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Verdict: 
Smoove makes some bold claims about its chain lubricant, and my experience so far is that it really works
Weight: 
141g
Smoove Universal Chain Lube
9 10

When a company claims to make 'probably the hardest-wearing wax-based chain lube on the market,' which 'allows you to ride hundreds of miles between applications,' I'd expect to see some results. Well, I did. I tried the Smoove Universal Chain Lube, and it's true.

Smoove's owner/director, Thomas Dibley, made those claims in a nice covering letter he sent with a bottle of his product to road.cc HQ and asked us to 'give Smoove a thorough thrashing'. We were happy to help.

I have half a dozen bottles of dry lube products on the shelf in the workshop, none of which have ever run out, for the simple reason that none of them work effectively so I don't use them. Typically, 40 to 60 miles is all I get before the grinding transmission becomes noticeable. In some memorably wet rides that's been even less.

Often these products have names including the word 'Pro', which, I've concluded, apply to the need to have a squad car alongside you with the team mechanic hanging out applying more lube to your chain as you skim along. I asked my wife to provide a similar support role on the Wiggle Northern Angel. She said something about 'Muc-Off', though I may have mis-heard.

Smoove says the lube has been formulated for the toughest stage-races in the world and 'applied correctly' won't need re-applying mid event. 'Applied correctly' means as shown on the Cyclorise website and you need to start with a clean chain. My trusty CAAD10 was in need of a new chain and cassette, so I washed the new chain in white spirit and rinsed it in IPA*, allowing it to dry before fitting.

Smoove is a thin, white liquid that needs applying to the rollers-only as you turn the chain to get a light, even coverage. Because it's runny, some ended up on the workshop floor but I managed to get a chain looking something like the one in the video, with the odd roller 'joined' to its partner with a bit of lube. I left it overnight to dry (Smoove recommends this, though it says an hour is enough). The next day, the chain appeared completely dry. Only by touching it could I detect the presence of the lube, in a faint stickiness.

My plan was to see how far I could ride before chain noise became noticeable. After 60 miles, all was well. All was well after 100 miles too. It was only when I got to 200 miles (not, I had better point out, all on the same ride) that it dawned on me that I was never going to get a grinding chain, because Smoove doesn't work like that.

By around 100 miles I noticed that the stickiness of the lubricant had increased a bit. By 200 the chain rollers were looking quite grey, though the chainrings and sprockets were still pretty clean. At 250 miles I put the chain in an old bidon and cleaned the whole lot off with citrus degreaser. This turned an impressive shade of dark grey, which tells you a bit about the differences between this and other wax lubes: while most work by flaking off, taking the dirt with them, Smoove creates this long-lasting coating which doesn't fall off (hence the long-lasting lubrication) but does hang on more to the dirt. Whether this is an issue for you depends on how often you like to clean your chain, as routine degreasing and re-lubing is more associated with using wet lubes, which some people avoid for that very reason.

However, if you are in the habit of giving your chain a thorough clean and re-lube, once a week or so, then this maintenance routine is no worse and a lot less messy than a wet lube. Smoove recommends citrus degreaser for the job, but when I ran out I tried white spirit and it worked just as well, bringing the chain up sparkling.

Ordinary washing, with clean or soapy water, didn't seem to affect the product. Nor did getting caught in torrential rain on the way back from seeing Sir Wiggo unveiling a statue of Tom Simpson in County Durham. Come the winter salt, I wonder how the chain will fare given that the side plates tend to escape coating and hence lack some protection from corrosive compounds. At the moment, Smoove is aiming its product particularly at the mountain bike market and reckons it works just as well in the mud. We shall see. Thus far, though, I'm a convert.

*Isopropyl alcohol, not India Pale Ale

Verdict

Smoove makes some bold claims about its chain lubricant, and my experience so far is that it really works

road.cc test report

Make and model: Smoove Universal Chain Lube

Size tested: 125ml

Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?

Smoove says: "Smoove™ is a long lasting bicycle chain lube for use in any terrain. Smoove™ works in dry, wet, muddy or perfect sunshine conditions. Smoove™ reduces chain wear and increases the lifespan of drivetrain components. Smoove™ lasts longer between applications than most other chain lubricants, runs cleaner and is extremely durable."

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

125ml bottle.

How to use:

Step 1 > Apply SMOOVE to a clean dry chain.

Step 2 > Apply on the inside of the chain while turning the pedals to ensure that the lube gets worked into the chain.

Step 3 > Let the lube dry for at least an hour.

Step 4 > Best results are achieved if lube is applied the night before.

Step 5 > Do not wipe chain after application.

Step 6 > Too much lube will cause residue to accumulate around the derailleur pulley wheels and cassette.

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
8/10

Quite runny, which makes it a little drippy to apply and a steady hand is needed.

Rate the product for performance:
 
10/10

Outstanding longevity – I went over 200 miles between applications without any squeaking. It doesn't wash off in the rain or under the hosepipe. Cleaning of the chain requires a bit more effort than with some other dry lubes.

