it has rained quite a lot this week. this is good news for the distilleries, which are mostly all finishing their quiet season when they produce no whisky and carry out essential maintenance that can generally only be achieved when the switch is off. whisky needs a lot of water, and now they've got it. it also should keep marjory in the office quite happy: she has a house over on the west coast that draws water from a borehole. it ought to be pretty full by now. of course, there's a minor downside to all this, in that there is standing water on the roads, and unpredictable lightning showers that catch the unwary heading towards debbie's for a friday afternoon coffee. and due to the agricultural nature of cows, sheep and tractors, poo turns to sludge, mixes with mud and splatters carbon downtubes, shoes and socks.
the ten speed kmc on the company colnago has had a pretty easy time of it this summer. aside from gravel, dry sand and dusty stuff, it has emerged pretty much unscathed throughout the last three months or so, meaning that my practiced lackadaisical attitude towards mechanical maintenance in the light of such, bears no pain. however, now that the monsoon season is upon us, preventative maintenance is an overweening necessity, and i'm happy to start with the chain, being that it is the lowest moving part of the bicycle likely to suffer from an inhalation of crap problem.
liquid lubes, of whatever composition, generally do a grand job of keeping those link bushings from metal to metal contact, and often from the orange ferrous oxide that appears on the side plates after being left in the bikeshed uncared for after a wet scoot that passed for training hours. but viscosity attracts dirt and generally doesn't let go too easily, meaning that either a thick or thin film of grime disguises the chain from recognition after only a few outings. what we really need is something that can accommodate the prevention required, while emulating dryness. such is squirt.
this is an emulsion, wax based and apparently long-lasting dry lube for use on the very bicycle chains i have been describing. strangely, the website of bikeinventions, maker of squirt, claims no degreasing required, but carl, the uk distributor, advised otherwise. i'm usually happy to do as i'm told, so the kmc was scrubbed within an inch of its life with very soapy water and several cloths, before being left to dry. i was supplied with two bottles of squirt, one being the standard 120ml bottle that can be obtained by all and sundry, and a smaller, sample bottle, the latter being chosen for the test.
much as we used to do (didn't we?) with those tins of three-in-one, application is by way of one drop of the off-white liquid on each link of the chain, before leaving for five minutes then re-applying in the same way. the squirt dries off reasonably quickly and loses the whitish colour, leaving the chain as it should be.
i've ridden as often as i could manage since application, in dry and wet weather and through as much of that agricultural spread as i could find (just ask my sponge), checking the amount of residue on the chain after each ride. true to their word, the chain looks only marginally less shiny than it was on application, so on that score i'm reasonably convinced, but squirt claim that it reduces chain noise and chain suck. the latter is a rare problem on a road bike, something that the campagnolo/colnago combination has never suffered from since birth. however, i can't really concur with the contention that the chain noise is reduced: if anything, i find chain noise slightly more apparent, but purely in relative terms, since the previous lubricant was a thick oil which removed almost all chain noise, apart from that lovely sound the chain makes as it rolls through the rear mech pulleys. think of the sound a brand new, unlubed chain makes when you first fit it, and you're close enough for jazz.
squirt claim that reapplication can be made at anytime without having to clean the chain first, though most of us are too lazy or otherwise occupied to bother anyway; unless you're one of those with ocd. it may take longer than i've given this for a really proper long-term test, but i'm willing to re-visit the further we head towards winter. for the time being, i can see nothing obvious to fault, and my chain hasn't complained once. it's biodegradeable, harmless to the environment and pretty simple to apply and re-apply. in summation, everything we'd expect from a chainlube except the dirt pickup, is encapsulated in a little bottle of squirt costing a mere £7.99 for 120ml.
the rain and farm crap is only going to increase between now and christmas, so if the squirt lube keeps doing what it's done so far, i'll likely be the happiest lanterne rouge in our peloton.
posted on saturday 22 august 2009..........................................................................................................................................................................................................