Scottoiler active fluid system
At the beginning of 2006 I discovered the Scottoiler Active Fluid System. I saw a posting about it at a discussion forum on the Internet. I liked the idea of it and purchased one system. Initial impressions were very good so I purchased a second system. I have been using it consistently since that time on my workhorse Moulton and my touring Moulton.
I have always hated cleaning the oily drive-train on bicycles so the Scottoiler has a great appeal for me. It does have some other advantages, but the massive reduction in time spent cleaning the drive-train and the overall cleanliness of it is the main one for me.
Crucially the lubricant for the Scottoiler can be washed off with water, so the whole drive train can be simply cleaned with water.
Essentially there are three bits, a pump, a reservoir and special jockey wheel where the fluid is applied to the chain. It's pretty easy to fit. It took me about an hour in total.
On a "diamond framed" bicycle the reservoir will most likely go on the seat-tube. It is held in place by a couple of big "O" rings which wrap around the seat-tube.
On my Moulton I attached the reservoir to the steerer tube because I think that on the Moulton it makes more sense to have it there. With the Moulton the steerer tube is very much longer than on a diamond framed bicycle so there is plenty of space to fit it.
The jockey wheel
The Scottoiler comes with four special jockey wheels, two sets of very large side-plates and some bushings. There is a table of combinations for each different type of derailleur. There should be one to fit most common derailleurs today. I had no problem whatsoever with the Tiagra mech on my Moulton R18.
The 'squid' is a pump which can go anywhere you like as long as you can easily reach it. I attached it to the handlebars. It doesn't use up any bar space because it is a long rubber thing which will simply go over any light brackets or what-have-you on the underside of the bar. It is held in place by a couple of zip ties.
What is it like to use?
The water based lubricant is not as durable as oil which is why there is a delivery system. Whilst riding along you pump new lubricant onto the chain approximately once every five to ten miles depending on conditions. Very quickly you just get to know if the chain needs lube automatically and so you know when to pump without even thinking about it.
When it is raining the rain does wash the lubricant off but the rain itself acts as an excellent lubricant so there is no need to squeeze the pump while it is raining. When it stops raining then you give the pump three good squeezes to re-apply the Scottoiler lube to the chain.
So, why is it so easy to maintain compared with oil?
The great joy of the Scottoiler equipped bicycle is that you can clean the chain with just water. It's amazing how simple it is compared with removing and replacing oil. When I first started using it I would clean the chain fairly regularly with just a toothbrush and water. However over time I've discovered that cleaning the chain is effectively optional on my workhorse bike I don't bother cleaning the chain for months and months and the quality of the gear-change on the derailleur is undiminished. There doesn't seem to be anything like the accumulation of dirt and grime using the Scottoiler as there is with regular oil.
What is it like in crap weather?
I don't have a car and I ride my workhorse Moulton in all weathers including lashing rain in the winter. The Scottoiler is brilliant in terrible weather. The rain will wash it off, but as soon as it stops raining I apply more lube using the squid and it is absolutely fine. While it is raining the rain water itself works as the lubricant. This is true whatever you have used as lube for your chain, the rain will first wash off the lube, then as long as it keeps raining, all is well because the rain will be lubricating your chain. In fact water does a good job of lubricating the chain. However when it stops raining, then you will have a chain with either very little of the original lube or no lube. With the Scottoiler you just use the squid to apply more of course.
What other advantages are there?
The Scottoiler doesn't seem to drip. Usually after I have applied oil to a chain there is a risk of a few drips from the chain. This means that with a bicycle in the hallway I have to put a piece of card to prevent the carpet from being damaged. With the Scottoiler I don't ever have a need to do this.
When you go to wash your bike with water your chain-stays will clean very easily indeed just with the water.
What disadvantages are there?
For me it is very hard to think of disadvantages. People that worry very much about how their bicycle looks might not like the look of the Scottoiler system. Extreme weight weenies might be concerned about the very small increase in weight. I don't really do "mountain biking" but it could be that a mountain biker would fear that the little tubes could be pulled off by branches etc. The closest I get to "mountain biking" is riding along rough paths and bridle-ways etc. but I haven't had any problems.
Other people's experiences
Someone else with a Scottoiler on his Moulton is George Coulouris. He's fitted one to his Moulton NS. You can look at it here (scroll down to middle), and he has more detailed pictures here. George has told me that the results are impressive.
I noticed this demonstration on YouTube where the Scottoiler system has been fitted to a rather nice green Moulton APB.
Where to buy?
I think an excellent place to buy the Scottoiler system is Hardie Bikes. I recommend them because I have found the service to be excellent and they really understand the Scottoiler system. They are in Fife in Scotland and I buy stuff from them by mail order, I live in Hove on the south coast of England but the distance is no problem as they send things quickly.