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What chain lube actually does(9 posts)

What chain lube actually doesscottfree
Feb 19, 2002 9:49 AM
John's Hopkins University study says it's basically to take up space so dirt doesn't get into the chain.

as long as you only ride in a clean labmr_spin
Feb 19, 2002 9:56 AM
I read it and it sounds like a worthless study to me. Or at least one done with blinders on. They used brand new chains in a clean lab. I know from personal experience that 1) a brand new chain runs better than an old one, and 2) a lubed chain runs easier than an unlubed chain, and therefore is more efficient.

If it were true that lube hardly matters, wouldn't it also apply elsewhere? Cars, for instance. It didn't seem like they took into account that metal on metal eventually wears, and the precision of a new chain eventually slackens and becomes a lot more imprecise.
at least they didn't use BioPace chain rings! -NMTig
Feb 19, 2002 10:07 AM
You need a set? I got some clean ones to sell!!nmLone Gunman
Feb 19, 2002 12:22 PM
as long as you only ride in a clean labxxl
Feb 19, 2002 12:37 PM
I'm not sure you want to be so rough on our friends at Johns-Hopkins. I think their real focus in the study was on mechanical efficiency, and just how gosh-darned efficient bikes are ( I knew they were good, much better than cars, but 98%!!! As long as the slant of the research tilts in our favor...) I think their comment about lube was just that there were other factors that seemed more important out of the box, like mechanical design, than lube; when you think about it, does that really surprise?

I do agree with your point about the need for a little "real-world" rigor. Clean chains in a lab sounds great if you're a track racer, but what happens to (e.g.) lubricant's place in the equation as components wear, crud accumulates, etc.? My guess is that it becomes a little more, but not especially, important in explaining efficiency variations; where's a government grant when you need one?
Feb 19, 2002 4:18 PM
what happens to (e.g.) lubricant's place in the equation as components wear, crud accumulates, etc.?

My question is: Does the crud that is generally attracted by lubes cancel out the wear factor?
Doesn't make sense.muncher.
Feb 19, 2002 10:00 AM
If you don't lube, your chain eventually starts squeaking, which is due to "internal" friction - which has to sap drive energy. I think they have it with the "new chain in the lab" theory - it's not like that in the real world. probably some milage in the "dirt stop" theory though.
A very interesting article... Thank you...Cima Coppi
Feb 19, 2002 10:01 AM
This of course confirms what all of us cyclists already know: The bicycle is far more energy efficient than the internal combustion engine!

Clean chain?Kerry Irons
Feb 19, 2002 6:07 PM
If they really cleaned the chain, they would have experienced sqeaking and rust in pretty short order. If they just wiped or ran it through a chain cleaner, they really didn't remove the lube from inside the bushings or probably between the side plates. They likely didn't really remove the lube. Only measuring temperature rise (rather than power in less power out) seems a little shakey. The 98% chain drive efficiency data has been around for 30+ years, so it's curious what they were really trying to prove. Their suggestion that bike makers advertise efficiency is pretty bogus. The reason car companies and appliance makers list this information is because 1) it makes a difference to the user, 2) it can be measured, 3) it might be a perceived competitive advantage, and 4) it's required by law. Since every bike would be nearly identical to the next, none of this really applies.