Hobbyist insistence on tailored products?

I’ve noticed something over the years I’ve been on the Internet, and that’s a sort of hobbyist insistence on products/items that are labeled as for that particular hobby, when in fact there’s absolutely nothing special about them, other than the spiffy labeling.

For example, I am a sometime shooter, and I did some google research about gun oils out of curiosity. The number of people who claim that you really need to use specific gun oil is surprisingly high.

Same thing with bicycling- the number of people who claim that say… sewing machine oil or motor oil, or yes, gun oil, aren’t good for bike chains, but that you need bike chain oil is also surprising. This is the same in other hobbies like gardening- you’ll read that you have to have bulb fertilizer, or grass fertilizer, or vegetable fertilizer in very specific ratios.

What’s interesting is that it is actually true sometimes - for example, you kind of have to have orchid-specific fertilizer, because they can’t take up certain forms of nitrogen. But that’s specific to orchids. Most plants don’t have that issue. And certain guns require specific lubes - the M1 Garand needs lubriplate grease on some parts. But most just require generic oil, not some crazily overpriced product sold only at gun stores. Bikes are even less demanding than guns lubricant- wise; neither have high temps, high loads or high speeds relative to say… car wheel bearings, or industrial uses.

But the hobbyist types will claim that you MUST use the hobby-specific stuff or your gun/garden/bike/whatever will burst into flames, maim your family, and give your dog gas.

What’s behind this mentality and advice-giving? Is it just a way to appear more knowledgeable? Is it a sincere belief that somehow using specific bulb fertilizer rather than Osmocote is going to make your bulbs all that much better? I don’t get it.

The way I see it, it is one or more of the following:

  • People who think they know more than they do showing their knowledge of the situation
  • Sellers of said products who, of course, want you to buy their product
  • Sincere belief that a particular product is the only one appropriate, or superior to alternatives
  • Lack of knowledge that would enable them to really know what goes into “specific for X” products that give them a basis on which to decide that “oh, this generic thing will also work on X”.

It’s like auto supply stuff. If you yourself lack knowledge then going to a dealer and/or using OEM parts will maximize your odds of getting the desired result, but you’ll pay extra for that. Greater knowledge enables you to select an appropriate after-market part or local mechanic to achieve the same results. A lot of knowledge means you can do the repair yourself.

People have differing levels of knowledge about their hobbies, thus, you have some insisting on “made for X” and others able/willing to look outside the highly targeted supplies.

You’re probably right. I have recently started riding my mountain bike with my kids more, and went out to look at chain lube to see what’s out there now, and was amazed at the number of “You really need a specific chain lube.” type of advisories, when in fact, a bike chain is, with the exception of environmental exposure, a very NON-demanding application of lubrication.

It struck me as being similar to the scene in Idiocracy where they go round in circles saying “It’s got what plants crave” when Joe is trying to tell them to use water on the crops. As if because it’s labeled for bikes, that’s prima facie evidence that it’s ideal.

Also, lots of “journalism” and how-to stuff basically just repeats what someone read or heard elsewhere. A lot of well-meaning people, for example, will pipe up with “baking soda!” when asked about stain and odour removal, but may never have tried it on the specific example or tested it or read an article by someone who has tested it.

I remember encountering some brand of bicycle chain lubricant advertising high performance via magic nano something-or-other, and also remarked it never said anywhere what was actually in it. So I made a couple of telephone calls and determined the secret ingredient was… tungsten disulfide. But whoever designed the label clearly figured, perhaps rightly, that most of their customers would not know what the fuck that is, nor whether or not it would work well on their bicycles, so they just went with a label full of hype that omitted the list of ingredients.

As this is looking for an opinion, I moved it to IMHO from GQ.

Oh, sure. Marketing’s relationship with the truth is always kind of questionable. That’s not exactly what I’m getting at though; it’s more people’s insistence that somehow because it’s labeled as bike chain oil, that it’s somehow uniquely great at that, above and beyond something labeled “gun oil” or “light machine oil” or whatever, and that using one of those other things will cause issues.

