Riding in wet and muddy environments can quickly decimate your chain lube, clogging up your drivetrain with mud and dirt, creating chain suck, causing slow or missed shifts, and creating a whole host of issues.
Flaér is a new Scottish company that has engineered a product to eliminate this issue: their Revo Terra chain performance system. Simply put, the Revo Terra lubes your chain as you ride, with an onboard lubrication reservoir and an applicator attached to the lowest derailleur jockey wheel.
Flaér claims that this is the world’s first chain performance system, and that it “will ensure your transmission operates at maximum efficiency from start to finish, no matter the conditions.” To achieve this, the Revo Terra “applies a precise quantity of our specially-developed fluid to the chain as you ride.”
Thanks to an electronic sensor powered by a small onboard battery, the lube is motion-activated, meaning that if you stop and lean your bike against a tree, it won’t just keep dripping lube.
You can also adjust the rate of lubrication with a simple set of up/down buttons on the reservoir, with an LED light to show you what speed you’re currently set at
Flaér claims that the Terra provides a “visibly cleaner transmission,” and also “power gains of up to 12 watts–a figure which increases the longer the duration of the ride.”
I wanted to try this innovative product out for myself, so I used it during two days of riding in Scotland this past November.
Out on the Trail
It’s easy to see why the concept for a product like the Revo Terra would germinate in Scotland. Even on the best of days, Scottish mountain biking consists of mud hole after mud hole, river crossings, and bogs. On the worst of days, expect a constant onslaught of mud, pouring rain, snow, slush–you name it, you will experience it in Scotland. After enduring a couple of relatively easy rides by Scottish standards, I concluded the the Scots are tough as nails.
Flaér offered to let me test a unit long term in my home of Colorado, but the reality is that in two days of riding in Scotland I spent more time slogging through wet and muddy conditions than I would in a year of normal Colorado mountain biking.
“How did it perform?”
Well here’s how my drivetrain performed: flawlessly. On two different bikes, one with a 1×11 SRAM drivetrain and another with a 2×10 Shimano drivetrain, I had zero shifting issues, despite riding in muck for six hours on day one, and four and a half hours on day two.
Normally, I would have expected botched shifts, a grinding chain, excessive noise, and chain suck, due to this much exposure to wet and muddy conditions. I experienced none of those issues.
Other riders in our group of 12 weren’t running the Flaér system, and many of them experienced the ills mentioned above, as well as one explosive chain break. (The middle of the metal link plate actually broke in half, instead of the chain separating at the pin. That was the first time I’ve ever seen such a thing.)
Regarding Flaér’s claims, I can’t confirm or deny the increased wattage output. Obviously this system adds extra weight, but at only 137g dry + 54g max for the 54ml of maximum fluid in the Terra unit, the weight penalty isn’t significant. Flaér analyzed the weight penalty of their Revo Via road-optimized unit (which is a bit lighter) versus the increased power output, and claims “the performance advantage outweighs [the weight penalty] by more than 17 times, so you’ll be faster than you are without it.”
However, I can confirm the presence of a visibly cleaner chain and exceptional drivetrain performance in heinous conditions.
So if the performance is this good, what are the downsides? Above and beyond the weight penalty, I was disappointed that the Revo Terra had to be bolted to a water bottle mount. While this would be perfect if you have a water bottle mount on the down tube, since you definitely don’t want to put a bottle there, the Flaér system monopolized the only water bottle mount in the center of the frame on my rental bikes. While creativity and some McGyvering could probably solve this problem, there is no way around the added complication to your bike setup.
A bigger issue is the price tag: $350 USD. Spending $350 on a gadget to automatically apply lube to your chain may seem ludicrous to some riders who don’t even want to pay that much for an entire bicycle. Also consider that the Revo Terra must use the proprietary Terra Fluid for refills (£6 (~$7.54) per 125ml, £10 (~$12.58) per 250ml for the Via fluid currently available on the website), and your wallet only gets thinner.
Finally, my main personal beef with the system is that for about 99% of the riding that I do, the Revo Terra is completely unnecessary.
Here in Colorado, I can often go 2-4 rides on one application of chain lube, using the very resilient Squirt lube. Even on a wetter-than-average ride on a puddle-filled motorcycle trail that necessitates a bike wash afterward, Squirt usually will provide enough lubrication for one full ride in some atrocious conditions. My number of past mountain bike rides where this system would have been very beneficial is small.
It is possible that you do ride in really wet and muddy conditions often, but here in the States, riding in the wet is generally considered to be poor form (in most places). So if you’re riding at such times when this system would be necessary, chances are high that you shouldn’t be riding off road at all.
While I might not personally consider the Revo Terra necessary on a daily basis, this is a product that was born out of Scottish mountain biking, and the Scots play by different rules. Trail design and drainage were probably the last thing on the minds of the witches who were trying to get from one glen to another, and as a result, mud puddles and nasty trail conditions are simply a way of life in Scotland.
If you live in an area where mud-infested drivetrains are a major issue, the Flaér Revo Terra is the perfect solution. But if you don’t encounter this problem, as they say: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”