Among its many other remarkable qualities, graphene is the world’s strongest human-made material. It’s perhaps not all that surprising, therefore, that it’s now been incorporated into a chain-protecting bicycle lubricant – and quite a pricey one, at that.
For readers who are unfamiliar with the material, graphene takes the form of a one atom-thick sheet of carbon atoms, which are linked together in a honeycomb pattern. Because there’s currently no quick and easy method of producing huge quantities of the stuff at high quality, it’s pretty expensive. And although graphene is made from graphite, graphene and graphite are not the same thing.
For its new GRAPHENlube lubricant, British manufacturer absoluteBLACK has added tiny platelets of high-purity graphene to a solution consisting of water and hydrocarbon wax. The product reportedly does not contain any toxic solvents, and is biodegradable.
After initially cleaning the old lube off their chain, users immerse that chain in a bath of GRAPHENlube – a plastic bag is included for this purpose. The solution goes on as a light grey liquid, but once the water evaporates from it, what’s left behind is a black paste-like solid.
Although the GRAPHENlube may then look like a traditional oil-based lube that’s gotten dirty, absoluteBLACK claims that it’s highly effective at repelling water while not attracting dirt, and that one application should be good for over 1,800 km (1,118 miles) of riding in dry, low-dust conditions. Opinions do vary widely, but it’s generally advised that conventional lubes be reapplied about once every 200 to 300 miles (322 to 483 km).
According to the company, the graphene additionally has an “extremely low” friction coefficient in all environments, keeping chains running very smoothly. It also reportedly reduces chain abrasion by clinging to metal surfaces, plus it minimizes oxidation by not only repelling water but also being impermeable to air.
An absoluteBLACK representative tells us that after the initial application, more of the lube can be added as needed simply by dripping it onto the chain and allowing it to dry. For top performance, though, the chain should be thoroughly cleaned and re-immersed in the liquid once every 2,000 km (1,243 miles). It should be noted that unlike other wax-based lubricants, GRAPHENlube doesn’t clump up and flake off over time.
And as previously mentioned, a standard 140-ml (4.7-oz) bottle will set you back nearly US$150 – or $145.95, to be precise. If you’re just interested in trying the stuff out, a smaller 14-ml (0.5-oz) bottle can be purchased for $14.95, although the company recommends using two for an initial application.
For the time being, GRAPHENlube is only being sold directly to customers through the absoluteBLACK website (linked below).