This article is about the Wolf Tooth WT-1 Chain Lube, the latest addition to the Wolf Tooth product portfolio. Wolf Tooth Components is well known for its after market chainrings and drivetrain enhancements as well as other bike components.
In addition I will try to benchmark the WT1 Chain Lube against the CeraBike wax Lub and Spoke Works Smoove.
Wolf Tooth WT-1 Chain Lube – The technology
On the Wolf Tooth website you can read the following description of the WT-1 Chain Lube, where especially the bolt latter part caught my attention. While there are Chain Lubes that work well in wet and dry conditions I haven’t seen the chain cleaner characteristics before.
“WT-1 Chain Lube is a premium synthetic chain lubricant and a drivetrain treatment for all conditions in the same bottle. It cleans and protects chains while improving overall mechanical efficiency of a drivetrain. This allows cyclists to have just WT-1 Chain Lube on hand, instead of separate dry chain lube, wet chain lube, chain cleaner, and drivetrain treatment.”
The WT-1 Chain Lube consists of four main ingredients, that bring the unique characteristics of the WT-1 chain lube together:
A high-quality synthetic lubricant with a special additive that has a bonding, chemical affinity for metal (think of it like a chemical magnet). The lube stays slick, and on the chain where you need it.
A Penetrant capable of reaching into millionth-inch spaces
A Detergent that floats away contaminants trapped in the micro-crevasses of the chain while your ride and brings them to the surface
A Dispersant that prevents re-adherence new contaminants into the inner workings of the chain. This makes cleaning as easy as wiping the chain as opposed to the time-consuming and dirty practices of using heavy chemicals and degreasers
The detergent and dispersant ensure the chain cleaning characteristics of the Wolf Tooth WT-1 Chain Lube. Professional Bike Mechanic Alex Laursen calls the chain lube a “Game Changer” as you can read in this article.
Wolf Tooth WT-1 Chain Lube developed with SCC Tech
Wolf Tooth WT-1 Chain Lube is developed with SCC Tech as you can see on the bottle branding. Wolf Tooth has a lot of technical knowledge on chain ring (combinations), which perfectly makes sense to co-develop a chain lube with. SCC Tech brands the chain lube as SCC Slick, and uses the same ingredients and formula as the WT-1 Chain Lube. So it is a sort-of co-branded product as well.
Application and use of Wolf Tooth WT-1 Chain Lube
I started with cleaning my Canyon Ultimate CF SLX and Dura Ace drivetrain with Muc-Off Bio Drivetrain Cleaner in combination with a Muc-Off X3 cleaning device. With the vast majority of dirt gone from the Shimano Dura Ace CN-HG901-11 11 speed chain, this seems like a good starting point for the Wolf Tooth WT-1 Chain Lube.
- Shake bottle of WT-1 for 30 seconds. A ball bearing is present in every bottle to help mix things up.
- Apply one drop to each roller of your chain. We recommend applying WT-1 Chain Lube to the top side of your chain between your derailleur and chainring, just in front of that lower pulley wheel.
- Backpedal 20-30 times. This helps WT-1 Chain Lube find its way between all the pieces of your chain.
- Wipe chain with microfiber cloth until it appears clean with a light sheen. It’ll look extra dirty at first, then it will clear up as you wipe away that dirt.
- Ride your bike. Reapply at least once every 400 miles/ 644 km.
When you shake the bottle of WT-1 Chain Lube you can noticeably feel the ball inside the bottle. So far I haven’t felt these in the bottles of the competition in the section below. With the precision needle applicator installed the shaking process can be done best with the finger-tip on the end on the needle applicator (or some of the lube will leak into the needle cap).
Given the blue/green color of the Wolf Tooth WT-1 Chain Lube you can see that it is applied on every link, after which you see flow out between the links. So it will be more of a shine instead of blue/green drops of chain lube.
“After your first couple applications, you’ll notice that your chain looks extra dirty following your first few rides. This means that WT-1 Chain Lube is working because that detergent-like additive has made its way into the gaps and crevices of your chain and is actively pushing out dirt, grease, and debris.”
WT-1 Chain Lube Precision Needle Applicator
Wolf Tooth also offers the WT-1 Chain Lube Precision Needle Applicator, which is a different cap and end piece that gives you more precision in the application process. It has a more needle shape, as you can see with the Spoke Works Smoove bottle, but this needle is way longer. The original end-cap looks a lot like the Cerabike Wax Lub cap.
