Silca’s Super Secret Chain Lube is a wax-based drip-on lubricant, claimed to offer the “speed and silent running of a hot-melt wax-dipper” without the lengthy application process BikeRadar’s senior tech writer Simon von Bromley is a proponent of.
By mixing nano-scale Tungsten Disulphide (WS2) particles into a quick-drying liquid paraffin wax solution, Silca claims the performance of its Super Secret Chain Lube was able to beat “all currently available hot melt waxes in friction testing” by saving up to seven watts of power.
The formula is claimed to be three times more slippery than PTFE (also known as Teflon – a commonly used friction modifier in cycling lubricants) and four times more than Molybdenum Disulfide (MoS2), which is often used in greases for lubrication.
Of course, the exact ingredients of the Super Secret Chain Lube are kept under wraps, but Silca states it’s made from four different types of wax with a mild alcohol added in that acts as a carrier for the other ingredients.
The brand states the lube contains no perfluoroalkyl or polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), which are virtually non-biodegradable. Silca also says it has no volatile organic compounds (VOCS), which are gasses emitted by products that can be harmful to life.
How to apply Silca’s Super Secret Chain Lube
Although applying the drip wax is much easier than a hot dipping wax, some crucial steps still need to be taken to ensure maximum performance.
Firstly, your bike’s drivetrain needs to be spotlessly clean from mud and grease, and totally dry. If it is dirty or damp, the lube is less likely to ‘stick’ to the metal and lubricate it correctly.
Next, the bottle must be shaken vigorously. This is to re-distribute the WS2 particles that could have sunk to the bottom throughout the liquid to ensure even coverage.
Then – and Silca is very specific about this – apply at least one drop, but no more than two drops of lube to each of the chain’s rollers while backpedalling.
While continuing to backpedal for three to four revolutions, use your (preferably clean) fingers to ‘work’ the lube into the chain’s links, pins and rollers.
Now you must cross-chain the drivetrain (by shifting into the biggest chainring and biggest cassette sprocket) to open the chain’s links and let the lube work its way in. Pedal forward while doing this, and then cycle the bike’s gears at least once, one-by-one.
Before riding, let the lube dry for at least 12 hours, but up to 24 is recommended. This final step is one of the most crucial because it gives the lube enough time to cure or set so that it remains ‘stuck’ to the chain, providing maximum performance and operating as intended.
Does this add to the rigmarole of drivetrain maintenance?
The answer to this depends on how you like to maintain your bike’s drivetrain in the first place.
Fastidious chain, cassette, derailleur and chainring cleaners will have no issues getting their drivetrains clean enough to correctly apply Super Secret Chain Lube, with only the initial clean and application requiring some extra effort.
Once you’ve transitioned to Super Secret Chain Lube, however, dirt build-up, and therefore cleaning times, are slashed. This will make post-ride clean-ups much quicker.
If you’re in the ‘lube it and leave it’ camp, where no end of dirt, oil and debris is allowed to accumulate on your drivetrain, the initial cleaning and prep session might be longer and harder to ensure the drivetrain is as clean as it needs to be before the initial application.
Equally, if you skip the initial clean and degrease, the lube won’t be able to work as intended, and can accumulate dirt and grime.
For subsequent applications, the chain needs to be clean, too, so depending on your habits this wax-based lube might not be for you.
Silca Super Secret Chain Lube performance
Does the Super Secret Chain Lube save seven watts of power as the brand claims?
Without access to a test lab where variables can be hyper-controlled and well-calibrated measurement tools used, I can’t answer this question definitively. Instead, I have reviewed the lube from an experiential off-road perspective. Although I’ve used it mountain biking, I’ve also tried to give some insight into my experiences using the lube on my Marin Gestalt X commuter road bike.
Despite the cleaning and initial application process requiring care, with each step needing to be followed, it’s not hugely laborious if your drivetrain is reasonably clean and in good working order in the first place.
The time gap between application and use to let the lube cure proved to be one of the most crucial steps. Uncured Super Secret Chain Lube was both quick to wash off in wet weather and to attract and stick to contaminants in dry, dusty conditions.
Allowing at least 12 hours between application and riding required a more organised approach to bike riding, where a pre-ride lube was virtually worthless. Instead, washing, cleaning, drying and lubing the bike post-ride was the most effective way of benefitting from the wax’s performance.
Once it had fully set, however, the lack of dirt build-up meant subsequent post-ride drivetrain and bike clean-ups were much quicker and easier. A cursory hose down, soapy brush scrub and rinse were all that was required to get the components ready for re-lubrication.
Out on the trails, the lube’s hard-set makeup meant sandy or dusty grit simply couldn’t stick to the chain, helping reduce the grinding usually associated with riding off-road in dry weather when using oil-based lubricants.
In wet and muddy conditions, the wax impressed me too, resisting the elements and remaining stuck to the chain even on the longest and grottiest rides possible.
On average, I found re-application was required after 80 to 100km of dry-weather riding and roughly 30 to 40km of wet-weather riding, which was quite exceptional given the extremes of off-road use. On-road, expected longevity was roughly doubled for each condition type.
It certainly lasts much longer than any other lubes I have used in recent times.
Arguably, it helped the drivetrain run quieter and feel smoother than other drip-on dry and wet lubes when used in their respective conditions, to boot.
Silca Super Secret Chain Lube bottom line
The 240ml/8oz bottle’s asking price of £54 / $45 / €40.95 is quite steep, but thanks to the sparing application required for good results, I’ve managed to make a 120ml/4oz bottle last just under a year when used across multiple bikes.
Extrapolating, the bigger bottle I’ve reviewed here should last for around two years. You could probably eke out more if it was being used on a single road bike in good weather rather than multiple mountain bikes and road bikes in hostile Scottish conditions.
For me, the main attraction of the Super Secret Chain Lube is how clean, free-spinning and quiet my drivetrain remains with this lube. This reduces wear, improves the lifespan of hard-to-source and expensive drivetrain components and cuts clean-up times dramatically.
It won’t be suited to everyone – especially if you find cleaning bikes a chore, or you don’t have an entrenched and structured clean-up procedure to ensure the lube has enough time to cure before your next ride. However, if it fits within your bike-riding lifestyle, Silca’s Super Secret Chain Lube is one of the best chain lubes currently on the market.
|Price||EUR €40.95GBP £54.00USD $45.00|
|What we tested||Silca Super Secret Chain Lube 8oz|
|Features||Low friction lube that brings the same advantages as hot-melt wax-dipped chains with the convenience of drip applied lubricants; Highly lubricious Tungsten Disulfide additive; Environmentally friendly formula; The chain should be very clean before application; Leave chain to dry for at least 30 minutes before riding|