The seduction of bike geekdom
January 21, 2011
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Nowhere has the seduction of bike geekdom been so visible recently as in a series of posts on Ecovelo about chains.
Yes a whole series of posts on the wonders of clean chains achieved through a waxing process, all accompanied by stunning photos of bikes cleaner than mine have ever been.
It makes it all sound so seductive, the idea of a clean chain after hundreds of miles.
Can I resist?
Then I think about what is involved:
- I need to buy a slow cooker to dedicate to this process.
- I need to buy blocks of paraffin was and beeswax and some teflon impregnated oil
- I need to remove and very thoroughly clean my chain
- I need to melt all the ingredients in the slow cooker
- Add the chain and leave for a while
- hang up the chain to drip, give it a wipe
- re-install the chain (but I guess onto a beautifully cleaned bike or it would be a waste of time)
- repeat every 500 miles or so.
Then I think about my life. I have ridden 283 miles this year. I have chosen a bike that requires almost no maintenance and since getting it in September I have cleaned the chain once (because I switched to a wax based lubricant). In that time I have ridden approaching 1,000 miles and have yet to wash the bike.
Then I think about my belief that we need to see a huge switch to cycling from car driving in this country:
If I descend the slippery (and let’s face it to a geek like me attractive slope into bike maintenance geekdom) then I throw away all hope of this becoming mainstream. No way are people who currently drive ordinary family cars going to be interested in waxing their bike chains.
So I have put the seduction behind me and am sticking to White super dry chain wax. Your chain won’t look quite as immaculate, but all you need to do is squirt some on every hundred miles or so (basically when the chain starts to squeak loudly enough to annoy you). It does a perfectly adequate job, is cleaner than oil and is very environmentally safe. Of course if you use a Dutch style full chaincase you can simply use Green Oil (only needed very rarely) without any concerns about getting yourself dirty.
For ordinary people who don’t want to worship their bikes but instead simply rely on them for everyday use I will try to fight my temptations towards superb bike equipment and maintenance