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MountainFlow enters bike industry with plant-based lubes and cleaners

Published May 13, 2022

Editor's note: A version of this story ran in the May 2022 issue of BRAIN.

MONTEREY, Calif. — Peter Arlein looked out at the swelling Friday crowd at the Sea Otter Classic last month and told a dirty truth.

"You clean your bike and it (lube) washes off," said Arlein, CEO of the plant-based mountainFlow Eco-Wax. "You apply lube and some of it goes on the ground. The reason you have to re-apply chain lube is because it's coming off somewhere, right? Otherwise, you could do it once and be good forever. It's a classic micro-pollution problem. In aggregate, all these people here, they're all moving their bikes. Everything from this event, when it rains, goes right into the ocean."

Arlein is tackling the problem with the creation of his non-petroleum bike lube, grease, and cleaners and spreading the word during his first trip to the annual festival.

"Some people will offer one token plant-based and a bunch of other stuff that's less environmentally friendly," said Arlein, who was promoting his line with free bike cleanings and lubings at his Sea Otter booth. "We hold true to the plant-based ethos throughout our entire product line, all the way through our packaging."

MountainFlow uses 100% post-consumer recycled plastic containers for lubes, cardboard bottles for bike wash and degreasers, metal tubes for grease, and aluminum bottles for bike polish. With a plethora of lubes and bike cleaning products in the market, it might seem like another brand would get lost in the mix. With Carbondale, Colorado-based mountainFlow starting in 2016 as a popular ski wax brand, why enter the bike industry?

"Consumer demand pushed us into it for biodegradable plant-based non-petroleum products," Arlein said. "We're one of the only companies in the world that offers solely plant-based products."

He said the lubes were tested for years before their launch. "We're able to prove that it works just as well or better than the competition. We don't want any asterisks on our product that says sustainable but doesn't work as well. So we've given bike mechanics and pro riders around the world our products, and the consensus that we've gotten back is that it works just as well."

MountainFlow is available in about 600 ski and bike shops, including all REI Co-op ski locations and select REI bike locations.

Arlein debuted frame and drivetrain cleaning brushes during Sea Otter. They're made from recycled plastic and have a bamboo handle.

With a couple days left at Sea Otter, Arlein said he was getting his message across to many festival-goers.

"Once people know that there's an alternative that works just as well, it's very easy to convert customers," he said.

Topics associated with this article: From the Magazine

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