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THE BICI GUIDE TO CHAIN WAXING

If you’re an avid cyclist or simply enjoy riding your bike, you've probably heard of chain waxing. This method of bike chain maintenance is gaining popularity for its benefits in terms of performance, longevity, and cleanliness. In this guide, we’ll dive into what chain waxing is, why it’s worth considering, and how to do it yourself.

Reduced Friction

Waxed chains produce less friction compared to those lubricated with oil-based lubricants. This translates to smoother gear shifts and a quieter ride.

Cleaner Chains

Wax doesn’t attract dirt and grime like oil, keeping your chain and drivetrain cleaner for longer. This means less frequent cleaning and maintenance.

Extended Chain Life

By reducing friction and protecting against contaminants, waxing can extend the lifespan of your chain and other drivetrain components.

Improved Performance

Many cyclists report improved performance, especially in terms of efficiency and speed, thanks to the reduced friction.


What is Chain Waxing?

Chain waxing is a process of lubricating your bike chain using paraffin wax instead of traditional liquid lubricants. The wax creates a protective barrier around each link in the chain, reducing friction and wear.

This method has been adopted by both casual cyclists and professional racers for its efficiency and the smooth, quiet ride it offers.

Materials Needed

SILCA Chain Waxing System Accessories - Maintenance - Bike Cleaners
 

SILCA Chain Waxing System

$104.76 USD
SILCA DIY Waxing Starter Kit Accessories - Maintenance - Bike Cleaners
 

SILCA DIY Waxing Starter Kit

$209.52 USD
SILCA Secret Chain Blend (Hot Wax) Accessories - Maintenance - Chain Lube
 

SILCA Secret Chain Blend (Hot Wax)

$38.91 USD
SILCA Super Secret Chain Lube 4oz Bottle Accessories - Maintenance - Chain Lube
 

SILCA Super Secret Chain Lube

From $18.71 USD

How to Wax Your Chain: A Step-by-Step Guide

Materials Needed

  • Paraffin wax (or a specially formulated bike chain wax)
  • Slow cooker or double boiler
  • Chain quick link tool
  • Degreaser
  • Cleaning brushes
  • Paper towels or rags
  • Safety gloves

Step 1: Remove and Clean Your Chain

  1. Use a chain quick link tool to remove your chain from the bike.
  2. Thoroughly clean the chain using a degreaser to remove any old lubricant, dirt, and grime. Scrub with brushes and rinse well.
  3. Dry the chain completely with paper towels or rags

Step 2: Prepare the Wax

  1. Melt the paraffin wax in a slow cooker or double boiler. Ensure the wax is fully melted and at a consistent temperature.
  2. You can add additives like PTFE powder (Teflon) or molybdenum disulfide for enhanced lubrication properties.

Step 3: Wax the Chain

  1. Submerge the clean, dry chain into the melted wax, ensuring it’s fully covered.
  2. Let the chain soak in the wax for about 10-15 minutes, allowing the wax to penetrate all the moving parts.
  3. Use a hook or hanger to remove the chain from the wax, letting the excess wax drip off.

Step 4: Cool and Reinstall the Chain

  1. Allow the chain to cool completely. The wax will harden and form a protective layer on the chain.
  2. Reinstall the chain on your bike using the quick link tool.

Step 5: Break In the Waxed Chain

  1. After reinstalling, rotate the pedals by hand to break in the wax. This helps the wax to distribute evenly across all the links and rollers.
  2. Go for a short ride to ensure everything is functioning smoothly.

Maintaining a Waxed Chain

After a Dry Ride

One of the biggest benefits of waxing your chain is how clean it stays. After a ride, you can simply wipe off any debris with a microfiber towel or a gear wipe.

This keeps your chain in top condition without needing to reapply degreasers, which can leave residue and affect future wax adhesion.

Standard Re-Lube Intervals
  • Every 200 miles: Apply 2 drops of Silca Super Secret Chain Lube per link.
  • Every 1,000-1,500 miles: Re-dip your chain in hot wax if you are using the hot wax method.
Wet Ride Maintenance

After a wet ride, quickly dry your chain using a gear wipe or an air compressor. This prevents surface rust, which can form due to the absence of oil. Reapply Super Secret Chain Lube or re-dip in hot wax to ensure the chain is protected and ready for the next ride.

Cleaning a Bike with a Waxed Chain

When washing your bike, avoid using soap or cleaners on the drivetrain to maintain the wax coating. You can rinse the chain with water, dry it off, and either reapply wax or use a waterless wash like Silca’s Ultimate Waterless Wash to clean the frame while preserving the wax on the chain.

Pros:

Reduced Friction:

  • Benefit: Waxed chains produce less friction compared to oil-lubricated chains, resulting in smoother gear shifts and a quieter ride.
  • Impact: This can lead to improved overall bike performance and a more enjoyable riding experience.

Cleaner Chains:

  • Benefit: Wax does not attract dirt and grime like traditional oil-based lubricants, keeping your chain and drivetrain cleaner for longer periods.
  • Impact: This means less frequent cleaning and maintenance, saving you time and effort in the long run.

Extended Chain Life:

  • Benefit: By reducing friction and protecting against contaminants, waxing can extend the lifespan of your chain and other drivetrain components.
  • Impact: This can lead to cost savings over time, as you'll need to replace parts less frequently.

Cons

Initial Setup Time:

  • Drawback: The process of removing, cleaning, waxing, and reinstalling the chain can be time-consuming, especially for beginners.
  • Impact: This can be a deterrent for cyclists who prefer a quick and easy maintenance routine.

Regular Reapplication:

  • Drawback: Waxing requires regular reapplication, typically every 200-300 miles for drip wax or every 1,000-1,500 miles for hot waxing.
  • Impact: This ongoing maintenance can be seen as a hassle for those who ride frequently and cover long distances.

Handling Wet Conditions:

  • Drawback: Waxed chains can be more susceptible to issues in wet and muddy conditions, requiring immediate attention to prevent rust and maintain lubrication.
  • Impact: Cyclists who often ride in adverse weather may find the extra maintenance and care needed for a waxed chain to be inconvenient.

Conclusion

Having a waxed chain is the ultimate upgrade to keep your components running longer, faster, and cleaner. While it takes some initial effort, the long-term benefits are well worth it. For those looking to save time, pre-waxed race chains are available, offering the same benefits without the initial setup.

Chain waxing can transform your cycling experience, providing a smoother, cleaner, and more efficient ride. Happy riding!

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