Thursday, July 22, 2010

Bio-lubricants and Tubeless revisited

It's been a while on some of this stuff so I wanted to update information on the homemade tire sealant, tubeless systems, and chain lube. I also wanted to follow up on my biodegradable grease.

Tubeless Tire Sealant:
-1 part mold builder latex (get at Michaels)
-1 part tubeless tire slime (at Auto Parts departments)
-2 parts RV Antifreeze premix (the stuff for pipes, non hazardous formula)
-some glitter for extra coagulation

I've been using this formula for two years now with zero puncture flats.

Tubeless Conversion:
-Handy roll of Gorilla Tape
-Two valve stems*
*Presta helps if they are removable valve cores, Schrader can be used if they are bolt down type like Continental or Schwalbe valves.

Clean inside of rims with rubbing alcohol, wrap Gorilla tape one layer with overlap at valve stem hole. Make sure to press firmly to get tape to stick. Make small puncture at valve stem hole and install tube and tire. Inflate and let sit overnight, this really gets the tape adhered to the rim. Remove tire and tube, trim any extra tape to base of the rim sidewall. Apply a little sealant to cut out valve stem base and insert through hole. Tighten lock nut as tight as you can get it by hand (rims with narrow cavities sometimes need an o-ring at the base of the valve stem). Install tire as per normal tubeless installation, UST and Tubeless Ready tires mount up the easiest, sometimes with just a floor pump. Regular tires are more of a crap shoot and can fail (wire beads are usually a safer choice) so try at your own risk.

Biodegradable Chain Lubricant:
-1 part 15w-50 Renewable Lubricants Bar and Chain Oil*
-1 part canola oil
*10w-30 Bar and Chain Oil can be used strait up

Total cost was $20 for Bar and Chain Oil and Canola Oil, this makes 64oz of lubrication. That comes out to $0.31 per oz. Compare that to most "bicycle chain lubes" at about $8.00 for 4 oz, or $2.00 an oz. Since this makes so much, I share with friends. Just fill old empty lube bottles.

Lubrication Procedure borrowed from Chain-L (copyright 2008, F. Bollag, reproduced with permission)

  1. New chains should be oiled off the bike by stretching out on newspaper with the rollers up. This will do a better job of lubricating and save time on cleanup of the cassette and chainrings. Oil generously,  install and skip to Step 4.
  2. Used chains should first be cleaned as well as possible to avoid wicking dirt in.  If the chain has a reusable master link, consider cleaning and oiling it off the bike
  3. On the bike, oil chain in high gear (outer ring and smallest cog) or using a chainkeeper. Let soak in for at least 10-15 min (longer is better). While turning the cranks, wipe excess oil off the chain and derailleur pulleys with a clean dry rag, leaving only the thinnest film possible. Any excess will only make it messier than it needs to be.
  4. Turn the cranks and look carefully for fans of excess oil spinning off the pulleys, there shouldn’t be any. If there is, rewipe the chain and pulleys and repeat until no oil spins off.
  5. Change gears and wipe off the outer chainring. Then run the bike through the gears to spread a bit of the oil throughout the cassette.
  6. Don’t forget to wipe off any oil that got onto the derailleur, chainstay, etc

By now, the chain should have a thin, sticky film of oil on its surface. Leave this on for rust protection. It will attract dust on the first few rides but the good news is, after the stickiness is blotted up, the chain won’t get any dirtier. If you wish, you may “dry clean” the chain from time to time by wiping with a paper towel, but don’t add oil unless the chain “asks” for it.

Biodegradable Grease:
I have been using LubriMatic Green Bio LMX "Red" Grease. It is a soy based grease with a Lithium Complex soap. It is a fairly slick grease with excellent protection properties and good water resistance. Best of all, it only costs about $5 for a 16oz tub. Compare this to "bicycle" greases that run $20-$30 for a 16oz tub.

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