Chain Waxing Tutorial

Oh wow, thanks! When I originally looked into waxing a while back I was thinking 1 bag = 1 application, glad that’s not the case!

1 Like

Anyone tried Bio Drivetrain Cleaner | Bicycle Chain Cleaning | Muc-Off UK instead of Ufo Clean?

1 Like

I’m doing around 8-10 hours per UFO Drip waxing. And maybe 20-30 hours before a proper bike wash with UFO Clean and the chain in a scrub brush sandwich. Around here its dry and low humidity.

2 Likes

This is very similar to the technique I’ve been using since the mid 90’s. I knew waxing was better back then, but caught a lot of $hit from my friends and online groups for doing it. It was really cool to find out someone proved I was right. Back then the Speedlink III was the only quality quick chain connector. I use an old electric fryer with thermostat and used a candy making thermometer to dial the temp. But once you dial your thermostat, you just mark the spot and don’t have to do that again. I mounted a short piece of copper pipe over a dowel into the wall that is directly over my fryer on the floor. I use Kelly’s (surgical tool, like a giant hemostat) to pull the chain out of the wax and loop it over the pipe above it. I do my chains in batches to save time and drape all of them over the pipe so any extra wax will drip back into the fryer. Once they are cool, I roll the chains back and forth using the pipe over the dowel to loosen them. Much easier and faster than what is described above. I can loosen all the chains in less than a minute. Also, the chips that come off fall into the fryer to save wax. When I rejoin the chain, I don’t wax the connector. I use 100% Teflon to lube the quick link. Don’t know if that’s better than waxing it, just what I’ve always done.
One other thing that may or may not be a good idea. I boost my wax with recycled snowboard wax scrapings. I use Hertel high fluoro snowboard wax so I always thought it would be slippery on the chain as well. Seems to work well mixed in with dedicated chain wax and graphite powder.
One other thing, odorless mineral spirits is nasty stuff. But it’s what you need to cut the new chain grease. I use a large thick rectangular Nalgene bottle for that task. Once the mineral spirits is used, it’s poured into an old mineral spirits can that’s well marked as “old”. This solution can be decanted after it sits for a few days to wks so that you can really make that nasty stuff go a long way. Just carefully pour off until it starts to look cloudy then stop.

3 Likes

This is the epitome of biking geeky nerdness and I love it. 5 years and 1500 posts on having a smooth easy to clean bike chain. I’ve read every one of the posts and enjoy reading more. I think we are crazy.

5 Likes

yup, saw the email this morning. Best thing I ever did was start using UFO Clean and UFO Lube. I’ve got another bottle of both on the shelf, and these last me a long long time so it will be 18-ish months before I give Silca a try.

1 Like

I’m over 18 months on my first bottle of UFO Lube and its starting to feel low. Going to try lubing more often like @Dubadai is doing.

1 Like

Ok so i’m a total noob when it comes to bike maintenance and such, but i’m interested in starting waxing my chain so bear with me while i ask some questions…

1- So i have a Sram Red Flatop chain. When i remove my chain can i reuse the quick link? Or do i have to use a brand new one everytime i wax my chain?

2- Can i use isopropyl alcohol instead of denatured alcohol? Since i have isopropyl alcohol already at my home…

3- So i’m planning to use MSW. So i put it in the slow cooker, stir the chain,etc,etc… Then what? i just leave the wax to solidify in the slow cooker for when i need to use it again? Or do i store it somewhere else?

4- I’m planning on rotating 2 chains. 1 every week. Where do i need to store the chain that i won’t be using during that week? Can it just sit there in the open air? Or do i need to store it in a container of some sort?

5- If i go out in the rain, when i get home i usually clean my bike. Is it alright if i wash my bike with the chain on? Or do i need to remove the chain when washing the bike? And if i do go out in the rain, is the chain good to go on the next day? Or do i need to wax it again?

And this is all i can remember for now…

Thank you very much in advance for your help.

I’ve only been waxing my chains for a few months now, but I’ll try my best to answer your questions.

  1. I have Shimano chains and use reusable links by YBN. Apparently, they are also compatible with SRAM 11-speed chains. You can find them here for example: YBN QR Safety Links CHain Link 11-speed 1 Pair Chain - Accessories | Bike-Discount

  2. Here I am not sure, maybe someone else can answer the question.

  3. I also use MSW. After waxing my chains, I let the wax solidify and then close the lid of the slow cooker to store it for future use. So far, I haven’t encountered any problems. So I do just as you described.

  4. I store my pre-waxed chains and the ones I’ve used before re-waxing inside paper bags typically used for sandwiches. I label each bag with the name of the bike to which the chain belongs and place them in a plastic box along with other tools used for chain waxing. I had these sandwich bags lying around, so it was a matter of convenience more than anything else. I believe the most important aspect is to store the chains in a dry place since wax doesn’t provide the same level of rust protection as oil-based lubricants.

