(73o) The Tribology of Bicycle Chain Lubricants | AIChE

(73o) The Tribology of Bicycle Chain Lubricants


Michelsen, W. - Presenter, University of Delaware
McKechnie, W., University of Delaware
Wei, Y., University of Delaware
Moore, A., University of Delaware
Burris, D. L., University of Delaware
Shiflett, M. B., University of Delaware

The Tribology of Bicycle Chain Lubricants

Properly lubricating a bicycle chain is arguably the easiest and least expensive method of improving a bicycle’s performance. Biodegradable or biobased lubricants are desirable on the market today due to their performance as a safe, ecological, and effective product. In this study we report on the friction and wear properties of commercial bicycle lubricants, natural base oils (e.g. canola, soy, etc.) and greases, as well as the effect of certain additives on these properties. A pin-on-disk tribometer was used to precisely measure the coefficient of friction and produce a wear track for each lubricant sample. The resulting wear track was measured using an interferometer and the amount of wear is reported as a volume loss of material after a one hour trial. A correlation was derived to relate the coefficient of friction of each lubricant to an associated power loss while riding a bicycle. This power loss is what directly affects a cyclists’ performance and corresponds to a loss in speed while pedaling the drivetrain. Commercial lubricants were tested to determine a standard of performance currently available on the market. Samples containing biobased materials were then tested and compared to the performance standard set by these lubricants. Combining these results we explore possible correlations between friction, wear, viscosity, density, and individual lubricant components or additives. Ultimately, we aim to arrive at an optimal composition for a biobased lubricant that minimizes both the power loss and wear associated with a bicycle chain in motion.