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Dutch industrial lubricant company Interflon flirts with US bike market

Published April 30, 2019

SWANTON, Vt. (BRAIN) — Interflon, a Dutch company that sells industrial lubricants in 52 countries, is slowly making its way into the industrial market in the U.S. and along the way is exploring opportunities in the U.S. bike shop market. Several bike retailers in the Detroit area are testing Interflon's Fin Super spray lubricant; some of the shops are offering the product for sale as well. 

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The lube is available in food-grade and regular formulations, designed for industrial chains, rollers, and conveyer belts. The company's proprietary MicPol technology is said to include nano-sized lubricant particles that have a negative charge so they adhere to metal surfaces. The company said its product does not attract dirt or dust, penetrates into very small openings, and extends product life. 

Those features would appear to make the spray ideal for bike use, or at least that's what John Leslie thought. Leslie, a longtime downhill bike racer and former bike shop manager, is a technical adviser to Interflon who oversees sales for Michigan. Most of his potential customers are factories, including corrugated cardboard manufacturers and commercial bakeries. 

"The bakeries will use our food-grade lubricant and flour dust won't stick to it, which is a huge advantage. It makes the chains last longer and those factories have miles and miles of chains that are really expensive to replace," he said. In corrugated cardboard plants, the paper dust won't stick to chains lubricated with Interflon products, he said. 

Leslie began using the lube on his own bikes years ago and found it would penetrate into chains and even into sealed bearings assembled in frame suspension pivots, bottom brackets and headsets. "It's like a really thin oil because it will creep into things, like into the pin and bushing of a chain, which is where you want it. Most thin oils will get in but then won't lubricate very well or last for long. This will last a long time, so it shares some properties of a thin lube and a thicker viscosity lube. And it forms a film that won't attract dust. If you get dust on your chain you can just blow it off with air."

Interflon is a privately held company that, despite being based in bike-friendly Holland, has never been much interested in selling to the bike market, or to the consumer market in general. The company began sales in the U.S. about six years ago and has industrial sales programs in five states and a U.S. office in Vermont. 

Late last year, some of the company's U.S. representatives began actively exploring sales to bike shops for back shop use and for retail. Leslie has had four Michigan shops using the Fin Super lube and two of them are also selling it to consumers, for about $22 for a 100ml aerosol spray can.

The company has also done some direct email marketing to U.S. bike shops, touting the lube's ability to quickly fix seized shift levers and other bike products. Besides the spray, a grease is available with similar properties that can be used on bearings, threads and seatposts. 

Leslie said it's probably too soon to seriously discuss whether to make the lube available through U.S. bike distributors. The products are currently in packaging aimed at industrial users.

"We would probably want to redo the packaging for consumers, and we'd have to decide whether it made sense to sell through distributors like QBP or direct to shops. We also might want a drip lube instead of aerosol for the bike market because a lot of people don't like aerosols. For now we are just seeing if there is interest and trying to get the name established. ... The local bike shops that have tested it really liked it," he said.

He said the Fin Super lubricant is safe on rubber, plastic and carbon and works well on chainguides and bushings, including ceramic bushings.

Retailers interested in using the lube in their tech area or stocking it for resale can contact Leslie directly at jleslie@interflon.com.

The products are also now available on Amazon, in 500ml aerosol cans that retail for about $29. 

More information: interflon.com/us | John Leslie blog post on interflonusa.com

 

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