Ultrasonic Chain Optimisation from Muc-Off
How does Muc-Off’s Ultrasonic Chain Optimisation work?
With all the interest in squeezing every watt out of you and your bike, no area has been left untouched. One that has intrigued me is the evolution of the humble chain lube. From the good ol’ days of squirting a few drops of 3-in-1, we have progressed to a bewildering array of products. And once you have chosen your lubricant, you then enter the arcane world of chain cleaning. UK brand Muc-off have been working to produce their own brand of lubricants, but realised that these needed to be properly applied. And to do this you needed a clean chain. But not just any clean chain, one that had gone through their Ultrasonic Chain Optimisation process!
Let’s go back a few years(!), as a young lad cleaning my chain involved applying something suitably aggressive to strip the grease. This was applied with a stiff brush or old toothbrush and the excess flushed down the drain without a thought. A quick dry and the oil was applied, link by link, then the excess wiped off. Then GT85 appeared and I started spraying and cleaning with gay abandon, covering everything. Of course it didn’t last long, especially in the wet, so alternatives appeared. Lubes for wet conditions, lubes for dry and everything in between. Everyone had their favourite and it was the best. But now we have science to confirm or de-bunk our choices.
Muc-Off recently sent me some of their Ludicrous AF chain lube to try out and reading about it got me thinking. Ludicrous AF is sold as a pure race lube, it was developed in conjunction with WorldTour teams. It’s not aimed at the long distance tourer, the daily commuter or the muddy off-roader: it’s all about speed. So it needs to be applied and used in certain conditions to get the most out of it.
What is cavitation?
Application is no longer a simple case of giving your chain a quick wipe and dripping the lube on: oh no. Muc-Off want you to get all scientific with your lubrication, so step forward Ultrasonic Chain Optimisation! What’s that I hear you ask? It’s actually quite simple. You pop you chain – old or new – into a sonic cleaner containing a heated solvent. The sonic cleaner is a tank that uses sound waves to vibrate the muck off, in a process called cavitation. Cavitation produces tiny bubbles that collapse and produce shock waves, this breaks free dirt and grease, even in the the smallest gaps.
Once the chain has been thoroughly cleaned – this could take more than one pass – it is thoroughly dried. Once dry it is placed in another sonic bath, this one containing either Ludicrous AF or Hydrodynamic lube. This time the waves help distribute the lubricant deep inside the chain, ensuring the internal plates, roller and pins are covered. The chain is then allowed to dry and it’s ready to go.
Who does Ultrasonic Chain Optimisation?
As you can see this isn’t a quick process and not many of us have their own sonic cleaner. Muc-Off have thought about this and have set up a number of shops who can provide this service. Check out the Ultrasonic Chain Optimisation page to see the dealer location map. And you still need to decide between Ludicrous AF and Hydrodynamic, the first for road based racing, the latter a more all-round product.
Does it work?
How much difference can all this cleaning and lubrication make? Well bare in mind we’re talking about pro teams looking for those infamous marginal gains, but if you too want the ultimate set-up, then why not? Muc-Off have worked with riders who have gone on to take 10 Grand Tours, gold medals at three Olympic Games – and three UCI Hour Records. Check out their website, there is a ton of information about the research they have put into these products.
And if you’re worried about all the sustainability of these products, don’t worry. The High-Performance Ultrasonic Chain Cleaner is readily biodegradable, Ludicrous AF is made of 75% plant-based materials, and Hydrodynamic lube is petroleum-free. And by keeping your drivetrain lubed and clean you’ll be prolonging its life. Below is a short video shot by the guys at Handsling Bikes to show the process using Hydrodynamic lube. I’ll try and get a chain optimised and let you know how it fares.
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