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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've been using tri-flow as my general lube for a long time. It works great on pivot points for brakes and derailleurs. However, it is God Awful as a chain lube. It turns the chain and cassette BLACK, attracts dirt like crazy, and gunks up everything, destroying shift quality.

I had a few packets of prolink samples sitting around, so figured, why not? I cleaned the dark sooty gunk off my chain, chassette and pulley wheels to the best of my ability. It is unbelievable how black and dirty the chain gets with triflow.

I dribbled the prolink sample onto the chain unevenly. I probably dribbled half of it on my hand, but there seemed to be sufficient lube on most of the chain, and I then wiped off the excess.

Went for a ride and BOOM! Shift quality is now just about show room floor fresh! Upshift gives that very satisfying CLUNK as the chain dumps down the cassette, and downshifts are just as quiet as before.

With the triflow crap everywhere, misshifts were becoming semi-commonplace and slow, noisy shifts were the norm. I tried adjusting the derailleur, but that wasn't the problem, I've now realized.


It is so satisfying to have my my original superior shift quality that was a major part of the equation as to why I bought the bike in the first place. It's so satisfying to have that superior shimano shifting on my bike again.

Long live ProLink chain lube!
 

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Funny, I felt just the opposite. Pro link turns my gold chain black within a week, white lightning seems to work best for me. Guess that's why we have choices.
 

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Prolink turns black too. It may take a bit longer, but the chain will be "dirty" in less than 200 miles.

I do 200-250 miles per week and use prolink. I wipe my chain and re-lube at least every other ride. At least once per week, I spray the drivetrain with WD40, wash it with water from a hose, lube with prolink, and wipe off the lube with a dry paper towel.

I think I may get a little better chain life with regular cleaning and lubing. But, I know I hate black chain rings, black chains, and gunked up derailleur pulleys. Amazing how my bike always shifts correctly, when other riding buddies who never wipe or lube their chains have shifting problems.
 

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Only lube I've used that kept things clean looking but lubed... Is RnR Red. But it needs reapplied frequently per the instructions. But it sucks in the wet
 

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Only lube I've used that kept things clean looking but lubed... Is RnR Red. But it needs reapplied frequently per the instructions. But it sucks in the wet

That's how it works. Cleaner and more frequent, or a bit dirtier and longer lasting.

I tried many things in the past, but I use Slick 50 One Lube now. Some in a drip bottle does the trick, good for general purpose use around the house as well, inexpensive given that a 12oz can lasts and lasts. Relatively clean if you apply it correctly, and lasts a good long time under most conditions. The MTBR reviews praise it in the wet, for example.

I do use white lightning, but only on my pedals.
 

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Adorable Furry Hombre
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That's how it works. Cleaner and more frequent, or a bit dirtier and longer lasting.
Except not in RnR Red's case. Your chain can and does still look shiny and clean, but it will run loud because it isn't lubricated well anymore. Needs reapplied every 100 miles or so. It is self cleaning by design when applied right, but application is best done on a floor you don't care about as you pour over a backwards spinning chain-not dab on link by link.

Love the stuff for not being a grime magnet at all, but doesn't keep the chain lubricated longer term like ProLink. And in the wet it just washes out, moreso than most dry-lubes.
 

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Generally the longer lasting a lube is the more prone it is to making your chain black and visa versa. ProLink is somewhere in the middle as in it's lasts kinda long and is kinda decent at keeping the chain looking clean. But if you have OCD for either clean or long lasting there are better choices for each. If you have OCD for both clean and long lasting you're probably out of luck.

Personally I don't care if my chain isn't shiny silver and don't really mind lubing often either so pretty much any lube will do.
 

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OP,

It sounds like you are just feeling the benefit of having a clean drive train. If you keep it clean and lubricated, shift quality and life expectancy of your gear should be good, regardless of what lube you use (within reason of course).
 

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The only way to keep your chain and rings nice and shiny is to use a wax based lube like White Lightening. The problem with that stuff is that it wears off after 100 miles or even less. I used to use Pro Link, but have been using RnR yellow lately. Yes, my chain is black. No, I don't care.
 

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OP,

It sounds like you are just feeling the benefit of having a clean drive train. If you keep it clean and lubricated, shift quality and life expectancy of your gear should be good, regardless of what lube you use (within reason of course).
Yeah. He changed two things: (1) The lube. (2) The cleanliness of the chain.

The more informative experiment would be to clean the chain, and then have someone else apply one or the other (so you are blind to the possible change), ride for a week, switch (re-clean, etc), and then try to figure out which is which. That would help rule out expectation bias and would involve only one change at a time.

My main problem is sand in the chain. I don't like the idea of leaving that in place. So I clean frequently, and use minimal, teflon-based lubricant.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I don't care if the chain turns black. I DO care about shift quality and about having a silent chain.

