Beware of overnight sensations: success is usually a matter of hard graft.
Muc-Off’s Hydrodynamic lube passed through 15 iterations before being handed to Team Sky. It has been refined further to create Tete de la Course, the Dorset firm’s creation for the Rouleur shop.
A lubricant is at base a chemical formula, whose precise mix is jealously guarded in a competitive market, but Muc-Off MD Alex Trimnell is happy to share the secret ingredient that unites Hydronamic and Tete de la Course: “An awful lot of hard work.”
He cannot claim to be surprised. At an initial meeting with Carsten Jeppessen, Team Sky’s head of technical operations, at the 2013 Gent-Wevelgem, Trimnell was told that it would not be sufficient merely to produce the best lubricant, but to prove its efficiency with quantitive data. Muc-Off’s Hydrodynamic lube met both criteria.
“Ultimately, they wanted one lube that performed in all weather conditions,” Trimnell recalls.
“A lot of other lubes used a thick, gloopy viscosity to keep the product durable, but we wanted it to be durable and quick.
“We were looking at a perfect blend that stayed on the chain for a whole stage at least, in the wettest or driest conditions, but which also was efficient. Going through those 15 iterations was a case of fine tuning the extreme pressure additives we used to get the right mix for low friction, but also synthetic oils to make sure it was durable, but not too thick.”
The man who hopes to create a chain lubricant that offers protection and speed is forced to unite two entirely separate targets. Muc-Off were already providing Sky with very ‘fast’ chains for time-trial use, by boiling them in hot wax. The Hydronamic lube, however, offered sufficient durability for road stages.
Muc-Off’s principal 'partner' in this development is a test rig, built by Trimnell at eye-watering expense (£80,000 and counting, with new components added on a regular basis) known as the ‘dynometer’.
The rig comprises a Dura-Ace drivetrain controlled by circuitry from electronics specialist National Instruments, who can name NASA among its customers.
Its most recent development is functionality that allows it to read data collected from Team Sky’s bikes and replicate the shifts of an entire Tour stage.
The dynometer lies at the heart of the lubricant, which is the first developed on the rig since the Di2 functionality was added.
"Any formula we create now will be tested on the dynometer," Trimnell confirms. "The Tete de la Course lubricant was the first tested with Di2."
The Tete de la Course chain lubricant is available exclusively in the Rouleur shop