Monthly Archives: August 2016

NixFrixShun Ultimate Chainlube

Chain lube is something I’ve never paid much attention to. I’ve always just bought whatever the latest ‘fad’ was (e.g. Rock’n’Roll Gold, Triflow, etc.) without much thought. It never occurred to me that one chain lube would be significantly better than the rest, but that’s possibly because nothing really stood out, not even the ‘King of Lubes’ (Rock’n’Roll Gold).

Initially, I was quite skeptical about the claims NixFrixShun made about their chain lube, particularly how could you possibly get 10 000 miles out of a 2oz (60ml) bottle of lube? I’ve never gotten anywhere near that out of a (larger) bottle of Rock’n’Roll. Additionally, only applying 12 (small) drops to the chain was a foreign concept to me, I’ve always applied chain lube liberally.

IMG_3245

Nonetheless, I decided to try NFS lube after moving to a wetter climate, I got sick of lubing my chain after every rainy ride (which could be every day if I was unlucky). I stumbled upon the website after a few searches and despite my above skepticisms, I ordered a bottle. As expected, the bottles were quite small compared to other brands. However my initial skepticisms were rejected after the first application, 12 small drops were enough for just under 1000km of smooth riding in wet conditions. Impressive would be understating it.

Size comparison of NFS bottle to Stans 59ml sealant

Size comparison of NFS bottle to Stans 59ml sealant

Usually after a wet ride I’d need to reapply more lube, but not with NFS. Of course, I still need to oil my chain more regularly in rainy periods, but it will at least last me a fortnight before I need to reapply, rather than after every (longish) wet ride. Previously I was quite vigilant with lubing my chain, ensuring to lube my chain before a long ride, but now with NFS there’s no real need, applying a small amount of lube now and then is plenty.

NFS chain lube is easy to apply dropwise with their spout

NFS chain lube is easy to apply dropwise with their spout

5000 wintery kilometres later, I’m still impressed by how durable and smooth NFS lube is. I’d be able to count on my fingers the number of times I’ve had to re-lube my chain, and that’s something I’ve never managed with mainstream lubes (even in summer months). From this experience, I’d agree with NixFrixShun’s claim that their lubes are mostly lube (rather than solvent).

I’ve found that the 12-12-12 method mentioned on their website performs well. I’ve tried applying more, but in my experience more lube just ‘clogs’ the chain and attracts dirt, and if you spend more time wiping then you just wipe of the ‘excess’ anyway. Applying less than 12 drops, but more than 6 (after the initial application) does work if there’s still a decent amount of lube remaining, but I’d rather wait a little longer and apply the full 12 when the chain is a little drier. As you might guess, I find anything less than 6 drops to be ineffective in lubing anything but an already well lubed chain.

The consistency of NFS is thicker than others, and has a slight sheen. Like most lubes It washes off easily with soap. It’s also not so thin that it’ll flick excess lube/grime onto you and your bike if you don’t wipe every drop off. I also haven’t noticed any decrease in performance when  riding immediately after application.

The NFS solution appears to be quite hydrophobic, but also has quite a strong surface tension. This suggests to me that NFS is composed of medium/long chained hydrocarbons, or similar. Of course this is only a guess, but it would be in line with other lubricants. I would suggest that NFS performs better than other lubes because of its well formulated composition of ‘regular’ lubricants, rather than something drastically different.

NFS ultimate chain lube can be bought directly from the NixFrixShun speed shop. They also have a biodegradable formula, and other misc accessories. Fans of Silca may have noticed that Silca and NFS have collaborated to develop a Silca specific formula. I’m yet to test the performance of the biodegradable/Silca formula, but from my experiences of the Ultimate, NixFrixShun certainly have an idea or two about engineering efficient and durable lubes.

Pricing may be towards the more expensive side of the spectrum, but considering how effective and long lasting this lube is I would argue that it’s worth every cent.

Disclaimer: The author has no relation with NixFrixShun, and the lube was purchased at retail pricing.

 

Specialized S-Works Power Test

When Specialized first unveiled the Power saddle I immediately dismissed it as one that wouldn’t work for me. When riding I find that I like to switch between sitting on the rearward half of the saddle, and riding on the rivet. However, when a friend offered to lend me his S-Works power to try I was curious. Now having ridden it for a few months I like it so much I’m not giving it back.

