Chain Waxing Tutorial

What wax are you using? It could be residual grease in the chain, but if you’re using Squirt or similar I’ve found that happens with that sort of lube as well.

Silca Super Secret Lube (chain immersed in it). End result should be identical to the hot wax.

Anyway, I’ll degrease the chains once more to eliminate the possibility of residue inside. Then we’ll see how it goes next time.

Great company, but their instructions are WAAAAAAY more complicated than they need to be for anyone who isn’t trying to set a world record.

Clean the chain, melt the wax, shake the chain, put it on.

You can skip step one if you are rewaxing.

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Made the switch on my road bike. Quiet and smooth drivetrain on this morning’s ride. It is SOOOO much cleaner. I couldn’t believe the amount of dirty oil I removed from the cassette, pulley wheels, etc… and I keep my drivetrain clean (or so I thought). Also, after the ride… no clean & lube work to be done. Already tempted to swap my MTB.

I ride in dry, dusty conditions and love wax on my MTB.

So I’ve got 170 mi or so on my first waxed chain. Its been nice and quiet, so that’s a plus. I still have black goo on my cassette…is this wax and dirt? The cassette was brand new with the chain. I thought it would stay cleaner?

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Normal. Mostly discolored wax that doesn’t harm anything. If I’m feeling ambitious every few months when I swap chains I’ll pull the rear wheel and clean it off. Naphtha & stiff brush works the best for me in cutting through the wax.

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My rule is that when I can pull the link together by hand, I replace it. If I still have to use the tool to connect it every time, there’s enough material there to hold it shut. YMMV.

I have been exclusively waxing since early 2019 and that’s been my rule.

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It’s wax and that’s good. You want it on the cassette coating and providing lubrication.

The difference is it won’t attract and retain grit and dirt, nor mark anything that touches it.

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Haven’t visited this thread in a while, a couple (OK a lot) of thoughts:

  • Been waxing exclusively for more than 3 years now. I’m an OG convert of this thread.
  • I get 300+ miles out of every waxing (on Ultegra chains, I’m switching to YBN when these wear out), that’s about a week of riding. I don’t get the people who say it’s too much trouble too frequently, but…
  • I suspect the people who think it’s too hard are making it too hard… this is not a difficult or time-consuming process after the initial setup. Some are boiling chains all the time or are worried about cleaning between waxing… you don’t have to mess with that unless you’re riding in wet and dirty conditions often.
  • Rotate two chains. One is always ready to go.
  • Just take the chain off, put it on your homemade swisher tool, into the crock pot on low, let the wax melt and cover it for 20-30min. I usually put the chain on the hardened wax and set a timer for 1:30 on my iPhone. When it’s done, do the other chain with the timer set to like 30 minutes.
  • No cleaning in between… even ZFC talks about that - the chains don’t attract that much crud between waxings. Yes, your wax will eventually get dirty… change it out. One bag of MSW lasts me a year; half in at the start, I change it out midyear.
  • Some guys are doing two crackpots for training and racing chains… OK… again, making things harder than you need to (in most cases). I don’t fault people for seeking every marginal gain, but to me this isn’t worth it either. YMMV.
  • I guarantee you spend more time cleaning and re-lubing a conventionally lubricated drive train than you spend waxing chains… that is, assuming you actually keep your oiled drive train clean (which most people don’t). So if you don’t care about wear parts and keeping your drivetrain clean, by all means, keep using regular chainlube and don’t clean your drivetrain. That saves you tons of time… but you’re slower and your parts will wear out about 4x as fast as waxing.
  • Simple waxing as spelled out above has me getting thousands more miles out of my chains, silent drivetrains, plenty of speed to compete and win races. K.I.S.S.
  • The most common mistake I see new waxers make is hanging their chains to dry after the alcohol rinse. Even in dry conditions, your chain will attract moisture from the air which will then get sealed in by the wax, particularly overnight when most places experience more humidity. If you wax and you have crunchy, noisy chains, this is probably why. I’ve helped a number of my club mates convert to wax, and every time someone has issues, the first thing I ask is how they dry it after the cleaning and rinsing. Invariably, they hang it dry… and they all say, “I let it dry even longer and it got worse!!” Then they start using the blow dryer and waxing it the first time right away, and Presto it works like a champ.

*** Caveat: I’m a roadie… I don’t ride gravel or MTB (all that much, MTB is on Squirt), so the above would apply to roadies in good conditions. You live in England and ride all day in the rain on Roman chariot paths? Disregard!