Tri Flow has failed magnificently on both counts. I used tri flow after cleaning the chain thoroughly with simple green in a chain cleaning machine. After drying, I applied tri flow, then cleaned off the excess.

By the second ride, the chain was covered with a thick black paste, and I had multiple misshifts, and shifts were generally quite slow and clunky. The drivetrain was also excessively noisy.

After 3 rides of this nonsense, I finally tried the prolink sample I had lying around. I tried to get as much of the black tar that had gunked up the chain and cassette, then applied the prolink and wiped off the excess.

Even testing the bike on the stand I could tell the lube was far superior. I'm going on another ride today, but this stuff is magical compared to tri flow.

It really does feel like the bike I rode off the showroom floor, with very precise shifts.

I still like tri flow a lot: it's decent as a lube for brake and derailleur pivot points, although again, it can attract dirt like a magnet, esp. if you don't wipe up any excess or dribble in just a bit too much.

I guess it's become a bike shop standard since it's a few bucks less than the competition, but I'd rather pay $2 or $3 more for a bottle considering you can do much, much better, esp. in maintaining a drivetrain.
 

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I still like tri flow a lot: it's decent as a lube for brake and derailleur pivot points, although again, it can attract dirt like a magnet, esp. if you don't wipe up any excess or dribble in just a bit too much.
In all my time cycling I've never put a touch of lube on brakes or derailleur pivot points. And all is well. How to heck does one identify a good lube for something that as far as I can tell requires no lube to work perfectly well?
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Yeah. He changed two things: (1) The lube. (2) The cleanliness of the chain.

The more informative experiment would be to clean the chain, and then have someone else apply one or the other (so you are blind to the possible change), ride for a week, switch (re-clean, etc), and then try to figure out which is which. That would help rule out expectation bias and would involve only one change at a time.

My main problem is sand in the chain. I don't like the idea of leaving that in place. So I clean frequently, and use minimal, teflon-based lubricant.
Wrong, I cleaned the chain much more thoroughly before applying tri flow than I did before applying prolink. So if anything, tri flow had a much better chance to showcase it's abilities than the prolink.
 

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I used tri flow after cleaning the chain thoroughly with simple green in a chain cleaning machine. After drying, I applied tri flow, then cleaned off the excess.
Did you rinse it before drying? If not, you might want to start, unless you think grease cutters are helpful to lubrication.

I am going to guess that you wiped off the excess by running the chain through a rag, backpedaling. That won't get the excess off, because the excess is not all on the exterior surface after application. Lots has wicked into the rollers. You know what drives it out of the rollers? Pressure. Which happens when you pedal.

By the second ride, the chain was covered with a thick black paste, and I had multiple misshifts, and shifts were generally quite slow and clunky. The drivetrain was also excessively noisy.
Classic sign of over application. I have never in my decades of cycling seen in the real world a chain lube that was applied in proper amounts result in "thick black paste" on the chain after a couple rides.

If you put too much on of any brand, you can ride the bike around the block... then wipe off the gunk that oozed out under pressure. That, plus a wipe after the first ride, generally will get things in order pretty well after putting too much on of any lube.
 

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I

Even testing the bike on the stand I could tell the lube was far superior. I'm going on another ride today, but this stuff is magical compared to tri flow.
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I've used a bottle or two of ProLink and it worked fine. At the time I was not aware of these magical properties. Now I wonder if it will make my hair grow back. Anyway, I went back to homebrew because its cheap and the difference between it and Prolink wasn't all that apparent to me. I am definitely not in the clean chain OCD camp
 

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The only way to keep your chain and rings nice and shiny is to use a wax based lube like White Lightening. The problem with that stuff is that it wears off after 100 miles or even less. I used to use Pro Link, but have been using RnR yellow lately. Yes, my chain is black. No, I don't care.
White lightnening was the stuff in the mid-90s, until i got tired of black gunk all over my chainrings, chain, and derailleur pulleys.

I realize it is personal preference. But, white lightening and shiney chain do not go together. White lightening and cat 5 marks go hand in hand.
 

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It's about time to re-lube my chain. Been 701 miles with Chain-L. Last time was 900 miles. Oh well.
My chain is black and greasy. And I don't care.
Wipe the chain after each ride for 2-3 rides after you apply the lube and you won't even have that. Once you get the excess oil off the outside plates it really doesn't collect dirt at all and stays quite clean.
 

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I've used a bottle or two of ProLink and it worked fine. At the time I was not aware of these magical properties. Now I wonder if it will make my hair grow back. Anyway, I went back to homebrew because its cheap and the difference between it and Prolink wasn't all that apparent to me. I am definitely not in the clean chain OCD camp
It's CDO sir. The letters have to be in the right order
 
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