I'm completely waxed off!

Hello All,

I've just finished upgrading to a full R7000 105 groupset on my my Giant Defy Alloy (Aluxx SL) frame, it's a very good fast and comfortable quality frame that justifies the upgrade, especially when considering the silly pandemic prices for carbon.

With the build completed applying lube to a new KMC X11EL chain was all that was left to do. I wanted a change from standard wet oils and degreasing black gunged up chains and so took the plunge into waxing with Squirt after reading so many countless good reviews.

The chain being new and with factory grease on, underwent a full degrease by soaking it in white spirits twice and shaking the containers, it was left to soak overnight the second time. To remove the residue left by the white spirit I used three baths of methylated spirit over six hours and shook the containers. This left me with a gleaming and smooth bare metal chain, completely degreased.

Eagerly I applied the Squirt wax as instructed, twice, the second application five mins later, ran the chain backwards a couple of times and then left it alone overnight until the next day (16 hours).

Fully expecting a friction free and smooth chain, I was badly disappointed. The chain was stiff, very noisy and jumping around the cassette, I couldn't even tune the derailleurs. The consistency of this wax is very soft and gooey, it doesn't feel like wax.

Against my better judgement I took the bike out today for an 8 mile ride to see if this would settle the chain down and I'm still disappointed. It's a little less stiff but still very noisy and jumping around the cassette. Eight miles should really have sorted this chain out.

What's the score with this Squirt, has anyone suffered similar to myself?


  •  I have no idea what is actually in Squirt Chain Lube (type of wax or solvent). But what you describe sounds totally wrong. Once the solvent has evaporated and the wax has hardened the chain will need to be manipulated around an object (eg wooden spade handle) to free it up but then it should be fine. I'm not sure the chain jumping around is related to the lubrication

     I am currently trying out one of my bikes with a new chain lubricated with paraffin wax and PTFE powder, with no problems at all so far. In fact if things carry on this way I’m going to convert all my bikes to this method. Though I haven’t yet tried it in foul weather.
  • Hello Charlie_Croker,

    This wax does not harden up, it's got the consistency of cold butter from the fridge.

    When I try to run the cranks backwards it's slow, there's resistance, it's not really stiffness, the links individually feel quite loose and free, but the whole chain itself, when rotating the cranks backwards feels like it completely dry with no lube and noisy.

    I was exagerating slighty when I said jumping around the cassette, but lets say that it's not moving smoothly over the teeth of any cog and this is a brand new r7000 cassette.

    Thanks for your reply.
  • Harry182
    Harry182 Posts: 1,169
    I use Squirt. My drivetrain is clean, quiet and runs/shifts at least as smoothly as it ever has. Not sure why it's not working for you.

  • I have the same issue. I've just moved over to Squirt from Muckoff c3 which I must say has been very good. I'm on my last application of squirt, if the chain does not quieten up I'm back to c3. You have to try these things.
  • Well smallcrank I’ve had a little look at Squirt’s website and it would appear that this product is mainly water (60%) which just doesn’t feel right to me. Plus unspecified emulsifiers and other data could mean/be anything.

    I found this:

    3.1 Substance Contains Preparation based on: Emulsion of Wax and Water
    Main Ingredients:
    a) Paraffin and Hydrocarbon waxes..: (Cas no. 68441-17-8).........: 28 -35%
    b) Water........................................: (Cas no. 7732-18-5)....................: 60 -70%
    c) Emulsifiers................................: (Cas no. Proprietary)..................: > 5%

    [source: https://www.squirtcyclingproducts.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/Squirt-Chain-Lube-SDS_Aug2019-Rev2.pdf]

     Personally I wouldn’t go near it, or rather put it on my chain! I would expect the paraffin wax to be suspended in isopropyl alcohol or an equivalent not water! Which in turn worries me about what the emulsifiers might be. But seeing as you already have bought the product. I would try going through the whole process of cleaning, drying and reapplying again just to see if any improvement was possible. Reading the other comments it’s possible you might get better results with a second try, though you’re not on your own having problems with this product by the sound of things.

