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WS2 treated bicycle components

For sprockets, chains, and pulleys
  [vote for,

Tungsten Disulfide can be coated onto machine and engine parts as a durable treatment - does not require re- coating for over a year in many high load applications. It's compatible with most lubricants but it's so slippery on its own that additional oiling might not be needed for a bicycle. And if you *did* want to add lubricant, you could apply powdered WS2 (by itself or mixed with other lubricants) at any time.

My idea is to sell pre-treated components as complete service packs (front and rear sprockets, derailleur pulleys, and chain) with a replacement plan. Order your new set before the ones you're using are worn out, pay full price but get a partial credit on next purchase when you return the old ones for recycling/refurbishment.

kdf, Jun 22 2020

One company offering machine part treatments https://www.microsu...gsten_disulfide.php
with remarkable claims [kdf, Jun 23 2020]

Another company offering WS2 coating services https://www.uccompo...ng-ws2-coating.html
for the high-vacuum industry. Coating prevents galling (e.g. when the screw and threads are both stainless steel) and withstands cleaning with solvent. [sninctown, Jun 24 2020]

SILCA Super Secret Chain Lube https://silca.cc/pr...r-secret-chain-lube
Guess the secret!, [kdf, Jun 24 2020]

BAM https://en.wikipedi...um_magnesium_boride
Superhard material, slicker than teflon [kdf, Jun 25 2020]


       sp. "powdered"? Although powered WS2 might also have interesting properties. I've no idea what they would be.
pertinax, Jun 23 2020

       sp. fixed, thanks.   

       Maybe someone already does offer this for bike parts but I haven’t found a supplier. I linked one company who offers machine-parts treatment so you can review their claims for the product.   

       One of the claims is "The lubricant coating bonds instantly to any metal or resin substrate" - which reminds me of the old joke "If nothing sticks to teflon, how does it stick to the pan?"
kdf, Jun 23 2020

       I once used a many-layered non-stick pan that was supposed to last a very long time. Over the course of two years I gradually cooked and cleaned my way through Teflon, copper, aluminum, steel, ceramic, and other less identifiable materials. There's absolutely no way this resulted in any personality quirks I may or may not have today.
Voice, Jun 23 2020

       My experience with non-stick cookware is similar. I'll stick with thick, hard-anodized aluminium for now. And I expect no matter how good a surface treatment it is, WS2 sprockets would eventually wear down to bare metal. That's why I suggested a marketing model to make frequent replacement easier.   

       My other pipe dream would be coating all the rolling and sliding bits with aluminium magnesium boride (BAM) .... a wonder material that I've read about for over twenty years but never seen in any real commercial application ...- bikes or otherwise.
kdf, Jun 23 2020

       If the coating will/might wear off, the solution is simple: make the whole part out of WS2. Not sure of it's physical properties...
Ooh, it can become nanotubes! Therefore, it is the answer to any and all problems...
neutrinos_shadow, Jun 24 2020

       “make the whole part out of WS2
No. As a lubricant powder It’s only somewhat harder than talc. WS2 nanotubes may be useful for reinforcing other materials, but that’s a big maybe.
kdf, Jun 24 2020

       A brief read around of the subject suggests that WS2 is better than, but largely similar to the near universal molybdenum disulfide found in many of the world's most couch-stainig greases. Molybdenum disulfide is used widely in sealed components and has been tried in bike products before. WS2 is equally black, messy and stains like hell. It's rejected because it leaves black, near permanent steaks on everything and cycling is a fashion industry.
bs0u0155, Jun 24 2020

       //it leaves black, near permanent steaks on everything//   

       Now my dog is hungry.
pertinax, Jun 24 2020

       Now I'm hungry.
bs0u0155, Jun 24 2020

       “... messy ... rejected because it leaves black, near permanent streaks...”
Not rejected by everybody... it’s the not so secret ingredient in the silly-sounding “SILCA Super Secret Chain Lube” (link). That’s the product that got me interested in WS2 and thinking about selling pre-treated components.
kdf, Jun 24 2020

       Hopefully not so slippery as to cycle a slippery chain and just fall over without moving.
wjt, Jun 24 2020

       //fall over without moving// that's when you start out lying down, right?
pocmloc, Jun 24 2020

       //WS2 and thinking about selling pre-treated components//   

       Maybe for some components, but I think the effect will be minimal on the chain/chainrings/sprockets, where the most wear happens. The problems there are multiple. The chain needs to deflect and operate while deflected because of the compromised derailleur system (and also introduce 4 additional bends around the tensioner jockey wheels). That means you need sliding links rather than the sealed bearing system of motorcycles. The deflection means you will always have point loads, exposure to dirt means you're always going to introduce abrasives that will chip off coatings.   

