Until a few months ago, I have consistently only used either Tri Flow bike lube or Boeshield T9 bike lube on my chain, either in the spray can form or from the drip bottle. What I liked about those lubricants is that they are both easy to apply, and they are also very light lubes. So after you spray them or drip them on, you can run your chain through a rag by pedaling backwards, and your chain will be really clean, but still very quiet and well lubricated with Teflon.
I was pretty happy with that setup until I read a raving review of Chain L high mileage formula chain oil on the Road Bike Rider site, where the author claimed that he was getting a lot more life out of his chain as a result of using this lube, and that he only rarely had to re-apply it because it lasted so long on the chain. The review convinced me to try it, so I bought some.
I haven’t been using Chain L long enough to verify if it really increases chain life like the other review says, but I am hopeful that I will see similar results.
I have been able to verify one of the other selling points of Chain L though — the fact that it lasts a lot longer between applications, which means that you don’t have to oil your chain as often to keep it lubricated. Even if my chain doesn’t last any longer, I am happy with how I can spend less time lubing my chain and more time riding.
The biggest issue for me with this chain oil versus what I was using before is that it was a major switch for me from a really light Teflon based lube to a very heavy oil based lube. I was worried that such a thick oil would end up attracting a lot of dirt and make my chain disgusting and filthy. I really liked how my chain would stay relatively clean with Tri Flow or Boeshield T9 and didn’t want to lose that benefit.
The good news is that my chain still stays clean if I apply it correctly, the way the author of the other review of this product helpfully described.
Basically, when I apply Chain L, I will put a drop on each link of the chain, one link at a time. It takes a little bit longer, but it prevents you from wasting oil and making a thick, oily mess.
Next, I’ll let the bike sit there for 10 minutes or so, so that the really thick oil has time to actually penetrate all the links of the chain.
And then I’ll finish up by getting out a rag and holding it over the chain while turning my pedals backward, removing all of the thick excess oil.
After going through this process, you end up with a clean, well lubricated chain that stays pretty much as clean as my Tri Flow setup from before. I also noticed that my chain runs significantly quieter compared to lubing with Tri Flow or T9, which leads me to believe that it is better lubricated and possibly extending the life of the chain just as the product claims.
I also get much, much higher mileage between adding lubricant to my chain. When Tri Flow or T9 starts to wear off, you can hear your chain start to get louder. (Which really means that I am going much too long between applications.) With Chain L, I am not running into that issue.
One thing I wonder about is how a heavy lube affects the speed of the chain versus a light lube. Perhaps you’ve been reading that series of articles on Velonews about the guy who tests every type of lube to see which one is the fastest, claiming that you can get “free wattage” by using a really fast lube. I don’t ride time trials, so I don’t really consider it important. Chain life is more important to me than a tiny incremental speed improvement that probably doesn’t even pan out in real riding. But I do still wonder how it would rank!
You have to love the completely generic looking black and white label and plain bottle with Chain L. It makes you feel like you’ve discovered a secret stash of some special lubricant that they only use on military drones or something, and someone has given you a small bottle that they poured out of a 50 gallon drum. Well, it makes ME feel that way, anyway.
I am very happy with this chain oil, and I recommend trying it. It’s a cheap way to possibly make your expensive chain last longer, and it works well even if the extended chain life part doesn’t pan out.
Anyone else using Chain L? If not, what’s your favorite bike lube, and why? Leave a comment!