N°5 Chain-L Oct 20, 2009

I’ve been meaning to post this chain lube for a while but never got around to it. After seeing a pic of it on Hunky Dory, I had to (thanks Mike!). Chain-L is a nicely-branded, high-performance chain lube from New England (Westchester maybe?)

At Interbike a year ago, I snatched up a sample bottle and used it up in a month or two. I wanted to buy more, but at $12.00 per 4oz bottle, it’s a little more than I like to spend on lube. The price is probably why they chose a Chanel-inspired label!

More information:

In a word, it’s oil. More specifically, Chain-L is a blend of extreme pressure (EP) lubricants in a high film-strength mineral oil base, formulated to provide the maximum possible lubrication to the tiny bearings that make up a chain. Chain-L also contains rust inhibitors and other additives to improve its longevity and wet-weather performance.

Check it out at their site here.

  • dro

    how’s it measure up to phil wood lubes?

  • http://theradavist.com prolly

    I have Phil Wood bio-lube now (I bought it at Interbike a year ago and it’s still kicking!

    I like them both, the Chain-L seemed to be less messy and last a bit longer though. Maybe that’s why the bottle is so small? Higher concentration? Regardless, I always do a drop a link…

  • jonnyneedledick

    id imagine its way better. imo phil tenacious is probably the worst thing for chains , love the rest of phils stuff but tenacious is too effing globby. its more a thin grease than oil. spiderwebs all over your bike and legs if you put on too much and has a nasty habit of collecting dirt and you end up with a globby chain coverd in chain hash… dont smoke that shit though.. itll eff you up.
    tri flo you’re shit up on a regular basis and you’re golden.

    tenacious is definatly good for shit winter weather.
    this i cannot deny!


  • Robot


    If you’re using it up that quickly, you’re doing it wrong! :P (I can’t resist a chance to play Internets Expert.)

    Anyway, I’m a new fan of this stuff, I like that it’s a local replacement for Dumonde Tech. But like any god chain lube, it’s to be used sparingly, and in conjunction with lot’s o’ chain wiping.

    - Robot

  • http://www.chain-L.com Francis


    Thanks for the positive comments. regarding the price- at 12.00 for a 4oz. it’s only slightly more than the other stuff out there, and per oz. less than many. But you use far less per application, and it lasts much longer between applications, so the actual cost per mile is significantly less than almost all the other chain lubes out there.

    Since it has a perfume label, let’s go with it and compare perfume at $90/.25oz to cologne which is far less expensive. Perfume is pure scent, so cologne which is mostly alcohol, isn’t really a bargain after all.

    BTW- in case you haven’t figured it out, I make the stuff. I apologize for what sounds like an ad, but wanted to offer my take on price comparisons.

  • R

    Tenacious Oil is not a chainlube, newb.

  • anon.

    Uhh, there are no “tiny bearings” in a chain. I would probably avoid it as the maker has no idea how it’s supposed to work…

  • elgee

    Dudes, that stuff is 10w40 right out of a can. Try Squirt Lube, it’s the best shit EVER.

  • http://www.chain-L.com Francis Bollag


    To the anonymous person who thinks there aren’t any bearings in a chain, I suggest you look up “Plain Bearing” or Journal Bearing” in a technical dictionary. Every link in a chain is connected to the next by a bearing, that’s how it’s able to flex.

    BTW- if you’re one of those people who think that bearings are little balls, you’re wrong there too. A ball bearing is the complete assembly including the inner and outer races and the balls, which technically are called just that “balls”.


    To the person who thinks it’s motor oil, I’ll add your guess to all the others: chain saw oil, gear oil, cutting oil, machine oil, motorcycle chain oil, etc. For the record, it’s none of the above, though it shares ingredients and properties with all of them. In any case it isn’t what chain-L is, but how it performs that matters.

    Consider beer, they’re all similar; yellow to amber carbonated drinks made from barley, hops, water and yeast. That’s where the similarity ends, and only folks who don’t know anything about beer would think that Grolsch (or your own favorite) and Budweiser are the same.

