home › Forums › General ARC news › Waxing the Chain
- This topic has 15 replies, 4 voices, and was last updated 7 months, 3 weeks ago by Ray.
2021-11-11 at 8:46 am #67172
HI, I cannot write a blog on this (as I cannot get the software to work) so here is my experience with Waxing the chain so far.
I will report from time to time on how I am going and other interesting (at least to me) information I have uncovered……
Paraffin wax with PTFE is the best chain lubricant I have ever used. It is not as time consuming as it seems but more so than squirting oil. It keeps the bike cleaner and makes it easier to clean, so you get time back on that task. Wax enables the chain, cassette and chain ring last from 3 to 5 times longer (research shows see references later). It is very cheap to do.
The key to wax success is cleanliness during application and following good process.
Gear changes will be very smooth indeed.
It will save you money, hundreds of dollars as you will not need to replace chains as often, cassettes as often or chain rings as often.
The downside, is people think you are weird; ok in my case that may be the reason.
Should you be waxing your chain? You make up your own mind.
In writing this, I wanted to be as nice to as many people as possible. But, it is just not in me.
Research on waxing can be found in the sites below and lots of other places.
You can see on youtube all the advice and method you need on the OZ Cycle Channel. That is what I did. You can also subscribe to Velo News they publish research and Bicycling Australia have also published information on why Wax is good.
Zero Friction Cycling (Australian site) has done massive amounts of testing and promotes the use of wax. ZFC is a world recognized authority.
I will relate my experience, following that above advice; specifically I am using the Oz Cycles approach(slightly modified, i don’t wipe chain, i drop it in cold water to set the wax, then remove the oversupply externally). I am moving all my bikes to wax as the benefits have been proven by others and I have observed the benefits first hand. It is especially nice on the indoor trainer (cleaner) and the trail riding bike that sees water and mud. I hate dirty bikes. However, I am still collecting information.
This will be about my road bike primarily.
To date I have put over 3,600km on one chain (see the photo later if I can remember how to put phots in) that I currently wax (my road FELT) with a CURRENT wear measure of about 0.25%. When the chain was new it measured 0.20-0.24% wear; there are no numbers on this part of CC-2 chain wear tool but it was below 0.25% way above 0.0% (all the Shimano chains I have recently purchased seem to start out like that).
OZ cycles report 13,000 km on a still running chain (Connex) with less than 0.5% wear. I have never previously achieved anywhere near that distance from a chain within wear limits when using oil lube and this is why I decided to try wax.
I normally manage around 3,000 km on an 11 speed chain and not quite dutifully change them at 0.5% wear. Different riders get different distances, I may be a bit heavy! Now I am in the positive territory of the chain wear. I will continue to use this one chain until it reaches 0.5% wear and will report the results. However, so many people use wax and the research shows the benefits so you should not need my confirmation.
I will write more in a later instalment about cleaning and cleanliness. Wax is a no brainer if you want to keep the bike, your hands, your legs, your car interior etc, CLEAN!
I have found out so much so I will report that too in good time. If you ask me a question, i will attempt to answer.
Ray of Sunshine…,
2021-11-19 at 11:01 pm #67341
- This topic was modified 9 months ago by Ray.
I am approaching 4,000 km on the chain and it is still at 0.25% wear; that is 1,000 km more than norma! If it keeps on at this rate I expect more than 8,000 km on the chain!
I am doing about 8-10,000 km per year on the FELT, so this to me is the difference between 1 chain and 3.
I pushed the latest re-wax to 400km, this was by accident not design, but the chain was still relatively silent and gear changes smooth; normally about 300 km is the re-wax limit suggested.
Along with the other 5 bikes I am waxing, this makes 20 uses of the wax. The wax still looks ok and is plentiful. It is still working fine and not contaminated with muck, so I am expecting this to last a bit longer. the longer it lasts the cheaper each wax event becomes. That is currently 65 cents per use. I am expecting 30 uses which will make each use about 45 cents.
till next report.
Ray of Sunshine…2021-11-21 at 7:47 pm #67362
Some Chain History
Hans Renold (no, I did not misspell it), invented the “Bush Roller chain” in about 1880! The same basic design is still used today.
1: Outer plate, 2: inner plate, 3: pin, 4: bushing and 5: roller.
Not counting better metallurgy and a few nicks on the chain plates here and there (to aid changing gear), the most important variation to the Renold design for cycling, is having split the bushing in two and melded each part to the respective inner plate; see the Wippermann version.
That is 140 odd years of trying to work out how to lubricate that pin, bushing and roller! The lube just keeps getting flung off as the chain gets used. The “split bushing” allows lubrication to enter (and leave) the vital pin/bushing/roller contact points.
