Lubrication and chain life

Discussion in 'Cycling Equipment' started by Pete Biggs, Apr 6, 2003.

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  1. Pete Biggs

    Pete Biggs Guest

    An "fan" of a certain bicycle chain lubrication product* on another forum claims that oil applied at
    the beginning of a ride "soon wears off" so "you need a constant application of a little oil at
    regular intervals" during the ride, and a special new water-based lubricant is better than anything
    else for this. Is any of this reasonable? Does enough ordinary oil work its way out of the innards
    during a typical ride to leave insufficient lube?

    Has anyone read the paper by Dr Matthew Kidd of the Herriot Watt University Edinburgh
    entitled Bicycle Chain Efficiency (doesn't seem to be on the net) - which supposedly supports
    the above claims?

    * I would like the company and product to remain nameless for the time being because I don't want to
    publicise them any more if they're no good.

    ~PB
     
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  2. Kenny Lee

    Kenny Lee Guest

    Pete Biggs wrote:
    > An "fan" of a certain bicycle chain lubrication product* on another forum claims that oil applied
    > at the beginning of a ride "soon wears off" so "you need a constant application of a little oil at
    > regular intervals" during the ride, and a special new water-based lubricant is better than
    > anything else for this. Is any of this reasonable? Does enough ordinary oil work its way out of
    > the innards during a typical ride to leave insufficient lube?
    >
    > Has anyone read the paper by Dr Matthew Kidd of the Herriot Watt University Edinburgh
    > entitled Bicycle Chain Efficiency (doesn't seem to be on the net) - which supposedly supports
    > the above claims?
    >
    > * I would like the company and product to remain nameless for the time being because I don't want
    > to publicise them any more if they're no good.
    >
    > ~PB
    >
    >
    The report is here.

    http://www.hw.ac.uk/mecWWW/research/mdk/res.htm

    Kenny Lee
     
  3. Pete Biggs wrote:

    > An "fan" of a certain bicycle chain lubrication product* on another forum claims that oil applied
    > at the beginning of a ride "soon wears off" so "you need a constant application of a little oil at
    > regular intervals" during the ride, and a special new water-based lubricant is better than
    > anything else for this. Is any of this reasonable? Does enough ordinary oil work its way out of
    > the innards during a typical ride to leave insufficient lube?

    I use chainsaw bar oil, and my chain stays lubricated for over 600 km. He must go on awfully
    long rides.

    --
    Benjamin Lewis

    Although the moon is smaller than the earth, it is farther away.
     
  4. Tim McNamara

    Tim McNamara Guest

    Does the chain have to be re-lubed during a single ride? No. Good grief, all you'd do is flush the
    grit and schmutz into the chain and wear it out that much faster. Oil and grit make a nice grinding
    paste inside your chain.

    There are some questions about the cited article, such as:

    > The bush roller chain, as invented for Starley's safety bicycle by Hans Renold in 1880, has
    > undergone many modifications but little or no research has investigated actual efficiency as a
    > power train.

    There seems to have been a fair amount of research, such as reported in Whitt and Wilson's
    _Bicycling Science_; Alex Moulton did drivtrain efficiency studies as well (Doug Milliken can no
    doubt comment in detail on these). ISTR some discussion, here on rec.bikes.tech, of similar research
    published in Tour Magazine in Germany a few years ago.

    > The chain path is only ever straight and ideal in one gear combination. In other gear selections
    > the chain line can be as much as 2.5 away from ideal, creating increased friction and wasted
    > lateral forces.

    While this is no doubt technically true, the question in my mind is whether these are significant
    losses. For example, (presuming that the word "centimeter" is missing after "2.5"), the lateral
    displacement of the chain from "ideal" chain line is about 1/12th to
    1/15th of the typical run from the cog to the chainwheel. Is this a significant displacement in
    terms of efficiency loses?

    > The sprung arm consists of a pair of small jockey wheels around which the chain must follow. This
    > doubles the total chain articulation from 360 to 720. Additionally, tension is applied to the
    > return chain which forms another loss of power.

    ISTR a recently published study indicating that chains were more efficient at higher tensions. Was
    that at MIT, perhaps? The discussion made it into the cycling press at the time.

