Understanding Drivetrain Wear and Lubricant Performance: Insights from Zero Friction Cycling's Test


Drivetrain wear and the selection of the right lubricant play a critical role in enhancing the longevity and performance of a bicycle chain.

In this video, Josh Poertner from Silca, explains the findings of Zero Friction Cycling's comprehensive test on various lubricants, exploring how they perform under different conditions and the impact they have on chain wear.

The test consists of six blocks, each covering 1,000 kilometers of testing with re-lubrication intervals.

Josh examines the significance of drivetrain wear and low friction, discusses the results for each block, and sheds light on the best lubricants for different riding conditions.

Block 1: Clean, Dry, No Contamination

In the first block, lubricants are tested under clean, dry conditions to evaluate their initial penetration capabilities.

Some lubricants may struggle to reach critical areas of the chain, leading to inadequate lubrication and potential wear issues. The data reveals that certain lubricants perform exceptionally well in this block, showing minimal wear and providing crucial insights into their longevity.

Block 2: Dusty and Sandy Conditions

The second block introduces sand and dirt, simulating dusty and sandy riding conditions.

Some lubricants excel at repelling contaminants, while others may struggle, resulting in increased wear.

Hot Melt waxes show remarkable performance in this block, keeping a low wear rate even in the harshest conditions.

Block 3: Cleaning and Lubricating Ability

Block 3 examines how lubricants handle cleaning and lubrication simultaneously.

The data suggests that very few lubricants can effectively achieve both tasks. Instead, it is more practical to use lubricants that can flush out some dirt while resisting the remaining contaminants.

Block 4: Wet Conditions

Introducing water into the test, Block 4 evaluates the performance of lubricants in wet riding conditions.

Contrary to the common belief that wax lubes perform poorly in the wet, they actually excel, offering low wear rates while revealing their degradation by producing more audible sounds.

Wet lubes, on the other hand, might hide their diminished performance, making them less desirable for longer rides.

Block 5: Displacing Water

Block 5 assesses how well lubricants can displace water from the chain, helping to reset their performance after wet conditions.

Hot Melt waxes demonstrate superior performance, reaffirming their effectiveness in both wet and dry conditions.

Block 6: Extreme Contamination

The final block is the most challenging, testing lubricants under extreme contamination.

Here, very few lubricants manage to perform well, and those that do are the top-performing Hot Melt waxes.


Based on Zero Friction Cycling's extensive testing, Hot Melt waxes consistently outperform other lubricants in various conditions, providing both low friction and excellent wear resistance.

Drip waxes also offer competitive performance, making them a suitable choice for riders seeking a balance between convenience and efficiency.

Wet lubes are less favorable, as they tend to mask their degradation, potentially leading to increased wear.

The test results serve as a valuable guide for cyclists to make informed decisions when choosing the right lubricant for their specific riding conditions, ensuring optimal drivetrain performance and longevity.