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Paraffin wax bike chain converts - drawbacks?
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I've been having fun (and frustration) with finally taking the time to learn about my nearly 10-year old Cervelo and entry level Giant bikes that I've neglected due to ignorance for this whole time with minimal maintenance. My entry level really suffered for it (new headset, new groupset needed) but the Cervelo isnt too bad.

The one real item that has been annoying the living heck out of me are the black grease stains that come off the chain and get on everything. It really puts a major damper on the entire process. Everything the chain touches turns black, even if it just brushes it for a second.

I've already cleaned the chain with concentrated orange degreaser, a brush, followed by soapy water, and while it's wayyy cleaner than it started, it's still messy enough that it'll leave black marks if it brushes on stuff or if I pick it up.

I looked online and saw some videos on paraffin wax chain setups. At first it looked ridiculous to me - buy paraffin, buy paraffin oil, buy a friggin' crock pot to melt the paraffin in, you HAVE to remove the chain from the bike, and you have to do this every 250-350 miles?!?

Then I saw what seems like the deal-maker for me - apparently, a properly paraffin waxed chain leaves no black chain residue. There's another youtube video out there with a recumbent guy showing his bike and handling the chain, and it leaves no black marks. As well, in setting up my bikes, I've realized how ridiculously easy a masterlink is to use for chainbreaking/assembling, and I think this crockpot thing would actually be a lot faster than taking the time to use a chain tool with multiple degreasing and water washes, followed by link by link lube application. (The crockpot method is pretty much melt wax, drop chain in, pull out, wipe, dry & mount. That's like <5 mins of actual work.)

Anyone else out there using paraffin wax with the crockpot method and care to comment on the reality of how clean it is regarding the lack of chain tattoos and/or the convenience/inconvenience of it?


(As a related note, I remember when I first got my Cervelo back in 2008 - and was amazed how clean the chain was and that it STAYED clean for the entire first 5 weeks I rode it out of the shop. Like so clean there was NO chain tattoo. I've been chasing that effect ever since, to no avail - new chains get blackened quick, regardless of lube. I strongly suspect now that they waxed rather than lubed that chain back then - whatever they did, it was friggin' awesome.)
Last edited by: lightheir: Apr 9, 17 8:21
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Re: Paraffin wax bike chain converts - drawbacks? [lightheir] [ In reply to ]
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lightheir wrote:
Anyone else out there using paraffin wax with the crockpot method and care to comment on the reality of how clean it is regarding the lack of chain tattoos and/or the convenience/inconvenience of it?

I've been using paraffin chains on 4 bikes for the past couple of years. As you've thought, one of the nicest aspects has been how clean the chains are for general handling, storage and transport. I just recoated the chain on my trainer bike after ~1200 miles and it was still running smooth when I did. I use a $10 hot plate and cheap stainless steel pot for coating rather than a crockpot. The up side of this is how quickly it gets up to temp and you can get the process done while the down side is there is significant fire hazard if you leave it unattended. Pulling the chain from the pot is messy and I would never do it in the house. Your significant other would hate you for dripping paraffin all over the house.

I see next to no down side and plan to continue using the process in the future.

Hugh

Genetics load the gun, lifestyle pulls the trigger.
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Re: Paraffin wax bike chain converts - drawbacks? [lightheir] [ In reply to ]
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I have been using Paraffin on 5 bikes for the last 5+ years. Love it. The chains are always clean which is good because I put my bikes in the back seat of my car quite often. I don't mind having to wax a chain every couple of weeks. No downsides for me.
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Re: Paraffin wax bike chain converts - drawbacks? [lightheir] [ In reply to ]
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The only downside is the extra time it takes, and the relatively short lifespan of wax.

Recently I've found Squirt wax to be so convenient (if a little expensive) that I mostly use it for general-purpose waxing, and just do the full crockpot thing for races. Squirt seems to perform just as well as melted-on wax with respect to residue and lifespan.
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Re: Paraffin wax bike chain converts - drawbacks? [trail] [ In reply to ]
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trail wrote:
The only downside is the extra time it takes, and the relatively short lifespan of wax.

Recently I've found Squirt wax to be so convenient (if a little expensive) that I mostly use it for general-purpose waxing, and just do the full crockpot thing for races. Squirt seems to perform just as well as melted-on wax with respect to residue and lifespan.