    > A chain lubrication company is now about to produce an onboard chain oiling device. Their novel
    > approach is to use a water-soluble oil for primary lubrication. When the chain becomes dirty and
    > the oil contaminated it may be flushed out by the application of water (carried on bicycle). Test
    > riders reported an associated boost in performance with the consequential re-application of fresh
    > oil. Performance is not the only benefit of this system though, as the cleanliness of the chain
    > leads to improved transmission lifespan, a cleaner bicycle and a cleaner rider.

    Huh. Who funded this study?
     
  5. Bosaci

    Bosaci Guest

    "Pete Biggs" <pLime{remove_fruit}@biggs.tc> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...
    > An "fan" of a certain bicycle chain lubrication product* on another forum claims that oil applied
    > at the beginning of a ride "soon wears off" so "you need a constant application of a little oil at
    > regular intervals" during the ride, and a special new water-based lubricant is better than
    > anything else for this. Is any of this reasonable? Does enough ordinary oil work its way out of
    > the innards during a typical ride to leave insufficient lube?
    >
    > Has anyone read the paper by Dr Matthew Kidd of the Herriot Watt University Edinburgh
    > entitled Bicycle Chain Efficiency (doesn't seem to be on the net) - which supposedly supports
    > the above claims?

    Yes I have, he is full of shit!

    WD-40 works fine for all chains.
     
  6. Jobst Brandt

    Jobst Brandt Guest

    Kenny Lee writes:

    >> An "fan" of a certain bicycle chain lubrication product* on another forum claims that oil applied
    >> at the beginning of a ride "soon wears off" so "you need a constant application of a little oil
    >> at regular intervals" during the ride, and a special new water-based lubricant is better than
    >> anything else for this. Is any of this reasonable? Does enough ordinary oil work its way out of
    >> the innards during a typical ride to leave insufficient lube?

    >> Has anyone read the paper by Dr Matthew Kidd of the Herriot Watt University Edinburgh entitled
    >> Bicycle Chain Efficiency (doesn't seem to be on the net) - which supposedly supports the above
    >> claims?

    > The report is here.

    http://www.hw.ac.uk/mecWWW/research/mdk/res.htm

    You might want to add to that report the article that explains how conventional chain care
    accelerates chain wear that damages sprockets. I find that far more important than to analyze where
    losses (losses, most of over which we have no control) occur.

    http://draco.acs.uci.edu/rbfaq/FAQ/8d.2.html

    Jobst Brandt [email protected] Palo Alto CA
     
  7. Jay Hill

    Jay Hill Guest

    Kenny Lee wrote:
    > Pete Biggs wrote:
    >
    >> An "fan" of a certain bicycle chain lubrication product* on another forum claims that oil applied
    >> at the beginning of a ride "soon wears off" so "you need a constant application of a little oil
    >> at regular intervals" during the ride, and a special new water-based lubricant is better than
    >> anything else for this. Is any of this reasonable? Does enough ordinary oil work its way out of
    >> the innards during a typical ride to leave insufficient lube?
    >>
    > The report is here.
    >
    > http://www.hw.ac.uk/mecWWW/research/mdk/res.htm

    I assumed this was an April Fool's joke, but I don't see a date. I like: "Test riders reported an
    associated boost in performance with the consequential re-application of fresh oil." It must have
    been an awfully filthy chain to be able to sense a "boost in performance."
     
  8. In article <[email protected]>, pLime{remove_fruit}@biggs.tc says...

    >An "fan" of a certain bicycle chain lubrication product* on another forum claims that oil applied
    >at the beginning of a ride "soon wears off" so "you need a constant application of a little oil at
    >regular intervals" during the ride, and a special new water-based lubricant is better than anything
    >else for this. Is any of this reasonable? Does enough ordinary oil work its way out of the innards
    >during a typical ride to leave insufficient lube?

    BS. Plain old oil works well. The water based lubricant is going to wash out during your
    first wet ride.
    -----------------
    Alex __O _-\<,_ (_)/ (_)
     
  9. Jay Hill wrote:

    > I assumed this was an April Fool's joke, but I don't see a date. I like: "Test riders reported an
    > associated boost in performance with the consequential re-application of fresh oil." It must have
    > been an awfully filthy chain to be able to sense a "boost in performance."