On the Wolf Tooth WT-1 Chain Lube Precision Needle Applicator product page you can read:
“Special precision applicator tip for 2 fl oz bottle of Wolf Tooth WT-1 Chain Lube. […] This tip does NOT fit on the smaller 0.5 oz bottle.”
The Precision Needle Applicator is made of metal, which I personally like. It is not only more resistant to wear, but it is also easier to clean (or open-up when needed). In the past there was the need to open up the end-cap of the Smoove of Cerabike bottles that have full plastic end-caps. The risk of damage is there.
The price point of the Wolf Tooth WT-1 Chain Lube Precision Needle Applicator is € 6,95. That’s not cheap, but if you aim to be a long term user it will be worth the investment, simply because the overuse of chain lube will be less.
Wolf Tooth WT-1 Chain Lube, Cerabike Wax Lube or Spoke Works Smoove
In 2016 I started using Cerabike Wax Lube, after a tip from a fellow cycling friend. I still use it together with the Cerabike Pedals and Cleats “lube”. For the more “wet and dirt” circumstances I prefer Spoke Works Smoove Chain Lube that I’m using as of 2017.
The default bottble nozzle of the Wolf Tooth WT-1 Chain Lube is very similar to that of the Cerabike Wax Lube, as you can see in the picture above. The nozzle from the Smoove bottle was thinner, and gave more precision in the application of the chain lube. However it is still a plastic nozzle. The WT-1 Chain Lube Precision Needle Applicator is also thin and precize, but offers also durability with the metal tip. Enough about the bottle and the nozzle shapes … 🙂
Smoove and Cerabike Wax Lube are white and milky, where Wolf Tooth WT-1 Chain Lube is blue and texture wise it feels more as a racing oil. The blue color is helpful in the application proces, you can clearly see if and how the chain links are lubricated. However you can also see that it flows into the chain links, as described in the application proces. As the ingredients start to do their work, the blue color disappears.
Spokeworks Smoove also had longer-term-use characteristics, or in other words longer-lubrication intervals. Wolf Tooth WT-1 Chain Lube has these longer intervals as well. Also the use in dry, wet and dirty conditions is very suitable for the WT-1 chain lube. When this review is published, the majority of rides have been done in dry conditions.
However the cleaning characteristics are pretty cool but a little counter intuitive as well (if you are used to cleaning chain and rings on a weekly basis). Now it is just a matter of cleaning the chain with a piece of cloth, and you simply ride on and ride longer. I will also do some testing with the Speedplay Cleat springs on my Sidi Wire SP shoes.
Concluding thoughts and wrap-up
I’m pleasantly surprised by the use of Wolf Tooth WT-1 Chain Lube. While has some unique features (chain cleaning characteristics) it is also a chain lube you need to get used to. Simply because the lubrication intervals increase due to the cleaning characteristics. So it is different in a good way.
For mountain biking and gravel-riding the chain cleaning capabilities are even more important, given the wet and dirty conditions. Performance wise it will stand-out even more in these extremer circumstances, compared to “just the longer lubrication intervals” on a road bike.
A 2.0 oz / 59 ml. bottle costs € 20,00 and the Wolf Tooth WT-1 Chain Lube Precision Needle Applicator will cost € 6,95. It is certainly not the cheapest chain lube per quantity, but performance wise it is a very very good performing lube that simply grows on you. You could do some calculations of lube costs per km. so that you will see the benefit of the longer intervals. However there are also way more expensive options for chain lubrication ….
I simply like how the lube performs and will therefore stick with it for a while. Wolf Tooth Components is known for high quality and innovative products (Pack Pliers, GoatLink) and the WT-1 chain lube is no different !
What high performing chain lube are you using ?
On 20-08-2021 I did a 100 km training ride through the soaking rain. The Wolf Tooth WT-1 chain lube kept performing well under these wet conditions.
However the mechanical engineer in me needs to clean a dirty bike and chain. So I’ve cleaned the drivetrain as well with the Muc-Off X3 Dirty Chain Machine. After such conditions the re-lubrication interval will get a reset. 😉
Finally there is an interesting article on Zero Friction Cycling sharing their first impressions on the Wolf Tooth WT-1 Chain Lube.