How to end bicycle chain mess forever; a guide to Squirt Wax Lubricant

A photo of Tom in a field in Corsica. The sun is shining!
June 20, 2021
July 10, 2021

Chain wax is more efficient, easier to maintain, and less likely to leave oily marks on your clothes and calves when cycling than oil-based chain lubricants. I wish I discovered it years ago. I can recommend Squirt chain lube.

This guide covers:

  • Why use Wax Chain Lubricant
  • Applying Squirt Wax for the first time
  • How often to apply squirt wax
  • How to clean squirt wax between rides
  • Squirt Wax in the Winter and on Wet Rides

Why Use Wax Chain Lubricant

Chain wax is more efficient, easier to maintain, and less likely to leave oily marks on your clothes and calves when cycling.

At a glance it's:

  • Faster - in tests wax has lower friction than oil-based chain lubricants
  • Cleaner - the wax is biodegradable and doesn't leave stains on your calves when your glistening white socks inevitably touch your front crank
  • Easier to maintain and time-saving - once you have fully degreased your drivetrain for the first application you no longer have to do this at all!

There are some cons:

  • You have to give your drivetrain a really intensive clean before you switch from oil chain lubricants to wax
  • You cannot mix and match wax lubricant with oil - so leave the wet and dry lubes at home on long rides
  • The wax should be applied the night before a ride for best results - so you need to be plan ahead a little bit (although you don't need to apply the wax for every ride)

Applying Squirt Wax for the First Time

Step 1 - Cleaning your Chain

Cleaning your chain is the most important preparation step. You need to do this even if you have a brand new chain straight from the factory.

You will need:

  • A chain! Take it off your bike if you're re-using your current chain.
  • Chain/drivetrain degreaser - I use Muc Off Bio Degreaser
  • A plastic tub with a lid - I used an old Persil washing up capsule tub
  • A towel to dry the chain
  • An old toothbrush
  • A nearby source of water - this doesn't need to be a tap, but you will need to fill up the plastic tub a few times to get the degreaser off the chain

Once you have all of this ready, follow these steps:

  1. Put the chain and masterlinks in the tub, then pour in degreaser until the chain is fully submerged
  2. Put the lid on the tub and give it a good shake
  3. Leave the chain to rest in its degreaser bath for ten minutes
  4. Repeat steps 2 & 3 two more times. In total, you will shake the tub three times over 30 minutes. If your chain is really gunky you might need to do this four or five times.
  5. Use an old toothbrush to scrub the chain and agitate the degreaser. You could hold the chain in the palm of your hand and work down the chain.
  6. Carefully pour the used degreaser into an old degreaser bottle
  7. Wash out the plastic tub with water then fill it with clean water
  8. Put the chain in the tub with the water and shake for twenty to thirty seconds
  9. Repeat steps 7 to 8 until the water is clean and there is no more degreaser residue. This usually takes five-plus cycles to get rid of any residue
  10. Use the towel to dry off your chain
  11. You now have a clean chain ready to install on your bike and apply Squirt wax lubricant

Step 2 - Give the rest of your drivetrain a thorough clean (don't skip this!)

Cleaning the chain is no good if you're going to put it back onto a dirty cassette, rear mech and front crank. You need to give them just as thorough a clean!

The first time I tried wax I forgot to clean my cassette. It meant my chain was covered in a weird wax oil gunk within a few minutes of riding. That's a mistake you don't want to make twice!

I actually applied the same principle I used for cleaning my chain to my cassette - I  took it to pieces and soaked it in the same re-used degreaser.

Give your front crank and rear mech a spray of degreaser, scrub them with the toothbrush, then wash them down with plenty of water.

Step 3 - Apply Squirt Wax Lubricant

Once your chain and drivetrain are fully cleaned and degreased, it's finally time to apply the wax. Don't worry - this is possibly the last time you will have to do such thorough degreasing.

Squirt recommend applying the wax to the inside of the chain, rotating the pedals as you go. Apply the wax once, spin the pedals a couple of times, wait five minutes, then apply a second coating.

Leave the bike overnight, and in the morning you will be ready to ride.

How often to apply Squirt Wax

The manufacturer recommends re-applying the wax every 100 miles (160km). Before applying the wax, grab an old towel and run the chain through it to get off any dirt. You might like to do the same to the cogwheels on your rear cassette and give them crank a quick clean too. You could use toothpicks to clean some of this off but I find a towel works just as well.

When re-applying the wax you only need to apply one layer.

How to clean Squirt Wax between rides

If you are riding for less than 100 miles / 160 km each ride, just grab an old towel and wipe down the chain after each ride. This applies to rides in dry conditions. That's it!

It's much easier than oil-based chain lubricants - there's no longer and need to use a degreaser after each ride and re-apply wax!

Does Squirt Wax work in the winter?

I haven't had a chance to test out the standard wax during wet or winter rides. From what I have seen online, it seems like it will be ok as long as you wipe it down after each ride.

As wetter weather approaches, I highly suspect I will be trying out the Winter specific Squirt wax variant. This wax is designed not to congeal at low temperatures. I will definitely be trying that product out when winter approaches.

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