Team Ineos will use the Nanotube Chain developed by Muc-Off at the Tour de France, which has a special low friction coating to reduce friction. If you think you’ve come across the Nanotube Chain before, you’d be right, as it was originally developed for Bradley Wiggins’s hour record ride.
The Nanotube Chain is a Shimano Dura-Ace R9100 chain that’s been specially cleaned and prepared by Muc-Off, using a nine step cleaning and lubing process to remove the existing coating and apply the company’s own low friction coating. According to Muc-Off its original development for Wiggins’s Hour Record cost over £6000.
Muc-Off showed using a specially designed friction measurement device that other low friction formulations, specifically the CeramicSpeed UFO chain, tended to become less effective quite rapidly, so that any gains would be lost before the end of a typical Tour de France stage. But the Nanotube Chain had the same low friction performance for much longer periods. Muc-Off claims over 400 miles in the dry and 250 miles in wet and/or muddy conditions.
Wiggins’s record was set back in 2015 and although the hour record now belongs to Victor Campenaerts, who rode 55.089km, eclipsing Wiggins’s distance by 563m, it took four years before anyone bettered Wiggins’s time. And unlike Campenaerts, who rode at altitude at the velodrome in Aguascalientes in Mexico, Wiggins’s ride was at sea level, where the atmospheric pressure presents more of a barrier.
If you want to emulate Team Ineos in getting a marginal gain from your chain, Muc-Off sells its Nanotube Chain for £109. But they’re currently out of stock – probably because Team Ineos has hoovered up all the treated chains available. We’ve got our hands on one of Muc-Off’s chains here at Cycling Weekly though, for a top secret project later this summer.
You can still buy Muc-Off’s Nanotube chain lube from its site though, allowing you to relube an older Nanotube chain. Or you can buy a custom treated Shimano, SRAM, KMC or Campagnolo chain for £140.