+1

Squirt is dead-easy to use, no wiping, and you can't over-apply (it's biodegradable anyway).

The downside is that it only lasts 150-300 miles, but it's so easy to use (just dribble on the chain before a ride and pedal off) it's not an issue.


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Re: Paraffin wax bike chain converts - drawbacks? [Titanflexr] [ In reply to ]
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I've actually found my fastest chain to be a waxed chain, 4 hours on the turbo or road approx, then a light application of squirt.
Tested this with pedal and hub based power readings
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Re: Paraffin wax bike chain converts - drawbacks? [ In reply to ]
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I have 3 bikes with the extensive cleaning and wax treatment (Molten Speed Wax directions) and 2 of the bikes have several hundred miles on the first treatment. These are new KMC chains. I threw the chain while shifting yesterday and the beauty of putting it back on with absolutely no filth. None!

As far as performance they seem to be running as good as what I have experienced in my years of using traditional wet lube. The chain noise even with the miles is not that bad.

At the link I have a couple pictures following a rain storm and messy roads. The paper towel shows some filth, but that was after pressing hard and spinning the chain for a few minutes. The picture of the bike, chain and cassette was taken before I wiped it off with the paper towel.


http://thecyclingaddiction.blogspot.com/...sosebee-solo_18.html

I am sold on waxing and I don't mind the extensive cleaning and waxing. The directions sound extensive, but It really doesn't take much time. I will put a few more miles on these chains and then drop them in hot wax again. Supposedly the hot wax tends to clean previously waxed chains. That part I have not experienced yet.
Last edited by: Felt_Rider: Apr 9, 17 14:22
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Re: Paraffin wax bike chain converts - drawbacks? [lightheir] [ In reply to ]
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I've been using this method for 3 years across two bikes. I think it's fantastic. I run a couple of chains on both bikes which minimises the intervals between re-waxing. The only downside I can think of: Make sure you get the excess wax off prior to installing on your bike. I find any excess wax tends to accumulate around the 11-12T cogs on the cassette which results in the chain skipping on these cogs.
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Re: Paraffin wax bike chain converts - drawbacks? [Felt_Rider] [ In reply to ]
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Felt_Rider wrote:
I have 3 bikes with the extensive cleaning and wax treatment (Molten Speed Wax directions) and 2 of the bikes have several hundred miles on the first treatment. These are new KMC chains. I threw the chain while shifting yesterday and the beauty of putting it back on with absolutely no filth. None!

As far as performance they seem to be running as good as what I have experienced in my years of using traditional wet lube. The chain noise even with the miles is not that bad.

At the link I have a couple pictures following a rain storm and messy roads. The paper towel shows some filth, but that was after pressing hard and spinning the chain for a few minutes. The picture of the bike, chain and cassette was taken before I wiped it off with the paper towel.


http://thecyclingaddiction.blogspot.com/...sosebee-solo_18.html

I am sold on waxing and I don't mind the extensive cleaning and waxing. The directions sound extensive, but It really doesn't take much time. I will put a few more miles on these chains and then drop them in hot wax again. Supposedly the hot wax tends to clean previously waxed chains. That part I have not experienced yet.

Awesome - great pics!

Have you found that the hot wax does NOT clean previously waxed chains? Just curious
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Re: Paraffin wax bike chain converts - drawbacks? [lightheir] [ In reply to ]
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I love it. The key is to have several, or at least 2, chains that you cycle through. Then you're not having to wax a chain very often. Just wax them all at the same time a few times a year.

Strava I Instagram
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Re: Paraffin wax bike chain converts - drawbacks? [lightheir] [ In reply to ]
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lightheir wrote:



Awesome - great pics!

Have you found that the hot wax does NOT clean previously waxed chains? Just curious

Thanks

What I meant to say is that I am still on my initial wax treatment and haven't tried the second treatment yet, but I hear the following hot wax treatments are easier than the first one that requires all the mineral and alcohol baths to clean off the manufacture's grease on a new chain.
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Re: Paraffin wax bike chain converts - drawbacks? [Titanflexr] [ In reply to ]
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+2

On a new chain, I will clean with mineral spirits and alcohol. It is amazing all the metal that will come out. Then put Squirt on the chain in a pan on the stove and low heat. Seems to get the Squirt into the chain. Then simply reapply as needed.
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Re: Paraffin wax bike chain converts - drawbacks? [lightheir] [ In reply to ]
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Yes. I am a big fan of paraffin waxing. I also use a crockpot (8$). If you get accustomed to the procedure it will take less time to re-wax a chain.

