1. What's the problem with spray-on lubricants?
A spray-on lubricant has to satisfy two conflicting requirements:
it needs to be sticky to adhere to the chain for the 500km (or more) between applications
it needs to get to the contact areas of the bushings and rollers - and stay there, doing a lubricating job, whilst
being contaminated with road grit.
Being sticky means that road dirt and grit adheres to it - and this gets crunched into a grinding
paste - which just kills your chain.
You've probably heard the expression "clean and lubricate the chain".
The cleaning part is actually almost as important as lubricating - this means cleaning out the
caked-on abrasive gunge from the contact areas - before applying a new layer of lubricant.
Only the most fanatical owners actually clean the chain with paraffin or a specialized chain cleaner
before applying the next dose of chain lube. It's a really dirty and time-consuming job.
Some spray-on chain lubricants are dry and waxy - which helps somewhat to prevent grit adhering to
the chain and getting turned into a grinding paste. But they still don't solve
the issue of keeping lubricant where it's needed in the contact areas.
Next, the lubricant suspended in solvent needs to penetrate into the bushing/roller contact area,
and then evaporate fully. So you need to lube the chain a quite some time
before riding off - in practice this means doing it when you get back in from a ride.
If you manually clean and lubricate the chain every few kilometers, then you could begin to approach
the performance of a continuous lubrication system - but this is just impractical.
The PRO-OILER gives your chain a regular shot of oil every few kms, which
keeps the contact areas of the chain permanently lubricated
keeps the chain clean by flushing out and shedding the grit.
So the fundamental problem with spray-on lubricants is that they simply do not lubricate the chain
as effectively as an automatic continuous oiler.
The chain has a much shorter life.
You need to adjust the chain much more frequently.
2. Why are classic gravity-feed chain oilers so difficult to adjust?
For two reasons:
the oil viscosity changes dramatically with temperature
they take no account of distance travelled
As you know, oil
viscosity changes with temperature.
The higher the
temperature, the thinner and more fluid the oil becomes.
But what you may find
surprising is just how much viscosity changes.
Broadly speaking in typical
ambient temperatures, oil viscosity changes by over 30% per 5C step
Let's say the
temperature is 10C, and before you set out, you have set your gravity-feed
system to give 1 drop per minute.
The day gets warmer...
at 15C - your oiler will
now be giving 1 drop per 44 secs. (+37% = 1.37 x more oil)
at 20C - that becomes 1
drop per 32 secs (+85% = 1.85x)
at 25C - 1 drop per 24
secs (+146% = 2.46x)
at 30C - 1 drop per 18
secs (+224% = 3.24x)
Yes, that's right:
At 30C that same setting
gives over 3x as much oil!
That's a serious mess.
To see the scale of the
problem, have a look at this table and graph.
What does this mean in practice?
Unless the temperature
stays constant (and it seldom does!), you will have massive variations in oil
delivery even from the smallest changes in temperature.
The PRO-OILER is
completely unaffected by temperature.
It pumps exactly the same
dose of oil at -10C as it does at +40C.
And unlike with a
classic gravity-feed system, there's no need to change to a thinner oil for
winter to stop the oiler from blocking up.
The PRO-OILER's oil delivery
is not just temperature-independent, it's also linked strictly to
the distance you have travelled.
A typical big bike with
a 530 chain may be running a setting of 1 pump pulse per 6km.
If you're riding in heavy city traffic, this 6km could
take you 15 minutes.
On the open road at around 150km/h you will cover the
same 6km in just 2:30 minutes
It's not the time
that counts - it's the distance.
With a classic
gravity-feed system (even forgetting temperature and viscosity issues for a
moment), you also need to work out what average speeds you are
A setting which gives 1
drop per minute may be ok at a constant 80km/h, but it's 2x too rich
at 40km/h - and yet it only delivers 50% of what you need at 160km/h!
Anyone who has used a
classic gravity-feed system will recognize these problems. In practice the only
solution is to run a conservative, rich setting all the time to avoid running
Then add to this the
fact that you can't even adjust the setting while riding...
Now you see why the
PRO-OILER's pumped, temperature-independent and distance-related delivery is
such an advantage:
you can ensure constant lubrication of the chain with the
minumum of fling-off
you set your oil delivery rate so there is just enough
to lubricate the chain - without soaking it and having unnecessary fling-off
3. Does continuous lubrication increase chain life?
From the chain's point
of view, the ideal environment is an oil bath - like so many industrial
drive-chain systems, or the cam-chain and primary chains inside an engine.
But an oil-bath is unworkable
for a motorcycle final drive-chain, even though a couple of manufacturers have
tried it in the past.
So we are left with
With the introduction of
O-ring chains in the late 1970's, there was a gigantic leap forward in
chain-life. The sealed-in lubricant between the pins and bushings solved a
But there are still the
contact areas between the bushings and rollers which need lubrication, as well
as the rollers and sprocket teeth - and the O-rings themselves need some
Even if you are
absolutely fanatical about cleaning and lubricating your chain, you
won't be able to match the performance of a continuous lubrication system.
How much increase in
chain life depends on what you are comparing it to.
Compared to a chain which is seldom or never lubricated,
the increase can be 5x.
For a normally well-maintained chain, the increase is
The clearest evidence
comes from people who have a partly-worn chain, and then fit an oiler - this really is comparing like-with-like.
Suddenly, the chain's
wear-rate is almost stopped in its tracks.
This comment comes back
again and again:
"Since fitting my
chain-oiler, I hardly ever have to adjust the chain any more"
The crucial question: how
long will my chain last?
It's difficult to say
"your chain will last xx,000 km":
chains vary greatly in quality - as do sprockets
some bikes are harder on chains than others (rule of
thumb, 4-cylinder bikes are easiest on the chain)
riding style also plays a part
However, what we can
say is that a chain will last typically 2-5x longer with
4. What about fling-off?
There will always be
"total-loss" lubrication system - so what goes onto the chain also
comes off it.
The objective is to
reduce the oil delivery until any less oil would mean a dry
chain - this is the juggling act that the PRO-OILER does so well:
Continuous lubrication -
but with the minimum amount of oil.
To visualize consumption
- it's a small sugar lump of oil per 100km.
5. If I have a lean setting, what happens when it rains or the roads are dusty?
The PRO-OILER is
designed to run as lean and precisely as possible in dry and clean conditions.
Of course, in the real
world, some of the time it rains, and the roads are sometimes dirtier or dustier
than we would like.
So the controller unit
up front - with its [+/-] buttons and LED display - allows you to adjust the
oil flow for the conditions while you are riding.
If the road is wet you can increase the flow - all the
way up to 650% more, which keeps the chain lubricated even in monsoon
conditions. In "typical" rain conditons increasing the supply 50-100%
will do the job.
In dusty conditions, the dirt absorbs the oil. So
increasing delivery will keep the chain lubricated - and clean it too as the
dust is flung off. 10-20% extra oil delivery usually takes care of this.
When conditions get back
to "normal", then you just reduce the delivery with the [-] button
back to your normal dry/clean road setting.
6. I don't ride much, so what benefit can I get from a PRO-OILER?
The higher your annual mileage, the more obvious the benefit of running a PRO-OILER.
But it's not just a financial issue - it's the sheer convenience factor.
There are an increasing number of riders who now have the option of buying a chain-drive bike because
the PRO-OILER can virtually eliminate chain-care problems.
"I want a chain-drive bike, but I don't want to bother with chain maintenance between
The PRO-OILER allows riders to basically fit-and-forget - where they might otherwise have no option but to buy
a shaft of belt-drive bike.