White Lightening

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Anonymous's picture

I just bought my first batch of White Lightening lubricant on the recommendation of one of the A19 Sig leaders. His bike looks grease free, all the time.

I underdstand that it lubricates and cleans your chain, derailer, etc..., so you don't have to degrease your chain, like you do with other lubricants. But you do have to lubricate every time you ride, even for a short distance.

Have I got it right? And is this type of lubricant as smooth as say Finish Line dry lubricant? In other words, will I be able to move the bike as easily, or is their some hidden cost to this lube-cleaning system. Seems too good to be true. Please tell me it's really as good as it seems.


Anonymous's picture
Rob (not verified)

You have to degrease the chain etc FIRST.
Then apply The White Lightning, I put it on after I ride so that I don't have to put it on before I ride.

The Rep at White Lightning says at least 30 minutes.

Thats the deal

Anonymous's picture
"Chainwheel" (not verified)
Squeak, squeak...

"""I just bought my first batch of White Lightening lubricant on the recommendation of one of the A19 Sig leaders. His bike looks grease free, all the time.""

Cleanliness is not the most important characteristic of a lubricant. In my opinion, White Lightning is a lousy lube. If you put on too much, it can gunk up your entire drivetrain. Yet one ride in the rain, and your chain will be squeaking.

If you must use a boutique chain lube, try ProLink. Better yet, get a quart of motor oil and you'll be set for life.


Anonymous's picture
Peter Storey (not verified)
California Dreamin . . .

As implied by Chainwheel, WL washes off quickly in the rain. It's great for So Cal, the Southwest, etc. where rain isn't a big issue and you can afford to focus on keeping dust and grit from sticking to the lube.

Here in the NE -- especially this year -- finding something that won't wash off is probably more important. Pro-Link, Boe-Shield, Phil's Tenacious, motor oil and numerous others all have their champions.

Olive oil would work OK in a pinch, but I'd be worried about flies.

Anonymous's picture
seth (not verified)

you will have to re-lube your chain after every ride, if every ride you ride is 400-500 miles. Brand new chains are coated with a heavy protective grease that should be removed before installing and lubing the chain. Mineral spirits are the only fluid strong enough to cut through this. Well, gasoline would probably make short work of it, but given the state of the world right now... anyway.

white lightning might take slightly more care to apply than some other lubricants. That is, if you want it to do all the things the bottle says it does, you have to follow directions. First time application should use a liberal amount of lube. If you don't have a work stand, flip the bicycle over. while rotating the cranks backwards drip the lube on the chain where it passes over the rear deralleur bushings. when the chain is saturated, keep rotating the cranks for another 45 seconds or so. As the lube begins to set, with a rag, wipe away ***ALL*** the excess lube until you can't wipe off any more. Then wipe off the chain rings, the rear deralleur bushings and the cassette.

The people who complain about white lightning not working are probably the ones who haven't taken the time to read directions. Oh, and water and wax don't mix, so don't worry about riding in the rain.

Oh yeah, and cleanliness is not the most important characteristic in a lube, but it is in the top 3. if you use a dirty lube (lube with dirt in it), it will deliver that dirt into the chain, wearing out the chain more quickly. But cleanliness is very important to the longevity and proper functioning of a drivetrain

Anonymous's picture
B. Dale (not verified)
thumbs up

"Is there ""any hidden cost to this lube-cleaning system.""

There are those (including Lennard Zinn) who say that wax-based lubricants reduce the life of the drivetrain in comparison to oil lubes. I haven't noticed this myself.

Be sure to degrease your chain before using. Be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions as noted above. I usually apply it once a week at night and have never have any problems. I too have noticed that white lightning doesn't seem to hold up as well in wet conditions. So, if I get caught in the rain, I usually give my chain an extra shot of white lightning (when I get home, after cleaning the bike).

I'm personally a huge fan of white lightning- can't imagine going back to the conventional stuff.


Anonymous's picture
"Chainwheel" (not verified)
If your time to you is worth saving...

"""Be sure to degrease your chain before using.""

You mean like soak it in a solvent? Do you think bike manufacturers do this when assembling a new bike? That grease is probably the best lube your chain will ever see. The problem is that all the sticky stuff on the outside of the chain attracts sand and grit like flypaper.

With a new chain, take a rag dampened with WD40 and wipe the outside of the chain clean. After that it depends how much your time is worth to you compared to the cost of a new chain. Some folks remove and clean/lube their chains every two weeks. Not me. I'll wipe the chain off occasionally and add some oil. Maybe I'll remove a chain once during it's life for a good cleaning in mineral spirits.

Depending on your mileage, you can probably get a year out of a chain even with minimal care. Buy the cheapest chain you can find (I bought several Shimano HG-53s for $9.99 on sale) and replace it when 12 full links measure 12-1/16"". A worn chain will wear out cassette cogwheels.

