Absoluteblack have a new wonder lube on the market, with bold claims and a bolder price tag. But they claim it's faster, cleaner and longer lasting.
In the world of performance cycling, engineers can chase ideas and concepts to their finest details. While it is easy to brush that off as geekdom and something that doesn't benefit the rest of us - you also need to consider that suspension forks and tubeless tyre systems were also seen in a similar way!
Absoluteblack make a very wide range of chain rings and some other small items, and have now created a high performance chain lube. Graphenlube is a hydrocarbon-based water emulsion, the graphene exhibits extreme durability with a single application while also maintaining impressively low friction for a prolonged period of time in both wet and dry conditions.
Let's break that down - it's a very long-lasting chain lube that works in a range of conditions with just one application. Use less, clean less, ride more.
Absoluteblack also claim their new lube does not contain any harmful solvents that evaporate and pose a risk to your health.
What they say
“In simple terms it’s a “wax” based water emulsion, with a special mix of high purity graphene, that is liquid when you apply and becomes almost solid when it dries on the chain. Wax based lubricants exhibit far greater tolerance to water and dirt contamination, successfully separating moving chain parts from abrasion and filling in all the imperfections on friction surfaces. Graphene – the wonder material that is still not commonly used because of its incredibly high cost, is a great additive for a few reasons. It has extremely low friction coefficient in all the environments, is far stronger than any known material to a man and it can cling to metal protecting friction surfaces from excessive abrasion. Moreover, it repels the water and is not permeable to air reducing therefore oxidative stress on the metal surface. Even a single atom layer is enough to reduce the friction considerably. “
“It took us two years to find the right ratio of crumpled to non-crumpled graphene, size of graphene platelets, dispersion rate of agglomerates, concentration and finally figuring out a low friction hydrocarbon emulsion base that will stay on the chain for very long time and not chip away like paraffin wax is known for. The end result is a lubricant that on a single application will hold sub 5 Watts of frictional losses over 900km distance. We have created essentially a new category of performance lubricants."
Results from an independent, single lube application, double blind test where the test chains were appropriately prepared by Zero Friction Cycling then numbered and sent directly to Wheel Energy company to conduct a friction test at 250W resistance, 100rpm cadence, 40km/h speed, 25deg C and 25% humidity. The test continued until chain reached 10W losses. Chains and testing machine had around 50km warmup/break-in period.
What all that means
Looking at the above graph, you can see that the Graphenlube starts at a reasonable loss, and that increase over time - but at a very low rate compared to the other lubes tested.
So compared to most lubes, the chain will not just run more efficiently from the outset, but for a lot longer asll. And based on the graph, you might not even need to relubricate for 1500km.
To save us banging on about it, you can check out all their data on their website. What I'm interested in is whether the chain runs clean and quiet for that long.
FE Sports import absoluteblack in Australia and they have sent some of the magic lube out for us to test out. The application process is involved but that's ok - this probably isn't a product for everyone, but for those looking for the greatest efficiency and less overall time doing maintenance, it could be a great product.
Considering the lube costs over $200 for a 140mL container, we don't expect you all to run out and buy some. But if that represents a few applications, and maybe 5000km of riding with much better performance and lower wear to your drivetrain - it starts to make sense. Anyone who has bought an XX1 or XTR cassette is probably pretty interested to know how they can make sure they last longer!