Silca claims that its murky black Synergetic wet lube is the fastest oil-based chain lube available today. This isn’t just Silca tooting its own horn as independent chain torturer Zero Friction Cycling also claims after exhaustive testing that Synergetic is one of the best wet lubes out there.
We have been dabbing it on a range of bikes and exposing it to deep Scottish winter conditions, both off and on-road, to see if it really is one of the best bike chain lubes around.
It's the nano-scale tungsten disulfide that gives the lube its murky appearance. Tungsten disulfide is used as a lubricant by Nasa and when paired with the anti-wear additive ZDDP creates a tribofilm, a thin layer that forms on the surface of your drivetrain under stress. Its the formation of this layer that Silca says gives the Synergetic lube its industry-leading surface wear and friction scores, as the layer not only protects the metal surface but traps the lubricating tungsten disulfide nanoparticles.
Silca has some impressive stats around the Synergetic Wet lube too, claiming a 50 percent reduction in friction, as well as a 90 percent reduction in wear. These are some bold claims and if accurate could present a real gain in drivetrain life expectancy, something which will not only increase drivetrain performance but ultimately save you money on components.
Silca believes pretty strongly in the environmental effects of its products, it makes sealants from recycled carbon and CEO Joshua Poertner has gone as far as recommending competing lubricants that are also less harmful to the environment if customers are looking for alternatives to Silca’s options. Silca has tried to make Synergetic less impactful on the environment so it contains no PFAS or other ‘forever chemicals’ unlike a lot of cheaper solvent heavy lubes.
The bottle itself has a precision needle applicator which only lets a tiny drop of lube come out at a time so there is zero wastage. Don't lose the little red push on cap though as that's the only thing stopping the lube from spilling in transit.
Application with the needle tip is a little laborious rather than the splash and dash of some other lubes, however, the meticulous approach to each link realistically only adds a couple of extra minutes. Silca recommends cleaning the chain pre-application but says you will still get good results when applying to a new chain with the factory lube, apparently fully displacing the factory lube within four to five applications. Once applied, Silca says to spin the cranks 12 times and give it a final wipe down to remove any excess. All very simple [and exact! – Ed].
Compared to some of the top wax lubes, including Silca’s Super Secret Lube, Synergetic has a matching glide and smoothness to it. This is particularly impressive considering the general bad rap that wet lubes get for efficiency.
Silca recommends reapplication every 800km although this is determined by conditions. On dry road rides, this seems a little inflated but in my experience not far off. Throw some water, mud, and winter road salt in there and you will want to pay some more attention to your drivetrain, although this is the same with all but the stickiest, nastiest of lubes.
When faced with typical off-road muddy conditions and a lot of wet contaminates around, rather than gum up and become a black mess Synergetic seemed to clear itself well. While you will need to reapply regularly, the cleaning in preparation for the reapplication is a far simpler job, although what's there will be pretty stubborn.
As the majority of our testing was performed in Scottish winter, properly dry conditions were few and far between. We did run Synergetic at the Dirty Reiver, a 200km gravel ride, which after a week-long dry spell leading up to the event would be incredibly dusty. For an oil-based lube, never mind a wet lube, it worked extremely well and ran smoothly for the entire event, post-event all the chain needed was a quick run over with an old toothbrush and it was mostly dust-free again.
Without some fancy machinery and expensive microscopes, it's hard to determine whether Silca’s concoction is better because it's chemically superior or simply because you don’t have to use as much. Either way, using less is certainly an advantage.
With the small 59ml bottle costing $25/£24, at face value it's considerably more expensive than other lubes. However, the fact that you need so little and the applicator needle allows such precise application, after eight months, roughly 9,500km of mixed weather riding, and loads of last-minute, hasty reapplications I’m only a little over a third through the bottle. Silca offers a subscription service that can save you up to $2.50/£6 off, but considering how little I have used you would need to be truly fastidious about cleaning and re-lubing or clocking up some serious mileage to even justify the semi-annual option.
Cheap lubes might seem like a better bang for the buck but once you factor in how much you need to use, time to clean, and potential drivetrain wear rates make them false economies. While we aren’t able to produce a deep dive into specific wear rates on drivetrains, we have been extremely impressed with the day-to-day livable experience.
Application is precise and easy, waste is kept to a minimum and it isn’t fussy if you need to apply it as your heading out the door, unlike wax lubes that require a curing time. It feels very silky and efficient as well, which lines up with Zero Friction Cyclings findings. If you are to believe Zero Friction Cyclings numbers, it outperforms every other oil-based lube on the market. Unless you are racing and looking for marginal gains then you probably aren't going to notice any difference between this and a completely submerged wax chain in terms of efficiency either, perfect for riders looking for performance but find lubing their chains happens minutes before a ride, not the night before.
Low quantity application means your chain doesn't suddenly become a black mess as soon as you see dirt either. It's pretty stubborn in wet weather too but easily outperforms any other wet or dry lube in dry conditions making it an excellent all-rounder. The frugal drips on each link mean the small bottle is a surprisingly affordable proposition too, even if the initial outlay seems pricey
Tech Specs: Silca Synergetic wet lube
- Price: $25/£24, or as a subscription for $22.50/£18 quarterly or $23.75/£19 semi-annually
- Sizes: 2oz/59ml