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Unlock peak performance: the transformative power of waxed chains on KMC X11-SL and Dura Ace HG-901

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.

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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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