Whether you like to ride your bike in spandex or body armor, there is one universal truth to cycling: chain maintenance sucks. Keeping your chain clean and lubed can be a full time job that no one wants. The solution: Hot Wax. You already wax your skis, time to wax your bike!
No joke, dipping your chain in hot wax is a thing and it turns chain maintenance into a non-issue. I started waxing my chain a few months ago and have been impressed with the results. You won’t need lube for at least a few hundred miles, and the best part is, it stays super clean even on the muddiest of rides. If you live in the PNW, this one is for you.
Initially it does take a little bit more effort than traditional chain lube, and you’ll have to spend a few bucks, but the results are worth it. Here’s how do to do it:
Step 1: Clean your chain. This one is important because you want the wax sticking to bare metal. If your chain is super gross, or even just regular gross, make life easy and get a new one. Even with a new chain, you’ll need to soak it in mineral spirits to remove the factory lubricant. Once again, Step 1, super important. Clean your chain like you’ve never cleaned it before.
Step 2: Get some wax. Would ski wax work? Or how about that candle in the bathroom? I don’t know…maybe. I use a product called Molten Speed Wax that is designed just for this. It costs about $20 for a pound (I bought it myself, not a paid promo here) and so far it has done quite a few chains.
Step 3: Melt the wax. The safest way is with a slow cooker. Steal your roommate’s, get one at a yard sale, or buy one from Jeff Bezos. I’m sure you can figure out plenty of other ways to melt it, but you don’t want hot wax accidentally exploding in your face or all over your kitchen. Pretty simple, just stay safe and don’t burn yourself.
Step 4: Dip the chain. Once your wax is melted and up to about 200 degrees F, drop the chain in for about 60 seconds, moving it around slightly to make sure every bit gets coated. Fish it out with a piece of wire, or an old fork, and hang it to dry. Generally it should just have a light coating of wax, not a thick layer.
Step 5: Reinstall your chain. The chain will initially be quite stiff, so take a second to break the links up so they move. Then reinstall the chain on your bike. It’s that easy! If you’re using a quick link, make sure to wax that guy too.
Step 6: Go Ride. It will take a ride or two for the chain to fully loosen up, after which it should be super smooth and maintenance free. Plus, no more grease marks on your calves or in your car!
The initial treatment should last a few hundred miles depending on conditions. Once you notice your chain isn’t feeling as fast, or maybe its got some dirt or rust building up on it, it’s time to re-wax. Best to do this sooner than later before the chain gets too dirty and cleaning it becomes a chore. I’ve got a chain with about 300 miles on it that is still going strong.