  • Steve Barner

    I’ve used lots of motor oil, gear oil, cutting oil and even motorcycle chain oil (that one long, long ago), though I’ve kept most of these far from my bike chain. I’ve also gone through scads of chain saw oil (both the gas additive and the chain type) over the years. On bicycle chains, I’ve used lots of different products, including paraffin, over my 40+ years of road riding, including Chain-L. It’s good stuff, like Marvel Mystery Oil is good for your car engine. It is by far most similar to chainsaw bar & chain oil than anything else. If I had to guess, I’d say that’s what the base stock is, probably with some additives. Whatever it is, as a unique product from an otherwise unknown manufacturer, and with no apparent independent lab testing, you certainly have every reason to be skeptical. After all, there’s really nothing to keep someone from buying a bunch of plastic bottles, slapping a black & white label on them and filling them with $8 a gallon bar & chain oil and chuckling all the way to the bank.

    The newest chains are coming with PTFE treatments, which is one of the reasons Campagnolo tells you not to clean their chains in solvent. Buy a can of engine oil treatment with PTFE, mix some of it with a gallon of bar & chain oil and, in the dark, nasty world within your chain, you will probably get the same performance as the most boutique of the boutique lubes. Grit mixes with any lube and water washes them all away; both of those factors are far more meaningful to the life expectancy of your chain than what you put on it.

  • http://www.chain-L.com Francis Bollag


    You raise a good point. Why should someone trust a product from an unknown source without independent lab testing? 2 comments;

    1- I don’t know of any meaningful lab data on any bicycle chain lubes, and what should we test for anyway? Lubrication, durability, weather resistance, cleanliness, etc.

    Either way, it really doesn’t matter, we live in the internet age, and rather than rely on ads, or lab data, we all have good access to independent real world user reviews. Chain-L N°5 gets very positive reviews so I invite anyone to search “chain-L reviews” using their favorite search engine, and read for themselves.

    The only unfavorable reviews aren’t performance related but come from folks who (like you) think it’s some form of commercially available oil, and therefore overpriced. They’re wrong, but it is in a class of oils in which are also many similar but different products.

    But that misses the point. Ask yourself this; if you went to bake sale and had a choice of eating a really good made-from-mix cake, or a mediocre made-from-scratch cake, which would you enjoy more?

    The point is you’re buying the performance, not the product per se. So it doesn’t matter what it is. Though you will get similar lubrication from any decent heavy duty oil, you won’t get the weather resistance or total performance that Chain-L delivers. (read the reviews)

    I also find it somewhat ironic that folks who spend hundreds of dollars in search of incremental performance improvements suddenly feel that $12.00 (or less) per year is too much to spend to maintain that same equipment.

  • Tim

    Francis you sold me. I’ve read enough national and international reviews to make me take the leap. I plan on buying some this week for a test.

  • Roger

    I bought the small bottle to try. I have dozens of rides on one application. Dusty, sandy, muddy, rainy. All I do is wipe it with a rag if it loks too gross. Honestly havent wiped it in the last 6 rides. Still as quiet as the day I put it on.

  • http://www.examiner.com/atlanta-sports-gear-in-atlanta/wojtek-wysocki Wojtek Wysocki


    You probably don’t remember me from Interbike, although I have a distinctive Eastern-European accent.
    I introduced myself as a media guy and you were kind enough to give me the whole bottle, for testing.

    Well, I am just about to work on the review and being a “name caller” I would call Chain-L a “Ninja among lubes”.

    Man, I need to look down on my derailleur, just to convince myself I did shift indeed. Not a slight sound in many cases. Compare it to my friend’s “Kalashnikov” bike, when he even does not know when I drift off of him.

    Great product, but honestly at 2009 Interbike you did not have the kind of confidence you had at 2010.
    This is the reason I was 100% sure that it was Castrol motor oil for naive folks and did not pay attention to your product before.