First things first, setting up the Power is quite different to other saddles. I’ve always positioned my (Selle Italia SLR) saddles so the nose is always a fixed distance behind the bottom bracket, but this won’t work when using the Power. Instead, I’ve found that a better guide is the position where the saddle transitions from ‘straight’ to curved. My experience suggests that placing the Power so the curved section aligned with an SLR resulted in an agreeable position. The picture below demonstrates how I set the Power in relation to an SLR (apologies for the dirty saddle – I swear I obtained it in that condition).

power crop

Specialized recommend increasing your setback by 3cm when using the Power. I found this recommendation vague, though useful. It is true that my setback increased by around 3cm (it’s a little under 3cm), so it’s a useful figure to start with, however I found more fine tuning was necessary. Perhaps changing from another Specialized branded saddle requires 3cm, but in relation to an SLR I discovered that aligning the ‘maximum curvature’ zone to be more practical.

It is true that I’m not able to slide forward on the Power, but after extensive riding I haven’t found this to be an issue. It’s not that I’ve got the saddle slammed forward, in fact my installation actually biases the rearward position. I’m not quite sure why I don’t miss the sitting on the nose, but one hypothesis is that I didn’t really ‘need’ to slide forward, rather it was just a bad habit. Now that I don’t have the option of sliding forward I can focus more on actually getting the power out, rather than moving into a position where I think I’m getting the power out.

In terms of what the Power feels like on the road, it is surprisingly similar to the Selle Italia SLR gel flow saddle (albeit with no nose to sit on). visually, the radius of curvature of both saddles is similar, though the Power is slightly wider (143mm vs 132mm) and shorter (~250mm vs ~270mm). The Power definitely feels supportive and encourages you to hold yourself steady in the saddle, minimising any rocking you may have. The Pro and S-Works model saddles are a little firmer than my SLR, but Specialized offer Expert and Comp level saddles which feature (slightly) softer padding. I personally preferred the firmer saddle (more on this later).

Despite being a new product the Power comes in 4 distinct models, with a Comp, Expert, Pro and S-Works model being available. ‘Distinct’ is a little misleading since the Comp/Expert and Pro/S-Works share the same shell/padding but differ in terms of rail material (so really 2 distinct models each with 2 rail options). I’ve been lucky enough to test both the S-Works and Pro model and I would suggest that both feel identical. If weight were of no concern I would save the money and buy the Pro model.

Speaking of weight, the Pro model weighs in at 211g according to my kitchen scales. I’m a little disappointed by the weight, my old SLR kit carbino saddles were around 135g and even the lower end SLR xp saddles were ~180g, both lighter than the Pro and S-Works model saddles. The inner weightweenie doesn’t like the saddle, but it’s proved itself over the last 6000km of training and racing. If pricing was more competitive I would have this saddle on all of my bikes.

power weight

Why don’t I think the pricing is competitive? The cheaper Comp and Expert models (despite sharing the same name) are actually very different saddles. If you view them in person, it’s obvious that they are much more heavily padded than the Pro/S-Works models, and I believe one of the major reasons why the design of this saddle works is the low profile padding. I find less to be more since less padding often provides greater support, rather than that uncomfortable ‘squishy’ feeling you get from softer, thicker padding. In essence, the cheapest (and only) Power I would consider would be the Pro model. The Comp and Expert simply don’t offer the same support as the Pro.

Now obviously I’m not suggesting that the Power will work for everyone, I’m more recounting  my experiences and opinions. The only way to know for sure would be to try it yourself. If you like the (old) SLR range of saddles, and dislike the Fi:zi:k snake and chameleon range, then (based on my experience) I would definitely give the Power range a test ride.

Saddles are not a one size fits all item, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Power saddles feature on more Specialized sponsored teams as time progresses. Despite only two width options being available for the S-Works/Pro models at the time of writing (143mm and 155mm ), I would argue that one of the two options should suit most riders. Just like their insoles, where there are only three options, compared to 3025 possible combinations offered by some competitors (see G8 Performance Insoles), most people seem to get on fine with a ‘stock’ option.

Disclaimer: The author is in no way affiliated with Specialized. The author was loaned an S-Works saddle for the test period and purchased the Pro saddle at retail during the test period.