For the past few weeks we’ve been using some of the Wickens and Soderstrom products, with them being a supporter and sponsor of the Soggy Bottom Series we thought we’d better give their stuff a run through the wrecking machine to see if it stands up to the South West conditions. With a prolonged episode of intense concentration, I’ve even been able to stop thinking of them of ‘Wickes and Sodastream’ so bully for me.
From Mike the Mechanic, we received some chain lube, some bike wash spray and bottles of their hot-off-the-press tubeless sealant. With a wont to being nonchalant and blasé about such things, my knee jerk reaction was to poo-poo new-fangled chain lube. Going for the ‘seen it all before’, and ‘it’s all the bloody same’ approach, I then put the bottles away in the cupboard where the lube lives in our house. The lube cupboard. It’s a sad life when you have a cupboard dedicated to such things when it could so easily be a wine cellar, but that’s the choice we made, for some reason. Anyway, into the lube cupboard it went and I noticed all the bottle of lube that are in there – some of which we have been given to field test, some of which we bought when away from home, lube-less and desperate and plenty that have been tried for one wet ride and discarded with the words ‘What is this crap? Water soluble?’. So maybe I care about lube more than I care to admit, and am actually fairly discerning. So the Wickens and Soderstrom lube offering has entered the fray, and has done some rides of up to four hours in some pretty foul conditions. I don’t go in for sophisticated methods of lube application, I remember Squirt chain lube from some years back that sponsored TransWales and we all got mid-ride chain cleans and liberal lube from some tight t-shirted Squirt dolly birds in the middle of a muddy forest. The lube was awful, and the explanation was that it needed to be applied to a clean and dry chain, it needed several applications and dried at 90 degrees farenheit etc etc. Life isn’t like that, we give our pour bikes a half-hearted wipe down with a wet cloth, splash on the lube with the gay abandon of 1970s man applying Brut and expect it to work perfectly.
Well, the Wickens and Soderstrom stuff does exactly that, at least it has done so far. It has the right consistency; not so runny that you lose most of it on the floor and you don’t have to shake it out of the bottle like Heinz ketchup. So far it hasn’t attracted tons of crap the way other lube has, making your jockey wheels clog and turning your cassette and chain black. It also wears off at just about the right time. Anything that lasts longer than four wet and muddy hours is going to be a bugger to get off when you finally wash your bike, so I was pleased to hear the tell-tale squeak of a lube-less chain as I pulled into my street.
Being a card carrying member of the elbow grease club, I have rarely used any bike cleaner, preferring to use the cheapest washing up liquid money can buy and the most expansive range of brushes ever assembled. So I’ve been using the Wickens and Soderstrom spray-on bike wash, my bike is clean, it seems just dandy, not very scientific but there you are. The bottles look posh, refills are easy to do, it hasn’t changed my life but maybe that’s expecting too much.
Yesterday I tried the brand spank-me new tubeless sealant on a tyre that had been oozing sealant out of the side walls, due to the fact that it is as old as God’s dog and I am too tight to buy a new one. When it comes to sealant, we are fanatical followers of Stans. We’ve tried everything else in the spirit of diversity, but nothing good comes from experimentation. We have never found anything to rival the reliability and function of Stans, but the Wickens and Soderstrom stuff is looking good so far. Again, the bottle looks posh and wouldn’t look out of place on the shelf in your bathroom. The sealant itself has the consistency just below that of a McDo’s milkshake and has some nice glittery bits in case you want to use it as a foundation. The bottle has got a pretty clever flexible tube that extends from the top cap and makes splurging it into the tyre, either through the valve or straight into the tyre, an absolute breeze. The tyre went back up first time, which is probably coincidental but made me happy, and we had no seepage. Many hours riding later there is nothing to report, simple as that. Really like it, really recommend it.
Mike the Mechanic will be at the Nationals in Newnham in April, so go and say hello and see what killer deals he’s brought with him.