Mickle Method with Dry Lube?

EasyPeez

Über Member
Hi,

First off apologies - I realise I've posted a few threads on here over the past weeks about various aspects of bike cleaning, and I realise that these are rather dull, and are making me seem a bit OCD! But the answers have been very helpful and I now have my required products all bought and my cleaning regime all sorted....except for one thing...

I like a pristine bike, but realise that the most important thing is to keep it well lubed and working properly. So while I would love a shiny chain to match the rest of my shiny bike, I'm happy to sacrifice that for a less-shiny but better lubed and maintained chain. So, my plan was to use the Mickle method. But as I only ride my summer bike in the dry I want to use dry ceramic lube and I'm not sure this is compatible with 'the method'.

Also, I have been reliably informed by a seemingly very knowledgeable poster or two on another thread that to use dry lube you must first remove the chain and rid it of all factory lube with white spirit, then dry it out. If not the factory lube will prevent the dry lube adhering. This seems to make sense. But when I put this to my LBS mechanic as my chosen plan at the weekend he was horrified. He said he would never use degreaser on a chain, white spirit, Muc-Off, Fenwick's GT85 or otherwise, and esp not clean out the factory lube as this will have penetrated deep into the rollers in a way that the dry lube I'll be adding won't do. His advice was just to wait until the chain needs lubing, then give it a good wipe over with a rag and add dry lube. Then repeat the wipe and lube at regular intervals.

So now I'm all confused and would appreciate answers to any or all of the following -
1) Is dry lube compatible with the method?
2) Do I need to strip the chain of all existing lube by soaking it in white spirit before I can use dry lube?
3) Is it still ok to clean the cassette and chainrings with a bit of GT85, then rinse it off and clean/dry it with a rag while using the method, so long as GT85 and water stay off the chain?
3) Is there a way of cleaning out the chain (the bits of dirt that get between the pins) when using the method? As it doesn't seem possible to clean between the pins by wiping with the rag alone. I normally like to use a chainbrush (http://www.evanscycles.com/products/zefal/zb-multi-brush-ec038819?country=GB&currency=GBP&gclid=CN3kk8vCr8QCFQQFwwod5LMANA&gclsrc=aw.ds) to get between the pins but don't want to undermine what I'm trying to achieve by mickling, or my brush to get covered in sticky lube and gunk.


Thanks. And I promise after this I will never trouble these boards with a bike-cleaning post ever again!
Andy
 
Last edited:
Location
Loch side.
Hi,

First off apologies - I realise I've posted a few threads on here over the past weeks about various aspects of bike cleaning, and I realise that these are rather dull, and are making me seem a bit OCD! But the answers have been very helpful and I now have my required products all bought and my cleaning regime all sorted....except for one thing...

I like a pristine bike, but realise that the most important thing is to keep it well lubed and working properly. So while I would love a shiny chain to match the rest of my shiny bike, I'm happy to sacrifice that for a less-shiny but better lubed and maintained chain. So, my plan was to use the Mickle method. But as I only ride my summer bike in the dry I want to use dry ceramic lube and I'm not sure this is compatible with 'the method'.

Also, I have been reliably informed on by a seemingly very knowledgeable poster or two on another thread that to use dry lube you must first remove the chain and rid it of all factory lube with white spirit, then dry it out. If not the factory lube will prevent the dry lube adhering. This seems to make sense. But when I put this to my LBS mechanic as my chosen plan at the weekend he was horrified. He said he would never use degreaser on a chain, white spirit, Muc-Off, Fenwick's GT85 or otherwise, and esp not clean out the factory lube as this will have penetrated deep into the rollers in a way that the dry lube I'll be adding won't do. His advice was just to wait until the chain needs lubing, then give it a good wipe over with a rag and add dry lube. Then repeat the wipe and lube at regular intervals.

So now I'm all confused and would appreciate answers to any or all of the following -
1) Is dry lube compatible with the method?
2) Do I need to strip the chain of all existing lube by soaking it in white spirit before I can use dry lube?
3) Is it still ok to clean the cassette and chainrings with a bit of GT85, then rinse it off and clean/dry it with a rag while using the method, so long as GT85 and water stay off the chain?
3) Is there a way of cleaning out the chain (the bits of dirt that get between the pins) when using the method? As it doesn't seem possible to clean between the pins by wiping with the rag alone. I normally like to use a chainbrush (http://www.evanscycles.com/products/zefal/zb-multi-brush-ec038819?country=GB&currency=GBP&gclid=CN3kk8vCr8QCFQQFwwod5LMANA&gclsrc=aw.ds) to get between the pins but don't want to undermine what I'm trying to achieve by mickling, or my brush to get covered in sticky lube and gunk.