     In short, give it another go, if it doesn’t work dump it and look for something better
  • smallcrank
    smallcrank Posts: 4
    edited August 2020
    Hello Charlie_Croker, Harry 182 & Sutton_Rider,

    I suspect I've put maybe too much on. I put a generous drops on each link 5 mins apart, the chain was not dripping by any means. Upon a trawl of the net, one user describes what I've suffered and then cleaning the chain and reaplying with very small drops to get good results.

    I have to say I'm ready to write this lube and a tenner off and move on. The whole purpose of moving to this lube was less to do, a 'set and forget'. I also don't like the gooey sticky feel of it. Sutton_Rider is in the same boat as myself and confirms what I've said.

    I've been of the opinion oil is oil andI have up until now used a basic cheap teflon wet lube, but I think I'll try one of those cleaner running more expensive wet lubes.

    I've been a bit stressed up over this and instead of writing this, I should've been out in the sunshine on a Sunday ride.

    Thanks for your replies.
  • Not necessarily recommending this, but I was similarly underwhelmed with my first application of Squirt. Had much better results NOT degreasing a new chain first and then it seemed to take 2 or 3 applications to “work up” with long gaps (1 hour plus) in between. Very happy with it now, just top up the application every few rides and good to go.
  • ** UPDATE **
    After giving the chain a third coat of Squirt I went for a ride. The first 5 miles it was very quiet, after about 5 miles I could hear the odd rattle, then 10 miles in it was like I'd hadn't lubed the chain in years. So a big chain and sprocket clean this afternoon and back to Muckoff C3 for me.
    FYI using KMC X11 EL chain and 11 speed Di2
  • Harry182
    Harry182 Posts: 1,169
    Wax on. Wax off.

  • First.Aspect
    First.Aspect Posts: 15,213
    Hand on heart, is anyone actually surprised that something solid doesn't lubricate very well?
  • Hand on heart, is anyone actually surprised that something solid doesn't lubricate very well?

    Well here’s a video of a 3000km test that might surprise you, a couple of stills from it

    Accurate measurements using a digital chain wear tool

    Chain “stretch” after 3000km using two different waxes compared with an identical new chain

    and the whole video is here: https://youtu.be/953QTThT4_M

    well worth taking the time to watch I think

  • First.Aspect
    First.Aspect Posts: 15,213
    It is basically an advert.

    Chain stretch is predominantly due to material creep, not bits of metal grinding away. Would love to know how wax is supposed to help.
  • masjer
    masjer Posts: 2,611
    edited August 2020

    It is basically an advert.

    Chain stretch is predominantly due to material creep, not bits of metal grinding away. Would love to know how wax is supposed to help.

    "Material creep" -that's a new one. Chain wear (stretch) is caused by wear on the pins and bushings (and to a lesser extent the rollers). All of the tiny amounts of wear on each link add up, so the chain increases in length - stretches.
  • First.Aspect
    First.Aspect Posts: 15,213
    masjer said:

    It is basically an advert.

    Chain stretch is predominantly due to material creep, not bits of metal grinding away. Would love to know how wax is supposed to help.

    "Material creep" -that's a new one. Chain wear (stretch) is caused by wear on the pins and bushings (and to a lesser extent the rollers). All of the tiny amounts of wear on each link add up, so the chain increases in length - stretches.
    This is a common misconception. Particularly if you don't know what the term I used actually means.

  • masjer
    masjer Posts: 2,611
    The loading and temperature aren't high enough that the metal will stretch.
    A waxed chain stops particles of grit reaching the wear surfaces therefore chain wear is decreased.
    Think of a timing chain in an engine, it spins at thousands of rpms but can last 150,000 miles. It is constantly under load and heat but the metal doesn't stretch. It wears slowly because very little wear particles reach the pins- just clean oil.
  • First.Aspect
    First.Aspect Posts: 15,213
    There will be some surface wear, but a large part of chain elongation is deformation of the pins. Take a very worn chain apart and you will see the mid portion of the pins displaced from the ends.

    Everything happens faster at higher temperatures, but there isn't some absolute cut off below which lattice defects stop propogating.

