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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The owner and chief mechanic of a prominent LBS swears that lithium grease is
just like "wax", becoming a gunky mess that attracts dirt and debris, and thus obviously should be avoided as a chain lubricant (I already know that), but rather be used for the BB bearings (I have done that). I am requesting validation of such a perception. (I would like to show him tangible facts pro or against it.)
Thank you in advanced for your input. (I will appreciate it!)
 

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Alright, I'm not an engineer, but here goes. Grease is an oil with an emulsifier (meaning mayo is a grease -- oil + eggs). In the case of lithium grease it's probably mineral oil and lithium soap. The emulsifier makes grease more viscous then straight oil but keeps its ability to reduce friction. So, one of the main uses for grease is in places you want to reduce friction, but where oil wouldn't stay put (like in bearings).

I'm not sure what you mean about lithium grease being like wax as wax is the opposite of what you claim -- it isn't particularly gunky and doesn't attract much dirt (although it may not make the best chain lube because it doesn't seem to last too long). But yeah, don't use lithium grease on your chain because it would be a gunky mess (although my can of spray lithium grease does suggest that use). I do use it for bearings, although there are fancier greases you can use.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Wax

The cocky bike store owner/mechanic is the one with the claim. I believe he is wrong and I do want to validate my disagreement with some concrete facts that will validate my argument rather than blowing wind and smoke like him. See, I had taken my old Masi bike for a trouble shooting job regarding a skipping of the chain every 2-3 revolutions of the crank. I was so concerned, and anticipating a malfunction with the RD or the FW (they are 30 years old!), that I even bidded on e-bay for a used vintage Campagnolo NR rear derailleur and a Mallard 5 speed freewheel from a seller in Belgium. I am currently winning the bid for two items that I do not really need, and my wife is going to "kill me" once she finds out, he-he. So, it turns out that the skipping was caused by dirty gunk (lazy at maintenance) that was making the links skip, just like wax would had I used it. (He was convinced I had wax the chain and was adamant against such a practice, that would be as bad as applying WD 40 to the chain- forbidden practice to be avoided also in his inflated opinion.) Lubing the chain is a matter of individual preferences regarding brands to use or frequency of chain maintenance. I do appreciate your input! Thanks!
dlenmn said:
Alright, I'm not an engineer, but here goes. Grease is an oil with an emulsifier (meaning mayo is a grease -- oil + eggs). In the case of lithium grease it's probably mineral oil and lithium soap. The emulsifier makes grease more viscous then straight oil but keeps its ability to reduce friction. So, one of the main uses for grease is in places you want to reduce friction, but where oil wouldn't stay put (like in bearings).

I'm not sure what you mean about lithium grease being like wax as wax is the opposite of what you claim -- it isn't particularly gunky and doesn't attract much dirt (although it may not make the best chain lube because it doesn't seem to last too long). But yeah, don't use lithium grease on your chain because it would be a gunky mess (although my can of spray lithium grease does suggest that use). I do use it for bearings, although there are fancier greases you can use.
 

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Clean your drivetrain according to Kery Irons' specifications and you'll be right as rain, anything you're not capable of handling after that is your own lookout.
 

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Wax or grease

ru1-2cycle said:
The owner and chief mechanic of a prominent LBS swears that lithium grease is just like "wax", becoming a gunky mess that attracts dirt and debris, and thus obviously should be avoided as a chain lubricant (I already know that), but rather be used for the BB bearings (I have done that). I am requesting validation of such a perception. (I would like to show him tangible facts pro or against it.)
Wax on a chain does not become a gunky mess that attracts dirt. It does tend to result in solids building up on the derailleur pulleys and so on, and you can get a compounded solid of wax and dirt/metal particles, but it doesn't attract dirt the way an oil or grease does. If you blow dust at a block of parafin (wax), the dust will not stick to any appreciable degree. If you blow dust at a greased or oiled surface, the dust will stick like crazy. The problem with wax as a chain lube is that it is quickly displaced from the surfaces you want to lubricate, and does not ever "come back." An oil will wet that surface and keep it wet until the oil is washed away. Grease will do the same thing, though perhaps not as well due to the higher viscosity. If you had an enclosed drive train, grease would be a fine lube, though likely higher in friction than oil. Out in the exposed air, you can't keep the grease off the outer surfaces of the chain, and so it becomes a dirt magnet. Oil can be more easily wiped off, reducing this problem.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Nailed it.

I did read Kerry Iron's lube recommendations, and I also believe he really nailed the proccess down. Thank you, Irons.
rogger said:
Clean your drivetrain according to Kery Irons' specifications and you'll be right as rain, anything you're not capable of handling after that is your own lookout.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thank you for your expert point of view.

Kerry Irons said:
Wax on a chain does not become a gunky mess that attracts dirt. It does tend to result in solids building up on the derailleur pulleys and so on, and you can get a compounded solid of wax and dirt/metal particles, but it doesn't attract dirt the way an oil or grease does. If you blow dust at a block of parafin (wax), the dust will not stick to any appreciable degree. If you blow dust at a greased or oiled surface, the dust will stick like crazy. The problem with wax as a chain lube is that it is quickly displaced from the surfaces you want to lubricate, and does not ever "come back." An oil will wet that surface and keep it wet until the oil is washed away. Grease will do the same thing, though perhaps not as well due to the higher viscosity. If you had an enclosed drive train, grease would be a fine lube, though likely higher in friction than oil. Out in the exposed air, you can't keep the grease off the outer surfaces of the chain, and so it becomes a dirt magnet. Oil can be more easily wiped off, reducing this problem.
I will print your explanation and show it to the LBS owner and perhaps deflate his erroneous perception. Thanks again, Irons.
 
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