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Smooth Operator Chain Lube: Quick Review
Earlier in the year we introduced you to Smooth Operator chain lube. At that time we told you that this new lube would be getting put through its paces on gravel roads and that we’d come back with our impressions. Well, now is the time for that and here is our verdict on this lubricant.
With any lubricant I test, there is an experimental phase in the beginning where I have to determine just how much lubricant is enough for any particular brand of chain lube. With some, a little dab will do ya. With some others, you can literally hose the chain down without fear of attracting a metric ton of gravel dust after your first ride. Smooth Operator Lube seems to fall more towards the “little dab will do ya” side of the continuum than others I’ve tried out. I should mention that I’ve been on a personal quest to find a great gravel road chain lubricant and I have tried probably 20 different types of lubricant, including “home-brew” types and “outside the box” solutions. I’m still searching, by the way, and I only add this tidbit to inform you readers that I have a good basis of comparison when I lend you my thoughts on this particular strain of the lubricant family.
So, bottom line: is Smooth Operator Lube good for gravel road riding? The short answer is “yes” if you are good at maintenance. I found that a small, single drip of Smooth Operator on each roller and then a quick wipe down of the side plates with a rag soaked in a bit of this lubricant is the best for minimal dust attracting results. You can refer to my image here to the right of my chain after an application of Smooth Operator Lube and 63 miles of gravel riding on dry, dusty, fresh gravel. As can be seen, the chain exhibits a fine coating of dust on the side plates. What you cannot see is that there still is a film of lube on the rollers, which is good. I never had any squeaking or noises of any sort coming from the chain during the ride, but I probably will clean this and re-lube before going any further, and that is where being good at maintenance will come in if you want the best experience with Smooth Operator.
Quite frankly, that is the case with almost all the decent lubricants I’ve tried, so the performance of Smooth Operator falls within normal parameters from that standpoint. I will give this product a bit of a higher rating, however, just because their packaging is a bit more thoughtful than almost any other chain lube you can buy. The permanent plastic tip on the bottle is brilliant for applying this lube just where, and only where, you want it to go. This works nicely on cables and derailleur pivot points, as an example. This is a feature which also cuts down on waste, which is also nice to see. The other thoughtful feature is the child proof cap, which is something I think all chain lubes might want to consider adding to their packaging.
At The Finish: Smooth Operator Lube, used sparingly and with a mind for routine maintenance, is a great chain lube for gravel road riders. The small, travel sized bottle is perfect for packing along on tours or for those super long events like Trans Iowa or the Dirty Kanza 200. The small, needle point tip applicator is part of the bottle so you won’t be cussing out that errant plastic straw some lubes use, and you still can pinpoint your lubricant application with ease and accuracy. The child proof cap design is a thoughtful touch as well. As a lubricant, Smooth Operator is average, but with the addition of the thoughtful packaging ideas, I would definitely recommend giving this stuff a try.
Note: Smooth Operator sent over the “Chain Lube” to RidingGravel.com at no charge for test/review. Smooth Operator is also an advertiser on this site but these views and comments are not influenced by that fact. We will always strive to give you our honest thoughts and opinions throughout.
3 thoughts on “Smooth Operator Chain Lube: Quick Review”
Just a quick suggestion about using the Smooth Operator lube. Instead of wiping down the chain and adding more lubricant before your next ride, I would suggest just wiping off the chain and riding without adding more lube. I think you will be happy with the results. Less is more with Smooth Operator. The lube that penetrated inside the rollers is still there. Another item of note is that the travel size bottle and the four ounce bottle have a similar applicator tip but not the same. The four ounce bottle actually has a more precise tip which puts just the right amount of lube on each roller. Thanks for giving it a try. Glad you like it.
Have been working with this lube for a bit now and liking it a lot for the dry, dusty Arizona desert conditions. Haven’t had any wet weather to test yet.
I like to go very sparingly with lubes, and in this case minimal seems ideal.
It’s got a fair viscosity so it could be easy to over apply. Found that precisely luring the rollers and trying to avoid any side plate coating is the way.
Apply, let sit ( I like to let it go overnight) then wipe the excess off. Especially anything transferred to the sides. Then maybe run a quick round or two through a clean rag again. This lasts surprisingly long in hot/dry conditions. I’ve been lazy and simply wiped the chain down again after 100-200 miles to remove dirt and continued riding. Have yet to run it dry to the point where I get the rattles or chirps, even when it really seems to be overdue, even on a bike I specifically let go to see how far it would stretch
Maybe only downside is it lets me get away with being lazy on drive cleaning.
Really love the applicator, but then I like to use a syringe/needle combo for chain lubing. Also like the mini bottles for stashing in a bag.
Overall seems to be some great stuff! Also good on SPD cleats but again, minimal is key.
After the first 50 miles of Dk my bike was sounding awful. A quick use of this lube and everything was back to normal. I became a fan right there.