  5. After a rainy ride, I remove the chain from the bike and clean it with hot water. Once thoroughly dried, I re-wax it. While the wax with the chain on top of it is melting, I clean the rest of the bike. It works like a charm. Concerning the question of re-using the chain after a rainy ride: I think it mostly depends on the amount of water. If it was just a light shower, you could simply wipe the chain dry and you’re good to go. However, if you’ve been riding in heavy rain for hours, it’s always a good idea to re-wax. As mentioned earlier, to the best of my knowledge, wax isn’t the most effective rust protection so once the chain has been thoroughly wet it best to completely re-wax.

As shared here before, this link also provides a great source of information on chain waxing: https://zerofrictioncycling.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/waxing-how-to-zen-master-guide-v2.pdf

I hope I was able to help! :blush:

@Tiaxx, my 2 cents…

1 - I have Shimano components, including chains, but as far as I know, the SRAM QL’s can be re-used, but do so at your own discretion. SRAM would likely say one use only (as does Shimano), but I’ve re-used my Shimano QL’s several times now. What I look out for in regards to this is how forcefully do they lock in place when reconnecting. If it’s a good, solid CLICK, i would consider that safe. If it’s sloppy or there’s no noticable CLICK during engagement, discard it. This is the route i follow and thus far, have had no issues doing this. That said as @Jvnnick said, you could go YBN as well. They are fairly inexpensive and are “rated” at 5 re-uses. I have a 6 pack of them myself, but have yet to use any of them in my 3 chain rotation.

2 - Yes, isopropyl alcohol CAN be used, but do your best to use the purest concentrate possible (90 % vs 70%). the lower the concentration of IA, the more water that could be left behind, resulting in rust if not dried properly. Myself personally, i’ve just stuck with DA.

3 - I say YES to this, but it depends on your situation. If you have a dedicated slow cooker for the job, leave it in there for next time. If you are using your significant other’s slow cooker, i wouldn’t suggest it otherwise you may have an angry partner on your hands!

4 - Personally, after waxing, I just leave them hanging up in my basement ready to be swapped into action. Thus far, i’ve had no occurrences of rusting or anything of that nature. As long as it has a good solid coating of wax, it SHOULD remain protected.

5 - I take the chain off whenever washing the bike. No need to introduce water onto your waxed chain if it can be avoided. If it gets too wet during the bike cleaning, you’ll end up pulling it off anyway to dry it and/or re-wax it to keep it from rusting!

Also as @Jvnnick suggested, check out that link from ZFC. Lots of good stuff on that site and that guide in particular.

Good luck!

  1. Officially, no. But just about everyone I’ve seen comment on it reuses them a few times as long as they still are reasonably tight when closing them.

  2. Absolutely. I use 91% IPA since it is more readily available and less expensive.

  3. I just keep the crockpot in a cabinet in the garage along with the swishing tool (bent coat hanger). I also recommend wiping the chains down with an old rag while the wax is still hot. It keeps the wax flaking off a freshly waxed chain to a minimum. Rubber faced gloves make this a lot easier for me.

  4. I store mine in sandwich bags but I live in the desert with very little humidity so rust isn’t an issue. Once you get going you might want to look at upping to 3 or more chains in rotation so you can batch wax them. I run 4.

  5. Defer to those that ride in wet conditions.

2 Likes

Wow, so many replies.
Thank you all for the help and the responses. You guys are amazing.
Now i just need to do the initial investment and start waxing my chains.

Thank you very much guys.

2 Likes

Ok so one more quick question…
I’m planning on starting this process when i change my chain and my cassette.
Do i need to also do the whole cleaning process with the cassette? Or just the new chain?

Thank you once again.

you should clean and degrease EVERYTHING for best results… that includes chainrings and pulley wheels as well… Anything that has left over oil/lube on it will contaminate your newly waxed chain and slow cooker. It;s truthfully a PITA once, but once it’s all sparkly clean, you won’t have that hassle again (provided you don’t oil it again)

Edit: i misread the NEW cassette bit… you don’t need to worry about doing anything with a fresh cassette. They don’t come packed in any sort of grease.

1 Like

Ok that’s what i thought about a new cassette but just wanted to be sure.
Thank you once again for the help.

Good luck in your waxing endeavours! I know personally I’ll never go back to oil!

1 Like

So if i buy MSW it comes in pucks right?
I’m guessing i just heat 1 of them is that it?

How you get the product depends on where you buy it from and if they still have the original formula of the product. The pucks are the newest formula but some distributors may still have the original formula that they are selling.

I’ve only been using one puck at a time thus far. I feel how many you use comes down to how you are waxing because you want to make sure the chain(s) fully submerged during the process. I only do one chain at a time in my rotation, so one puck does the job! If you are batch waxing, you’ll want more.

1 Like

One puck will cover 2 chains in a small slow cooker (just!)

1 Like

What the f… k is a Puck?