And here's the most important verdict.
: it is super clean. You can touch a waxed chain without gloves at anytime.

Aero maketh man
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Re: Paraffin wax bike chain converts - drawbacks? [lightheir] [ In reply to ]
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Your chain will still get dirty but not greasy. It will still pick up the black crap from the road.

I used wax on my fat bike this winter. Obviously no road grime gets kicked up on groomed snow. My chain at the end of the winter was 100% spotless. Unreal how clean it stays on snow.

All that said I still use std lube for training on the road. It's easier.
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Re: Paraffin wax bike chain converts - drawbacks? [Peter kim] [ In reply to ]
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Peter kim wrote:
Yes. I am a big fan of paraffin waxing. I also use a crockpot (8$). If you get accustomed to the procedure it will take less time to re-wax a chain.

And here's the most important verdict.
: it is super clean. You can touch a waxed chain without gloves at anytime.

I bought a mini crockpot for cheap off Amazon when I ordered the Molten Speed Wax. What I like is that after the initial treatment was just leaving the wax in the pot so the next time I just heat it up and throw the chains in like they are and go do something else around the house. On the MSW directions it gives an estimated number of times that same wax can be used for race chain or for training chains before the wax needs to changed. Which I am sure would be about the same for simple paraffin wax as well.
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Re: Paraffin wax bike chain converts - drawbacks? [cmscat50] [ In reply to ]
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Super prelim first-timer experience so far:

Got my small crockpot in and paraffin beads. I opted to not throw in the oil at this point.

I know I'm supposed to start with a new, clean chain, but I did want to see how well it would clean a well used, dirty chain, so I threw my old chain into the crockpot after melting the paraffin on the high setting (took about 15 mins to melt completely). I did use an orange degreaser on full strength yesterday on it, but even after wiping, the chain still left tons of chain tattoos even on a millisecond of touch.

The melted wax/dirty chain turned the wax black in the pot. I stirred it, then pulled the chain after 15 mins or so. I then wiped the chain free of the external wax while still warm and melted. This pulled off a LOT of black wax.

At first I was pretty disappointed with how black the chain still looked on the outside (actually looked pretty clean, but still with plenty of dark spots), but after running it through my hands and on a white paper towel a few times, it was night and day how little black debris marked my hands or towel. Pretty amazing, actually. I think a lot of those dark spots on the chain might even be areas of chain wear - they don't seem to come off.

For sure, zero chain tattoo if the chain brushes my leg. This is going to make wrenching my bike SO much more enjoyable - seriously, that chain grease was the single biggest thing I hated about bike maintenance. Looking forward to more experimentation tonight - I am trying to recycle the dirty wax, but will also keep a 'clean' block of wax ready to go on new chains.
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Re: Paraffin wax bike chain converts - drawbacks? [lightheir] [ In reply to ]
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Sorry to say this but you should have cleaned the old chain to an absolute spotless condition if you want to do this properly. It normally takes me ~ 5 separate "washes" and rinses with mineral spirits to get a used chain spick and span.

Hugh

Genetics load the gun, lifestyle pulls the trigger.
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Re: Paraffin wax bike chain converts - drawbacks? [sciguy] [ In reply to ]
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sciguy wrote:
Sorry to say this but you should have cleaned the old chain to an absolute spotless condition if you want to do this properly. It normally takes me ~ 5 separate "washes" and rinses with mineral spirits to get a used chain spick and span.

Hugh

Yes, I know!

I have a separate new chain ready to go after I upgrade my bike, and for that one I'm going to use brand-new paraffin. (I have lots of it - it's cheap)

This was more of an experimentation to see how well I could clean a fugly chain. I've been really disappointed with chain cleaners and every citrus degreaser I've used - in every case, I still get a huge chain tattoo the moment anything touches that 'clean' chain, even after I've wiped it down post degreasing. I admittedly haven't tried kerosene or those other flammable agents, but looking online, most think that paraffin does as good if not better job cleaning a dirty chain, and it seems to be the real deal here.

