Over the course of the past year or so, I’ve mostly used Muc-Off lubes to lubricate my chain, specifically the C3 Wet Ceramic and C3 Dry Ceramic lubes. A couple of months ago, I started to wonder if the Muc-Off brand of lube was even the right choice for me. I’ve read a number of different reviews as well as blog posts on the topic and, yeah, definitely a lot of differing opinions on what works best. After a bit of research, I finally took the plunge and picked up a bottle of Dumonde Tech Original Formula. Just a few weeks using it gave me enough info for a review. So, let’s dive in and breakdown what my experience has been with each one.
Now, for this review, I started my experiment by thoroughly washing the chain and cassette on my bike so that you can see how the lube performs between rides and washes. I tried to take before and after pictures of my chain and cassette but was met with mixed results. It would seem that the right lighting is needed with metal parts to properly show differences. So, because I can’t show you, I’ll have to rely more on editorial instead.
The main concern I have with any lube is how well it holds up after multiple rides. If the lube attracts too much dust and/or breaks down and leaves a gunky mess that requires cleaning in between washes then it’s no good to me. The best lube to me is one that holds up well and doesn’t necessarily require that I lube the chain before each and every ride. For longer rides, I usually like to apply extra lube before a ride. But for a series of smaller rides throughout a given week I don’t feel I should have to apply more lube for every ride.
I’m mainly testing for consistency and cleanliness. And, for that, it boils down to the feel of the drivetrain while riding as well as how the lube holds up over multiple rides. If the chain feels noisy then more lube is required. And if re-lubing feels excessive and results in a gunky chain and cassette after multiple rides then it’s an instant fail.
With that in mind, let’s start by testing the Muc-Off lube.
Muc-Off C3 Ceramic Wet Lube
While the two types appear very similar to one another, there are a number of differences between Muc-Off’s C3 Wet Ceramic and C3 Dry Ceramic lubes. Both use a form of ceramic coating to protect the chain...which appears to be the main similarity between the two. The differences have more to do with the primary use case for each type of lube. The C3 Wet Ceramic lube is primarily best used in wet, muddy conditions, whereas the Dry version is best suited for more dryer conditions especially when it’s dusty.
There are a number of features that exist within one version that doesn’t exist in the other. For instance, Muc-Off says that the C3 Wet has Boron Nitrides to add efficiency, a feature that doesn’t appear to exist in the C3 Dry lube. However, with the C3 Dry, Muc-Off says that it’s petroleum free and uses synthetic polymers to improve performance. What do they mean by synthetic anyways? When I think polymer I think wax. And, while Muc-Off claims the Wet formula is 95% biodegradable, it’s not clear whether it’s petroleum free or not. Other than the use of ceramics, each formula is quite different to suit the use cases they were designed for.
Being that I live in Texas, the C3 Wet lube is a better choice given the heat and humidity. I’ve tried the C3 Dry lube for gravel rides but was met with mixed results. The added heat and humidity seems to cause dry lubes to break down a bit too quickly. Plus, if I run into any wet areas with water and/or mud, the C3 Dry lube will more or less fail and my chain ends up running really badly.
The only time when the C3 Dry lube works for me is either during the winter for road rides or indoor rides. The primary reason I use C3 Dry lube indoors is that the C3 Wet lube has a tendency to get a little messy when used indoors. For a time, I found small droplets of chain lube leftover on my trainer after a training session. When I switched to the C3 Dry lube the problem went away.
For this review, I decided to primarily focus on the C3 Wet formula simply because I felt it was the best candidate to compare with the Dumonde Tech lube.
The C3 Wet Ceramic lube comes out as a pinkish colored lube. It goes on pretty clean and I don’t usually have problems with it dripping on the ground due to runoff. As to how much to apply, Muc-Off themselves say to use a moderate amount. In reviews I’ve read, one reviewer even said when you think you’ve applied enough apply a little bit more. So, yeah, kinda have to use a bit of it for the first application after a wash.
I usually run a stream on each side of the chain that hits the cassette and chainrings. After that, I cycle through all the gears, starting at the lowest gear, and work my way up to the highest. I figure this helps to work the lube into the chain by adding a little friction to aid in the process. After that, I give the chain a quick wipe down to remove the excess lube.
After lubing a freshly cleaned chain, the chain itself has a little bit of lube still left on it. It feels a little tacky with a slight oily texture. Post lube, the drivetrain is fairly quiet with gear changes remaining smooth. All good!
After a good hour of hard riding, time to checkout how the lube did! Post-ride, the cassette and chain appear to have a slight bit of gunk on them. The cassette and chain are a little darker due to a slight breakdown of the lube. Running my fingers along the chain, it felt a little sticky and results in some of the black gunk getting on my fingers.
Only thing I can surmise of this is that something in Muc-Off’s formula has a tendency to breakdown a bit with heat and friction. I added a bit more lube between rides and, after each one, it’s clear that the drivetrain gets a little more gunked up. After a solid week of riding, the full drivetrain looks like it needs a bit of cleaning.