    You mean it must have been an awfully filthy chain to *cause* a boost in performance. Unless it's a
    blind test, people can generally "sense" performance boosts that don't exist.

    --
    Benjamin Lewis

    Although the moon is smaller than the earth, it is farther away.
     
  10. Dave Kahn

    Dave Kahn Guest

    Kenny Lee <[email protected]> wrote in message news:<[email protected]>...
    > Pete Biggs wrote:

    > > Has anyone read the paper by Dr Matthew Kidd of the Herriot Watt University Edinburgh entitled
    > > Bicycle Chain Efficiency (doesn't seem to be on the net) - which supposedly supports the above
    > > claims?

    > The report is here.
    >
    > http://www.hw.ac.uk/mecWWW/research/mdk/res.htm

    Looking at the report's conclusions it seems the aims of the research are to build an improved
    bicycle chain test rig and extend a theoretical model of the transmission. Both these aims seem
    admirable. However, when talking about the product the report says "Performance is not the only
    benefit of this system though, as the cleanliness of the chain leads to improved transmission
    lifespan, a cleaner bicycle and a cleaner rider". The missing words are "it is claimed that" or
    "there is some evidence that (see footnotes)".

    The report therefore endorses the product, but only by unsupported assertion. What on earth are
    comments like this doing in a supposedly academic paper?

    --
    Dave...
     
  11. Dave Kahn

    Dave Kahn Guest

    Alex Rodriguez <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:<[email protected]>...

    > BS. Plain old oil works well. The water based lubricant is going to wash out during your first
    > wet ride.

    Which is not necessarily a bad thing as rainwater seems to be a good lubricant, at least while the
    chain remains wet. The idea of the gadget (apparently) is that it washes the old lubricant out with
    water and replenishes it either periodically or continuously. If this works well enough to keep the
    chain lubricated and protected from rust the occasional drenching with rain might even help.

    --
    Dave...
     
  12. Jobst Brandt

    Jobst Brandt Guest

    Dave Kahn writes:

    >> BS. Plain old oil works well. The water based lubricant is going to wash out during your first
    >> wet ride.

    > Which is not necessarily a bad thing as rainwater seems to be a good lubricant, at least while
    > the chain remains wet. The idea of the gadget (apparently) is that it washes the old lubricant
    > out with water and replenishes it either periodically or continuously. If this works well enough
    > to keep the chain lubricated and protected from rust the occasional drenching with rain might
    > even help.

    Any continual lubricator is a chain destroyer because it furnishes a medium in which external grit
    is washed into the friction interface as, for instance, the Rohloff Lubmatic does.

    http://www.rohloff.de/produkte/index.htm

    Jobst Brandt [email protected] Palo Alto CA
     
  13. Sam Ford

    Sam Ford Guest

    [email protected] wrote:
    > Any continual lubricator is a chain destroyer because it furnishes a medium in which external grit
    > is washed into the friction interface as, for instance, the Rohloff Lubmatic does.

    > Jobst Brandt

    However my device delivers a small shot of water soluble lubricant while riding as one presses a
    small pump. This is delivered via the jockey wheel to the link centres only. Supposing that this
    does introduce grit into the bearing this will be, by the same carriage mechanism, washed out when
    the chain is washed down next time which is easily done with a hose while the chain is in situ. I
    find it hard to believe that more grit is introduced than would occur without lubrication actually.
    Given that a chain exposed to the elements must attract grit, it seems more logical to me to at
    least lubricate such grit. But my ignorance is great on these matters.
     
  14. Matt O'Toole

    Matt O'Toole Guest

    <[email protected]> wrote in message news:[email protected]...

    > Any continual lubricator is a chain destroyer because it
    furnishes a
    > medium in which external grit is washed into the friction
    interface as,
    > for instance, the Rohloff Lubmatic does.
    >
    > http://www.rohloff.de/produkte/index.htm

    This is true. However, the original use for these things was to preserve shifting performance
    throughout muddy mountain bike races, which they do with some success.

    Matt O.
     
