Motorex Dry and Wet Lubes
In choosing between Wet and Dry chain lubricants, we almost always go dry. We like dry lubes. Dribble the lube on, wipe clean, air dry, and wipe clean again. The drier the chain is on the outside, the less grit the drive train will pick up. Also, Dry lube generally means fewer grease stains and less time degreasing cassettes. And our feeling for these is such that we hardly see a reason for wet chain lubes. Our experience is that the wet stuff picks up too much dirt to be good for our drive trains. We'll grant that some wet lubes stick to drive train components better than dry lubes, but the gunk-attracting properties of the wet means that unless we're really careful, we feel that we're fast-tracking the death of our chains, cassettes, and chain rings.
So we did our routine with the Motorex Bike Line Dry Lube. We started with a clean bike and degreased the chain. We opted for the dripper (as opposed to the spray), wiped the chain clean a few times, let it dry overnight, and went for a ride. We were surprised to find lube residue everywhere. So we wiped the chain clean again, and went for another ride. Dirty again.
We called Motorex to find out if we had done something wrong. We hadn't. The lubricant is a fluid made of wax and synthetic oil. The carrier, aka the liquid portion, evaporates, but it leaves behind the wax and oil residue. It resides in the pins and rollers, so you can continue to wipe the chain clean after a few rides. The Motorex rep we spoke with told us that the residue was so thin and the bonds in it so weak, that it won't pick up dirt and grit, even if the outside of the chain looks dirty.
The chain and cassette look dirty after a few rides, and stay looking that way. But the lube also seems to stay inside with the pins and rollers. We easily did 400 miles between bouts of lubing, and that was with a bike wash and some damp days in between. We cleaned the chain with soapy water, let it air dry, and rode another 100 miles or so before it started to let out little squeaks now and again.
As we know few people who have experienced Motorex lubes, we reached out to pro team mechanics for their feedback. Our general impression is pro mechanics like clean bikes, clean gears, and like to minimize work because they've got lots of bikes to take care of. Domestically, Kelly Benefit Strategies was one of the first pro teams to be sponsored by Motorex. At the ProTour level, BMC continues their celebration of things Swiss by having them on as an equipment sponsor. We contacted both.
Eric Jellum of Kelly Benefit Strategies told us, "95% of the time, our choice is wet lube. The distances, the guys are going 250km in a day, and the conditions can vary so much. It's a precaution thing. It's typical of most wet lubes that they stay on the chain much longer. At the Tour of the Gila we used the dry lube for the 90 minute crit. It runs a bit cleaner, and the distance isn't an issue. If we can predict the elements, we can use dry." Of course, Jellum and his crew are washing the bikes every day, so dirt buildup on chains will be minimal, and it's more important that the bikes shift right every time than the drivetrain last a long time.
Kevin Grove of the BMC Cycling Team, an avowed fan of Motorex stuff, reported, "I have found a base coat of silicon spray before the chain lube is great. Not too much spray, just enough to coat the chain. Then I apply either the wet or dry lube. Both are pretty dirty, but that is not much of a problem. The next morning after application, I wipe the chain a little to take off the excess. On the really bad rainy days, I use the silicon spray and then the grease spray on the chains. The grease spray does a really good job of staying on and protecting the chain and keeps the chain quiet after 3 hours on the bike. And with the grease spray, you don't need to use regular grease like many mechanics prefer. Less mess!"
We're so not pro when it comes to lubing our chains. We'll venture to guess you're not, either. Their routines are too much work for our riding and would necessitate daily cleaning. Jellum uses the spray can, aims it at the chain on the cassette, and quickly turns the cranks backwards as he's applying the lube. It goes on fast and easy and uses less lube this way, not that he's particularly worried about over-lubing.
Still, with this sort of heavy application common in the pro ranks, we thought we'd try it. We applied the wet lube over the dry lube, which is fine to do according to the people at Motorex (but not vice versa). We wiped as best we could and had a rainy weekend of racing and riding. Everything the lube touched was pretty gritty by the end. The bike looked pretty gross, but the chain was not squeaking. We wiped down the chain, cassette, and pulleys and rode them daily for another three weeks before re-lubing. During this time, the bike worked great.
The Motorex guy also explained that the wet lubes stay wet to cover and protect gaps, cracks, and crevasses in the chain. By covering them, the lube keeps water out of the rollers and the gaps where the rollers meet the plates.
We were told by our person at Motorex that the dripper is actually harder to use well than the spray. The reason is that it comes out of the bottle faster and more concentrated than it does from the spray. In our experiences with both media, this seems to be about right, though our own preference is still for the bottle. The dripper bottle packs smaller and we can always dab a little, wipe a lot, dab, wipe, and so on.
In choosing between the wet or dry, we still lean toward the Motorex Dry on most days. Maybe with a rainy 100-mile race ahead of us we'll apply the wet lube, but otherwise we'll stick to the dry. The dirt buildup concerns us more than the possibility that our chain will need lube mid-ride.