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Chain lube = performance

At NZERO we are continually working to maximise the performance of our products, but what does this mean in terms of chain lubrication?

Surely chain lubrication is just a fluid to stop my chain rusting, right? This is not correct, a chain lube does much more than stopping rust. Chain lubrication has many other important functions. One of the least appreciated is cyclist performance and speed. In this article we shall explain this aspect.

The most efficient system for transferring the pedalling motion of a cyclist to the motion force at the bicycle wheel is through the use of a chain and gear sprocket. With various belt systems having been available for some time, it can be seen that today all competitive bicycles continue to use chains and gear sprockets. They are simply the most efficient manner to transfer pedalling force to the wheel whilst allowing for gearing dynamic range and performance. What is not always appreciated is that the type of lubricant inside the chain rollers can greatly affect the efficiencies.

In order to function at its highest performance, the chain links need to rapidly transition from a straight (horizontal) alignment to a rotated position in mili seconds. If the rollers in the chain have high friction and ‘resist’ these transitions, the rider has to put more effort in to obtain the same overall rotating velocity of the chain.

+ A good lubricant will allow those transitions with minimal ‘resistance’.

A bad lubricant will resist those transitions with maximised ‘resistance’.

At NZERO we use two systems for measuring the friction reducing properties of our lubricants. The first is called the ‘brugger’ friction tester, a scientific instrument used to test the anti-friction properties of lubricants.

In this test a cylindrical roller is pressed against a ring by applying an established continual force. The lubricant under test is placed between the roller and ring, with the ring allowed to rotate during 30 seconds. After this, the elliptical wear mark produced on the roller’s surface is measured. The two diameters (a and b) of the ellipse are used to calculate the Brugger B value (N/mm2) indicating the level of resistance to wear generated by the lubricant. A higher number means an improved level of lubrication and anti-wear performance.

In the second image below you can see the results of NZERO WET LUBE tested on the Brugger versus market leading competition.

A higher number (and bar height), means that the lubricant produces the best friction reduction and anti-wear result. In this test we include market leading, performance WET Lubes and as you can see we worked hard to ensure that our Organic WET LUBE excels in this category. This is firstly, thanks to the strong cellular bonds of the organic base material that we use, and this has then been enhanced with further organic compounds that we simulated to obtain the optimum mix concentrations.

However, scientific friction results are one thing, performance in the mechanical application is another. Hence, the second lab system that we use to test is a dyno, developed by NZERO, it is able to conduct scientific testing over and over again, allowing our test cyclists some well-earned break time !

With the dyno, amongst other variables, we are able to measure the constant velocity generated for a constant motor power input. To test this, a new chain is placed on the setup, the lubricant under test applied and the motor run at a constant power output over 24 hours. During the test, the velocity of the wheel is measured.

The results can be quite surprising.

In the below evolution km/h diagram, NZERO Organic WET lube is represented by the dark brown line. You can see that it is way above the two products represented by the Orange and blue line. Those two products are well known brands. At one point NZERO delivers a performance difference of over 3Km/h for the same power input (up to 18% improved performance). Compared with the four remaining brands at the top of the image, NZERO also delivers better performance over time and NZERO is fully ORGANIC.