Tag Archives: review

Bicycle chain cleaning and lubing: It’s a dirty job

One of the filthiest parts of the bike has got to be the chain. No, it’s got to be the filthiest part for sure. Just ask the inside of your right calf after each ride.

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Dirrrrrrrty!

I’ve tried using simple (read: cheap) tools to get the job done. Rags and toothbrushes combined with degreasing solution works… to some extent.

After some praying and scrubbing, the chain looks kinda nice, kinda shiny. Then you turn the pedals and you hear a grinding sound, like sand is stuck in there somewhere, and no amount of brushing or scrubbing does anything to fix that horrible sound.

Enter chain cleaning tools. More specifically, the X-3 Dirty Chain Machine.

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There are a bunch of chain cleaning tools out there, and frankly the X-3 is the first I’ve used. As a chain-cleaning-tool-virgin, the X-3 was idiot-proof enough for me. Basically, you detach the top of the cleaner, reattach it over the chain, and drag the greasy chain through by turning the pedals.

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One hand on the cleaner, the other hand to turn the pedals. (I took this photo with my mouth)

All this while dripping chain cleaning liquid onto the chain. It’s way less messy and less grief than anything else I’ve tried. All the nasty stuff is contained within the cleaner.

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All that grease and grime…

Once the chain is clean, you’ll also need to lube it to keep it running smoothly. I was lucky enough to be given a bottle of Muc-off Hydrodynamic Chain Lube to try. Apparently it’s the same stuff that Team Sky uses.

team-sky-hydrodynamic-lube

What’s nice about this tiny bottle of lube is that you really don’t need to slather it on liberally, but be clinical in applying a drop or two on each joint in the chain.

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The narrow nozzle makes it easy to drip the good stuff onto the chain with precision

Just as well because this lubricant is a little on the pricey side -It retails for close to S$40 if I recall correctly. To help you make sure you know which bits you’ve done and which you haven’t, every drop of the lube is smurf-coloured. Yes, it’s blue!

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Feeling smurfy!

In case you happen to be colour blind as well, they’ve included a UV light that will make the lube glow! (Don’t forget to lube up if you’re bringing your bike along for a rave.)

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I vote this best lube to use in a club.

And the smell. I’ve read a review of this lube where they’ve described this as “slightly perfumed”. I agree that there’s a smell – akin to rust – that comes after the application. Maybe it’s a chemical reaction between my chain cleaning solution, rust and the lube, or maybe it’s just my cranky sinuses.

Performance wise, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t my mind playing tricks on me but the pedal strokes just felt that much easier and smoother. (Muc-Off claims it’s 27% more efficient than an unnamed competitor brand!) Almost like I’d rubbed a block of melting butter on my bike chain. Think I’d prefer it if it smelt like butter too. I’ll leave out the technical mumbo jumbo for you to dissect on your own because frankly, I wouldn’t be any wiser if they told me they were using smurf blood instead of whatever miracle recipe they’ve got in there.

………………

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This is a way overdue product review was partially made possible by my friend Kenji Lim who runs Hodaka Motoworld that stocks lots of stuff for motorbikes and bicycles. You can check out the X-3 Dirty Chain Machine and the Muc-off Hydrodynamic Chain Lube at their showroom at 10 Kaki Bukit Road 1, #01-08 KB Industrial, Singapore 416175  Tel: +65 6844 0078

Full disclosure: I was given a bottle for Muc-off Hydrodynamic Chain Lube and bought the X-3 Dirty Chain Machine at a discount. 

Written, but not used…

Here’s something I wrote, but wasn’t used, sadly because I didn’t check when it was to be published. 😦 I hope you get a chuckle or two out of it.

BMW X3: X marks the spot
Six reasons why you should have chosen the new X3 as your election campaign vehicle.

the 2011 BMW X3 (pic by M 93)

Just as the dust settles after Singapore’s most exciting voting exercise in a long time (far more thrilling than even the first season of Singapore Idol!), we’ve sadly just discovered how the BMW X3 would have been the almost-perfect motoring companion for many a politician.

REASON 1: It projects the right image

If a politician mirrored the car he or she drives, the driver of the X3 would be determined (the grunt when you floor the accelerator), responsive (although it’s a SUV, it almost drives like a car), re-assuring (the X3’s solid build-quality) and trustworthy (the BMW badge of approval). If this were the case, I’d vote for the chap who drives the X3 in a heartbeat. Looks are, of course, a bonus. In the X3’s case, it’s more “Daniel Craig”, less “Robert Pattinson”. The 2011 X3 looks like it’s been pumping iron and found a better stylist. The X3 is now taller, longer, wider, with an air about it that says “I’m hunky and I can kick butt.” (See earlier reference to Daniel Craig) The X3’s been upgraded on the interior as well, with the finishings taken up a notch to feel much more “Holland-Bukit Timah” and less “heartlander”.

