Why don’t chain manufacturers offer chains without factory grease?

Every friction test ever run agrees with @Power13 the grease that comes on a chain is not optimized for performance, but for protection


My proposed procedure resemble the one Silca uses but instead of a magic diamond slurry instead of the naturally available particles from the road dust. Whichever media does a better job polishing the surfaces can be argued but I doubt it makes much of a difference.

Anyone is free to prepare their chains to his or her liking.

Like many things in life, things are more complicated than they appear.

Factory grease is what it is, largely because shipping lubricant needs to be solid. Liquid lube doesn’t work long term because water is heavier than oil and eventually displaces it. Sometimes chains sit for 10+ years in the packaging. Plastic is permeable. Water vapor gets through eventually, very slowly, but it does get through.

Is factory grease worse than other lubes straight out of the box? That one’s true and pretty easy to prove, but potentially meaningless in a lot of situations. Ball bearings in high speed machinery need to be broken in and warmed up regularly. This displaces the grease and the friction decreases significantly afterwards. It’s similar with chains. A broken-in, warmed up chain with factory lube can have significantly less friction than one straight out of the box.

Problem is that the lube is also a dirt magnet, so sooner or later you have to deal with that. However, you don’t have to deal with rust.

If you strip your chains and wax them (like I do), you don’t have to deal with dirt, but you eventually have to deal with rust. Wax lubes don’t penetrate the way solvent-based lubricants do.

So it’s a trade off. Dirty chains are inefficient. Rusty chains are inefficient. Which are you more likely to be plagued by?


The proportion of cyclists waxing chains is I bet a teeny weeny number.

The bad publicity from having chains immediately rusting because they were bought on clearance and not lubed properly wouldn’t be worth the hassle.

As others have said, it’s needed for storage.


Hi….spent 10 years working in the bike industry doing product development work. Actually visited chain factories, talked to component suppliers and seen the data on the factory “grease”.

Thanks for coming to my Ted Talk.


If the random internet expert is Adam Kerin, then yes. Or if the random internet expert is quoting data from Adam’s ZFF, also yes.
And you’d be better off educating yourself on the matter before thinking you’re ridiculing anyone except yourself with advice that was wrong 15 years ago.

1 Like

The cleaning also requires a lot more solvents and takes more time if you have ridden with the factory grease on.


I just replaced a hub body on a ‘new’ trainer that was causing ‘skipping’, once driving my knee into the end of the handlebar as it skipped over a whole revolution. Yikes, right.

I was sent a replacement body, and it was fairly well greased with a rather thin clear substance. Removing the existing body revealed that it was severely under greased. One pawl was stuck in, and the other two took some effort to move, and did not pop back out readily. Yikes… I swapped in the new body, after adding some Phil’s and it spins perfectly, as anticipated. I disassembled the old body, and found deposits of rust covering over half of the pawl’s height inside the machined recesses for the pawls. Yikes!

So why impart this story? An absence of some kind of grease (protection) can lead to marked degradation of any part, or parts. Shipping ‘dry’ chains would be a disaster as pointed out upstream. Manufacturers that do not monitor their assembly process and test and require their assemblers know the importance of the use of lubricants, suck. Also this body was inside the larger trainer assembly, and still rusted rather severely. Rust could penetrate a chain and damage parts of a chain that no one ever sees.

And on to Simple Green: It’s water based, and the one chain I cleaned with it was ruined because of the water that was locked inside the links. The rust happened under/inside the rollers. I had thought I had gotten all of the Simple Green/water mix out of the chain, and lubricated the chain and ‘happy days’, until a couple of links seized. I will be switching to DNA (denatured alcohol) and will have to handle it accordingly. At least DNA will evaporate, and as a solvent, it ‘should’ work better. I have the Simple Green ‘Clear’, but am hesitant to use it now. And, yes, once ‘used’ the solvent becomes contaminated, and should be disposed of in an environmentally responsible way. So either way, using Simple Green like compounds or more environmentally damaging solvents, you are still stuck with disposing of the used solvent. To me, might as well start out with a ‘good’ solvent to do the job and not introduce other issues, and issues dealing with previous compounds used in the process.


I wouldn’t call Adam Kerin “random”, I respect his (and others) work concerning chain friction and lubrication.

