Photo by Molten Speed Wax
If you decide to start hot waxing your bike chain, you will have to explain to your significant other why it looks like you’re cooking drugs in the garage. If you’re alright with that, read on for my impressions of the hot waxing experience.
A properly lubed chain can make your bike glide along effortlessly. There used to be two camps of chain lube. Wax-based lubes like White Lightning, and oil-based lubes like DuMonde Tech or Rock N Roll. Both were applied from a small bottle onto the chain, and the excess was wiped off.
A third challenger has emerged in the past few years; Hot Wax.
I use the brand Molten Speed Wax, based out of Minnesota. When you hot wax a chain, first, you remove it from your bike, clean it well, and submerge it in a crockpot full of molten wax. The wax gets into the chain’s rollers and provides an extremely low friction experience in the right conditions. Next, hang the chain up on a nail and wait for the wax to solidify. Finally, you break all the links free and put the chain back on your bike. Unfortunately, my four-dollar Goodwill crockpot is terrible; the longest part of the process is waiting for the wax to melt, which takes about an hour. So, I flip the switch and work on something else for a bit.
At the pointy end of cycling, many athletes use hot waxed chains. I first learned about hot waxed chains from the spat of hour record attempts in the 2010s, where records depend on a few watts of power. I’m less concerned with making sure my bike is perfectly efficient and more concerned with being quiet and clean. A waxed chain doesn’t attract dust and grime the way wet lube does. Your drivetrain will stay far cleaner and can last a lot longer. My waxed chains can go 10-15 rides between applications on my gravel bike, and on the mountain bike, it’s a bit shorter than a reapplication interval.
I will say that Western North Carolina eats bikes, so in a dry place like Colorado, California, or Arizona, I could see the wax lasting much longer between dips. A waxed chain is also very quiet. Getting the wax down in the rollers helps my bike stay silent and avoid that raspy rattle of an insufficiently lubed chain.
Although it takes more initial effort to hot wax your chain, it can save you time and money in the long run if you’re not meticulous about cleaning your bike after every ride. Of course, hot wax is a bit of a system to commit to, but as they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Whether pushing his limits on technical trails, seeing what’s around the next corner, or tinkering in his shop; Peter enjoys life to the full. In addition to bikes, he enjoys frame building, graphic design, and math. He lives in Asheville, NC with his wife and son.
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