A $6,000 bike chain? Muc-Off to optimize Ganna’s Hour Record chain

The Hour Record commands respect for multiple reasons, but the most elemental might be its simplicity. Start stationary in a velodrome; crank for an hour; if you go farther than anyone else ever has, you own the record.

Dan Bigham captured the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI)-sanctioned benchmark on Aug. 19, covering 55.548 kilometers — blowing the existing record out of the water in the process.

 

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The British rider beat the old mark by almost half a kilometer, thanks at least in part to a super-optimized Muc-Off Ludicrous AF chain – a similar process that Muc-Off said cost £6000 / $6794 for Bradley Wiggins’ first-ever NTOC – Nanotube optimized chain when they supported his Hour Record take-over all the way back in 2015. Muc-Off hasn’t really bothered to itemize the huge bill, but most of it’s probably tied up in R&D. Especially since it brought NTOC down 1/36th just a year later...

You would need 100 bottles of the brand’s most expensive lube at retail price (dubbed the World’s Fastest Race Lube) to rack up $6,000 in expenses.

Bigham works as an engineer for Ineos Grenadiers, so when his teammate Filippo Ganna decided to challenge his Hour Record mark, you could probably predict what would come next.

Correct… Muc-Off announced Sept. 16 it would optimize Ganna’s chain with their newest Ludicrous AF treatment, too.

$6K chain, really? How and Why?

Muc-Off’s original optimization certainly worked for Wiggo. And this newer method worked wonders for Bigham too, according to the company’s calculations. Muc-Off estimated the final chain iteration saved Bigham 15% of those precious Watts lost through his drivetrain. That, combined with its hardware choices, bought him an estimated total of 87 meters of added distance.

 

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In a press release, Bigham spoke to the professional relationship he shares with Muc-Off, and its role in his success.

In my role as Performance Engineer at INEOS Grenadiers, I’m used to working closely with the team at Muc-Off and have first-hand experience of the gains their products and processes deliver for the team,” he said. “Their attention to detail on this record was incredible: Machining their own bespoke test componentry, painstakingly completing round after round of optimization…they took complete care of the drivetrain, leaving me to focus solely on getting the job done out on the track.”

Muc-Off ultimately chose an Izumi Kai ½” track chain for Bigham’s record-breaking rig. It then (painstakingly and scientifically) slathered the chain with its high-test lubricant: Ludicrous AF.

How do you slather anything painstakingly or scientifically? In this case, Muc-Off did it via a process it calls Ultrasonic Chain Optimization.

muc-off lubricant

photos c. Muc-Off

Here’s how it works. Muc-Off uses an ultrasonic tank to heat the lube to the “precise temperature required” to reduce it to optimal viscosity.

muc-off hour record chain

Apparently, the process at some point may include a stereolithography 3D printer from FormLabs?

That lets it penetrate deeper into the chain, to coat the most chain contact points possible. The “all-over” coating seeks to minimize friction in the links, which increases the wattage that makes it through the drivetrain to the rear wheel.

muc-off hour record chain

Interestingly, optimization that sounded like it cost more than $6000 a few years ago, may now be available from your local bikeshop for as little as 1/100th that cost now… ever since Muc-Off developed their Ultrasonic Chain Optimization Service offer that includes all the hardware, cleaners & lube needed for the process.

Teamwork makes the dream work

Muc-Off said coating each chain and ring Bigham brought along for the record attempt took about 17 hours, so it sounds like it has gone a bit beyond the local shop treatment! Each chain went through the full 11-step optimization process seven times. Muc-off claims that due to “Ludicrous AF’s unique chemistry [which] yields greater and greater levels of efficiency with every application.

So, still maybe 1/10th the cost of Wiggo’s 2015 chain setup?

The brand said it’s pulling out all the stops again for Ganna’s upcoming attempt. As of Friday, the team had resumed its search for even more wattage savings as it geared up to help put the record “further out of reach than ever before.”

muc-off hour record chain

Ganna announced his Hour Record intent that day. He spoke to the physicality of the challenge — and to the ever-critical equipment aspect.

I’m looking forward to taking this event on, even though it’s going to be an hour of pure suffering. It will be interesting to see how my body holds up, and just how far I can go,” he said. “I have been training on the new bike and it’s super-fast – I like it. The team puts so much time and effort into these projects, they’ve done their part now it’s my turn.”

Mentally that’ll already give me some extra meters.

Muc-Off.com

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blahblahblah
blahblahblah
10 days ago

they forgot to metion the chains are sent to Switzerland for a intensive 3 day health spa and motivational therapy prior to treatment apparently 98% of chains fail this prerequisite training

Woody
Woody
10 days ago

If only Muc Off’s products lived up to just 50% of the claims made in their propaganda, erm marketing.

Ken
Ken
10 days ago

Too bad all that stuff eventually ends up in our drinking water when they toss it out….yum.

Roger Pedacter
Roger Pedacter
10 days ago

Absolute Black: We’ve summitted Snake Oil Mountain with a $700 injection moulded derailleur cage. No one can touch this!

MucOff: Hold my beer…

Ugo Slowa
Ugo Slowa
10 days ago

“Muc-Off estimated the final chain iteration saved Bigham 15% of those precious Watts lost through his drivetrain.”

15% of what, 4 watts, 10 watts? How many watts are lost through a clean and an averagely lubricated 1/8″ track chain on a fixed wheel set up? I don’t think it’ll be many. Tell us.

The coating process sounds a lot like good old Plutoline in a deep fat fryer. Is it?

Does it smell of strawberry or banana like the other lubes?

And why is the durability of all the Muc-Off lubes I’ve used so poor if they’re really this good at R+D? So many questions.

Good luck to Fillipo Ganna. Still, it’d be awesome if the engineering guy kept his record against the Pursuit WC.

Ivanna Foeckre
Ivanna Foeckre
9 days ago

Don’t know why they’re making such a fuss. Ganna is basically genetically built to make humongous power for 60 minutes on a bicycle. Dude could rock up on a 105 equipped Orbea with some chinesium carbon and smash the record with enough time to stop for a gelato break.

AK_Ben
AK_Ben
7 days ago
Reply to  Ivanna Foeckre

But if Bigham can be more aero, then he doesn’t need to put out as many watts as Ganna to go as fast.

Ivanna Foeckre
Ivanna Foeckre
4 days ago
Reply to  AK_Ben

Okay so Ganna can only have enough time to stop for one scoop of Stracciatella instead of two.

Frank
Frank
9 days ago

Yeah, the one Muc-Off wax-based lube I tried left me VERY unimpressed, and also did poorly in independent testing. But they do talk a mean streak.

Barael
Barael
2 days ago

Muc Off back with their “Base Rate Fallacy as Marketing Tool” ways, I see.