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The transformative power of waxed chains

KMC X11-SL waxed chain litebike

Cycling in the mist and rain. Isle of Skye. 2019.

Bike chains are a vital part of the drivetrain. They transfer the power you put in the pedal to the back wheel. Properly maintaining your bike chain is key to an enjoyable ride, but it’s easier said than done.

We think a waxed chain is one of the best ways to improve how your bike performs, make it more durable and easier to clean, and is good for the environment.

We’ve been waxing the KMC X11-SL (weight = 242g) and Dura Ace HG-901 (weight = 243g) in our workshop using our superslick formula for the past few years and in this article we’ll explain why we think it hits the mark and makes a worthy bike upgrade.

Better performance

The best thing about a waxed chain is that it improves performance. Friction is wasted energy. Waxed chains minimise friction by putting a thin layer of wax between the chain and the rest of the drivetrain. This wax coating creates a smoother, more efficient cycle that keeps power loss to a minimum making sure you can maintain higher speeds with less effort for longer.

With both the KMC X11-SL and Dura Ace HG-901 I have also noticed less noise when I cycle. I have spoken to some friends about this and they seem to agree with my hypothesis that this has a psychological benefit - feeling ‘slicker’ translates into better performance.

Waxed chains increase Watt output. Watt output is essentially a measure of the power you produce while cycling. In a study by Jason Smith at Friction Facts waxed chains saved up to 3 watts of power compared to an un-lubricated chain. By reducing friction and resistance in your drivetrain, a waxed chain can make peddling easier, meaning you can put down more power generating more watts.

Every watt counts if you’re trying to improve cycling performance. A few watts can mean the difference between winning or losing a race, but even on a casual ride can make a noticeable difference to your speed and endurance.

More durable

As a UK cyclist I know all about wet and damp cycling. Our climate is havoc for bike chains causing them to corrode and rust. Which I have learned the hard way when I started out parking my bike in the garage after a wet December cycle.

The wax we put on our KMC X11-SL and Dura Ace HG-901 repels water preventing moisture from reaching the chain metal which means it doesn’t rust over.

I have also noticed how a waxed chain is much less likely to attract dirt and dust compared to oil-based lubricants. Pieces of dirt and dust that start to build up on the surface of the chain while tiny can actually be pretty abrasive causing the chain to wear quicker and risk damaging the rest of the drivetrain. The slick coating on a waxed chain stops this dirt and dust from sticking and also exhibits some self-cleaning properties.

KMC X11-SL waxed chain litebike

Our waxed chain KMC X11-SL. Waxed by hand by us in our workshop using our superslick formula.

More sustainable

Waxed chains need less cleaning and degreasing, the least enjoyable bit of bike maintenance. But even worse the products that help strip old grease off chains as well as the wet and dry lubes all contain harmful chemicals (e.g. naphtha, kerosene and aliphatic hydrocarbons) that are bad for the environment.

A waxed chain is a sustainable solution. Wax biodegrades and is non-toxic. The type of wax we use on the KMC X11-SL and Dura Ace HG-901 is completely natural, does not contain any synthetic additives.

In conclusion, a waxed chain is an effective way to improve your bike's performance, extend the life of your drivetrain and keep the chain cleaner and easier to maintain. If you’re interested in upgrading checkout the ultra lightweight KMC X11-SL (weight = 242g) and Dura Ace HG-901 (weight = 243g) which we wax in our workshop using our superslick formula.

For more like this on cycling, sports psychology and wellbeing etc sign up to our newsletter, click here. To follow us on Instagram, click here.

If you're after the very best lightweight bike parts you're in the right place. Ultra light carbon handlebars, seatposts, stem, pedals, waxed chains, RideNow inner tubes etc all rigorously tested by us and a small team of cyclists. Click here to see more.




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Overall Customer Rating

Don't just take our word for it

From the community:

Fantastic customer service

Fantastic customer service.

I added a note asking if the purchase could be sent out in time for the weekend and it turned up next day, very impressed - thank you


Stefan Gates

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Litebike are doing things right

great product and service, follow up e mails to make sure im happy with it is a nice touch, the seat post is well made and looks really good on the bike, size is perfect when measured


d styles

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Rapid service, thanks

Ordered a waxed chain late on Friday evening with a cheeky note that I'm racing Outlaw Half following weekend and hoping to receive in time. Had a response at 23.00 saying they would dispatch Sat morning. Received it 10.00 on Monday morning.

Amazing service!!!


