Formulation and Testing the Bikazoom Bicycle Chain Lubricants

Once we realized that India lacks world-class quality bicycle chain lubricants and decided to create one, our next thought was how to go about developing bicycle chain oils that are suitable for high-end bicycles and affordable for the masses in India.

Setting the Criteria for a World-Class Quality Chain Lubricant

The essential qualities of a good chain lubricant are multi-faceted. Beyond merely reducing wear and tear to increase the life of the chain and cassettes and making the ride smoother, the chain lubricant must also be durable. Durability translates to how many kilometers you can ride before needing to re-lubricate the chains. This is significantly influenced by the riding conditions. For example, a lubricant suited for wet rainy conditions must adhere well to the chains and resist being washed off by rain. However, the challenge with such a sticky lube is that it can attract dust and grime due to static electricity. This creates a paradox where the lubricant needs to stay put without attracting too much dirt.

Developing Multiple Lubricant Types for Diverse Conditions

To tackle this challenge, we decided to develop three different types of bicycle chain oils: one for wet, rainy conditions, one for dry conditions, and one that can handle moderate wetness. We classified these as Wet-Weather, Dry-Weather, and All-Weather bicycle chain lubes. Each type is tailored to meet the specific demands of its intended environment. For instance, Wet-Weather lubes need to be particularly water-resistant while Dry-Weather lubes should not attract dust and should evaporate without leaving residues.

Leveraging Tribology for Advanced Formulation

In our pursuit of the ideal formulations, we explored tribology—a branch of mechanical engineering focusing on the study of friction, wear, and lubrication of interacting surfaces in relative motion. Tribologists research lubricants that reduce wear and enable smoother movements. Recognizing the potential of tribological studies, we partnered with a leading tribology lab in Europe, renowned for its expertise and advanced equipment. This lab was contracted to develop and test several formulations for our three varieties of chain lubricants.

Testing Methodology: Pin-On-Disc Experiments



Our chosen testing methodology was the pin-on-disc test, a well-established procedure in the field of tribology. This test involves a pin with a ball-shaped end sliding on a disk, simulating the contact modes experienced by a chain. We conducted two key experiments using the pin-on-disc device to identify the most effective lubricant blends:

  1. Experiment 1: Determining the best possible blend of oils that offers the least friction and wear.
  2. Experiment 2: Identifying the optimal weight percentage of ingredients, focusing on achieving the finest particle size for enhanced lubrication.     
                                                       Wear scar samples                                                                                                                                                                                         

The results from these experiments enabled us to narrow down one or two samples based on their performance. These samples were then fine-tuned and subjected to further testing to create superior formulations that could compete with existing international products.

Considerations and Challenges in Lubricant Formulation

Formulating high-performance bicycle chain lubricants involved careful consideration of several factors:

  • Choice of Base Oils: The base oil is crucial as it forms the bulk of the lubricant. Its properties significantly affect viscosity, film strength, and overall lubrication efficiency.
  • Additives: Additives such as anti-wear agents, pressure-resistant agents, detergents, dispersing agents, and anti-corrosion agents play critical roles in enhancing the lubricant's performance under various conditions.
  • Particle Size: The size of the lubricant particles affects how well they penetrate and adhere to the chain surfaces.
  • Viscosity: The lubricant's viscosity must be optimal for smooth operation without causing excessive drag or attracting dirt.
  • Flash Point: The flash point of the formulation indicates the temperature at which it can vaporize to form an ignitable mixture in air, affecting its suitability for different operating temperatures.

We also considered advanced ingredients such as graphite, hexagonal boron nitride, PTFE, molybdenum disulfide, and silicon dioxide. Each of these has unique lubricating properties and potential advantages as components of bicycle chain lubricants.                    


Finalizing and Testing the Formulations

After approximately three months of rigorous development and testing, we finalized three formulations for our three types of bicycle chain lubes. One major challenge we faced was finding a suitable solvent for the dry lubricant formulation. Dispersion of the lubricant particles in the solvent proved problematic despite testing multiple dispersing agents. The discrepancy between controlled lab conditions and real-world practicalities delayed the finalization of the dry lubricant.

Extensive On-Road Testing and Community Feedback

Following successful lab trials, we conducted extensive on-road testing. Being avid bicyclists and having strong connections within the bicycling community facilitated this phase. We provided free samples of our lubes to riders who tested them and provided valuable feedback. Most testing focused on the wet-weather and all-weather lubricants, as we continued to address challenges with the dry lubricant formulation. This feedback loop was crucial in refining our products to meet real-world demands effectively.


Our journey to create high-quality bicycle chain lubricants has been both challenging and rewarding. By leveraging advanced tribological testing, meticulous formulation, and extensive on-road feedback, we have developed three specialized lubricants that promise to meet the diverse needs of cyclists in India and beyond. Stay tuned for more updates as we continue to innovate and deliver world-class quality solutions for the cycling community.

Looking Ahead: Branding and Market Launch

In parallel with the formulation and testing phases, we also started contemplating a revamp of our branding, including our logo and packaging design. As we prepare to bring our product to market, having a world-class logo and appealing packaging design is essential for making a strong impression and resonating with the bicycling community. This aspect of our journey is a story for another blog, where we’ll delve into our branding efforts and strategies.


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