  15. Jobst Brandt

    Jobst Brandt Guest

    Sam Ford writes:

    >> Any continual lubricator is a chain destroyer because it furnishes a medium in which external
    >> grit is washed into the friction interface as, for instance, the Rohloff Lubmatic does.

    > However my device delivers a small shot of water soluble lubricant while riding as one presses a
    > small pump. This is delivered via the jockey wheel to the link centres only. Supposing that this
    > does introduce grit into the bearing this will be, by the same carriage mechanism, washed out when
    > the chain is washed down next time which is easily done with a hose while the chain is in situ. I
    > find it hard to believe that more grit is introduced than would occur without lubrication
    > actually. Given that a chain exposed to the elements must attract grit, it seems more logical to
    > me to at least lubricate such grit. But my ignorance is great on these matters.

    Immobile grit on the outside of a chain may be an eyesore to some but it doesn't affect chain life
    or function. Grinding paste in many grit sizes is available in auto parts stores. These pastes are
    made of grit and oil. Of course you can make your own grinding paste by the method you describe. If
    you believe that your lubricator does not oil the entire chain, then I think you should look more
    carefully at who wet the chain is after a shot of lube.

    Jobst Brandt [email protected] Palo Alto CA
     
  16. Sam Ford

    Sam Ford Guest

    [email protected] wrote:

    > Immobile grit on the outside of a chain may be an eyesore to some but it doesn't affect chain life
    > or function. Grinding paste in many grit sizes is available in auto parts stores. These pastes are
    > made of grit and oil. Of course you can make your own grinding paste by the method you describe.
    > If you believe that your lubricator does not oil the entire chain, then I think you should look
    > more carefully at who wet the chain is after a shot of lube.

    Grit on the outside of a chain is surely more than just an eyesore. Although it does not wear the
    internal surfaces it surely must wear the sprockets and outer chain surfaces. The eventual cost of
    renewing the sprockets and chain needs putting off for as long as possible. It seems to me that
    lubrication is better suited to this aim than no lubrication. The other disadvantage of a dry chain
    is perhaps lowered efficiency. Lubrication disposes of this it seems to me.

    I am glad to have your informed opinion, Jobst. You obviously have expertise in the matter
    which I do not.
     
  17. "Sam Ford" <[email protected]> wrote in message news:[email protected]...
    > [email protected] wrote:
    >
    > > Immobile grit on the outside of a chain may be an eyesore to some but it doesn't affect chain
    > > life or function. Grinding paste in many grit sizes is available in auto parts stores. These
    > > pastes are made of grit and oil. Of course you can make your own grinding paste by the method
    > > you describe. If you believe that your lubricator does not oil the entire chain, then I think
    > > you should look more carefully at who wet the chain is after a shot of lube.
    >
    > Grit on the outside of a chain is surely more than just an eyesore.
    Although
    > it does not wear the internal surfaces it surely must wear the sprockets
    and
    > outer chain surfaces. The eventual cost of renewing the sprockets and
    chain
    > needs putting off for as long as possible. It seems to me that lubrication is better suited to
    > this aim than no lubrication. The other disadvantage
    of
    > a dry chain is perhaps lowered efficiency. Lubrication disposes of this it seems to me.
    >
    > I am glad to have your informed opinion, Jobst. You obviously have
    expertise
    > in the matter which I do not.
    >

    I don't mean to make Jobst's point for him (!), but the obvious answer is that sprocket wear on a
    road bike is primarily a function of a chain that's internally worn-out, thus not allowing its
    rollers to match up evenly with the sprocket teeth. A chain that spreads its load properly takes
    good care of the sprockets it rides on.

    Hope I spread my load properly... ;-)

    SB
     
  18. Jobst Brandt

    Jobst Brandt Guest

    Sam Ford writes:

    >> Immobile grit on the outside of a chain may be an eyesore to some but it doesn't affect chain
    >> life or function. Grinding paste in many grit sizes is available in auto parts stores. These
    >> pastes are made of grit and oil. Of course you can make your own grinding paste by the method you
    >> describe. If you believe that your lubricator does not oil the entire chain, then I think you
    >> should look more carefully at who wet the chain is after a shot of lube.

