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New nano-particle chain lube is product of university research

Published December 5, 2016

MEBANE, N.C. (BRAIN) — A new chain lube that promises hundreds of miles of clean, low-friction lubrication comes from a private/public partnership with North Carolina State University.

Cyclestar Nanotech lube uses nano- and micro-sized particles produced by laser, held in a carrier of lightweight oil. The process for creating the tiny particles was patented by NCU professor Jay Narayan. The company says the laser-cut process produces hard particles of a very specific size that optimizes bonding with metallic surfaces like chains. The particles bond to the metal and create ball-bearing-like lubrication between parts.

Cyclestar’s parent company, Star Nanotech, is looking to commercialize the process in several markets, including automotive, aerospace and firearms, said Jonathan Crawford, who is director of the bike-related business. Cyclestar currently offers one product: a 1-ounce bottle of the chain lube, with an eye dropper, retailing for $40.

The retail price is high but Crawford said the bottle will last as long as a standard bottle of most other lubes, because Nanotech requires a very small amount — about half an eye dropper per chain will do it.

The product is now available consumer direct but Crawford said he hopes to soon sell through IBDs, with dealer-direct wholesale sales and perhaps an affiliate program so bike shops can offer the lube on their websites with orders fulfilled by Nanotech.

Crawford has worked in the bike industry for about 20 years, first as a tech rep for Nashbar and Performance and later as a retailer in California and North Carolina. He most recently owned and ran Crawford Service Course, a concierge-style repair service in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

Cyclestar doe not have indepedent bike chain friction test results available, but a NCSU Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering test showed that the Nanotech oil additive reduced friction to 50 percent of the base oil alone. Crawford said he’s confident the lube reduces chain friction as much as some wax-based chain treatments that have become available in recent years. He said the Nanotech lube, which contains no wax, is easier to apply. It works best when applied to a clean and degreased chain, but it also can be used on a chain that is already lubed with another product.

The lube has been endorsed by Jim Felt, the founder of Felt Bicycles, as well as by former pro racer George Hincapie. It’s being used by the Holowesko-Citadel-Hincapie road team.

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