       If you remove the need for a hysteria-inducing number of gears, the problem goes away. My 1960's Raleigh 3 speed is on it's original chain, chainring & sprocket. I oil it MAYBE once every year. The hub gears need a drop or two of SAE 20W oil every 6 months, the genius there is that it very slowly leaks out through the bearings carrying contaminants. But if you want to use WS2 as a marketing ploy, great. It will probably work. The cool looking "Kashima" coating worked nicely for Fox, despite very marginal differences. You don't see the gold-brown Kashima coating on formula 1 damper shafts for example.
bs0u0155, Jun 24 2020

       bs0u0155, I avoid hysterical gearing. Fixie for most of my riding, and my other bike has only mildly amused gears.   

       I haven't used SILCA or anything similar on mine yet, but friends who have insist it does make the drive train quieter. Maybe they're just trying to convince themselves, but I might try it on my next chain.
kdf, Jun 24 2020

       I sent a generic inquiry to UC Components and got back a very good reply. Short version - maybe good for chain, but not other parts, and there are more cost effective options. My impression is the engineer who replied is also a cyclist.   

       Full version:   

       “There are certain parts of a bicycle drive train that might slightly benefit from treatment, most notably the chain, due to the many moving surfaces (rollers and pins). Some parts like rear cassette cogs, are nickel plated and the impinging process would not penetrate as well as it would raw metal. Some chains parts are even TiN coated (Titanium nitride) and again the impinging process would not penetrate the hard surface.   

       “The same goes for front chainrings which are typically anodized. With the many chain lubricants available on the market and the availability of ceramic bearings and larger derailleur pulleys I think there may be better/ more cost effective ways to cut down on frictional losses.   

       “Graphite/ Moly loaded chain lubricants work really well on motorcycles but on bicycles, which are typically kept much cleaner, the dark graphite looks dirty as would the WS2. I have seen the WS2 spray lube available on Amazon. Chain lubes like White Lightening, that contain PTFE in a evaporative carrier work very well and look/stay cleaner. In the old days we would soak chains in hot wax!”
kdf, Jun 25 2020

       //My experience with non-stick cookware is similar. I'll stick with thick, hard-anodized aluminium for now.//   

       Seasoned cast iron only... philistines.   

       As a motorcycle maintainer myself, I was surprised to discover that motorcycle chain "lube" isn't. The rollers are bearings and sealed. The "lube" is for corrosion prevention and continuous addition, e.g. via Scottoiler/fastidious maintenance is only there to carry off contaminants. When understanding that, the priorities for the "lube" change somewhat, wax for storage, continuous oil for riding season.   

       I'm not surprised there aren't many niches for WS2 in the bicycle. I mean, can you pick a more mature technology?
bs0u0155, Jun 25 2020

       bs0u0155 - yes, very mature technology, little room for improvement. the only newish ideas that appeal to me are things that reduce maintenance or make it quieter- but even those are rare and at best only tiny gains.   

       Like, how can you get quieter and need less maintenance than a fixie? Airless tyres and a belt drive?
kdf, Jun 25 2020

       Wouldn't the ultimate technology be formed materials that don't need lubricants?
wjt, Jun 25 2020

       “...materials that don't need lubricants?”
Yup. See link for BAM.
kdf, Jun 25 2020

       Not really BAM yet, a bit powdery. Probably will get geared up in the future though.
wjt, Jun 26 2020

       “probably in the future”
I’ve been waiting a very long time for the future.
kdf, Jun 26 2020

       It's right next, after the present! Hang on, here it comes! And...
pocmloc, Jun 26 2020

       It's nature's blinking trick.
wjt, Jun 27 2020


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