Keeping a E-Gravel bike chain running smooth and quiet can seem like an impossible task in some conditions. At times it seems dust and grit almost purposefully seek out your drivetrain. This inevitably leads to increased drag, crunchy shifting and wear rates that leave your cassette cogs sharp as shark’s teeth in no time. The gravel bike world probably has it the worst. They’re turning the pedals for hours on end, through some of the most abrasive surfaces going. This means their chain lubes have to work magic to keep the chain sliding smooth for the duration of a ride. Allied Cycleworks know the gravel world as well as any and decided to make their own chain lube when the available options weren’t cutting it – enter GRAX High-Performance chain lube. We put it to the test on our e-Gravel bikes to see how it performs out on the trail.
GRAX (Gravel Wax) High-Performance chain lube is – as you may have guessed – a wax-based lubricant that is claimed to shed water, dirt and mud and maintain a smooth-running chain for up to 350 miles per application. GRAX worked with a spin-off from the University of Arkansas Nanotechnology department to develop the formulation of their chain lube and a separate cleaner.
The GRAX lube was developed to excel in two performance areas: it’s ability to repel moisture; and the drivetrain friction in both dry and muddy conditions. GRAX tested their product against what they considered to be the best products on the market and were satisfied that it excelled in all categories. They claim it is the most efficient lube available while also resisting the elements better too, ensuring you have a smooth and efficient drivetrain through the worst conditions. GRAX is available in a 4oz bottle (up to 20 applications) for a retail price of $20, which seems quite reasonable if it works as good as advertised, but how does it perform out on the trail?
We’ll admit that we’re often guilty of lubing a slightly less than spotless drivetrain at the last second before hopping on for a ride. With GRAX lube you’re instructed to give things a good clean (they make a cleaning product to do this) before applying a healthy covering of their lubricant, cycling through the gears, then leaving the bike for an hour to allow the wax to solidify. We’ll always follow the instructions at least once when testing a product, so we set about cleaning up the drivetrain to the point you could eat your dinner off it, then following the application procedure to the line. Instantly it was evident how nice and thick the GRAX lube goes on and it quieted down the drivetrain from the second it had coated the chain, which instantly felt like it ran smoother than ever before – good first impressions. Once the hour of settling time had elapsed, it was time to hit the trails.
Like I said, we’ll always follow the instructions at least once, but as time went on, they were taken less and less seriously for the sake of convenience, and the old fashioned “wash, wipe, lube” or even a last second application to a dirty chain began to creep into play. I’m pleased to say the GRAX lube still held its own and offered similar quietening and smooth-running characteristics. You can take a bike that sounds like crap and isn’t shifting smoothly, apply the lube and go ride and it’s almost like a new bike. I’d suggest against dumping a coat on your chain and instantly riding in moon dust, as the wet wax is bound to suck it up, but in most other conditions it’s not likely to be much of an issue.
I’ve no doubt that following the instructions yields a better result, but the arduous full de-grease and reapplication isn’t always practical and ultimately, I’d rather be sipping on a root beer post-ride than going into full bike detail maximizing the cleanliness of my chain. No, it’s not laziness…we’re intentionally abusing these products to speed up the wear and tear during our testing process, in the name of science! On a couple of longer trips away I’d go a couple days without washing or relubing anything, and the drivetrain continued to perform well, which makes me think those 350-mile claims could be possible in the less gnarly weather conditions. At $20 for a bottle, it seems like great value compared with some of the “fancy” lubricants with eye-watering price tags, even more so when you consider its potential longevity for e-Gravel bikers on the casual 15-20 mile ride after work that may go some time without needing to touch their drivetrain.
The Allied Cycleworks GRAX wax-based chain lubricant has proven to be effective for more than just gravel biking, providing a long-lasting coating to our fleet of mountain and e-mountain bike drivetrains that continue to run smooth and quiet. We love it when a product works well and doesn’t break the bank doing so, we can say we are huge fans of GRAX lube, kudos to Allied Cycleworks. Get yourself a bottle and let us know what you think.
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