Motul might be a new name to some mountain bikers, but the company has been a huge player in the high-end motorsports arena for over a century now, being one of the first brands to bring semi-synthetic and fully synthetic oils to the automotive world. Its latest range of bicycle lubricants uses Ester technology, where a blend of high-performance synthetic-based oils and additives are mixed to create a lubricant that is attracted to metal at a chemical level. That sounds like it could be perfect for keeping your drivetrain running smoothly and quietly, but how does it compare to the best chain lubes?
Design and specifications
Motul’s Chain Lube Wet uses a biodegradable organic base lubricant made with fossil fuel-free materials reinforced with Ester base materials. This, in turn, is enhanced with Boron Nitrides that offer enhanced wear protection properties, which in theory, despite sounding like a chemistry lecture, should add up to a lube that stays in place whilst protecting the moving parts of your chain and drivetrain.
It's the use of Ester materials that really makes it unique. They were first used in jet engine technology over 50 years ago, and incorporated by Motul in 2011 in motorsports applications. An Ester material can have many key properties, but in this case, it is used to help the lubricant electrostatically stick to any positively charged metal surface. When used on a bike chain, this will hopefully mean it stays attached to the inner links and rollers better to keep it running smoother for longer in grimy, wet conditions. Motul says it works particularly well in wet and humid conditions, though sadly, humid conditions are a distant memory here currently in the Northern Hemisphere.
It's all contained in an understated, battleship gray bottle made with 100 percent bio-sourced plastic, which is fully recyclable and adds further to Motul’s greener credentials. It's a fairly standard squeezy-type bottle, but it has a much narrower spout than most to give you more application control and minimize waste.
At this point, I should say I generally don't like using wet lubes. They can be too heavy and messy, and when used off-road, particularly in the gritty, sandy conditions I often ride in, they can do more damage than good, making a horrible, claggy mess that takes forever to clean. Not so here though, I'm happy to report.
The application is more like a standard dry or all-weather lube and feels noticeably thinner than some oil-based wet lubes. I always degrease and dry a chain thoroughly before applying lube, and tend to drip slowly from above onto the chain rollers when the bike is in a stand, then leave it for a few minutes to let it get into the rollers and wipe off any excess with a rag. The narrow spout was good, letting me drop just the right amount onto each link without any waste or unnecessary mess, and the thinner-than-normal formula looked like it was absorbed into the gaps between the links and rollers well.
It sets pretty quickly and leaves a fine film after a few minutes, but again, it feels more like the fine coating you get from a good dry lube and is noticeably less sticky than other heavier wet options. It's been a very damp winter here in Yorkshire, UK, so I've had plenty of chances to use it on various gravel and trail bikes and found the performance similar on whatever I was riding. It stays remarkably clean, with little of the usual gritty black paste build-up on jockey wheels or chainring, yet it would work for multiple rides in all but the very worst wet conditions.
My most recent ride was a wet and wild 95km Peak District epic. Normally, I'd expect the chain to make protest noises towards the end of a ride, but not here. The SRAM AXS Rival gearing was running as smoothly as when I set off – if only the same could be said of the rider. It stays put remarkably well, and even when cleaning after a ride, water beads off the chain unless a degreaser is used, which I can only assume is a positive effect of the Ester technology.
Unusually, there aren't any efficiency claims from Motul. However, there was little difference in my non-scientific spinning of the gears in my bike stand test than I'd expect from a normal dry or ceramic lube setup, and no noticeable increase in drivetrain drag.
It's remarkably good value, too, at $4.57 for a 100ml bottle, which is cheaper than most of the offerings from established brands like Muc-Off and Peatys. If you like to run a very heavy chain lube, this might not be for you, but if you value performance and want something closer to a dry lube that lasts, this could be just what you were looking for.
A high-performance lube that, despite feeling thinner than others, lasts well and doesn't come with a lot of the drawbacks a wet lube normally has. Greener credentials and value for money only elevate my opinion of it. All in all, a great product that quietly gets on with what it was designed for with no fuss, minimal mess, and at a very reasonable price.
For more information, check out Motul.com.
Tech specs: Motul Chain Lube Wet
- Price: $4.57 / £8.49 / €9.55
- Size: 3.3oz / 100ml
- Drip bottle: Consumer-recycled plastic
- Details: Biodegradable organic base lubricant reinforced with Ester materials and Boron Nitride additives