Thanks. And I promise after this I will never trouble these boards with a bike-cleaning post ever again!
Andy
Don't apologise but do fire your bike mechanic. He is misleading you and sadly, out of ignorance.

The grease on the new chain is a good and sufficient lubricant. However, lubricant, once contaminated, has to be washed out completely and replaced with fresh, grit-free lubricant. The best lubricant for this job is of the flowing variety (i.e. not grease) and not too thin nor too thick. It is easy to find the right consistency by experimenting. Try different motor oils (yes, standard engine oil is perfect) until you find one that neither leaves splatter on your rear rim (too thin), nor little honey-treacle trails (too thick).

Lubricant gets inside the chain by capillary action and it does so very, very quickly. One revolution of the crank and the insides are saturated with oil. It is impossible to prevent oil going inside because of this fluid force. Grease is too thick to get sucked in by capillary action and gets injected at the factory under pressure or melted. You can't replicate that at home.

Lots of people watch too many hair product adverts on TV and then equate chains with hair. Unlike hair (so I'm told) it is desirable to completely strip a chain of all contaminated oil before re-lubricating. The cloth wipe story is merely cosmetic too. The grit that's inside the chain and doing harm isn't scared of a little wipey cloth on the outside.
 

palinurus

Legendary Member
Location
Watford
I Mickled during a short period of using dry lube, worked fine. I stopped using dry lube because of poor wet weather performance (it was summer use, but it rained enough to make me reconsider), I'd use it if I lived in California. I degreased the chain beforehand based on LBS and manufacturer advice but I don't know whether this was necessary.

I'm somewhat suspicious of this idea that there's some special lube deep inside the chain that must never be washed out.
 
OP
EasyPeez

EasyPeez

Über Member
Don't apologise but do fire your bike mechanic. He is misleading you and sadly, out of ignorance.
Thanks for putting me straight. I value your input based on advice offered in other threads; you obv have far more understanding of the science and experience with bike maintenance than I do, so it's good to be able to learn from that.

The best lubricant for this job is of the flowing variety (i.e. not grease) and not too thin nor too thick. It is easy to find the right consistency by experimenting. Try different motor oils (yes, standard engine oil is perfect) until you find one that neither leaves splatter on your rear rim (too thin), nor little honey-treacle trails (too thick).
I've just shelled out for some ceramic dry lube - it is (or so it seems to me) flowing, but not too thin or too thick, as you describe - would you discount that? I'm not keen to go to the expense of buying a variety of motor oils, some of which I'll then have no need of again, if I can avoid it.

Unlike hair (so I'm told) it is desirable to completely strip a chain of all contaminated oil before re-lubricating. The cloth wipe story is merely cosmetic too. The grit that's inside the chain and doing harm isn't scared of a little wipey cloth on the outside.
So in essence, you'd back the idea of thoroughly degreasing the chain once the factory lube has started to wear off/become contaminated with muck? And from your quote I assume you don't rate the Mickle method at all, and would recommend a periodical full de-grease, dry, and re-lube as part of the maintenance routine? Or have I misunderstood you?
Thanks, Andy
 
OP
EasyPeez

EasyPeez

Über Member
I degreased the chain beforehand based on LBS and manufacturer advice
Thanks for your feedback.
There is no advice with my dry lube about degreasing the chain first, and I find it hard to imagine most people who buy the stuff would properly degrease a chain before using it. But then maybe I'm being naive. Or maybe lots of people are doing it wrong! Anyway, based on your post and Yellow Saddle's it seems a full degrease isn't such an unlikely proposition so maybe that is the way to go, followed by Mickling day-to-day to keep the rot away and a periodical full degrease and re-lube. Thanks.
 
Location
Loch side.
I've just shelled out for some ceramic dry lube - it is (or so it seems to me) flowing, but not too thin or too thick, as you describe - would you discount that? I'm not keen to go to the expense of buying a variety of motor oils, some of which I'll then have no need of again, if I can avoid it.
I have no idea what ceramic lube is. The word "dry" also worries me. Like I said, the best oil is motor oils. Fortunately this is free. Simply go dumpster diving at a garage and you'll find lots of oil cans there with enough oil in to keep you going for a long time. No-one has time at a garage to wait until all the oil has drained from the little top-up bottles we buy when topping up. Hence the free oil.

Nevertheless, if your ceramic oil is within the two parameters I listed initially (splatter versus honey trails), then it is fine. It is oil, isn't it? Not just some solvent with a bit of oily residue in it?

