Desperate to find an adequate lubricant for long-lasting races I stumbled upon Smoove Universal Chain Lube. I was searching for a lube that would keep my chain and drive-train lubed and clean over long periods. Could Smoove be the answer?
It’s not like I hadn’t found decent brands for this purpose in the past mind you. It’s just that their long-lasting properties left a lot to be desired in most cases. Obviously on long races/rides you can carry a lube bottle along, and re-apply as you go. But it is inconvenient and potentially a waste of time and places. Being a 24 hour solo racer who focuses on stage races, I am constantly seeking a lube that can cope.
Before I begun to test Smoove, I touched based with its founder, Ruan Deyzel. Ruan spent three years developing his product in South Africa, with thirty riders testing coded samples every three weeks. Smoove has since gone on to be the choice of riders tackling the brutal Cape Epic MTB stage race, with reports suggesting 90% of riders using Smoove.
While I was impressed by the reports Smoove had, I was dubious about the longevity of the lube. However there had to be some truth to the reports. It’s been tested ad nausea on several stage races in South Africa, and success is no accident. So I figured it was time to try this wonder lube out, how would ui
I kicked off the test under hash wintry conditions, spiced up with bitter mud, sleet, snow and freezing temperatures in cyclo-cross races. I then added some extended training rides in off-season training camps, mostly under sunny skies in Spain.
It wasn’t easy to convince my team-mate to take the risk and ride back-to-back ‘cross races without re-lubing the drive-train. But I did and he rode three races, two of which were mud-baths, and even though we cleaned the bike, we didn’t touch the drive-train.
After the third race things were starting to get a little noisy. I was impressed though, I hadn’t expected it to last this long. My team-mate went for broke saying: “let’s follow through, I am going to take a chance”. We were both very curious as to how far we could go without cleaning the chain.
He rode another two races, and even though the chain was noisy, the shifting was still working in a reasonable manner. How many watts did he lose by running with a dirty drive-train? We don’t know! According to him there were just some minor shifting problems. I was impressed, Smoove had proved that it could take a muddy beating as advertised. So we stopped beating the dead horse and cleaned our bikes!
Moving to Spain, we were blessed with sunny weather conditions, so I decided to leave my chain – with Smoove on it – untouched the whole time. During the camp we covered approximately 950km. Being Spain we had no rain, or freezing temperatures at all. Only after 500km did I become aware of some slight chain noise. My team mate’s drive train however, stayed silent.
Despite the noise coming from my chain I went the whole 950Km without re-lubing. Yes, it became noisy, but it was bearable. It proved to me that my drive-train is protected by Smoove in extreme cases where no lube is available. Gear changing started to suffer up to a point too, but it was a minor issue.
Now, what about putting it on gear cables? According to the tech sheet, you can use it on cables as well. Once I was back home, I tested it on a neglected MTB that was crying out for some TLC. Smoove successfully sorted the dry cables, but I assume Smoove is much better off on drive trains. Mind you, if you want to rely on one single brand to keep it simple, Smoove will cover you in the cable department.
First application of Smoove requires your chain to be completely clean. If you’re starting with a new chain, then something like paraffin to clean the grease right out. Once it’s clean and dry you need to apply the lube to the chain while back pedalling. Once it’s all on, carry on spinning for twenty revolutions, then leave over night for it to soak in. I didn’t experience any ‘clumping’ with Smoove when applied like this.
Leaving it to soak in overnight is an important part of the process. Other riders were sceptical of it’s ability to penetrate the chain links, but as long as you give it time to work, you’ll be fine. Sure every now and then, I would apply it in a hurry – such as during a race – just put it on and move on. I still carry a spare bottle for twenty-four hour races, but it’s more of a ‘just in case’ kind of thing.
So after all my tests and trials I’ve decided I’ll stick with wax based lubricants. Previously I’d found one of the short comings of these lubricants had been the need for frequent re-lubing, but not with Smoove. That’s not to say you can forget about taking care of your drive-train, that’s never an option. But there are events which require a long-lasting lubricant and where chances to re-apply may be few and far between. I spoke to riders that had tested it in South African stage races and they thoroughly recommended it.
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