Written by:John Gould
Squirt are not a new name on the UK cycling scene, nor is their chain lube a wholly unknown product.
It is probably fair to say however, that oil based products still dominate this sector of the market. Wax based lubricant is likely to be a bit of a novelty for the majority of cyclists. We decided to give Squirt a thorough testing over the last few weeks. The plan was to find out whether it actually stands up to prolonged use.
Drive train maintenance for the mildly obsessive.
My obsession with having a clean drive train is a matter of record. I am forever cleaning chains in baths of degreaser, breaking down and cleaning cassettes to within an inch of their lives, and trying as many different chain lubes as I can lay my hands on. Impressions to the contrary, I do not have OCD, I am simply on a quest to find the ideal lube. On the premise that you can’t test a new product properly unless you start with a totally clean chain and cassette – I have to keep cleaning.
Of secondary motivation is that I am a tight beggar. If I can extend the life of my drive train I’ll do whatever it takes.
Finally, if it becomes part of your routine, the whole thing becomes quite therapeutic!
Squirt is a roughly 40:60 emulsion of wax and water. The idea is that you apply generous amounts to the chain, the water will evaporate or drip off, leaving the wax behind. The wax will provide a dry coat of lubricant – simple.
It is important that you read the instructions and stick to them. When they say add to a clean chain, think super clean. Whatever you had on there before, get rid of it. All of it! The same goes for your cassette and jockey wheels. If it helps, think of Squirt as a liquid whose purity must be maintained at all costs. The minimum amount of contamination is too much (you can see why I like this!) Once your drive train is squeaky clean, apply generous amounts of lube. (If you are running rim brakes, use a cloth to cover braking surfaces). Leave it overnight to go off.
That new bike feel
The first thing you will notice in the morning is how smooth your ride is. Then how much better your gear shifts are.
But how long does it last? Any lube will feel good at first but when it ‘falls off’ or accumulates quantities of foreign matter, then it all starts to feel rough again.
I’ll be brutally honest here. At first, Squirt really didn’t cut the mustard. On the road, I got that ‘dry chain feeling’ about 60 miles in. On an MTB it only proved effective for 30 odd miles and on a gravel bike it was sort of mid way between the two. Longevity was largely determined by riding conditions. Suffice to say, it was less time than I was entirely comfortable with.
Then came the revelation. I was adding quantities that you would consider ‘generous’ when using an oil based lube. You have to go all Henry Cooper with it….”splash it on all over” sort of thing. Don’t forget, 60% is water and the water is just the transport device. And don’t forget, the first application needs two helpings, and they need to dry between applications.
Do this and you are in the right ball park.
Since getting the quantities dialled, I used Squirt on my road bike for rides between 60 to 100 miles. I used it on my mountain bike for rides of 30 to 50 miles and my gravel bike for a few 30 milers. (Brake failure means it is now hors de combat. The gravel testing mantle was handed to Nigel who used it on the recent “The Distance”.)
Conditions have been wholly dry and increasingly dusty.
That velvety ‘new bike’ feeling lasted longest on the road bike – no surprises there. After 100 miles, I started to notice the merest hint of a rattle but shifting was fine.
Once at home, I wiped the chain with a nice clean rag. There was surprisingly little road grime, much less than I anticipated. The cassette seemed to be largely stain free. Nonetheless, in the spirit of completeness, I stripped the drive train down again and gave it a clean. At the same time, I compared it with another road bike which had an oil based lube. It had done maybe 50 miles. The amount of grit etc in the bottom of the bath was noticeably less with Squirt.
This process was repeated on the MTB and gravel bike (while it was still going). I expected to see industrial amounts of grit in the bottom of the bath but once again, it was largely conspicuous by its absence. The cassettes too were mostly free of dust, grit and grass.
I quizzed Nigel about his experiences on The Distance. He confessed to being a bit of a ‘Squirt fan boi’. His most telling comment was that the amount of dust on the trails over the weekend made Squirt pretty much the ideal choice. Had he used an oil based option, it would have been far noisier!
In real life then, post ride, a quick wipe and a top up of Squirt is all you are going to need.
Getting your chain, cassette and jockey wheels pristine in the first place is a real pain. Having to reapply after every ride is a bit of a drag too.
You need to use a lot of lube and you may find yourself using more than you anticipate in the early days.
All I can recommend is that you stick with it.
Remember how life used to be before tubeless tyres? Consider how much of a pain it can be getting tubeless rubber set up. It is worth it in the end, as you are repaid time and time again. Well, think of Squirt that way…at least in the dry.
I have not had the opportunity for prolonged testing in the wet. For now then, I’d recommend this as a summer lube. Come the winter, I’ll test it all over again!