AbsoluteBlack's GraphenLube claims up to 1800km of use - on the road. How does it go offroad?
Using the correct chain lubricant and keeping the whole drivetrain clean is a surefire way to ensure you have reduced drag in your drivetrain, and an increased product life. And anyone who knows what's involved in keeping a mountain bike drivetrain running clean understands that it is time consuming. And that's why Absoluteblack's new Graphenlube is interesting. The wax-based chain lubricant has a claim of running 1800km in dry, road conditions. Even half of that off-road it would be incredible.
The lubricant itself is a wax-based lube with graphene. Graphene has a very low friction coefficient, and sticks to metals well, and it doesn't wash off with water. Absoluteblack also claim less resistance with less than 5W of frictional loss coming from your drivetrain when using their Graphenlube.
Applying the lube
This was a little more complex, involving a new chain, a full degrease, air dry and complete immersion in a bag of the lubricant, while avoiding any waste. Why? Well the 140mL bottle is $239.95, which is ten times the cost of some chain lubes! The application used almost 20mL
Once the chain has had the wax-based lube dry, it is ready for fitting, without wiping off any of the excess chain lube. In the stand, pedalling through the gears the chain ran very quietly and smoothly – which is about what I would expect anyway. Aesthetically, it doesn't look clean. The overall appearance is black, but it's not a uniform finish. When you see how silver a new Shimano XTR or SRAM Eagle XX1 chain is, or the black SRAM Eagle chains, this sits apart. But performance beats looks for me, so it was time to ride.
On the dirt
By my thinking, a claim of 1800km of dry, road use, is about 60 hours of use. Perhaps that is 30 hours off-road. I've had 22 hours on the bike with the Absoluteblack Graphenlube between applying it and getting this review written right on deadline. I didn't encounter any thick mud, but I did get through some clay mud followed by a proper cloudburst, plus typical south-east Queensland dust. My chain is still lubricated and silent.
Visually, it looks drier than on the initial application and that is to be expected. It's certainly not dirtier, and there is minimal build up of muck around the chainring teeth and jockey wheel sprockets. Bear in mind that for 22 hours of riding I haven't even wiped the chain with a rag.
Overall, I have been really impressed with the Graphenlube. My bike will be ready for a reapplication soon, which is nearly the same as other chain lubes after the initial application. Wipe the chain down with a cloth, and reapply on the inside of the chain when backpedalling – and then let it dry for at least 2 hours. The reapplication uses far less chain lube than the initial application, and I would guess I could get at least 12 more applications from the bottle, so maybe even 300 hours of use, maybe more depending on the weather conditions. So that's about 6 hours a week for a year – and I expect I would need a new chain by then.
I don't think Graphenlube is for everyone. The sticker price will put a lot of people off and the appearance is likely to put aesthetes off as well, as you don't have a truly spotless and clean look. But as for performance, I think it has its place. The fact that I had to think about actually doing less to my drivetrain during testing the Graphenlube was a joy. The functionality of less-frequent chain lubrication will find fans for those who just want to ride and know their gear is well-looked after. I see Graphenlube as a good fit in a high-performance workshop for some customer's bikes. I also see it being a good fit for endurance racers. You could do a stage race on one application as long as your bike wasn't jetwashed. If you can stomach the upfront cost, I think most mountain bikers will get a lot out of Graphenlube - drivetrain parts shouldn't be set and forget in an offroad environment, but this product helps it get pretty close!
Long lasting lubrication
Claimed friction reduction
How much for a bottle?
Not shiny and clean