- by Christopher Jones
- Published: 24 December 2015
I have just discovered your next brand of bike lube, it is called Ride Mechanic and is Australian made and owned. If you don’t lube, it is like cycling without the right tyre pressure and you are accelerating the wear of your cassette, chain and chainrings. Ride mechanic products are not just about lubrication, rather it is about purpose and precision.
Owen Matthews of Ride Mechanic is a real bike tech-head. You can listen to Owen talk about the intricacies of bike maintenance for hours. Not only is he intensely passionate about making Australian-made cycling products (which includes sourcing ingredients and packaging locally), his depth of technical knowledge is inspiring.
As a cyclist, you probably already know that there are wet and dry lubricants. Owen takes this a step further; selection and mixing the right combination of his Ride Mechanic brand Bike Milk (dry) and Bike Cream (wet) lube will help a rider attain the best results. Before I could even start testing, I was compelled to completely degrease my chain first. While I rarely do a complete degrease, my routine every week or two involves cleaning the chain, cassette, jockey wheels and chain rings before lubing and check and fine-tuning the gears. I have even swapped out the regular Shimano jockey wheels to BBB RollerBoys which are even quieter.
Once you remove the grit and grime, the gears should sound nicer when shifting, but shifting is still far too mechanical. Add lube and shifting becomes graceful. My regular lube, ProLink is been reliable however but is oily and I notice that it attracts grime and needs more frequent cleaning and relubrication. In fact, respected cycling author Leonard Zinn tested ProLink under laboratory conditions and discovered that it didn’t provide any performance enhancements.
After talking to Owen about my riding conditions he recommended the (wet) Bike Cream for on-road long distance riding and for off-road (under 4 hours) the dry Bike Milk. For long distance off-road his special mix is, 20% Bike Cream (wet) and 80% Bike Milk. For practical purposes a mixing bottle / dispenser (oiler bottle) would be a worthwhile addition for mixing and something that Ride Mechanic could supply as a bundle. I like the small twist-caps on the Ride Mechanic bottles. they are straight-forward to use though the white caps are as easy to lose as the valve caps from inner tubes.
For best results, applying lube works best when the bike is on a stand, it means that you can apply to the ‘inside’ of the chain as you turn the pedals with your hand. Using this process allows the freshly lubed chain to enter and coat the jockey wheels, cassette and then chain ring.
The Bike Cream wet lube is different in consistency to many other wet lubes. That said, in wet conditions and dusty conditions it still attracts grime so if you are a purist then you will clean and lube again before the chain becomes a drag.
As you would imagine, the Ride Mechanic lubes met my expectations. Maintaining my regular cleaning shedule, I was not let down by noise or bad shifting. On an eight day outback cycle tour, the mechanic spotted me helping other riders with their drivetrains and assigned me the role of cleaning and lube duties for other riders. And I was also complimented that my drivetrain was purring like a kitten. (It was surprising how many riders had started the tour with filthy and noisy chains).
If you want to get really technical, the Ride Mechanic website has a wealth of information. It is indepth bike-nerd information on cleaning drivetrains, mixing and applying lube along with performance information which will help you get the most out of maintaining your bike.
The differences between brand of bike lube can be subtle. I can’t say that the Ride Mechanic lube was faster or slower than other lubes, it would really need lab testing to accurately determine performance differences. In comparison it isn’t as ‘gunky’ as Finish Line nor as oily as ProLink. The distance will you get from the Ride Mechanic lubricants before a re-lube will depend on the type of riding and the conditions.
From the website, the following notes provide a guide:
When riding in warm dry dusty conditions for longer than 4hr or when re-applying lubricant immediately before or during an endurance event the best lubricant option is Bike Mix (1:4 mixture of Bike Cream and Bike Milk). In some conditions Ride Mechanic Bike Cream (durable-wet-fluid) is the best lubricant i.e. endurance road riding for high power output riders; road commuters wanting 400km+ between lube applications; road riders who want the convenience of applying immediately pre-ride; riding in very cold conditions where dust levels are low e.g. snow conditions.
The biggest plus points for Ride Mechanic are the technical literature which Owen Matthews has put together on the website covering bike cleaning and lubrication and the feel-good factor of being Australian made.
Also check-out the oher Ride Mechanic products which includes chamois cream, degreasers and cleaners and bike maintenance products. Ride Mechanic products are available in bike shops across Australia, the website has a list of dealers: ridemechanic.com.au
The Bike Milk dry lube retails for ca. $20 (175ml)
The Bike Cream wet lube retails for ca. $22 (115ml)