Shopping for chain lube can be daunting task. There are different formulas for wet and dry weather, road and off-road use, and even lubes that claim to lube and clean your chain at the same time. What if you just want one lube that performs well for any type of riding? Bucking the trend of hyper-specialized lubes, Smooth Operator offers a single chain lube that’s designed to excel in wet and dry conditions, on- or off-road.
Smooth Operator chain lube is available in four ounce bottles ($12), or a travel size (10 ml) three-pack ($9). Both bottles feature child-resistant caps and precision applicator tips. While I didn’t review the lubes’ safety data sheets, the company classifies their the lube as environmentally friendly and low-toxicity. My highly scientific sniff test revealed a light, sulfur-like scent, but any odor dissipated quickly after application.
According to legend, Tullio Campagnolo was inspired to invent the quick release skewer nearly a century ago when he was unable to loosen his bike’s wingnuts during a race. Some may argue over the authenticity of said legend, but it’s generally acknowledged that Signore Campagnolo’s invention was a major technological advance. If you’re not racing, though, you may not need–or want–quick release skewers. For riders who prefer added security and simplicity, Delta Cycle offers Axlerodz bolt-on skewers.
Priced at $14.99/pair, Delta’s Axlerodz feature Chrome-Moly axles, stainless steel springs, and aluminum end pieces (with threaded steel inserts). Installation requires a 5 mm Allen key (not included), and the bolt-on skewers fit dropouts with outside measurements of 95-115 mm (front) and 128-148 mm (rear). Untrimmed, Axlerodz weigh just 69 grams (per-pair). By comparison, a pair of Shimano Deore XT skewers weighs 123 grams.
Setting up a gravel or adventure bike sometimes requires mixing road and mountain components. Dialing in fit can be a challenge, but Easton offers a wide range of handlebars, stems, and seatposts in both aluminum and carbon fiber. I outfitted my new test bike with the company’s EX90 SLX carbon drop bars, and alloy EA70 stem and seatpost. How will these parts hold up to mixed-surface recreational riding and commuting?