I'm following a youtube video that recommends a 1:1 paraffin wax to paraffin oil mixture - I omitted the oil as of this point and things still seem to be moving fine (I want to see if I can recycle the wax but cutting off the dirty settled part) but if anyone's tried the oil, chime in on how useful or not it is.
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Re: Paraffin wax bike chain converts - drawbacks? [lightheir] [ In reply to ]
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Yes, paraffin wax is clean, nice & dandy on a straight chain line. Have you ever wondered what would happen to the wax inside each roller when your chain line is not straight, i.e. chain on large chainring and smallest cog or chain on small chainring and middle of the cassette?
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Re: Paraffin wax bike chain converts - drawbacks? [lightheir] [ In reply to ]
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lightheir wrote:
This was more of an experimentation to see how well I could clean a fugly chain. I've been really disappointed with chain cleaners and every citrus degreaser I've used - in every case,

I like to minimize use of mineral spirits, etc. So for training chains I just use my wife's laundry soap. That, with near-boiling heat in an ultrasonic cleaner, gets chains pretty darned clean.

Granted, this is just for factory lube or periodic removal and re-application of wax. Not trying to convert a used oil-lubed chain.

For race chains I stick to the The Program.
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Re: Paraffin wax bike chain converts - drawbacks? [RichardL] [ In reply to ]
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RichardL wrote:
Yes, paraffin wax is clean, nice & dandy on a straight chain line. Have you ever wondered what would happen to the wax inside each roller when your chain line is not straight, i.e. chain on large chainring and smallest cog or chain on small chainring and middle of the cassette?

Do you have some reason to believe it would behave any differently than any other type of lube?
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Re: Paraffin wax bike chain converts - drawbacks? [RichardL] [ In reply to ]
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RichardL wrote:
Yes, paraffin wax is clean, nice & dandy on a straight chain line. Have you ever wondered what would happen to the wax inside each roller when your chain line is not straight, i.e. chain on large chainring and smallest cog or chain on small chainring and middle of the cassette?

Not worried about it.

It's been around long enough now (the wax) and used successfully by so many folks who post online that all this stuff about "wax isn't a lube, wont' work" and "won't work on a non-straight chainline" or "washes away instantly with rain" have been pretty much debunked by practical experience.

The main issues folks had with it was the need to reapply the wax more frequently (easier with a slow cooker), and breaking the chain to rewax (which is super easy with a masterlink.)
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Re: Paraffin wax bike chain converts - drawbacks? [trail] [ In reply to ]
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trail wrote:
Do you have some reason to believe it would behave any differently than any other type of lube?

Definitely. Uneven pressure on the pin inside each roller will force the wax out on one side and flake off -> metal to metal contact. This is one reason why wax doesn't last very long. This issue doesn't occur with a wet lube since the lube can just flow back.

Friction Facts did all test on perfectly straight chain line. I like to see tests done on angled chain line.
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Re: Paraffin wax bike chain converts - drawbacks? [RichardL] [ In reply to ]
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RichardL wrote:
trail wrote:

Do you have some reason to believe it would behave any differently than any other type of lube?


Definitely. Uneven pressure on the pin inside each roller will force the wax out on one side and flake off -> metal to metal contact. This is one reason why wax doesn't last very long. This issue doesn't occur with a wet lube since the lube can just flow back.

Friction Facts did all test on perfectly straight chain line. I like to see tests done on angled chain line.

Hmm...I'm a bit skeptical of your concerns. We're talking about a very thin film that does the actual lubrication, not caked on solids that typically get pushed around.

But, sure, actual tests would be good.
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Re: Paraffin wax bike chain converts - drawbacks? [trail] [ In reply to ]
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I think there's enough testing done by magazines out there (google it) showing that paraffin wax performs admirably well, even if there are these theoretical concerns. Some of the testing was really good - one of them I saw used a special contraption that could reliably measure 0.1watts of difference in a chain under a fixed load, and paraffin was yet again one of the top performers in their test.

So I think all the chainline concerns, wax extrusion concerns, etc., aren't real-world limiters of paraffin performance on a bike chain.

I haven't seen any angled chain line testing as mentioned above, but honestly, not worried about it.
Last edited by: lightheir: Apr 10, 17 12:28
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