So in essence, you'd back the idea of thoroughly degreasing the chain once the factory lube has started to wear off/become contaminated with muck? And from your quote I assume you don't rate the Mickle method at all, and would recommend a periodical full de-grease, dry, and re-lube as part of the maintenance routine? Or have I misunderstood you?
Thanks, Andy
Yes, degrease it because that's the only way you'll get the grit out. Even oiling your chain between washes is bad for it since it only helps the surface grit to get inside. However, we can't always degrease nor do we exactly love the job, so re-oil only in emergencies and degrease and re-lube as a matter of course.

I have no idea what the Mickle method is.
 

mjr

Comfy armchair to one person & a plank to the next
I've messed around with various things. I'll not use motor oil on the chain again. Inside the gears, OK, but on a chain it picks up muck like a muck-magnet: crickle crackle.

I'm also in no hurry to bathe a chain in degreaser again - I think some must lurk inside where the sun don't shine because the wear went through the roof afterwards. I'm currently back to my old regimen of applying a little intermediate basic lube (TF2 liquid lately), wiping off anything it flushes out, then letting it dry before riding. So:
1) Is dry lube compatible with the method?
2) Do I need to strip the chain of all existing lube by soaking it in white spirit before I can use dry lube?
3) Is it still ok to clean the cassette and chainrings with a bit of GT85, then rinse it off and clean/dry it with a rag while using the method, so long as GT85 and water stay off the chain?
3) Is there a way of cleaning out the chain (the bits of dirt that get between the pins) when using the method?
1) Yes AFAIK
2) No, not unless you're switching between completely incompatible lubes (usually wax and anything else)
3) Yes I think so.
3) Yes, apply lube to the inside of the bottom run and let it rinse through.

IMO. Your chains remain yours.
 

Davidc

Guru
Location
Somerset UK
To see what dry and wet lube actually mean look at the Finish Line specs (on the web).

I use their dry lube all year and it's excellent, I Mickle the chain once the original stuff gets dirty and the dry lube does the job, usually with 3 applications though it's at least 4 sometimes 5 first time.

Wet lube works better, in my not very humble experience, for many other parts of the bike.

As above - engine oil is also a fine lubricant for transmissions on bikes.

Watch out though, even thinking about WD40 will make your chain go rusty. Stick to GT85 if you must use one of those products.

The previous post is good advice (IMNVHO)
 
'oil' is not oil is not chain lube. Just as floor wax and surfboard wax and beeswax and ear wax are not candle wax. They're formulated differently for different applications. Basil infused extra virgin is also oil but has limited use as a chain lube. Car engine oil is not suitable for bicycle chains.
 

Kestevan

Last of the Summer Winos
Location
Holmfirth.
I use a properly "dry" lube on the summer bike (Muc Off C3 Ceramic) as I find it works well (with caveats - see below) and keeps the chain/cassette sparkling clean.
It's not oil... It's a liquid solvent carrier with a ceramic "wax". the solvent penetrates the rollers then evaporates and leaves behind the waxy coating.

I've found that it works best if the chain is cleaned and de-greased before initial application. I generally spray the chain with brake/clutch cleaner before use and allow it to dry out. Then apply several coats of C3, allowing each one to dry out for a few hours (or overnight).

Once lubed the chain feels slippy, but has no oily residue. It runs completely cleanly and doesn't pick up the black gunk/grinding paste an oil based lube generates. The chain, cassette and jockey wheels stay new looking and shiny and chain wear rates are no worse than using oil. Then all that's needed is a quick re-lube every week or so, as a bonus, as there's no gunk the weekly cleaning is a simple wipe with a dry cloth and re-apply.

However (there's always a however), it only works when it's not raining..... rain washes out the lube very quickly and leaves the chain with little protection.
Oh and the stuff is stupidly expensive.... although a small bottle does last for ages as you need very little.
 
Location
Loch side.
I use a properly "dry" lube on the summer bike (Muc Off C3 Ceramic) as I find it works well (with caveats - see below) and keeps the chain/cassette sparkling clean.
It's not oil... It's a liquid solvent carrier with a ceramic "wax". the solvent penetrates the rollers then evaporates and leaves behind the waxy coating.
I avoid the term "dry lube" because it has no firm definition. It could be graphite, molybdenum disulphide, boron nitride, PTFE (Teflon) or even wax. All these substances are solids an thus technically dry. A solid lubrication inside a chain has very limited life because once it has been displaced between two surfaces it has to means of flowing back. Any solid in a volatile carrier suffers from that problem. It simply will not lubricate a chain as long as an oil. Oil flows back between pressure "incidents". We know this because it carries with it black steel residue and the fact that the oil turns black tells us that it is being recycled and pumped throughout the chain's tension and slack runs. Wax for instance doesn't turn black because the steel particles remain a the surface where they come from and never disperses into the rest of the lubricant.