    Where's Ugo when you need him. He'll have studied this stuff 20 years more recently than me...
  • masjer
    masjer Posts: 2,611
    edited August 2020

    This taken from an industrial chain supplier: What Is Chain Stretch?

    The name ‘chain stretch’ is actually fairly misleading. Contrary to popular belief, the chain isn’t stretching at all. “The real name is chain elongation,” says Zerger, “It occurs when the chain articulates as it goes around the sprocket and pin wears on the bushing to the point that the length of the pitch elongates.”

    If you really think it is physically stretching and not wearing, hang a bike chain up, attach a 75kg weight to it, leave it (1000 years if necessary) and recheck for stretch. It'll have stretched 0%. You can heat it too if you like but I'm sure bike chains don't get hot.
  • shortfall
    shortfall Posts: 3,288
    This is going to turn into o e of "those" threads isn't it?
  • First.Aspect
    First.Aspect Posts: 15,213
    shortfall said:

    This is going to turn into o e of "those" threads isn't it?

  • reaperactual
    reaperactual Posts: 1,185
    Time for another over complicated physics lesson and mind bending formulas to explain it is just pin and roller wear.
  • DeVlaeminck
    DeVlaeminck Posts: 8,788
    A few guys in my club swear by squirt and a few say it's not worked out for them. If it works for some then either their expectations differ from the others or else they are applying it differently.

    Agree chain stretch most definitely is caused by wear not creep - if creep were that significant at low temperatures and at such low forces the implications in other engineering applications would be huge.
    [Castle Donington Ladies FC - going up in '22]
  • pinno
    pinno Posts: 51,690
    edited August 2020
    To the OP;

    Not fancied Molten speed wax?

    Ambient temperature can really affect the application of a wax. I found that too cold and you weren't getting penetration and too warm and it runs off.

    I tried waxing (proper) for some considerable time but... I couldn't get it to work in bad weather. Given, I live in Jockland, I gave up but I am willing to give the Molten speed wax a go. The feeling of a waxed transmission and the smoothness of the gear change is something else.
    The ease of cleaning too: After initial stripping of lubricants, a waxed chain is simply immersed in your paraffin/wax liquid heated to 47 deg and all the dirt drops out of it. Remove the chain and allow to dry. Job done.

    Re.: Engine timing chains. As a mechanical engineer and petrol head, I have replaced/adjusted, even snapped chains.
    The difference with a bike is:

    Timing chains do not move around laterally and are not expected to twist here and there like on a bike.
    They are also enclosed which means they are not exposed to all the road dirt, grit, dust that a bike chain is exposed to.
    Manufacturers of engine timing chains are not trying to make them as light as possible and are not constrained by this factor, so they are made with much stronger materials.
    Some are even bathed in oil constantly.
    They do stretch but almost universally deploy a tensioner (sometimes made out of nylon or a spring loaded wheel) which accommodates the stretch.
    Most timing chains are double or multiple link anyway:

    The proof is this: you know that if you keep your transmission as clean as possible, the chain lasts longer.
    This is why I like waxing - it doesn't attract dirt like ordinary lubricants. Even a pristine transmission goes black on me reasonably quickly and if you wax, it's amazing how long it stays shiny.

    Back to the OP: There really is no need for such an elaborate and time consuming stripping regime. Petrol. Petrol evaporates very quickly. I can get my chain perfectly clean and stripped of any lubricant in 2 rinses. Job done in less than 10 minutes. Meths and white spirit do not compare as a solvent to petrol. So from the environmental point of view, you are using quadruple the volume that I would use in petrol.
    I put it in a plastic container with lid and shake it around - twice. If it's really filthy, I use a long haired brush to agitate the surface.

    For the rest of the transmission, after a quick rinse in petrol, I use Brake and parts cleaner. It's excellent stuff. Evaporates quickly, easy to use and leaves no residue.
    Though I would keep it well away from BB bearings/wheels etc unless stripping as it's very thin and will penetrate.

    Asleep yet First Aspect?
    seanoconn - gruagach craic!
  • Hello All,

    Thanks for your posts.

    Since I was last on bikeradar I've aquired some Rock n Roll extreme and will put it on this weekend, I'll do a write up about it after a few miles.