I like to think that I picked up a thing or two during the roughly 15 years that I worked with friction analysis and tribology at a reasonably well known car manufacturer in Sweden. I also don’t claim that I know everything.

My point is that a new chain needs some running in to perform at its best. If you put your Super Duper Ultra Slick chain lube on a new chain it will delay this running in period.

A newly manufactured chain has a surface like this:
You want the high spots to be polished to improve its load bearing ability. This distributes the load on a larger area minimizing the risk of the lubrication film to collapse. Proper running in will result in a surface more in line with this picture;
The valleys serve as reservoirs for lubricants and the now flattened ridges handles the load. This is what is achieved during the process the previously linked Silca pre-waxed race chain is subject to. If you don’t want to spend that kind of money you can achieve virtually the same result using the sub par factory lubricant for the first few hundred kilometers before you deep clean your chain and apply your preferred lubrication.


All you need now is a citation that supports your claim that running in the chain on the original lube and subjecting it to internal contamination is a superior choice to stripping the chain off its original lube and waxing it.
According to Silca themselves, skipping “diamond polishing of our other options only loses about .5w of efficiency” which together with lack of contamination makes it fairly obvious that this is the superior choice (other than going the extra mile with some sort of polishing pre-wax).
Adam Kerin can’t be any clearer when he advises everybody to remove the original lube immediately and there’s probably no one in the world who has dealt with more chains and certainly nobody who has remained independent throughout all the testing.

But I’m not past convincing if you show proof. Truth is truth, wherever it comes from.

There aren’t many truths in science, just probabilities, normal distributions and confidence levels.
I don’t question Silcas nor anyone else’s procedure to obtain the perfect chain but the difference to what I propose is marginal. If marginal gains is your thing, go ahead. This is clearly pro tour stuff and most amateurs will probably gain more speed from a better aero position. Even optimal tire pressure or tire type would likely have a larger impact on actual losses. Shave your legs and chin as well.

I prefer to have 80% of the benefit from 20% of the effort and time for other stuff. You are free to prioritize differently.


These are not mutually exclusive……you can do both, neither or just one.

You came on here blasting people, was shown to be proven wrong and now is trying to use some sort of false equivalency to justify Using a horrendously slow “lube”.

The fact is that the effect you are attempting to achieve will be accomplished no matter which lube you use but you are advocating using literally the worst possible solution to achieve it.


If the same guy you’re taking as the expert is a good enough citation, here’s Adam talking about break-in for a race chain:

PS: I wouldn’t bother with this step myself.

Yes, he mentions a controlled break-in run… Which is quite different from going out and riding with the original lube, getting contamination in the pins/rollers as advised here. And if no break-in/diamond polishing means less 0.5% (per Silca), it’s pretty safe to say you’re better off doing the break-in run after waxing and then rewaxing.

1 Like

I use simple green (shake in a bottle x 3) but then rinse with a denatured alcohol until the alcohol is mostly clear. (usually x 3). I wax and keep the crock pot on high and the chain in the wax for a long time (e.g. I do something else, forget about it, and then take it out) with occasional switches to evaporate any remaining water. Chain seems to be fine, but I generally am only a fair weather rider outside. Just switched to waxed on my gravel bike chain though so we’ll see how that holds up in rougher conditions.


I’ve heard that DNA can ‘push water out’, but never tried it. Seems like it may work. Cool. Thanks for the comment. My goal is to start riding outside more, meaning more dirt/filth, less sweat/dog hair. Also meaning cleaning more often too.

1 Like

2+ chains comes in handy for that situation - come back, take chain off, sponge bike down in 5 minutes, wipe dry, fit another chain.

At some point before the next ride, rinse the chain you took off with boiling water, dry (compressed air, heat gun, oven…whatever), then re-dunk ready for next swap.

That would make sense. I have always hated cleaning chains. I could see using 3 chains! More riding, less cleaning.

1 Like

I realize that, I apologize.

justify Using a horrendously slow “lube”

You have clearly missed my point.

I don’t think so…you are saying leave the original grease on to use during the “bedding” process and then just add on the lube of your choice after that.

That doesn’t change the fact that the factory-applied coating is horrendously slow, attracts dirt and other contaminants and will decrease the life of your chain.

If I am mistaken, feel free to correct me.

1 Like