However, I cannot ignore the term "dry" because it is so prevalent in bicycle lore. I prefer the term solid lubricant. This could also include the solvent-based waxes described by you that are technically liquid when applied but solid once the carrier has evaporated. All these suffer from longevity, as I described. Obviously this is not a problem if your re-lube intervals are short. How short? It depends on how solid the lubricant is. Wax allows metal to slide on metal within 10 kilometers or so. This is easy to observe since the chain makes a different sound as soon as the wax is displaced from the pressure faces inside the chain. A trained ear can quickly pick up that point.

I've found that it works best if the chain is cleaned and de-greased before initial application. I generally spray the chain with brake/clutch cleaner before use and allow it to dry out. Then apply several coats of C3, allowing each one to dry out for a few hours (or overnight).
It goes without saying that lubricating a clean chain makes infinitely more sense than re-lubricating a dirty chain, but so many people never thing about it that it is perhaps worth repeating. The oil in a chain has no filtering mechanism and grip just builds up inside the old lubricant. Wash out all the old stuff and replace. Do this as often as your patience, available time and budget allows.

Applying several coats is unnecessary since extra lubricant serves no purpose. A solid lubricant is quickly pressed out of the interface and having more of it floating around doesn't help. It can't flow back and will only irritate you by settling in thick globs on your derailer pulleys.

Once lubed the chain feels slippy, but has no oily residue. It runs completely cleanly and doesn't pick up the black gunk/grinding paste an oil based lube generates. The chain, cassette and jockey wheels stay new looking and shiny and chain wear rates are no worse than using oil. Then all that's needed is a quick re-lube every week or so, as a bonus, as there's no gunk the weekly cleaning is a simple wipe with a dry cloth and re-apply.
I have explained why it runs clean. Because it is a bad lubricant. Oil does not generate black substances, the chain and sprockets do and you want to move that away from the interface and dilute it in the oil. Wax concentrates it at the point of generation. Re-lubing makes no sense, as I've explained. Saying there is no gunk is disingenuous. Where does the wax go then? It certainly cannot be wiped off. It has to be scraped off.

However (there's always a however), it only works when it's not raining..... rain washes out the lube very quickly and leaves the chain with little protection.
Oh and the stuff is stupidly expensive.... although a small bottle does last for ages as you need very little.
Water is a better lubricant than depleted wax. A clean chain will not squeak when ridden in the wet but as soon as it dries out, a dozen chirping birds emerge.

Stupid expensive. Collectively and separately these words ring true. I rest my case.
 

gbb

Legendary Member
Location
Peterborough
I have no idea what ceramic lube is. The word "dry" also worries me. Like I said, the best oil is motor oils. Fortunately this is free. Simply go dumpster diving at a garage and you'll find lots of oil cans there with enough oil in to keep you going for a long time. No-one has time at a garage to wait until all the oil has drained from the little top-up bottles we buy when topping up. Hence the free oil.

Nevertheless, if your ceramic oil is within the two parameters I listed initially (splatter versus honey trails), then it is fine. It is oil, isn't it? Not just some solvent with a bit of oily residue in it?


Yes, degrease it because that's the only way you'll get the grit out. Even oiling your chain between washes is bad for it since it only helps the surface grit to get inside. However, we can't always degrease nor do we exactly love the job, so re-oil only in emergencies and degrease and re-lube as a matter of course.

I have no idea what the Mickle method is.
Dry lube is simply lubricant that is used in dry conditions, it will wash out quickly in wet conditions.
I used to use motor oil, very good, cheap lubricant, cheaper than any special products, but as you say, this can and does lead to spatter on the rims however well you wipe the chain. Modern motor oils are thin, this makes it worse. Perhaps an older grade oil would be better.

Regarding the grit Eezy...i wouldnt get too obsessed with it.
When i was commuting, i was fortunate enough to store my bike in my workshop. This left various bits of the day to keep the bike clean etc ect. on a weekly basis, sometimes more often I used to remove chain, wipe clean, lay on a bench and blast all the dirt out of the chain with a HP airline, you'd be amazed how much comes out, and keeps coming out. Once clean, i'd lay it in an oil bath for half an hour, then hang on a nail to drip excess off, then wipe wipe wipe and fit back to the bike.
Sounds like a faff and it would be at home, but i was at work and each operation only takes a few minutes so no loss to me.
I had a lovely clean, well oiled chain.....did it last any longer than just oiling and wiping...no, it didnt make a jot of real difference (i'm a bit sad like that, i used to record whaich make chain (tried em all), and what mileage i got out of it. No difference whatsoever in my experience.
 
Top Bottom