Rate the product for durability:
 
10/10

As above.

Rate the product for value:
 
9/10

In absolute terms, yes, this is an expensive lube, working out at £110 per litre. But comparatively, it's excellent because you need so little of it.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

So far, in the relatively benign autumn weather, performance has been excellent. Riding in heavy rain didn't affect it at all, I ran over 200 miles between applications and the chain still looked pretty clean, though washing it off in solvent revealed how much dirt it picked up.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

Very long-lasting and clean.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

Nothing really, it's more like a wet lube in the way you maintain your chain but that's all good discipline.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Would you consider buying the product? Yes

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes

Use this box to explain your score

If you've struggled to find a dry lubricant that goes this distance, this should answer your prayers. More or less indefinite lubrication, the only limit being how often you want to clean it off and reapply.

Overall rating: 9/10

About the tester

Age: 52  Height: 6'2  Weight: 73kg and holding steady

I usually ride: Cannondale CAAD10   My best bike is: Tomassini Prestige

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: A few times a week  I would class myself as: Experienced

I regularly do the following types of riding: touring, sportives, general fitness riding, mountain biking

15 comments

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dottigirl [819 posts] 11 months ago
0 likes

Sounds like it lasts longer than Squirt, which I used for a while but got fed up of it hearing my chainset before the end of a club run.

Quote:

I have half a dozen bottles of dry lube products on the shelf in the workshop, none of which have ever run out, for the simple reason that none of them work effectively so I don't use them. Typically, 40 to 60 miles is all I get before the grinding transmission becomes noticeable. In some memorably wet rides that's been even less.

Glad it's not just me, though I'm stubborn enough to finish the bottles I have. I carry a small tester bottle in my saddle bag to top up.

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r.glancy [9 posts] 11 months ago
1 like

Got some a few months back and swear by it! 

 

I've used soo many lubes and not been totally happy with any of them. I tried squirt and found it didnt last any longer than a ride or two. 

 

This stuff seems to last forever! 100 mile sportives in the rain and its still all on there, not a squeak or rattle to be heard. So far ive done over 600 miles on one single application..which maybe a little too long but its still not noisy, still well covered and not that dirty. you can grab your chain with no gloves and just rub the wax off. 

Love it and wish more shops stocked it! 

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BarryBianchi [419 posts] 11 months ago
3 likes

I can't imagine what sort of brine 'n' sand mix must be being used to get 40 miles before a "noticible grinding transmission" on a dry ride.

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madcarew [756 posts] 11 months ago
0 likes

I simply use normal car engine oil. Wash the old oil out with turps or diesel, make sure the sprockets are clean too. Dribble on a little engine oil and then spin the pedals backwards for 2-3 minutes, then with rag wipe the chain clean until no more oil comes off. That generally lasts about 300 miles in dry weather until it needs topping up, so the chain gets cleaned about every 600 miles / 3 weeks. However, it needs topping up every hundred miles of rainy rides. I'm yet to be convinced that waxy coverings prevent dirt getting inside the rollers and bushings, particularly in the wet, which is where the damage is done. Anything that doesn't help the grime be expelled from the inner parts of the chain is only adding to chain wear, in my mind

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hsiaolc [370 posts] 11 months ago
0 likes

This one lasts much longer but it also collectes grit and dirt and never shed it off.  What's the diffrence compared to wet lubes then? 

I don't see any benefits and might as well stick to my pedros syn lube or squirt or NFS.  I am alternating between the lot. 

Can't they jsut come up with a light totally enclosed drivetrain so we don't have to deal with cleaning and lubing. (Yes I know you will say get the yates belt and internal gear hub) 

 

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risoto [73 posts] 11 months ago
0 likes

I know, it's heresy, but I know of at least two ex-pros that swear to the qualities of good old WD-40. I have used  DYNAMIC (test winner in Germany) with great results but the chain mucks op as with all lubes.

Last week I was in a hurry, sprayed cassette and chain with WD40, waited a couple of minutes and cleaned it with a rag. So far (150 miles in dry weather) works like a charm. I don't trust it completely but if Simon Richardson from GCN can use it....I just wonder how long it lasts or if you have to apply the WD-40 after each ride.

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macrophotofly [317 posts] 10 months ago
1 like

Have to agree with hsiaolc - if this lubricant gathers grime and is sticky, then surely it is just another wet lube?

I use a good dry lube (finish line)- one small drip per roller; spin the chain through several  revolutions and then wipe all the excess and muck off - the dry lube tends to push the dirt out of the links/rollers and wiping that off leaves a clean chain without the need for degreassant. No cheap tattoes on the inside of my calf; chain stays lubed for two ~100mile club rides (only one if it rains, but it is dry lube!) and most importantly because it is easy to do with relatively little mess, I do have time to do it every two rides without missing, so my chain stays in good knick.

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r.glancy [9 posts] 10 months ago
0 likes
macrophotofly wrote:

Have to agree with hsiaolc - if this lubricant gathers grime and is sticky, then surely it is just another wet lube?

