Best Chain Wax/Lube for Wet Gravel

Currently I run a waxed chain, its great when its dry and dusty, but what it the best treatment for wet gravel days where there is a lot of fine silty mud? Is this where you need to be switching to a wet lube or does wax still work well in these conditions?

I ran Silca hot waxed at Unbound the last year. It was just barely making noise at the end of 2022, and perfectly silent for all 125 miles of 2023 including multiple mud pits and a torrential downpour.

If it’s really degraded you can wipe it with a microfiber cloth and apply synergetic, but it will require a full strip before re waxing

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For UK wet mud I run Squirt drip wax and don’t seem to have a problem with the conditions. On my road bike I run the tru tungsten stuff but its a bit too light for of road so on the recommendation of a mate who does a lot of Gravel racing, I switched to Squirt.

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Those conditions are the worst to run a wet lube, counterintuitively. You’ll attract much more dirt to the chain and wear things out faster. Wax can sometimes sound dry/bad so people think it’s not effective, as per above it’s likely the best option. Even a drip wax can be ‘wet’ enough to attract dirt so the best option is a solid lubricant. ZFC’s chart tells the story really, looking at block 4 in this instance:

If that chart is accurate to real life, you’re talking about getting ~3000k from a good drip lube and ~8-10,000 from an immersive wax treatment. Some wet lubes will rip through the chain in around 1000k so either option is better than those!

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I moved to using Wax (mspeed) about 1 year ago, and have been shocked at how easy / clean the process is.

Just wish I had changed earlier

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Yeah waxing instructions seem very laborious but they just amount to dunk chain in X and wait and wipe then solution Y etc, whereas clean old wet lube from chain and relube sounds easy but is a much more involved (and dirty) process and you don’t need to do it nearly as often, especially if you keep 3-4 chains freshly waxed. And no more ruined shirts/furniture from cleaning or carrying your bike…

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Just a note on those Zero Friction “tests”- the wet lube tests never have the chain cleaned. That to me is misleading. And I understand the waxed chains are not either, but that’s an entirely different method and product. Also, not to put down the ZF process, but it is a bit sketchy and backyard.

Lots of great info here. Key Learnings from Lubrication testing

It is long but packed with info. The short answer is usually wax is still recommended, but with some “it depends.” If it is a long race that will outlast the wax, a high performing wet lube may be better. Covers lots of specific circumstances. A great resource.

Drip wax isn’t either, it still wins (although by much less)

Also I’m my experience of people using wet lube, not cleaning at all is pretty representative of real life use…

thanks guys. sounds like sticking with wax it is. i’ll pack a small thing of squirt into my hydro pack in case things get really bad 4hrs in. There is no worse sound than the grinding of metals components, be it BB, chain, or rotor/pads.

a small microfiber cloth to remove surface dirt can help as well, but a properly hot dipped chain will, as mentioned up the thread, actually shed grit to a certain point, where as wet will just let it stick.

It’s full on riding through puddles and mud where wet gets a chance to shine, so to speak. Even then it takes some miles for it to get there too.

I’d just add that any waxed based drip lube needs hours to dry, so adding it on partway through a race is kind of pointless. That’s where Josh from Silca (and maybe ZFC too, can’t remember) suggest that if your really need to add lube partway through a wet muddy ride, that a conventional lube makes sense in that case. Because it will at least provide some benefit immediately, whereas a drip wax will just run off with no drying time.

I have what looks to be a wet muddy race coming on Sunday, I’ll go with fresh waxed chain and I have a tiny sample of regular lube I’ll bring and apply if it really needs it.

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Sunday is going to be a war if these conditions don’t improve. How do you even dress for this?

What’s your event? Ghost of the gravel (Canadian gravel championship this year) by chance?

You got it.