6 seasons, 7 Grand Tour wins and thousands of collaborative hours spent working on finding marginal gains. Team INEOS has a perceptual drive to continuously improve; thriving on challenges and ambitious goals, and this is something that we, at Muc-Off, share.
As we wait for the 2020 season to get back underway, let’s look back and take a closer look at some of the innovations born from the partnership since it began back in 2014.
Born in 2014 and baptised at the most famous French road race in the world, with the worst weather conditions seen in years, the now flagship Hydrodynamic Chain Lube was the first product to be created by the Muc-Off R&D team in collaboration with Team Sky (now INEOS). Here’s what they asked for:
“We want the fastest and most efficient lubes, that last longer than anything else out there. We are an evidence-based team, so the advantages need to be quantifiable.”
A tall order! But the R&D team are always up for a challenge, so they built the Chain Lube Efficiency Dynamometer (AKA C.L.O.D) that could provide quantifiable data, a world-first for a bicycle chain lube manufacturer. This machine continues to allow for the testing and analysis of all bike lubricants in minute detail.
After 15 formula tweaks and hundreds of hours in the lab, the Hydrodynamic Chain Lube got the ‘okay’ from Sir Dave Brailsford and the team. The formula itself is versatile in that it doesn’t wash off like a dry lube does in the wet, pick up dust and grime like wet lube does in the dry and clings to the chain for much longer than a standard lube. This is because of a sophisticated, synergistic blend of chemical compounds with aerospace-quality oil lubrication and military-grade additives.
Each handmade batch takes hours of painstaking work to deliver a highly advanced bicycle chain lubricant, reaching previously unattainable levels of lubrication and durability.
Bio Drivetrain Cleaner
A World Tour mechanic is always battling against time, especially during a stage race like the Tour de France where there are 8 riders racing, each rider having at least 3 bikes and 6 sets of wheels. When we came on board with the team, one of the top priorities was to develop a drivetrain cleaner that worked quickly and effectively but was safe for everyday use.
If you’ve used it or know someone else who has, you will probably know that it’s almost like some sort of devilry! Our Bio Drivetrain Cleaner is super effective and fast-acting but completely safe to use and biodegradable which is why it’s no surprise that it’s our fourth best-selling product globally!
Drivetrain Detailing Brush
Because the mechanics don’t often have time to use our X-3 Dirty Chain Machine, they will use a specific brush technique for cleaning the chain and cassette. They have either a bidon cut in half or one of our Tool Bottles filled with drivetrain cleaner, then dip the brush into it and apply it to the chain, derailleur and cassette (often removing the back wheel to get in at the cassette properly).
A standard paintbrush – which is what they used before – would fall apart pretty quickly and were a bit slippery to hold when wet. Muc-Off designed the Drivetrain Detailing Brush with high-quality nano bristles and a moulded silicone inset for a comfortable and steady grip while maintaining the paintbrush-like shape for easy application.
NTC Chain & Lube
Developed originally for Bradley Wiggins’ Hour Record in 2015, the Nanotube Chain (NTC) process is the culmination of thousands of hours of research and development into drivetrain optimisation by Dr Martin Mathias AKA ‘Doctor M’ and Muc-Off MD Alex Trimnell AKA ‘Mad Developer’.
So, what’s the science behind it? One of the key ingredients of the lubricant is nanotubes, which are composed of graphene and rolled into a tube. Now imagine the metal of a bicycle chain’s inner and outer plates. To the naked eye, it may look smooth, but at a microscopic level, it is in fact quite rough and ragged. As the chain is run through the drivetrain, these jagged edges catch on each other, which in turn causes friction.
The job of the nanotube and other advanced additives in the formula is to fill these gaps, creating a slippery smooth surface that minimised metal-on-metal resistance. The end result? Substantial wattage savings that can cut significant time from a ride and peace of mind it won’t change with the weather - something that Team INEOS place huge importance on.
The lubricant needs to work in all conditions as a stage of a Grand Tour can be dry and dusty one minute and then pouring with rain the next.
For the most important races in the Team INEOS calendar - like the Tour De France - they send their chains off to the Muc-Off lab for the full NTC treatment. We’ve got a full run-down of this process here.