In my garage, I have a toolbox full of different kinds of chain lube. There’s wet, dry, wax-based, ceramic lube, lubes infused with nano particles and even a tub of paraffin wax. The reason I have so many is that each one works okay in particular conditions, but each one also has certain drawbacks.
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Quite often I find the long-lasting lubes that stick to your chain for ages aren’t that smooth, while the super-smooth lubes seem to disappear after about 60mi / 97km.
Smoove comes out of South Africa and founder Ruan Deyzel spent three years developing the product to get it just right so that it would perform in all conditions. In fact, according to info the Aussie distributor, Leadout Sports, sent over with the lube, about 60 percent of the teams at the 2016 Cape Epic were using Smoove. Given how notorious the Cape Epic is for destroying gear, that’s quite an endorsement.
It keeps going and going and going
I’ve been using Smoove for the past few months both on- and off-road, and I can genuinely say it’s one of the cleanest running lubes I’ve used. It’s also one of the hardest wearing and after 250mi / 400km, my chain still wasn't dry and nor did look as though it had been dipped in coal dust. In all honesty, I could have gone longer (I did on a few occasions), but years of habit meant I usually caved into the desire to clean and re-lube.
While Smoove doesn't make any specific claims about how long its lube lasts, as this can vary based on the amount of lube used, chain prep and riding conditions, Deyzel told BikeRadar he's seen gravel grinders get up to 435mi / 700km, roadies get 620 mi / 1,000km and MTBers get 250mi / 400km out of a single application.
Smoove's secret is in its water-based formula, which contains wax and "special additives". Deyzel explained that when he was developing Smoove, he wanted to make a lube that had the best qualities of wax and oil, but didn’t attract dust or disappear quickly – a big endeavour.
“Although Smoove has some similarities to other wax-based lubes when it's still in liquid form, after it’s completely dried out it leaves behind a material that's in what we refer to as a 'plastic state'; it's not a solid and not a liquid. This gives it the ability to move with the chain, repel dust and heal itself so that it doesn’t shear mechanically and flake off,” Deyzel told BikeRadar.
“The water-based formula is just a “transporter and evaporative component” to get the lube into the right place,” he continued. “In order to achieve this we formulated the liquid to have very low surface tension so it can suck itself into the chain and fill all the cavities. The water-based formula gave us the opportunity to develop that part of the equation.”
Start with a clean slate
Smoove makes a big deal about the initial application of the lube. Your chain needs to be completely stripped of oil and, of course, clean and dry before the lube is applied. You're also not supposed to wipe the excess off and then leave it for at least an hour to cure before you ride. Even with a heavy application, all that's leftover is a few white specks on the rollers that disappear once you start riding.
I tried applying Smoove on a chain that had been lubed with Muc Off Dry Lube and wiped down and it seems the Smoove lube wasn't able to penetrate the rollers properly as the links turned quite black and attracted a bit of grit.
The bottle Smoove lube comes in is also pretty nifty. It has a skinny tip that allows accurate application, but also prevents the watery lube from spilling out all over the floor whenever you upend it, as can happen with some other light lubes.
Just how clean Smoove is became abundantly clear on my initial test ride, a three-hour jaunt up the Gold Coast and back through the hinterland. As I neared home I got a puncture and while removing my back wheel I accidentally touched the chain. Usually this would have left me with greasy fingers but, to my pleasant surprise, my fingers were completely clean.
So, in disbelief, I went back for more and ran my index finger all the way down the chain – nothing but a bit of grey.
As Smoove wears it doesn’t go black in the way most other lubes do, it just becomes slightly waxy to the touch. Even on a MTB chain that's seen a fair bit of trail time, all you're left with after after running your finger along the chain is a light grey mark that's easily rubbed away.
Perhaps most impressive of all, however, is its grit-repelling ability. Even after a couple of hundred trail miles, there are no scraping noises coming from your chain and when you come to clean it there's a surprising lack of grit swilling around at the bottom of your chain cleaner.
Smoove recommends citrus degreaser for stripping its lube off the chain, but you can get the job done with dish soap and a bucket of warm soapy water.
Smoove Lube final thoughts
In my experience, Smoove doesn’t feel as smooth as Rock and Roll Gold or Finish Line Dry Teflon, but unlike with those two you don’t need to reapply it after every ride, or even clean your drivetrain that often.
For the everyday rider who often forgets about/puts off cleaning their bike, Smoove is a great option. It lasts forever, runs extremely clean and doesn’t attract much grit at all.