July 2, 2018 § 11 Comments
I’ve long been telling people to ditch the lube and wax their chains, and not just because Ryan Dahl gives me free tubs of Wend chain wax, which he does. Nor is it mainly because wax has the least friction of any chain lubricant, or because it’s easy to apply, or because it smells good when you rub it on.
All of those reasons matter, but reason number one is that the chain is the bicycle equivalent of the sweaty, unshaven armpit. And what do we know about guys? We know that they can be taught personal hygiene up to a point, but no matter how fastidious the dude, there’s at least one part of his body that he doesn’t properly groom, whether it be toenails, ear holes, or the pocket of grease that grows on his back if he doesn’t scrub it with a wire brush. And if your guy doesn’t have at least one unmaintained problem spot, maybe it’s time ask yourself why you’re going out with him in the first place?
For the cyclist, whether male or female, the nasty nest is invariably the chain. Think about it.
Beauty and the beast
From its inception the traditional bike frame has been clean simplicity itself: Two triangles. Despite the slings and arrows of outrageous innovation, the bike frame always rebounds with a snap, like a released rubber band, towards simple design. The wires get tucked into tubes, then done away with altogether. The points where the tubes join become smoother and smoother until the seams are invisible not only to the eye but to the wind as well.
Bolts, extrusions of all kinds, anything that impedes the line of sight or the flow of wind gets smoothed, cleaned, buffed. Trending towards beautiful is even something that has always nudged bicycle clothing, never mind the ability of any 12-year-old with Photoshop to design a century ride jersey. Sleeves and leg cuffs are longer and tighter, collars are more flush, zippers recessed into their own mini-covers, sewn seams are flattened; even colors are becoming less jarring, designs more visually “aero,” if there is such a thing.
And none of this begins to touch on lids, boats, goggles, and mitts, all of which get smoother and more seamless and, like the look or not, prettier.
Except for the beast. The one place where filth, lumpishness, and unapologetic awkwardness reside, and have always resided: The chain.
Every modern or ancient society has its castes. For the bicycle, the untouchable is of course the chain. All who touch the chain become polluted, most typically the human calf. How many centuries, fondues, or even races have you joined where some proud cyclist, sleek and slim, every body hair carefully plucked, every carbon item made fully of carbon lovingly purchased and installed, Rapha-ized from stem to stern, sadly displays what Scott and Randy Dickson used to call “turkey marks,” those giant half-chain rings of grease tattooed on the right calf, or better yet, on the right calf and top of the formerly spotless white sock?
The chain ruins all beauty, all aero, all carbon effects, simply by its existence. Immune to color, attracted to the most horrible road gunk, and typically left to rot and gather filth until in a fit of despair the bike owner does a bi-monthly chain wipe or, in desperation, replaces the entire chain, it is this part of the bike alone that has always been the wayward sheep, the ugly duckling, the child headed for prison at age four.
This is why the Brazilian wax was invented, as a lady friend from Rio once explained it to me. “Man trim wild bush, get tall tree.”
Calling all beauty lovers
Cutting to that proverbial chase scene, Wend has solved the first of these first world problems by making chain wax. But then it went and did something more extraordinary by launching COLORED chain wax. You can now have the world’s cleanest chain always. The world’s lowest friction chain always. And finally, a chain that attains the Holy Grail of all cyclists everywhere: A chain color that matches your underwear clown suit.
All hail the mighty WEND!
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