Chains are a sacrificial component of the bicycle drive train. Chains are very efficient for transferring power, until they “stretch” too far or break.
Chains “stretch” is simply “wear” at the pin, bushing and roller interfaces due to lack of lubrication or introduction of contamination that causes wear. the chain does not actually stretch.
Fully Enclosed Chains and Other Chain saving ideas
There were once and may still be, many bicycles with “enclosed” chains. These ran with oil lubrication but the outside elements and grit did/do not get to the chain as badly as non-enclosed chains. These enclosing devices prevent contamination and avoided the worst of the rain and road grime so the chain lasted longer; provided you remembered to lube the chain, but out of sight out of mind happened often.
Note that having a chain guard is NOT an enclosed chain. All a chain guard does is stop grease and grunge from getting on your clothes or leg. Such chains are still exposed.
We do not use fully enclosed options on a derailleur based gear systems, as the chain keeps moving in and out, making the fully enclosed idea impractical. Besides they would look naff and we do not want weird stuff on our carbon fibre BMC Cadel Evans Tour de France replica, nor do we want the chain breaking (well you need not worry Dom as you actually have to ride it to wear it out).
I have seen fully enclosed chains on motorcycles and they make a big difference in increasing the life of the chain. On motorcycles, enclosed chains are not popular, as they look naff. They are mostly on Agricultural bikes with some exceptions.
The Yamaha TR1 from 1980. Fully enclosed chain touring bike.
Cosmetics matter.2021-11-21 at 8:08 pm #67365
The Chain Wax Mixture
Simple Paraffin wax (candle wax), plus fine powdered PTFE.
The PTFE has to be 1.6 microns or it is too big to get inside the chain.
500 Grams of Paraffin wax and 50 grams of PTFE.
Heat the wax (I use a slow cooker), so it is fully melted and clear, then whilst stirring gently, pour in the PTFE slowly. A slow cooker is a much better idea than the kitchen stove as Leigh can attest, or maybe it was Margaret.
I get the PTFE from Badger on line, Australian company, at about $10 for 50 grams.
The wax can be had on line or from craft stores fairly easily.
I get it from http://www.candlemaking.com.au at about $6 a kilo.
So the mixture cost is $13. That should last for up to 6,000 km, maybe more.2021-12-02 at 8:53 am #67509
Passed 4,000 km on the chain today on the same chain on the FELT! Chain is still measuring about 0.25% wear.
I will wax again today a little early (270km) as the chain is not noisey but making more noise than normal.
This may be a good sign for re-waxing versus simple 300km distance. I will make some enquiries on that.
24 Uses of the wax mixture and it still seems ok, not contaminated, and a lot left in the pot; as per before, I am waxing 5 other bikes as well from the same source and have 3 standby chains waxed. That makes it about 55 cents per use to date.
Ray of Sunshine…2021-12-10 at 9:17 pm #67610Justin MurphyKeymaster
Ray, I acknowledge your comments re Blogs not currently working. There is a project currently underway to update the website and to fix or improve some of the functionality, including the Blog features. I am hopeful for a 1Q completion of the website update project.
Keep waxing, it is an interesting topic (kinda).
justin2021-12-13 at 4:28 pm #67728
Blog capability being addressed, that is good to know. TKU.2021-12-13 at 4:43 pm #67729
Back to Waxing:
Today, I replaced the wax mixture as I contaminated it.. (darn).
However, it produced 25 uses over 6 chains which is about 7500km and about 65 cents per use or $16.00 for the mixture.
The FELT road bike chain, is about 4,500km and still measuring 0.25%. I am still using the same mulit-use quick link.
Andrew G also waxes apparently and he indicates all the benefits plus his chain is approaching 13,000 km. WOW!
I will review the old mixture to see if there is any way to recover some of it.. I am thinking there may be a way to recover most of the Wax but not the PTFE (wax is still clean looking and the contamination seems to have gone to the bottom mixing in with the PTFE, slice it off maybe).
Badger products can serve direct via their website https://www.badgerwax.com.au
they have wax, ptfe and chains, qucklinks and starter kits.2021-12-25 at 4:19 pm #67810
Longevity of the WAX mixture.
I replaced the mixture as stated earlier and now have new clean wax with new PTFE powder.
However, I took the old wax block and cut off the contaminated wax/ptfe part and the remaining wax is clean and clear as the contaminants fall to the bottom of the container as the wax cools. I will be able to use this clean wax again.
This means the cost of waxing is less than the original calculation as we “re-use” most of the wax, up to 80% is my estimate. Recovering about $4, making the per use cost about $0.50c.
