Product Review: Chain-L High Milage Bicycle Chain Oil
I ride in a lot of dusty and dirty conditions that include miles of gravel roads and singletrack making frequent application of chain lubricant necessary. I was constantly having to lube my chain to keep it quiet and shifting smoothly. I decided to give Chain-L High Mileage Bicycle Chain Oil a try because I was looking for a product that could sustain miles of these conditions allowing more time for riding and less time on chain maintenance. After hearing about Chain-L's high mileage claims and reading a few positive reviews I decided to put it through some of my own tough testing.
I've tried both dry and wet lubricants in the past and their performance was mediocre. The Teflon-based dry lubricants kept my chain cleaner by not attracting dirt and grime but at a cost of much more frequent application. Wet lubricants last a little longer but resulted in a dirtier chain and cassette that needed to be cleaned more often. Could Chain-L be the one lubricant that would replace all of the others I've used in the past?
To properly test Chain-L I started with a brand new chain. Recording my starting mileage, I wanted to see how long I could ride in demanding conditions before my chain let me know it needed to be lubed again. I applied Chain-L to the chain off the bike as directed by the manufacturer. This method of application will keep the mess to a minimum and avoid excess lube on the chainring and cassette. I laid it out on a newspaper and applied a drop to each of the rollers. Chain-L has a viscosity similar to honey so I allowed some time for it to work its way in.
Afterward, I wiped the chain clean with a rag leaving behind a thin sticky film coating the side plates and installed it on my bike. Now it was time to ride.
The first thing I noticed while riding was how quiet my drivetrain had become. It was almost silent, all I heard was the crush of the gravel or the hum of the tires on the pavement. Gear shifting became buttery smooth and my drivetrain was performing at a peak level.
After a couple of gravel road rides, the chain was in need of a wipe down from the gravel dust and sand that had accumulated on the sticky surface of the side plates. This sticky film and dirt was easily removed with a dry rag. From this point on the chain remained fairly clean and only needed a wipe down every few rides. The time spent maintaining my drivetrain was significantly reduced and I could concentrate more on riding. This was what I had been looking for in a chain lube.
Over the next three weeks I put on over 230 miles, the majority of them being either gravel or dirt singletrack. My drivetrain was quiet, shifted smoothly and required little attention other than the occasional wipe down. It was nice being able to head out for a ride without having to lube up the chain first. Even though Chain-L is considered a "wet" lube, my chain, chainring and cassette stayed pretty clean even in these dusty conditions. As I headed into week three I began to notice that shifting wasn't as smooth as before and by the sound of the chain it was time for a reapplication. Chain-L performed better than the wet and dry lubes I had used in the past. Those other lubes would need to be reapplied multiple times to achieve a similar effect. Had I only ridden on paved trails and roads, I could see getting many more miles out of a single application than I did riding mostly dirt and gravel.
When it came time for another application of Chain-L I made sure to thoroughly clean the chain first to remove any dirt which can reduce a lubricant's performance. After letting it soak in and a quick wipe down I was ready for a few hundred more miles. With the chain stretch I incur from riding hilly gravel terrain, I end up replacing my chain every 500-700 miles thus only needing to apply Chain-L two or three times during its life.
Chain-L's performance was much better than I had expected. In my opinion it did the job excellently in some pretty tough conditions. It may have required a little more time for application but saved me a bunch by not having to lube every few rides. Road bikes will definitely get some big mileage out of this product and mountain bikers will enjoy the smooth shifting it brings during elevation changes and varied terrain.
Chain-L can be purchased directly from the manufacturer or select dealers. A four ounce bottle is enough for 15 to 25 applications and is a value at only $12.
Disclosure: Chain-L provided the review sample for this article, but offered no other form of compensation for this review.