REASON 2: It will help you move people and propaganda

Seating is comfortable, as long as you don’t have a 6-man GRC team to ferry around. Five passengers is do-able, though four is a lot more comfortable. When it comes to the boot-space, whether it’s campaign posters or Kate Spade shopping bags you need to stow, the 550-litre boot becomes a 1600-litre cavern once you fold down the rear seats. Just how many golf bags is that?

REASON 3: It would be the most stylish noise-maker on wheels

Seeing how most parties modify pick-up trucks and other less sophisticated into perambulating vehicles (the technical name for those annoying, slow-moving trucks equipped with loudspeakers) to blare their campaign messages, you could pull back the X3’s sun-roof and roll down the windows to blast your own multilingual greetings or manifestos in between “Yam Ah Mee” techno remixes. The stock HBAS (Harman/Becker Automotive Systems) sound system is capable of high volume and bass without losing clarity. If you eventually win, you might can even stick your head out the sunroof and wave to your supporters, though I’d suggest remaining stationary and making sure you have all the permits filled out first.

REASON 4: It would get you to your rallies in a jiffy

To get you from meet-the-people sessions to rallies, the turbocharged 3.0 litre engine sitting under the bonnet will whisk you from 0 – 100km/hr faster than you can say “Gerrymandering”. OK, I exaggerate, but at 5.7 seconds, the X3 will outrun (on paper) the Audi Q5, Lexus RX450h, VW Touareg and even the Mercedes ML500 – albeit by a hair. If you’re in a real hurry, a non-descript rocker switch sits to the right of the gear stick, that says “SPORT” or “NORMAL”. Two presses of “SPORT” puts you in “SPORT+” mode. This basically stiffens the suspension and unleashes the 306 horsepower engine with engine revs flowing freely with any twitch of your right foot. You can now trample any foolhardy heckler in your path, though it probably won’t help your campaign image. A few years ago, I was lucky enough to have been driven up north to Kuala Lumpur in the previous iteration of the X3, with the journey taking less than three hours (faster than a flight if you consider check-in, check-out and the city commute). With a current top-speed of 245km/hr and 8 gears to get there with (it used to be 6), the new X3 could mathematically warp itself to KL in under two hours. That’s very useful if you do get elected and land a cabinet position requiring regular meetings with your Malaysian counterparts. (Tough luck, George!)

REASON 5: It would help you navigate through your constituency

If you’ve just discovered that the area you were considering running for has been absorbed into a GRC (Group Representation Constituency), you can get navigational information and an interactive map with a few twists and pushes of the knob on BMW’s proprietary iDrive system, which now comes as a standard feature on the X3. On the same note, Bluetooth connectivity coupled with the useful thumb-controlled, steering-mounted buttons get you on the speakerphone with any of your running mates without you ever taking your hands off the wheel.

REASON 6: It feels familiar (only for those with a military background)

If you were former top brass in the airforce – you would likely appreciate the “Heads-Up Display” (or HUD in geek-speak) that projects useful information like current speed and satellite-navigation instructions onto the glass of the windscreen, just like a jet fighter. The add-on comes at a price of $4,200 (missiles not included).

BUT…

There are some minor issues that need to be considered, like the $264,800 price tag. This isn’t exactly within everyone’s reach, so you might have to answer to allegations of not being “in touch with the common man”. But probably nothing a heartfelt apology can’t fix.

While online searches brought up internet connectivity as an option for the X3 in some parts of the world, Performance Motors says this currently isn’t available in Singapore. This doesn’t help if you’re thinking of going up against Nicole Seah in a Facebook Fanpage face-off. Oh well… there’s always 3G.

Also, treehuggers might accuse you of not being environmentally-friendly with the X3’s thirst of fuel resulting in mileage dropping to as low as 7.4km/litre in urban conditions, according to the sales brochure. (The testdrive numbers were even lower) Still, you could point out that the X3 sports some advanced technological features that help conserve fuel, like the auto start-stop function that turns the engine off when the car comes to a stop. This can feel slightly disruptive in heavy traffic, more so if you don’t have your foot firmly planted on the brake pedal, but this feature is easily turned off at the touch of a button. The other feature to point out is Brake Energy Regeneration, where the alternator kicks in during braking to capture kinetic energy that is then stored as electrical energy in the battery.

Party Colours

So, with all things considered, and you’ve made up your mind to get the X3 for the next elections, you would probably want it to sport a livery that’s in line with your party’s colours. Spotted in the catalogue, “Vermilion Red”, “Bluewater” and of course… “Alpine White”.

The new BMW X3 is available in two variants: The xDrive28i ($234,800) and xDrive35i ($264,800)