Less for the rubbish tip too.
Ray of Sunshine…2022-02-04 at 8:13 am #68547
Chain is now 5,600km and measures 0.25.
At this rate, it may get close to Andrew G’s 13K!
Ray…2022-02-07 at 4:28 pm #68599Rob ParkerModerator
Interesting reading, perhaps you could write a tutorial on adding a quicklink to an existing chain…whats a reliable quicklink? Can a chain be broken anywhere or is there a special pin? Also before rewaxing, what do you do to clean the chain before immersion in the wax bath?…
Rob2022-02-09 at 1:57 pm #68616
Great questions Alyoisus,
It must be a ‘multi use’ quick link. Beware some are meant for one use only.
Most manufacturers put a limit on reuse of about 5 times. I am using the same Shimano Quick Link and have re-used it 19 times (26 time as of June 2022). The Quick link shows no signs of wear or “looseness”,it still clicks together nicely. I have spare quick links for when this stops happening or other signs appear. The 5 limit may be litigation issue I do not know.
I am advised that the Connex Quick Link is both the easiest to use will last the life of the chain, but they are expensive. The Connex link does not need a tool to put on or take off, the Shimano and all other non Connex links I have seen need a quick link removal/application tool. If you buy a new Connex chain, it comes with one of their quick links (note so do the Shimano chains of late).
Where to Break the Chain:
Obviously it still needs to be the right length for your gear set, that is up to you to measure. I have never seen a new chain in a box that was continuous. AS long as you have two male inner links on the chain ends and it is the right length, you are fine; the Quick link joins two inner links not outer links. If your chain on the bike is actually continuous and does not have a quick link, pick any where but make sure you take off the outer plates completely at that point, leaving two inners. See the diagrams in the entries above to work out what is an inner and outer link. Maybe just buy a new chain to start.
Cleaning Before Re-Wax:
When one is about to re-wax a previously waxed chain. 2 Step cleaning. Never use solvents or soaps.
Step 1: I take the chain off, put it in hot water and scrub with a clean hard bristle brush, I do not use solvents or any cleaners as that may harm the wax-metal interface. This takes off the ‘litter’ from the chains, small bits of stuff and is not in any of the waxing advice from OZ Cycles. I do this step as it seems to keep the wax mixture clean longer. If you have mud on the chain, this is imperative as one must get all the muck off.
Step 2: I take kettle of boiling water and rinse the chain with this entire kettle; put chain in a sieve. This takes off all the old wax from the outside of the plates and hopefully from the inner parts too; the heat. This done well will likely remove the litter but I still found tiny flakes of used black PTFE on the chain if I do not remove the litter first.
Use gloves to protect your hands from the boiling water. Dry the chain before immersion in hot wax.
hope this helps.
Ray of Sunshine…
2022-02-13 at 5:45 pm #68644Andrew GresswellParticipant
- This reply was modified 9 months ago by Ray.
Hi Ray. Great info here. I’ve been using OzCycles waxing for a while now. However the 13,000km figure seemed huge even to me when I read it so I went back and checked my records.
The (then stated approx 13000km) number was the kms since starting my records and I thought that was when I changed over my chain. Not so.
Changed chain some 4000 kms later so current chain is just over 9,000kms with very little wear measured.
Wear being so small each time for the kms done I get concerned and double check my methodology to ensure that I am doing it right.
(No excessive wear observed on cassette or chain rings so I am comfortable it’s all good.)
Onwards to 10,000kms+
Andrew G2022-06-03 at 1:50 pm #69943
Update by Ray of Sunshine:
as at June 3, 2022.
Bike shop has my bike for a pre big trip service. They commented that my chain was only .25% (I knew that) and in good condition, the cassette is good and the front chainrings (both) were good.
so 7,000km on the Chain, the Cassette is about 8,000 km now and the front chainrings are about 20,000+ old. Not looking at replacing anything any time soon.
I am begining to think that 300km between wax is mostly too short.
I obtained some liquid wax and ptfe to put on the chain on my trip, which I expect will be about 1000-1500 km. This should test the credentials of the liquid wax. the trip[ distance depends on my better half and when she wishes to join me (‘join me’ is code for stop me riding).
2022-06-24 at 8:42 pm #70072
- This reply was modified 9 months ago by Ray.
I had a small issue as my Garmin died.. so I have lost some ride data, no big deal.
but it made me review the entire wax status.
still 7K+ km. Still chain is ONLY 0.25 worn. Considering I used to get 3-4K per chain this is extraordinarily GOOD!
Why are you NOT waxing?
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