    > Grit on the outside of a chain is surely more than just an eyesore. Although it does not wear the
    > internal surfaces it surely must wear the sprockets and outer chain surfaces. The eventual cost of
    > renewing the sprockets and chain needs putting off for as long as possible.

    I think you can discredit that theory quickly by looking at the surface of the chain rollers. They
    are the only shiny thing on a dirty chain that has not been messed with recently. Oiling the chain
    can give a fine abrasive slurry that coats even these surfaces.

    And don't call me Shirley aka surely! (Richard Feynman)

    > It seems to me that lubrication is better suited to this aim than no lubrication. The other
    > disadvantage of a dry chain is perhaps lowered efficiency. Lubrication disposes of this it
    > seems to me.

    The more rapid wear caused by lubricating a dirty chain has been observed among riders who regularly
    oiled their chains and those who would rather listen to them squeak than fill them with grinding
    paste. Maintaining proper chain pitch is the best protection for sprockets and chain pitch is the
    first to go by lubrication without thorough cleaning.

    > I am glad to have your informed opinion, Jobst. You obviously have expertise in the matter which
    > I do not.

    I hope you can see the difference between expressing opinion and describing a mechanism for wear
    with examples and reasoning.

    Jobst Brandt [email protected] Palo Alto CA
     
  19. Dave Kahn

    Dave Kahn Guest

    [email protected] wrote in message news:<[email protected]>...

    > Any continual lubricator is a chain destroyer because it furnishes a medium in which external grit
    > is washed into the friction interface as, for instance, the Rohloff Lubmatic does.

    I'm sure this is the case. My point was to counter Alex's contention that rain would prevent the
    gadget from keeping the chain lubricated. It might even work better with the occasional soaking.
    Whether this is ultimately a good thing is another matter. In extreme conditions where chain life is
    not an issue it could conceivably be useful. To see an unsupported assertion that chain life is
    increased is rather disappointing in an academic paper.

    --
    Dave...
     
  20. John Everett

    John Everett Guest

    I've been following this thread for the last couple of days and wanted to add some general comments
    on the subject.

    As some of you may know from previous postings I'm somewhat anal about drivetrain cleanliness and
    lubrication. I recently did a "spring tuneup" for a friend. As part of the tuneup I cleaned her
    chain, first by soaking in mineral spirits for a couple of days, then thoroughly scrubbing it with a
    stiff toothbrush and Simple Green. I didn't lubricate it right away because I wasn't sure what chain
    lube she preferred. Instead, when she picked up the bike she brought along some Boshield.

    I had the chain hanging (unconnected) from the ceiling of my garage, and started dripping the
    Boshield onto the chain starting from the top. By the time I'd reached the lower links, black liquid
    was dripping from the bottom. The point is that even with soaking in solvent and then thoroughly
    cleaning in Simple Green, there was still enough grit in the internals of the chain that it was
    being washed out by the Boshield. It made me wonder how many soak-and-scrub cycles it would take
    before all traces of internal grit were gone.

    Yesterday I cleaned and lubed one of my own chains, which has only been hot waxed. After the Simple
    Green treatment I decide to give it another soaking, this time in hot water and dishwashing liquid.
    After an hour or so of soaking and another toothbrush scrubbing the wash medium only turned a little
    dirty. It might have been interesting to try the "Boshield drip test" to see what might wash out of
    the internals, but instead I hot waxed it.

    I'm guessing that my friend had at some point applied Boshield to her chain without cleaning it,
    resulting in the infusion of grit. I never lube a dirty chain, thus my chain shed very little grit
    during the second cleaning. Not a controlled experiment to be sure, but perhaps instructive.

    As I've posted before, I've ridden over 18,000 miles on a chain that's been kept clean and regularly
    lubricated, perhaps most importantly NEVER lubricated while dirty.

    While not strictly on topic, I believe cog life can also be extended through regular cleaning. While
    cleaning cogs I particularly focus on the grit that accumulates in the "U"s between teeth. It's a
    PITA to clean the grit out of each valley, but this is the same grinding paste Jobst refers to as
    contributing to reduced chain life.

    jeverett3<AT>earthlink<DOT>net http://home.earthlink.net/~jeverett3
     
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