Still looking for the "best" chain lube for 40 years.
The search goes on.
Few are aware of this, but there is, in fact, a "best" chain lube that has been in existence for nearly fifty years. Its development and the resulting political/corporate power play over it sound like something straight out of Hollywood.
Back in the 60's, as the Vietnam war escalated, Lyndon Johnson was President. The family of his wife, Lady Bird, had ties to the Texas-based Bell corporation that was cranking out helicopters for the Army.
Bell had developed a technically-superior lubricant designed for the heavy stresses and heat generated by certain rotating components. It basically formed an ever-lasting, lubricating bond at the molecular level that negated nearly all friction, wear and heat.
At this time, the only "motorcycle chain lube" available on the market was a lard-based offering from Harley Davidson that was developed in the 1920's. It not only didn't work well, but had the unnerving tendency to catch fire when it got hot. HD was never able to overcome this problem so switched to belt drives to circumvent it.
The continued use of the newly-developed Bell lube happened to coincide with the motorcycle "boom" of the late 1960's and 70's when lots of young Americans began buying and riding Japanese and BSA motorcycles. Of course, it didn't take long before motorcycle-riding servicemembers and Bell employees got the idea of trying it on their chains. It was found that a one-time application on a clean (and warm) chain would result in the virtually infinite life of the chain and sprockets. When the used-up bike was sent to the scrap yard, the chain and sprockets would be like new.
Enter Richard Nixon and his wife, Pat. Pat Nixon's family were major shareholders in the Rocket Chemical Company. Their most famous product offering was WD-40, but they also controlled almost every other spray lubricant available at this time, including Marvel Mystery Oil, Liquid Wrench and 3-in-1.
Trade with Japan had ramped up during the 1960's and the Tsubakimoto corporation of Japan, who at the time manufactured drive chains for all Japanese and BSA motorcycles became a player in this high-stakes drama.
Nixon was pressured by his wife, the Rocket Chemical Company and Tsubakimoto to keep a lid on the lubricant developed by Bell. The lubricant companies were seeing a boom in sales from people searching for the "best" lubricant for their chains. Many owners would buy one lubricant, try it once, then just put the can up on their garage shelf and go buy another to try, a practice still seen today among motorcycle enthusiasts.
(As a side note, it has been determined that if all the cans of spray lube purchased by motorcycle owners for the sole purpose of lubing their chains were stacked on top of each other, the stock would reach to the Moon. If combined and detonated, the contents of all these cans would create an explosive force equal to a 50-kiloton hydrogen bomb.)
Tsubakimoto was also seeing increased sales of replacement chains when most failed early due to inadequate lubrication.
Of course, aides close to President Nixon became aware of this ongoing chain lube power struggle and leaked out information to the leaders of corporations in their states and a new "breed" of chain lubes was introduced, spray lubricants marketed directly as motorcycle-chain-specific, "waxes" and other offerings, complicating an already tense showdown in the White House.
Being a BSA rider himself, Nixon knew of the Bell product and felt it was fair that if Bell wanted to release this lubricant on the market as a motorcycle chain lube, they should be allowed to do so.
Nixon finally bowed to pressure from his wife Pat and the assortment of lobbyists and corporate leaders who represented the newly formed Spray Lubricant Guild.
Nixon ordered all stocks of the Bell lubricant seized and sent agents into the Bell Corporation offices in the Watergate office building to seize any and all documents regarding the production and properties of the Bell lube.
The rest is history, of course. The break-in was discovered and by that time the Spray Lubricant Guild was so powerful that they "rewrote history" by forcing Nixon and his aides to claim that the office they broke into was actually leased by the Democratic National Committee and this was the story that was released to the public and resulted in the demise of Richard Nixon.
It is said that somewhere out on the vast, open plains of West Texas, there sits a ramshackle single-wide trailer. It is said to be inhabited by a retired Bell engineer who not only hoards the last remaining can of the lubricant that he took from Bell before this scandal erupted, but also has the formula to make more.
Some say, "Find this man and your search for the ultimate chain lube has ended." Finding it may well be the least of your problems as many say that the lube and formula are protected by Chuck Norris.
So, you can thank Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon and the Spray Lubricant Guild for those 30 nearly-full cans of assorted lubricants and waxes you have sitting on your garage shelves.