Dumonde Tech Bicycle Chain Lube
Chain lube, like socks, is something you'll always need more of. Sure, at any given time there are at least three kinds of chain lubes in our toolbox, but the next could always be better. And this was certainly a hope when we picked up two bottles of Dumonde Tech Bicycle Chain Lube. We ride, our drivetrain needs protection, and the elements strip that protection. We reapply. Many of us start with one lube, swear by it until we can't find it, try something new, and then are passionate about the new stuff. Part of the passion for a lube is that we know what to expect from it. Either we accept it being dirty or that we have to reapply frequently or that it's gloppy or that every time it's damp out we have to lube it immediately after the ride, or something else. Seems like there is no perfect lube; and if we thought we found it, no doubt it was discontinued. Everyone has their favorite; ours was DuPont Teflon Drivetrain Lube in a syringe. Should have stockpiled the stuff.
Despite the frustrations that go with chain lube, it is worth noting that chain lubes have come a long, long way. When we didn't know better, we used 3-in-1 oil. But that just attracted dirt. Then WD-40. But that stripped off all the lube and left a mess. Then bought paraffin, melted it in a coffee can, and dropped in the chain. But that was too labor intensive. Nothing was easy. Then the high-tech lubes started showing up. Suddenly, we had choices. But they pretty much all boiled down to two. Wet or dry. Several brands of each are now available. Wet stayed on, but it had the problems old oil did. Dry kept the chain pretty, minimized grease stains, but needed frequent reapplication. The rub, so to speak, is that if it's too dry, rust arrives, too wet, and the dirt that sticks to the lube and destroys the entire drivetrain. The question is which evil are you prepared to live with? We've leaned dry a long time. One of the reasons is how easy the stuff works in other bike applications. We put dry lubes like White Lightning and Pedro's Ice Wax not only on chains but on our pedals, bolts, pivots, Allen heads, etc.
Our most recent lube had been Pro Link. We think of it as semi-dry. We had to lube the chain, wipe it, let it sit overnight, ride. Wipe it some more. There was always a residue, which led to a little dirt build-up, but overall, the stuff worked pretty well. We went a long time between lubes. Before that, our choice was a dry lube, Purple Extreme. PE was light and went on easy and the chain stayed very clean. Unfortunately, the Purple Extreme-coated chain needed constant minding.
Our next step was Dumonde. We picked up both the "Original" and the "Lite" versions. Original is supposedly for off-road applications and Lite for road. Dumonde claims that the lube is a "liquid plastic" that seeps in to the nooks and crannies of the chain and "plates" the chain. This results in a plastic layer being formed between metal components, most importantly forming a bushing between the pin and the roller. Dumonde claim that once it has become a solid, the lube can't be washed out. What doesn't dry is excess and should be removed.
We started with the Lite on a new chain. The first step was degreasing, which should be done any time a new lube is employed. Not everyone believes in degreasing new chains. Most chains come in a kind of lube that doubles as a packing grease so it won't rust while sitting unused. There are different feelings about this stuff. Some leave it on. Others use a degreaser or WD-40 in a rag to take the grease off the exposed plates, leaving the lube inside the links and bushings. Others still drop the chain in a degreaser, then brush and agitate to really work out the original grease/lube. We opted for option three to really get a sense of Dumonde's performance.
We had been told that it's best to apply a single drop of Dumonde to each link and then wipe off the excess. And keep on wiping until the chain is dry. Once the chain is dry, the chain is ready to ride. We did this, and went for a ride. Upon our return, we inspected the chain. It was a bit dirty. We think it was lube residue picking up dirt. So we wiped, and then rode it again. On the good side, the drivetrain didn't pick up any more dirt and the lube lasted a long time. On the bad, there was that residue, which not only kept some grit on the drivetrain, but was not aesthetically pleasing.
After a good rain, we wash our bikes with soap and water. The chain gets the same. Grit destroys drivetrains. After a good washing, the chain was clean. A quick backwards spin revealed no squeaks, so we didn't apply more lube.
We asked the folks at Dumonde about the above phenomenon. They told us soap and water is the ideal cleaning agent. It allows the plastic plating that the lube has to stay on the chain. Second, they also believe that a chain doesn't need to be lubed unless it's squeaky.
Eventually, we did have to reapply. We have yet to master getting on as little as Dumonde recommends, and have a hard time believing anyone can manage to get lube into the links and bushings without leaving some on the rest of the chain. But we did find a solution to our problem. After lubing the chain, wiping it, and riding some, we took out a rag, applied some degreaser, and ran it on the outside chain plates. This seems to remove the unnecessary lube and dirt and leaves the lube where it needs to be. And this revelation was a pleasing one. Though the exterior wiping makes for an extra step, it does take away the one issue we had with Dumonde. This is now the lube we want to use with all our chains for the foreseeable future.
We were also interested in seeing how the Original compared. Maybe it would be better if we had to ride in muddy, wet conditions for a long time. And we did have a race coming up that went over dirt roads. The two versions are differentiated by viscosity; Original is a bit thicker. Second, they say you don't need to remove either from the chain before using the other. So we applied, removed the excess, and rode. We raced on dirt roads, rode in the rain, and left it on until the squeaks started appearing. There seemed to be no real difference in the interval of time between applications. If the difference between the two is negligible, we prefer the Lite; it goes on easier.
It seems that every chain lube company boasts about the value of their lube. We're guessing that the idea is to take away any chance that there will be sticker shock. Not sure what the big deal is here; it's not like lube should be $5 today because it was $5 twenty years ago. Dumonde's marketing materials state "one ounce of Dumonde Tech BCL should last for 10 applications." Not sure what this meant, we asked. The response was, "On a standard length road bike or mountain bike chain, one should get 10 application(s) for each one once of fluid when applying one drop per link." After several months of daily riding with Dumonde as our lube, we've used less than half a bottle.
Thinking back to the socks we mentioned at the start, it seems like many of our ripped or stretched-out socks have ended up in the rag pile and are ready for lube service. The two do go together, as they're roughly the same price, are both disposable and indispensable, and both reduce friction. Necessary accessories.