Over the years, I have slowly slid from winning the dirtiest drivetrain contest to being somewhat of a white-gloved princess about my chain and cogs. Those alloy and steel teeth are expensive, and letting crud build up around them is akin to taking a piece of sandpaper to the whole shebang. I would prefer that my transmission last as long as possible, particularly now that components are exceedingly difficult to come by.
One way to elongate the life of your drivetrain is to keep it shiny clean and free of grit. That can be a tall order when it has to be lubricated, and nearly every lube attracts and retains dirt. The folks at Grax have created their own solution to this timeless conundrum with their biodegradable Grax Off Drivetrain Cleaner (available at Competitive Cyclist) and wax-based Chain Lube (available at Backcountry).
With a little scrubbing, the cleaner removes all the grime from the chain, cassette, and chainring in a matter of minutes. Once the system is dry, you can add a layer of their waxy lube to either side of the link plates, just as you would with petroleum-based lube. They suggest leaving the lube to settle overnight, but it can also be used in a hurry if need be. If you apply Grax last minute you will need to let it sit for fifteen and wipe off the excess before pedaling. You may want to redo the process properly when you return home. Wax-based chain lubes have traditionally required a kitchen stove and a lot of additional energy, but this one is as simple as your current lube — provided you scrub things first.
The advantages to this lube extend to both drivetrain longevity and lube frequency. The waxy substance doesn’t collect much dust or mud, and it’s far harder to wash off than the other lubes I have tried. The company claims to have stretched roughly 350 miles out of a clean-and-lube session on gravel racing bikes. I managed roughly half that duration on my long travel mountain bike, which is still super impressive. With Grax lube I’m able to ride my bike and wash it with soap for two- to three-week stints without hearing a peep from the drivetrain. Some waxings last longer than others, depending on how long and filthy the rides are. Either way, it’s nice to forget about chain lube for weeks at a time.
In addition to the impressive lube duration, my drivetrain remains notably cleaner than it ever has with petroleum oils. There is less grit clinging to everything, which means reduced friction that should equate to longer component life. That’s well worth the occasional deep cleaning requirement and overnight lube process. I don’t have the lab tools to measure how much less wear or friction is taking place, but the cleaner look is evidence enough for me to switch to this wax elixir.
Bikepackers and anyone who’s headed out for a long MTB vacation will likely love Grax for the ability to lube their chain before departure and skip packing emergency lube. I also dabbed the squeaking cleat interface of my pedals with some Grax and they have since ceased their staccato chirping. My climbing mind is thankful for the quiet.
There are a handful of expensive chain lubes out there that promise to brush your teeth and do your taxes, and for its asking price, Grax seems a reasonable purchase. A 16oz bottle of the Off Drivetrain Cleaner sells for $20 at Competitive Cyclist, and a 4oz bottle of lube will cost the same. Alternatively, you can order a bundle including both bottles and a pre-waxed chain that’s all ready to ride for $75.
Click over to the Grax site for additional details.