The performance of Muc-Off’s lubes are good, I will say that. I never felt like the lube wasn’t doing its job on any given ride since I’ve been using them. However, there are a number of things I just don’t like about this lube.
First, the amount of lube I have to use feels a little high. I feel like I have to apply quite a bit in that first lubing and then keep lubing it before every ride or so. Granted, a bottle does last a while but, still, it sure does seem like you have to use an excessive amount of lube over time. Seems like a waste to me.
Second, the lube tends to breakdown too easily and leaves the chain, chainrings, pulleys, and cassette with a rather gunky mess on them. Part of this is that, unlike the C3 Dry formula, the C3 Wet formula appears to attract dust and dirt more. Only way to combat this is to do intermittent cleanings of the chain and cassette, which just adds time to the maintenance of my bike. Really wish this stuff wasn’t so messy.
I akin my experience with Muc-Off lube to shampoo. You know how some shampoos work better than others? Some lather better than others and thus you don’t have to use as much to get your head clean. However, there are those that require you to follow the infamous directions on virtually every shampoo bottle: Lather, rinse, repeat! I tend to put Muc-Off in that category. In this case it’s ride, lube, repeat.
Dumonde Tech Original Formula Lube
Dumonde Tech describes their Original Chain Lube as being a liquid plastic that through polymerization forms long-lasting plating on all chain surfaces . (I really wonder how much Dumonde Tech’s marketing department had a hand with that sentence!) Now, they claim that it’s environmentally sensitive which I don’t think means the same thing as environmentally friendly. I think that claim has more to do with the application of the product.
Dumonde Tech specifically says to use it sparingly. Apparently, you don't need a whole lot for it to work well...which means a bottle of this stuff should last quite a while. It’s this fact that makes me think that’s what lends itself to being environmentally friendly. Because you can use so much less, you don’t have to waste so much. Plus, because it doesn’t wash off as easily, it impacts the environment less that other lubes.
Now, they do say that it might take 2-3 applications for the lube to properly bond to the chain through polymerization (Which meant to combine or cause to combine to form a polymer. What a $10 word!). So it looks like there’s a break-in period for this lube. However, it’s not clear whether this polymerization is required after each time you degrease the chain with each bike cleaning.
Beyond that, Dumonde Tech says to judge the reapplication of lube based on the sound of the chain, not how it looks or hot much time has passed since the last lubing. We’ll see if that rings true after a series of rides.
The lube itself appears to be not as thick as the Muc-Off C3 Wet Ceramic. However, with the initial application of the lube, because you don’t have to use so much there’s little to no risk of it dripping off the chain. The applicator allows for a good amount of control over how much lube comes out. Once it hits the chain, it’s pretty much on there and isn’t going anywhere.
The lube goes on super clean so it makes you wonder if you even lubed your chain. However, running the chain through the gears, it’s pretty clear the lube is doing its job. The chain just sounds right and everything feels pretty smooth. Me like!
Once thing I noticed was the smell of the lube. It does have a rather interesting smell about it. Not bad, mind you...just...different. Strangely lets you know that, yeah, you did just lube your chain.
After multiple rides, does this lube result in the same gunky mess as the Muc-Off lube? Nope! Whatever polymers Dumonde Tech is using doesn’t appear to breakdown nearly as quickly as what’s in Muc-Off lube. After wiping down the chain, the Dumonde Tech lube does show black streaks on the rag, but it’s not nearly as bad as what I see with the Muc-Off lube. In fact, the chain looks super clean after a wipe down.
And, what’s more, both the chain and the cassette appear to stay cleaner longer. I don’t notice any major build up of lube on any parts of the drivetrain. Granted, some build up does occur...just not as fast. So it appears that the lube is indeed doing its job. The minimal application seems to lead to less mess for sure.
Here’s the thing: both Muc-Off and Dumonde Tech lubes do an outstanding job in providing proper lubrication of a bicycle chain. These lubes simply do what they’re supposed to do. Unless you’re after some sort of way of boosting your performance, I can’t see the need for anything better. Short of doing a manual wax of your chain, I doubt you’ll be able to find better.
The main goal of any of these lubes is to extend the life of your chain and drivetrain. Part of that job includes repelling dust and dirt which can cause wear on a bicycle chain. When a chain gets gunky it becomes a dirt magnet. The best lubes are the ones that don’t get too gunky and/or dirty too fast.
Based on my experience with these lubes, I can easily rule out Muc-Off C3 in favor of Dumonde Tech Original Formula. The performance of Dumonde Tech lube is on par, if not better, than Muc-Off C3. But the fact that you can use less of it to achieve the same result is what sets it apart. That and it appears to run much cleaner with less gunk. That’s a winning combination! For now, I’ll stick with Dumonde Tech.
Keep calm and pedal on!