This is not a difficult process. Don’t seek out ways to make it harder than it needs to be in the hopes of making it perfect. You’re probably not saving anything, you’re probably not making that much of a difference (if any) in drivetrain longevity by cleaning and using separate crock pots… but you are using up more time, for sure.

Once the initial chain setup is done (mineral spirits baths - usually 3 of them on a new chain; denatured alcohol rinse; blow dry; into the wax)… it’s literally chain off, back into the wax. Change your wax every six months or so depending on how often you do it. (I use half the bag first, then the other half after six months. It’s plenty to cover each chain.)

You don’t need an expensive crockpot. I have used the same 2qt crock I bought for $8 at target for 4+ years.

You don’t need a timer. Use your cell phone.

You don’t need a temperature sensor. Put the crockpot on low.

Keep it simple, guys. The gains at this point are so exceptionally marginal as to not be worth the time or money, beyond just following that ZFC Zen Master’s guide to chain waxing!

Enjoy the benefits of a drive train that you literally just wipe off with a dry rag for the rest of your bike’s life, and know that you’re also faster than basically anyone else who isn’t waxing, too.

Wax on! :beers:

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If msw is black, how do,you tell if it’s dirty?

Joe

Every time I’ve cleaned out my crockpot, I heat up the wax and pour it into a clear container to dispose. Every time I’ve done that, I’ve never seen a notable amount of anything in the clear melted wax.

And then compared to what you were probably riding around with on conventional lube, it’s microscopic.

Again, YMMV. I just think a lot of people are looking at waxing like it’s some intense process every week and it’s just… not. Or at least it shouldn’t be. It’s a non-event, takes less than five minutes of attention each time.

Ive been waxing for years using a crockpot, however decided to try a rice cooker for the CX bikes where the chains get rewaxed after every wet ride and the time saved melting the wax if amazing. Using the heat (Cook) setting the wax is melting after no more than 5 minutes and once this has timed out, then it stays on warm and I inset the chains, waxing one at a time leaving in until the bubbles have dispeared. 3 chains done in less than 20 minutes. Agreee wtih @kurt.braeckel , keep it simple.
BTW I clean in parafin as this is the original material as wax and use a shaker made from an old bidon placed inside a plastic container, the lid is perforated to let parafin drop into the container and holds the dirt inside.

I am probably one of hose people making that mistake.
I’ve waxed the chain of my MTB and road bike last week and and only used a piece of cloth to dry them after the isopropyl alcohol bath and they probably weren’t completely dry inside when I placed them in my slow cooker. (don’t have a blow dryer yet).

I noticed my hot waxed chains, make a lot more noise than my old chains on which I used muc-off or squirt. The drivetrain on my mtb already started to sound realy bad after 120km so I already had to swap it out for another waxed chain.

To get rid of trapped moisture, do I need to rinse the chain with boiling water until I get rid of al the wax and then use a blow dryer? (no white spirits + alcohol)

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I would get the old wax off with the boiling water, then denatured alcohol and hit it with a hair dryer for 5 min. Then back in the wax immediately.

That’s worked for my friends who had issues. The denatured alcohol rinses everything off and dries very quickly. That’s why you do it after the spirits.

I’m not sure you even need to dry it off, the alcohol will boil off quickly and any water will too. I give mine a quick rinse in alcohol then pitch it into the wax. Sometimes it spatters all over though.

Joe

I’ve been doing a bit of a clean before rewaxing and it’s working pretty well. But last time I just threw the chain into the wax and…gross! A whole lotta junk leeched into the wax. Just prior to this picture the wax was clear like water and now I have a toxic soup of grit, dirt, oil, and who knows what else.

Are you guys really just throwing your chain into the wax w/o any cleaning? I mean…how can that work?

Joe

Must mean your wax is already hot and melted?

I’ve not tried it that way (alcohol straight into pre melted wax). Water isn’t boiling off in 155 degree wax, but if it works for you…

I’d still recommend the alcohol bath followed by the hot blow dryer for 5 min and then into the wax as ZFC recommends and has worked for me and club mates who struggled with it… but that certainly doesn’t mean there aren’t other ways to solve that problem!

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Yes. My chains aren’t nearly that dirty. Not even close.

Again, my recommendations were based on road riding in good and mostly dry conditions. Never had an issue.

If you’re riding trails and getting dirt and mud? Yeah, I would clean the chain. (And at that point probably not wax, personally).

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That chain is from my wife’s bike, it is only used on paved bike trails. But if you just throw it in…I’ll keep at it, thanks for the info.

What the heck, I have access to a hairdryer and will give it a shot, maybe it’ll help!

Joe

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