Biodegradable chain lubes

I’ve been hearing a lot of talk about how bikes aren’t the zero-environmental footprint vehicles they might seem. Petroleum based chain lubes have got to figure somewhere on the list of environmental impact (for a bike), along with tire manufacturing, plastic parts, and various other sundries.

Thinking of reducing your bike’s environmental impact? Ernestolube’s 100% soy oil, US grown according to their site. I haven’t had a chance to try it out yet, and I’ve got to admit there’s a little light that goes off in my head every time I get a whiff of the bottle of my favorite petrol-lube.

Ernesto’s not the only game in town, Pedro’s Chainj is made from good old Canola, and I’m pretty sure the enterprising among you can find source of similar oils at your local grocer.


And you could probably minimize your footprint a little more by building your own plywood composite frame, like these guys:

Hopefully one day we might be able to find some completely environmentally friendly lubricant, but we have to remember that soy and rape/canola are grown in intensive monocrop factory farms with heavy input of petrochemical-based fertilisers. The petrochemical portion of the equation is just being shifted from the product itself to one of the inputs to its production; it’s another question again how big the impact of the petrochemical contents of a lubricant is relative to the impact of the petrochemical fertilisers used to produce the soy or rape/canola that goes into a (superficially) non-petro lube…

And of course, bikes (and lubricants) are always going to be transported from manufacturer to retailer in the prevailing means of cargo transport of the day, so while cargo transport is still based around petro-fuelled boats, airplanes and transport trucks, there’s little hope of claiming a zero environmental footprint.

The industry, based in China, isn’t exactly the greenest . . .with their profit margins, do ya think they do factory inspections like Nike does with their shoes?

As with all green cleaners and products,  great but I want to see it work. Example is Pam bought some Oprah cleaner she saw on her show. Smells very nice, doesn’t clean a thing. We went back to 409, which I’m sure is totally toxic, but it cleans. Our rationale is we want a clean countertop.

In the winter riding I’d be a little worried about if the bio-lubes will “stick” to the chain as well as my usual Dumonde Tech lube. Even in the wettest weather I only have to re-lube every couple of weeks, and if you had to re-lube every couple of rides with a bio-lube that could undo a lot of the advantage.

That being said, I’m a big-ole-treehugger, so I’ll probably give them a shot. I think the biggest advantage of the bio-lubes, rather than carbon footprint, is the biodegradable part. Think about how the lubes will drip off the bike, onto the road, and eventually end up in our streams, rivers, lakes and sound. I’m sure veggie oil would be less dangerous to our salmon-friends than Tri-Flow with DuPont(R) Teflon Blah Blah Blah.

Sorry to go on and on, but one lesson that always sticks with me from my days at UW was when one of my professors described how they found Teflon molecules in the fat of polar bears at the North Pole. They don’t know how it got there, but it gives you a feeling for how deeply our “life-improving” chemicals can become entrenched in the eco-system. Interestingly, they specifically knew it was name-brand Teflon because it has a proprietary chemical make-up. Conceivably we can trace many chemicals directly back to the manufacturer.

Biodiesel (which is primarily soy oil) works great as a degreaser.  I have a half gallon of it that I use for removing old lube from my chains.

It works as a chain lube and this might be what these guys are selling.  It doesn’t hold up terribly well, but it is okay.

I expect that the ~20ml of oil that you add to a typical chain during it’s lifetime pales in comparison to the oil that was burned to get the chain from Asia to Seattle.

Hey hugger guys, send me your address (ernesto at ernesto lube dot com) and I will send you a sample.

Hey Dave R.,

Ernesto’s link needs to be fixed - when I saw that he was going to send samples to the above posters I thought, ‘that guy deserves a look at his site, at least’ but the link in the post doesn’t get there.

try this:
if this link won’t work, just copy n’ paste to the address bar.

I have used the new Dumonde Tech Bio-Green G10. WOW. Far far far better then ernestos and Pedros ChainJ. Like the other Dumonde Tech lubes they all rock.

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