I use a good dry lube (finish line)- one small drip per roller; spin the chain through several  revolutions and then wipe all the excess and muck off - the dry lube tends to push the dirt out of the links/rollers and wiping that off leaves a clean chain without the need for degreassant. No cheap tattoes on the inside of my calf; chain stays lubed for two ~100mile club rides (only one if it rains, but it is dry lube!) and most importantly because it is easy to do with relatively little mess, I do have time to do it every two rides without missing, so my chain stays in good knick.

Honestly it gathers minimal dirt. and you can easily wipe it off with a rag and just re-apply. Or you can degrease the chain just like a wet/dry lube but it comes off with minimal fuss and a hell of a lot less mess. Even when my chain is grey you can grab it bare handed and just brush it off your hands. No oil residue at all. I love the stuff since I have been using it.

Less mess than both wet and dry lubes, easy to clean off and literally silent drivetrain for 300-500 miles on one application.

I suppose you really have to try it to appreciated it. I am going to try the paraffin wax/slow cooker way next and see how I get on as cost wise that is easily the best option.

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StraelGuy [1478 posts] 10 months ago
0 likes

I'm going to do the opposite. I'm currently running wax/graphite. I'll see how that does and then try this on the next chain. I am the world's biggest sucker for any revolutionary new chain lube...

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nbrus [584 posts] 10 months ago
1 like

I prefer a wax based lube that cleans itself by sheding dirt during use. I make my own concoction using paraffin wax. I reapply every 100 miles whether it needs doing or not and my chains last forever (10,000+ miles). I don't do the hot dip into molten wax method, but instead I use paraffin and Xylene mix to dissolve grated candle wax. I also empty in an equal portion of GT85 for the Teflon/silicone oil/solvent components and to create a thin solvent like solution. I brush this onto my chain libraly to flush out dirt and then wipe with a rag and leave to dry . This results in a very thin coating of wax/teflon lube and a very clean chain each time I appy it. It works out pretty cheap compared to other bike lubes and works exceedingly well, much better than off the shelf lubes I've tried. Having some teflon/silicone oil in with the wax helps keep it working well in cold weather. You will need to experiment with the ratios to use and can easily tweak these by altering the mix after each use until it is just right. I have about 2 litres of the stuff to use up. It needs to be thin.

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reliablemeatloaf [108 posts] 10 months ago
0 likes

Moltenspeedwax.

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gunswick [131 posts] 8 months ago
0 likes

I use rock'n'roll gold, staying power of wet and clean like dry lube. Best thing is never cleaning the chain, just lob more lube on, change gear a few times and back pedal, then use some kitchen towel to wipe off excess (like all of it) and bin that. Survives wet weather and longer rides, best done night before, but OK an hour before.

I used Squirt and thought it was great, but, it needed applied daily (even in summer) when doing 20-30 miles, which was a bit of a pain. Was good for cleaning, compared to wet lube like muc-off ceramic wet, you could dry clean it with a brush and kitchen towel, but needed active cleaning (just less than wet lube, and easier). If it rained heavily on the morning commute, home time would often be squeaky chain. Rock'n'roll gold I never get that, would need to be multiple rides and it always lasts 100 miles (1 weeks all weather commuting).

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Aezreth [36 posts] 6 months ago
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I'm getting significantly more milage out of Squirt than the reviewer, maybe he's not applying it correctly? I put a liberal amount on each roller, don't wipe off the excess, and then let it dry for 24h. It lasts at least 2-3 rides, even when I wash off the bike with hose after each ride. I'm guessing much more than that in dry conditions. Using a wax that actually collects dirt would make it pointless to use in my book.

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miannini [2 posts] 2 months ago
0 likes

Most of my friends were telling this is the ultimate lube. Bought a bottle. Found out that it needs a really clean chain and lasts about 100 miles, then it becomes sticky. Very sticky. Silly sticky. Whenever I re-applied it, I could tell that the chain was sticky. The shifting became slow. The chain "feels slow". 

Biggest problem is cleaning it. It´s really gummy sticky. It´s very time-consuming to clean it (both with Citrus or mineral spirits). It does accumulate big globs on my derailleur pulley´s.

So, switched back to Finish Line dry, after 100 miles/160k I apply Finish Line wet cross country. It´s been my favorite method for two decades now.

Back in the 90´s, there was a solid chain wax with PTFE that came in a tin can. You had to really clean your chain very well, then submerge on the molten wax (used my mother´s stove) and let it drip and dry. It was the best feeling lube ever, did last about 150 miles/240k of silk-chainless like feel-riding. After many many uses, it got contaminated with chain dirt and lost most of it´s lubricity. If I knew it, I would have cutted the wax into many parts and discard whenever it got contaminated. I don´t think it´s been made since ´95-96.

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HowardR [232 posts] 2 months ago
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"Most of my friends were telling this is the ultimate lube."
Have you come considered that they might be describing it's merits within another of life's variety of arenas?