Liquid Wrench Chain Lube

In August of 2010 I replaced the chain on my Long Haul Trucker, and chose at that time to use a new chain lube as well.

I’d used Boeshield T9 on the previous two chains, and while I had no major issues with either the factory stock chain, or the SRAM PC-991 I replaced it with, and got decent life out of both (4098 miles on the factory chain and 4589 miles on the PC-991), I was a bit dissatisfied with the frequency of lube reapplication required. I’d generally get about 150 miles before I could start hearing the chain, or it started squeaking.

So I decided to make a switch.

I’d used Liquid Wrench Chain Lube on my Burley Django recumbent, on the recommendation of someone on a ‘bent forum, and had been happy with the performance, except that it wasn’t as clean as I’d like.

In the meantime, while I’d been using the Boeshield T9 on the LHT, it turns out that Liquid Wrench reformulated the lube to address the cleanliness issue. ‘New Organic Molybdenum Compound for high lubricity, anti-wear properties, without the black staining of original “MOLY”‘, according to the company.

The old lube came in a can with a black cap, and the new lube is in a can with a yellow cap. It’s also available in a bottle, but more commonly found in the spray can. I bought mine in the spray can version at a local auto parts store for about $4 — cheap compared to bicycle-specific lubes.

According to Liquid Wrench:

Industrial chain lube sprays like this one use an evaporating solvent in a base of petroleum oils and molybdenum disulphide. The high-viscosity petroleum oils do some of the rustproofing and general lubrication, while the molybdenum disulphide acts as a friction modifier, reducing wear. MD has exceptional lubrication qualities under conditions of high temperature, high loads (metal-to-metal contact pressure), and corrosive environments. It not only prevents rust, but metal-to-metal galling and can be used as an anti-seize compound. The combination of petroleum oils and MD offers superior rust and corrosion protection when compared to lighter oils or silicone products.

It is specifically recommended for bicycle chains (among a host of other applications).

“New, anti-sling formula, Liquid Wrench Chain Lube, works best on high performance bicycle and garage door opener chains for long term corrosion protection.”

I figured “what the heck”. The worst if could do is cause my chain to age prematurely. My new chain was an SRAM PC-951, their low-end 8-speed chain, which I got for $18.

Now, after 4620 miles, I have just replaced that chain, so here are my conclusions about the lube:

The chain appeared to run pretty clean. Perhaps not quite as clean as with Boeshield, but certainly cleaner than with the old Liquid Wrench Chain Lube formulation, and cleaner than with other oil-based lubes I’ve tried. It still got a bit of the black gunk after awhile (Boeshield did that, too), but not bad.

The chain was cleaned twice (using a Park Tools chain scrubber), both times after a mud-fest ride.

The longevity of the lube on the chain is slightly better than the Boeshield. I ended up lubing the chain about once every 180 miles, on average. Some of that was due to the snow/rain/mud rides; during dry periods, my lube frequency was usually 200+ miles (maximum = 288 miles).

To use the lube, I repurposed an old empty Boeshield bottle, punching a hole in the side, and using the straw applicator to fill it with Liquid Wrench Chain Lube, then taping the hole closed. Crude, but works.

To apply the lube, I apply it to a link at a time, using about one drop per three links, then rotating the crank a few times. The mess is minimal.

In all, I’ve been happy with the Liquid Wrench Chain Lube. It’s less expensive than the Boeshield and appears to work just as well. I’m planning to use it on my next chain (another SRAM PC-951) as well.

DirtBum Written by:

I enjoy riding bicycles all over -- city streets, suburbia, rural roads, gravel roads, dirt roads, rail-trails, and singletrack. I love exploring the countryside and finding the interesting and historical treasures hidden in plain sight. You can follow my rides on Strava.

One Comment

  1. Sahel
    September 24, 2011

    Thank you for this review! I was looking for a cheap lube for my mountain bike and picked this up at my local hardware store based on your recommendation.

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