The Age of DIY

With COVID-19 gradually forcing us to spend increasing amounts of time at home, it seems people everywhere are turning to the Internet to learn new skills – if only to stave off the cabin fever just a little longer. In a lot of cases, this means trying to learn how to do something yourself that you would usually pay someone else to do or just couldn’t be bothered with under normal circumstances. The Age of Do-It-Yourself (DIY) is upon us!

With new found DIY enthusiasm, a lot of people seem to be doing more cooking and baking, learning to bake their own bread, and cutting their own hair or the hair of their fellow isolates. Naturally, I’m taking a more “cyclist” approach to this DIY attitude – although I do really want to bake my own bread, if only I could find some flour with which to do so.

While many cyclists – in Canada, at least – are lucky enough that some bike shops still offer service and curbside pickup, many more are taking this opportunity to learn how to maintain their bike themselves. Cycling and bike sales are booming now thanks to the relative isolation that the sport brings while still allowing you out of the house (assuming you’re allowed out of the house). Seeing as I already do all of my bike maintenance myself, this isolation combined with the Easter long weekend gave me the perfect opportunity to try out a more unusual DIY bike project I had been pondering for a while: waxing my chain.

The research behind waxed chains confirms that yes, in fact, a chain waxed with the right compound is more efficient than a chain lubricated using a traditional lubricant. Many people though also swear by just waxing it with pure paraffin. Seeing as my wax selection was limited to what I can scrounge up on my weekly supply run, the straight paraffin route was my only hope. Besides, my main reason for doing this wasn’t the supposed efficiency bonus – my bike is on the trainer most of the time right now anyway – but rather the promise of my drivetrain staying cleaner and not immediately turning black from oils and gunk.

wax_chain_candles
Tons of candles now…and this is my supply of tea-light candles after melting down the ones I needed

After I spent an evening stripping and cleaning my drivetrain – hoping that is an infrequent occurrence from now on – everything was ready for the experiment! I chopped and crushed 25 or so of the tea-light candles then got to melting them in my homemade double-boiler. While it took more candles than I thought to get enough molten wax, I should be able to just reheat and reuse this wax for future chain waxings.

I carefully soaked the chain in the wax, agitating it trying to get all the air bubbles out without splashing the molten wax, then hung it to cool. After loosening up the links (which was incredibly satisfying, I must add), I reinstalled the chain, and took my bike for a spin on the trainer!

wax_chain_pot
High-quality homemade double boiler. That inner pot will permanently be coated in waxed now
wax_chain_bike
It’s still so clean!

The initial results seem very encouraging! So far I’ve put about 8hrs on the newly-waxed chain and it seems to be holding up. It shed a lot of excess wax during the first few hours, also meaning the drivetrain noise picked up a bit. It’s not going to be the quietest solution but I also don’t get any accidental grease stains when I inevitably brush my leg against my chain. We’ll see how it holds up over a few weeks of riding once I start throwing some road grit at it, I’m initially willing to call this a success though!

That’s it for my DIY projects for a while (until I can find flour). What DIY project has this lockdown made you want to tackle?

 

Cheers and Ride On!

-Evan

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