But I wouldn't get anal about having a sparkling shiny clean chain all the time.



Anonymous's picture
Neile (not verified)

"""But I wouldn't get anal about having a sparkling shiny clean chain all the time."" - ""Chainwheel""



My 2 cents

I use White Lightning because wax-based lubes are less messy than oils -- and chains needn't be expensive to replace if there's any shorter lifespan (debatable anyway).


Before every long ride, I briefly wipe down the chain with Zepp Orange Cleaner ($10/gal at Home Depot), wipe down the the derailleur idlers and lube the chain.

Every 500 miles or so, or after a particularly gritty ride, I remove the chain -- SRAM w/Powerlink -- and throw it into with the Zepp into an ultrasonic cleaner ...


Rinse the chain under a faucet. Dry. Now that it's baby-butt clean, replace and relube.

Use a coffee can or jar and shake it if you don't want to buy an ultrasonic thing."

Anonymous's picture
B. Dale (not verified)

"""Be sure to degrease your chain before using"" is advice that Seth and I are giving to someone, per instuction of the manufacturer, who is currently using an oil lube. You need to degrease the chain to remove the oil lube before you apply the white lightning. After this, you don't need to apply the degreaser each time that you apply the white lightning."

Anonymous's picture
"Chainwheel" (not verified)
He said, he said

"Seth wrote:

""Brand new chains are coated with a heavy protective grease that should be removed before installing and lubing the chain.""

I assumed Seth was recommending this procedure for all installations (as many folks do). Sorry if I misinterpreted. I still think the ""heavy grease"" will outperform WL.


Anonymous's picture
B. Dale (not verified)

""" I still think the ""heavy grease"" will outperform WL.""

Have you actually tried WL or are you just speculating? I've been riding 300 miles a week with WL for the last year. I've noticed absolutely no difference in performance nor wear on my components in comparison to traditional lubes.

Anonymous's picture
"Chainwheel" (not verified)
No difference?

"""Have you actually tried WL or are you just speculating?""

I actually bought a bottle of it several years ago as part of a mail order. But after seeing and feeling it, and reading numerous reports on it, I decided not to put it on my chain.

""I've noticed absolutely no difference in performance nor wear on my components in comparison to traditional lubes.""

How does it compare in terms of frequency of application, and ability to stand up to wet conditions? And what is your reference lube?

Most folks seem to like the ""cleanliness"" of WL, and that's a valid reason for using it if you ride in business attire, or store your bike in your living room.


Anonymous's picture
B. Dale (not verified)

For someone that's never actually used WL, you sure do have a lot to say about it! Send me an email if you'd like to continue this discussion. Use your real name in the email too, not the name of a bike component.


Anonymous's picture
Evan Marks (not verified)
Slick Willy


Go ahead and laugh at the name, this stuff is great. Cleans and lubes at the same time, very much along the lines of ProLink, but lasts longer (~500 miles, less if it rains) and runs quieter.

It doesn't get your chain as squeeky clean as taking it off the bike to clean it but it does do a good job of floating the worst of the crud to the surface where it can drip off or be wiped off. Yes, it's a compromise, but it's a damn good compromise for someone who lives in an apartment and wants to clean and lube in one step rather than two.

Some people advocate mixing synthetic motor oil and odorless mineral spirits in a 2:1 or 3:1 concentration, and claim it's just as good as ProLink or Slick Willy. It's not, it's just cheaper.

BTW, I don't get a kickback for advertising the stuff, I'm just really most sincerely impressed with the way it works. Have only tried Slick-n-Dry (dry weather formula), not Slush Armor.

Anonymous's picture
<a href="http://www.OhReallyOreilly.com">Peter O'Reilly</a> (not verified)
fantastic home brew!

"I used WL before and found it to be a royal PIA. It was a hassle with cold weather, the nozzle getting clogged and sure, despite it being ""clean"", it became a cakey mess, especially around the pulleys. I also had to lube the chain much more frequently. Wax on, wax off.

I've been using a mixture 3:1 - 4:1 mixture of motor oil to odorless mineral spirits (OMS) for a few years now. This is after one bottle purchase of each. Before that I used ProLink. I honestly do not see any meaningful difference between the two other than the former is practically a lifetime supply and dialed-in at my preferred concentration levels.

I think such concoction works wonderfully. The only lube a chain really needs is between the rollers-plates and pins. The home brew cleans as it lubes as well.

The OMS takes care of the cleaning and also serves as a good transferring agent for the viscous oil to work its way into the nooks in crannies of the chain where its really needed.

After applying the lube, I wipe off all excess from the chain. After the subsequent 1st and 2nd ride, I do the same to remove any lube that has ""bleed"" through.