Jeremy Brown

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  • Why is weight so important?
    Reducing weight is the most noticeable upgrade you can make. Lightweight bikes accelerate faster and are more responsive to the power you generate, helping you reach your performance potential. Lightweight means going faster and further, for longer. We help cyclists reach their goals - from competitive racers to weekend riders.
  • Do lightweight parts mean compromising durability?
    There is a sweet spot between weight and strength. Most of our bike parts are made from carbon fiber which is lightweight, stiff for optimal power transmission, and flexible in certain dimensions making cycling more comfortable. We put every part through rigorous testing by us and our small team of cyclists. This means you can be confident that our parts will perform for thousands of miles.
  • How come your bike parts are so lightweight for the price?
    The cycling industry is full of gimmicks, poor quality parts and expensive marketing. We are flipping the switch. We work directly with the same manufacturers producing parts for the top cycling brands, avoid the marketing gimmicks and expensive packaging, to bring you top quality products at a fraction of the cost.
  • Are your products sustainable?
    We aim to set the industry standard for high quality bike parts that last. We are the opposite of fast fashion. We are slow fashion - for bikes.
  • Is your packaging recyclable?
    We use biodegradable packaging for all our products wherever possible. We reuse packaging that comes to us too.
  • How long will it take for my order to arrive?
    We aim to deliver all UK mainland deliveries in 1-3 working days.
  • How can I track my order?
    We use Royal Mail’s tracked delivery service. You will get an email with tracking information so you can keep tabs on where your order is and exactly when it will arrive.
  • Do you ship to Europe?
    Yes. Please choose your country at the check out. We charge a flat fee of £5.50, roughly €6.30, for shipping. This is less than it costs us but we don't believe in Ryanair-style add-ons! You may need to pay some taxes on delivery.
  • What’s your returns policy?
    We’re only happy if you’re happy. You can return any part you bought from us within 30 days and we will give you a full refund. Please return the item in its original condition, with any labels attached.
  • Do your handlebars have external cabling?
    Yes. Our handlebars are easy to install for the home mechanic. The cabling is externally routed in a groove running along the bottom of the bars.
  • Are your handlebars DI2 compatible?
    While some customers have fitted DI2 this requires drilling extra holes and we wouldn't recommend it unless you are an experienced mechanic. Please get in touch if you have any questions.
  • Can I fit your carbon handlebars with an alloy stem?
    Yes, our carbon handlebars can be fitted to an alloy stem, such as our super light UNO Kalloy x Litebike.
  • Will the tubes fit my bike?
    Our TPU inner tubes are size 700 x 18-32c and fit a standard bike wheel. Unless you cycle a Brompton you probably have a standard wheel. 18-32c means the tube will inflate to fit a range of tire widths between 18 mm and 32 mm. Our Litebike Performance 50g tubes are suitable for disc and rim brakes. Our RideNow 35g tubes are also suitable for rim and disc brakes.
  • Are your inner tubes difficult to install?
    TPU inner tubes are a performance product and should be installed carefully. This includes cleaning the rim and inflating the tube to a max of 8psi before installing in the tyre. Anyone can install TPU inner tubes at home, but if you are fitting them for the first time it's worth following the instructions on the box carefully.
  • You also sell RideNow gravel TPU tubes. How are these different?
    Our RideNow gravel tubes are sized 700 x 32-47c. This means the tube will inflate to fit the full range of tire widths between 32 mm and 47 mm.
  • Can TPU inner tubes puncture?
    Like with butyl and latex tubes, TPU inner tubes can puncture. However, studies have shown that TPU is more puncture resistant than other materials. You can take steps to reduce the chances of getting a puncture, for example by cleaning your tyre to remove any debris and not inflating the tubes above 8psi outside the tyre.
  • Are TPU inner tubes sustainable?
    TPU is made from renewable sources like plant-based oils and non-toxic chemicals, making it an eco-friendly alternative to petroleum-based synthetic rubbers and plastics.
  • What are the benefits of a waxed chain?
    You will go faster. Studies have shown you will save up to 7 watts. You will save time cleaning. Wax repels dirt. You will help the planet.
  • How do I wax my own chain? It sounds complicated.
    Chain waxing can be done at home with an old slow cooker and a few other household items. Once you have done it once it’s easy to repeat. If waxing is not your thing, but you’re still after the performance benefits of a waxed chain, we sell a small selection of top quality, pre-waxed chains. We wax them ourselves in our workshop.
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