To Be Determined Journal

To Be Determined is a journal of cycling, adventure and photography, curated by a NYC-based cycling team known as TBD Racing or Team TBD. From criteriums to cyclocross to product reviews and travel diaries, it is all part of the TBD Journal.

WendWax Chain Wax Review

I recently came to the conclusion that over my two decades of riding I have used nearly every brand of drivetrain lubricant in existence. That may be a slight exaggeration but only a slight one as I currently have a drawer labeled "chain lube" that has no fewer than twelve different bottles of lubes in various states of depletion. 

More specifically for the past year I have been using the Silca NFS Pro Chain Lube, which is actually a private label rebrand of a product manufactured and sold by NixFrixShun. The benefit of the NFS product is that it's a concentrated solution that skips the solvents that make up many chain lubes. As a result a 2oz bottle of NFS chain lube will last for 10,000 or more miles of use. 

While I have generally been satisfied with Silvia's NFS Pro Chain Lube I recently came across a new product from WEND Waxworks that caught my attention. Paraffin based drivetrain lubricants are generally considered the most efficient from a friction reduction perspective but I could never fathom the time investment required to use wax in it's traditional application: removing the chain entirely and soaking it in molten paraffin. No thanks. 

However WEND, which has a long and successful history in winter sports, came up with a novel solution to this problem by developing a "rub-on" wax based chain lubricant that they call WEND MF Wax-On Chain Lube. WEND claims that this solution required two-years of R&D and given the lack of comparable products in the market I believe them. The final product looks like a deoderant stick and is actually used in a very similar manner:

I'm not going to claim that WEND generates any sort of magical marginal gains ala Team Sky. That's the territory of experts like Friction Facts and honestly my positive experience with WEND wax has as much or more to do with the application process and general cleanliness than any notion of free watts. Yes my drivetrain seems to spin at a similar rate as with NFS lube but what is really different with WEND is the cleanliness factor as my chain no longer collects dirt (or in the case of Central Park's Horse Shit Alley... hose shit) at the rate of liquid lubes.  

In fact over the past few months of use my bike has encountered all manner of conditions - from hot and dry days at Intelligentsia Cup to torrential downpours in Central Park - and throughout my drivetrain has stayed shockingly clean and easy spinning. I appreciated this not just from a regular maintenance perspective but also because I didn't have to worry about chain grease while removing wheels or storing bikes (not more "Cat 5 tattoos"). 

The downside with any paraffin based lubricant is that it requires reapplication more often than liquid lubes but with the ease of use associated with WEND I didn't find this to be a major hurdle. I would simply try to reapply WEND every 175-200 miles and never once ran into any issues with squeaking or a seemingly dry chain (WEND says that you can get up to 300 miles out of each application). On my recent trip to Intelligentsia Cup I just kept WEND in my race bag and would apply it every few days to be safe. For those keeping score at home WEND has also seen recent success at both Race Across America and the Gravel World Championships (by non-sponsored athletes)

At the end of the day your mileage may vary - there are a few negative reviews floating around on Amazon - but I have been pleased with WEND and am switching all of my road bikes over to it with my cyclocross bikes likely to follow.

Note: I paid retail for the WendWax Bike Chain Wax Kit (~$29 on Amazon) that includes a degreaser product in addition to the WendWax Bike Chain lubricant.