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Shhh: Silca Super Secret Chain Lube Is Seriously Good - Product Review

Immersion waxing is the best way to lube your bike chain. But Silca Super Secret Chain Coating promises to be just as good with way less hassle. I review it to find out how it holds up.

Shhh: Silca's Super Secret Chain Lube is Seriously Good

Written by: Bruce Lin

Published on:

Posted in:Tech

Do you want the fastest, quietest, longest-lasting chain lube for your bike? Then you should be waxing your chain. For racers and bike geeks, immersion waxing has long been the pinnacle of chain lubrication. But, understandably, a lot of riders are turned off by the extra complication. If only there was some way to get all the same benefits of immersion waxing in a convenient drip lube. Well, I’ll let you in on a little secret  — it’s called Silca Super Secret Chain Coating. After using Super Secret for hundreds of miles in harsh and dusty conditions, I’m confident in saying that it’s the best chain lube I’ve ever used.

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Why is Silca Super Secret chain lube so good?

  • Repels dust and dirt, and stays clean to the touch
  • Saves up to 7 watts over other drip lubes
  • Provides immersion wax performance but is much easier to apply
  • Uses tungsten disulfide, the fastest and most lubricious additive
  • PFAS-free and environmentally friendly

I discovered the power of immersion waxing last year after speaking with Adam Kerin, the founder of Zero Friction Cycling. Read my chain waxing review to learn more, but the gist is that immersion waxing is the best method for reducing friction and increasing drivetrain longevity. With immersion waxing, not only did my drivetrain feel super fast and stay pristinely clean, but I managed to get several hundred miles of blissfully silent running between each re-wax.

I’m now a wax convert, but I only wax my gravel bike chain and continue using traditional drip lubes on my road and mountain bikes. This is due to logistical issues. Immersion waxing requires removing your chain and placing it into a slow cooker for an hour, so it takes extra planning. With my hectic schedule, I couldn’t handle waxing all five bikes in my quiver. This is where Silca Super Secret comes in.

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You may notice on the label that Super Secret refers to itself as a “chain coating.” That’s because it’s different from traditional drip lubes. If you let a bottle of normal wax-based drip lube sit, you’ll see it separate, and the very small amount of liquid wax contained in the lube will settle at the bottom. The majority of the bottle is actually made up of a carrier liquid that doesn’t stick to the chain.

Super Secret, on the other hand, is what Kerin refers to as a “wax emulsion.” Wax emulsions are thicker and the wax content is higher, so it’s much better at adhering to a chain. There are actually a few other wax emulsion products out there: Squirt, Smoove, CeramicSpeed UFO drip, and AbsoluteBLACK GRAPHENlube. When discussing immersion waxing, Kerin recommended using these wax emulsions as “top lubes” that can be applied to the chain to extend the time between re-waxes.

Silca Super Secret Chain lube reviewSuper Secret goes on thick, penetrates deep without heat, and coats the key parts of the chain. 

Wax emulsions can be used to replace immersion waxing, but often aren’t as effective because the wax can’t penetrate deep into the chain without applying heat. AbsoluteBLACK GRAPHENlube, for example, requires the first application to be immersive. And after using Squirt lube, I can attest that it doesn't last as long. 

Super Secret, however, doesn’t have this issue. In early testing, Kerin noted that Super Secret is the “first wax emulsion drip lube tested that has no initial penetration issues.” Silca’s CEO, Josh Poertner, worked with IndyCar engineers who developed new technology to put “micro-scale wax powders” into a solution that was quick drying and could form a coating indiscernible from immersion waxing. Kerin still needs to confirm the wattage savings compared to top immersion waxes (e.g., Molten Speed Wax) but says it looks very promising.

Silca super secret chain lube reviewNot only that, the liquid wax in Super Secret is combined with an additive called “nano-scale tungsten disulfide,” which claims to be the fastest and most lubricious additive in the world, beating alternatives like graphite, molybdenum, and Teflon (tungsten disulfide is WS2 in the above chart, Teflon is PTFE). The nano-scale particles are as small as possible, so they can fill imperfections in the chain metal to further reduce friction and wear.

Best of all, tungsten disulfide is more environmentally-friendly than the PFAS (pre- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances) chemicals, like Teflon, used in other lubes. PFAS are “forever chemicals” that are highly toxic and never break down. As a paranoid parent who recently eliminated all Teflon cookware from my house, this is the ultimate bonus.


How to apply Silca Super Secret chain lube 

Silca Super Secret chain lube reviewMy prepped chain, free of all factory grease and old lube.

Before applying Super Secret, you have to fully clean the chain so it can be applied to bare metal. This is important to note because it involves taking the chain off the bike and soaking in mineral spirits or similar degreaser to fully remove all the factory/old lube. It’s the same sort of chain preparation you need to do before immersion waxing, and it’s necessary to ensure the wax adheres to the chain.

I personally don’t find this initial chain prep that daunting, but if it’s too much for you, consider Silca’s Synergetic wet lube which isn’t as fast but requires no prep. The good news is that after the initial prep, you don’t have to do it again for the life of the chain. I cover the method in my chain wax review, but this video shows how Silca recommends prepping a chain:

After this initial prep, applying Super Secret is easy. Just slowly drip the lube onto the individual rollers of your chain. I say do it slowly, because the lube is relatively expensive, and every drop I spilled onto the ground felt like it drove a stake into my stingy heart. Then let the lube dry for at least 30 minutes before riding. For the best results, let it set for around 12 hours.

When it’s time to reapply, you can just add a new coat directly on top of the old coat. If your chain is really dirty, give it a wipe, or a quick rinse with hot water first (I use my electric kettle).

Ideally, Super Secret should be applied when the temperature is between 41-95°F (5-35°C). The lube itself should be stored somewhere that stays between 41-86°F (5-30°C). Prolonged exposure to below-freezing temperatures can cause viscosity breakdown so the lube will become quite thick. It’s still okay to use if this happens, but you might need to clear the cap with a needle to get it to flow.

Silca Super Secret chain lube review. 

I've been immersion waxing my gravel bike chain since last year. So how does Silca Super Secret compare? I don’t have a fancy testing machine, but my butt dyno tells me that Super Secret feels as fast as a chain waxed with Molten Speed Wax. It is definitely just as quiet and clean, and it seems to last just as long. The roads I ride here in Colorado are incredibly dry and dusty, and I’ll ride 200-300 miles before reapplying. After 300 miles, there are no squeaks or other issues, so I could probably go much longer on a single application if I really wanted to.

But don’t just take my word for it. Luke Hall is our eCommerce Catalog Specialist, and he’s also a legit gravel racer. Unlike me, he has big wins to his name and is often competing at the sharp end of races. He recently switched to Super Secret and has been similarly impressed.

Silca Super Secret chain lube reviewLuke (red jersey) finished 5th at Big Sugar Gravel. He needs the best lube to compete in harsh conditions. 

“I really enjoy the fact that it’s super quiet, especially after hundreds of miles of super dusty riding,” Hall said. “I tend to re-apply earlier than necessary, but I can easily ride a few hundred miles on one application. People may be intimidated by the price, but with something like Rock n’ Roll, you apply three or four times as much and it doesn’t feel as fast or last as long.”

Will Silca Super Secret replace immersion waxing for me? Well, it already has. Ever since I started using Super Secret, my slow cooker has sat untouched in the corner of my garage. I’m bad at planning, and the ability to get immersion wax performance without removing my chain has made my life a lot easier. I’m now transitioning to lubing my entire quiver with Super Secret. If you want the best combination of performance and ease of use, switching to Silca Super Secret is really a no-brainer.

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