritty grinding sound from the drivetrain after the first few puddles, in this instance that didn’t happen and, while the chain wasn’t immaculate at the end of the ride, it was far cleaner than I expected it to be. It would be nice to see a Friction Facts report on the stuff – take note Interflon.

I will, unless otherwise requested, be using the Fin Super on MTB winter services and Premiums from now on as, on first impressions, it seems to protect the drivetrain better than most other lubes I have used. I will be conducting further unscientific, riding through puddle, testing on both my road bike and MTB to fully back those claims.

To find out more about the Premium service click here.

To find out more about Interflon’s Fin Super range click here

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