How To: Maintain a Waxed Chain

Chain Wax

Standard Cleaning

One of, if not the biggest benefit to waxing your chain is how clean it runs and how easy it is to keep that way.  When you get done with a ride you can simply wipe off any debris from the chain with a microfiber towel or a gear wipe.  

If you had a dry dusty ride, you will want to remove that dust but you can be confident that the wax is still in-between the inner and outer plates which is where the friction is happening.  

You will not want to use another degreaser on the chain as that residue could be left on the chain and cause future wax not to stick as well.  The degreaser in the gear wipes however flashes completely so it won't cause an issue.

Clean Rim Tape

Standard Re-Lube Intervals

Once you have a chain that is waxed through either our Hot Wax, Race Chain, or Super Secret Chain Lube, that maintenance is similar.  

Every 200mi (321km) - Drip 2 drops per link of Super Secret Chain Lube

Every 1,000-1,500mi (1,600-2,400km) - If you are hot waxing, you may want to re-dip your chain in the hot wax pot

Dripping chain lube
Hot wax souvide

Wet Ride Maintenance

How to maintain your waxed chain after a wet ride starts with our favorite answer, it depends.  First we will cover how to handle a little bit of water, maybe you got a light rain for a few minutes, ran through some wet roads, etc.  

For these light rain situations, simply try to get the chain dry quickly, wipe down with a gear wipe as this will help some of that water flash off, and reapply either Super Secret Chain Lube or Hot Wax.  If you have access to an air compressor, quickly blowing out the chain is a great way to remove all that water.

Now for those long driving days where you are out for hours at a time it is very important that you get that drivetrain dried off as quickly as possible.  If the chain sits there is no oil to remove water so the chain can start to develop surface rust.  Blow out the chain or wipe it dry with a microfiber towel.  Then you are going to want to add your Super Secret Chain Lube or Hot Wax treatment to help the last bit of moisture be driven out.  This will make sure your chain is ready to go for the next ride.

If you do get a bit of surface rust on your chain, don't worry, its not ruined.  It will typically rub right off with a gear wipe and might just take a little more effort for a brush.

Muddy Bike

Mid-Ride Lubrication

A waxed chain should give you 200-250 miles pretty reliably per application assuming good conditions.  If it is wet and muddy that can be shorter.  For an event like Unbound 200, even if its going to be a rainy day we recommend running a waxed chain as it is going to be the best at repelling as much mud as possible and is going to lead to the lowest friction.  

With that being said you are not going to get 200 miles out of a mud filled day like we saw in 2022.  This is where a high quality oil based lubricant like Synergetic comes into play.  An emulsified wax like our Super Secret Chain Lube, or any other brand's offering, can't be used effectively mid ride.  The same additives that make that wax a liquid need to evaporate for it to be effective.  Adding those mid-ride can actually have the opposite of the intended effect by emulsifying the wax that is on the chain and removing all lubricant from the chain.  

For those reasons we recommend using a high quality wet lube.  The oil will penetrate and quiet the chain while providing the needed lubrication.  Since oil and wax don't mix well, you will need to strip the chain when you get home if you want to wax again.  This is a boiled water, degreaser bath, acetone, and re-wax process.

Lubing a chain

Where Others Go Wrong

There are a few companies out there that offer their emulsified wax lubricants in really small half ounce bottles.  That is great if they want to give you a sample to try but the issue is that they are often pitched as emergency lubricant that you should put on mid ride if your chain gets loud.  This is not something we would ever recommend which is why we don't offer Super Secret in a smaller bottle.

Cleaning a Bike with a Waxed Chain

Since we know waxed chains and water aren't best friends, how do you go about washing your bike after a dirty ride?  We can go ahead and assume if your frame is pretty dirty, your drivetrain likely is too.  In this case go ahead and wash your bike like normal with the exception of being careful not to use any soap or cleaner on the drivetrain.  This is to make sure that the wax has clean metal to stick to.  

You can rinse the chain with water, dry it off, and either take it off to hot wax, or apply super secret as soon as the bike is dry.  

Another great option is to clean your chain as we talked about above but to use a waterless wash like our Ultimate Waterless Wash.  This will help clean your frame and leave behind a protective ceramic coating.  

For the ultimate in deep cleaning, our favorite tip is to remove the chain before you start cleaning and then go about your cleaning process on the frame and clean the chain completely separately.

Soapy wheel

Final Thoughts

Having a waxed chain is the ultimate upgrade in our opinion to keep your components running longer, faster, and cleaner.  It takes that little bit of up front work, or you can purchase one of our Pre-Waxed Race Chains to let us do that work for you.  A quick wipe down after a ride is preferred but not necessary and a little extra attention after a wet ride are all it takes to have the ultimate waxed chain treatment.

Chain Maintenance Video

For those of you who would rather see waxed chain maintenance on video, below you can see our instructional video on how to maintain your waxed chain so it lasts longer, runs cleaner, and stays just as fast as day 1.

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  • Keith

    Can I remove my chain frequently if I always chose a different link to push out the pin, or is it better to get a quick link? If a quick link is better, do you recommend a kind for my 105 10 gear cassette?

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