I tend to think that if it was critical to use a specific type of oil, there would be standards for the oil to meet, and they’d trumpet their adherence to the standards from the highest mountaintop, or at least prominently on the label. But there aren’t any standards that I’ve ever seen, so I suspect any reasonable lubricating oil or even grease is probably perfectly adequate.

I think my favorite was on a forum when someone said they used motorcycle chain lube, and one of these doofuses told them it wasn’t good for bike chains, and they should use bike-chain specific lube.

Put them both in a mass spectrometer and see if you can tell the difference.

Depends on your bicycling level. Motorcycle lube (the kind that has an evaporating carrier that leave a heavy grease behind) can be too heavy and tacky for bicycling as it robs power. Similar bicycle lubes leave behind a much thinner/lighter lube as it’s not dealing with the pressure generated by an IC engine.

One of my hobbies is aquaria.
Marine aquariums use a sump; another tank that holds various things like a protein skimmer and a return pump. There are name brand sumps, divided into regions for an area for rock upon which beneficial bacteria grow, a refugium to grow small aquatic creatures, etc., etc. etc. My sump for the 30 gallon cube tank is a Rubbermaid plastic waste basket. I don’t believe Rubbermaid to be a superior product, I just had a clean one sitting around.

I’ve noticed the same thing on automotive forums. I used to drive a Hyundai, and went to a Hyundai board looking for recommendations on transmission fluid. Quite a few of the folks there adamantly insisted that you had to use the Hyundai-branded fluid, which could only be purchased at Hyundai dealers and was double the price of Valvoline or Castrol fluids with the same specs. They would tell horror stories about people who put non-Hyundai fluids in in their cars and the transmissions promptly failed or exploded or something.

I own a Honda now. The joke on Honda boards is that if Honda made tires, they’d tell owners to use nothing but official Honda air, and the owners would happily do it.

I agree with Broomstick that this is primarily compensation for lack of knowledge.

#1 (by far) on VeloNews’s famous test was simple paraffin wax, the kind that comes in solid blocks. Next, anything loaded with Teflon; regular oils were all OK, viscosity not really making much difference, except that very light oils tended to wear off more quickly (especially in the rain &c).

On second thought, a real bicycle geek would probably have read that article and know all that. The “marketing” is probably aimed at the uninformed consumer, and/or based on the sound principle that stuff should be awesome-looking and eye-catching for you to notice it.

Sure, but for most cyclists, it’s not going to make much difference.

And there’s precious little difference between say… Rem Oil (Remington’s brand of gun lube) and White Lightning Epic Ride in my experience. They’re not exactly the same thing, but they’re awfully close- light, mostly dry lubes in a evaporating carrier. Either would probably be absolutely fine in the other’s application. Just like 3-in-1 oil would, or BreakFree, or Park Tool’s bike oil, etc… And all can probably work on a sewing machine also.

Epic Ride is kinda an all-arounder, good for everything but not ideal for specific conditions.
I use WL Clean Ride as it’s a very dry climate most of the year and I can mostly plan around what rain we get.
I have used some of the “greasier/oilier” lubes and they do collect grit.

Differences in the test were on the order of paraffin wax eating slightly less than 5 out of 250 watts, versus WD-40 eating 7. Of course, efficiency is not the only consideration, as @running_coach points out. For example, the wax will last hundreds of miles through rain, snow, dirt, etc., while WD-40 will not last the day even in perfect conditions.

PS WS2 was not tested in the article I saw :wink:

It does point out that there’s probably zilch difference for the normal rider between using that old half-bottle of 5w-30 and spending $15 on a bottle of Phil’s Tenacious Oil.

What’s a “normal” rider?
I can tell you that the 5w-30 will be flinging oil everywhere.

Ah, this brings back fond memories of the ‘Snap White Grease’ controversy that Dirt Bike Magazine created in the early 80’s (or maybe it was late 70’s). Fun times!

When I was growing cannabis, there were many additives that people talked about. Somehow I got a bottle of Super Thrive, along with literature about its use, given to me.

The first time I used Super Thrive, I had an excellent harvest. (Then again, all my harvests were excellent). But Super Thrive became part of my kit from then on.

I can confirm both 3-in-1 and Rem Oil works on sewing machines. I prefer light machine oil, though.