This whole process takes 5 minutes. Shifting is fine and the chain does not ""stretch"" during its lifetime. What more could one ask for? Oh and from what I gather reading here, I spent alot less time maintaining my chain. That's priceless.


Anonymous's picture
April (not verified)
Not a big fan of WL

I used it for a while then got tire of having to re-apply after rain.

Well...it's not like I enjoy ridig in the rain. But sometime I'm already out and it starts to rain. I have to continue home and that could be quite a few miles...

So, every time I forgot to re-apply, squeek, squeel, or whatever the noise... Or should I say it's the same noise when I neglected to lube my chain for too long using ANY lube? Only for me, just about every time I remember to re-lube with WL, I got caught in the rain during the very next ride! And the same cycle goes again... I must have had the misfortune of trying WL for the first time in a particularly rainy year!

Bottom line, I don't think it's any better or worse than most other lubes, just different. It may or may not requires more work, depends on your luck. It's clean to the touch. But how often do you touch the chain anyway? I sure don't!

I'm now using ProGold. It seems to be quite forgiving to my laziness without making too much noise about it. ;o)

Anonymous's picture
Ken (not verified)
Old Skool

The bicycle carmudgeons at Visentin's in Oyster Bay really pushed WL. I figgered that if they were ethusiastic about anything I should give it a try. I found that while it didn't attract grit, my chain squeaked like a canary. Now this was in March / April of last year. I've basically heard that WL is better in warm weather than in cold.

Real old-timers used to soak their newly cleaned chains in a warm parrafin bath. WL has some sort of volatile vehicle that evaporates leaving the wax. This approximates the same thing as the parrafin but with less fuss.

I'm a believer in old-fashioned petrochemicals to lube one's chain. I basically think it doesn't matter if you use motor oil or Phil Wood Tanacious Oil. I personally shift between plain 'ol WD-40 (cleans AND lubes AND it's cheep) and Sturmey Archer AW 3-speed oil.

The upside of petrochemicals is superior lubrication. The downside is it attracts dirt and grime. I've tried the rube goldberg chain cleaner contraptions and I think they don't do squat. Much better to plunk down $50 for a pair of chain pliers and take the thing off and soak it in some orange de-greaser. Chain pliers make removal easy. Those twist tools can push the pin out too easily. I use Finish Line's degreaser. A cheep parts cleaning brush from an auto supply store works well too.

(Back in the olden daze I used to use 1-1-1 trichlorethane to clean my chain. At the bike store we used to wash our hands in the stuff before lunch! It worked like a charm but made the EPA's top 10 carcinogenic list. Later the govt restricted it from consumer sale. Whoda thunk we coulda been using Tropicana or Minute Maid instead.)

It really doesn't matter what lube you use but how often you use it. Frequency is definitely most important. As they say, all the rest is commentary.

Anonymous's picture
Joe (not verified)
Purple Extreme

Awhile back I was in Piermont and I had asked Glenn what woud be a good lube for my chain. Tri-Flow, White Lightening, etc.. He recommended Purple Extreme. I've been using it ever since.
I guess it really doesn't matter what you use, along as you use something.

/just my two cents....

Anonymous's picture
Karol (not verified)

Thanks for the feedback on WL. I guess I should just try it and see if I like it. I did find some commentary on cyclingforum.com about people who found it tougher to climb hills with WL as compared to Teflon and other synthetics. I also see that Epic WL is silicone based, as well as self cleaning, and recommended for centuries. I'm doing an Ironman in July and definitely need it to cover the distance, even in the rain. But now's a good time to give it a try, I guess, since there's plenty of rain.

Anonymous's picture
Michael (not verified)
constantly removing the chain

Does anyone find that routinely cracking the chain to clean it makes you more likely to break during a ride? I leave it on the bike and with the rear wheel off can dangle half the chain in solvent... dry it and do the other half.

Anonymous's picture
Debbie Rothschild (not verified)

I used a variety of lubes on my old bike and was never completely happy with any. Got a new bike in October and at the recommendation of the builder (Tom Kellogg) have been using PsychoLube on it. It's a two step process, one cleans and lays a sealing foundation, the next lubes. They are both spray cans. No muss, no fuss, no drips. My chain still looks like new and the lube is just perfect. I am completely sold on the stuff.

Anonymous's picture
Karol (not verified)
good idea

Of course, I still havent' cleaned my chain in mineral spirits or other powerful stuff, or shifted my lube of choice. I think I'd have to get the chain all sparkly clean before trying anything new, and I'm dragging my feet. Thanks again for all the great feedback.

Anonymous's picture
Craig Breed (not verified)
I'm back to regular old light oil

I've tried WL and other waxy lubricants and I just don't thing they work as well. So although oil gets dirty and attracts grit, I'm back to using it and then wiping the chain and other parts frequently.

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