How dare I! There is no way that I am going to get away with this, but I’m going to do it anyways. I am going to tell everyone I can that there is nothing wrong with using WD-40 on their bicycle chains.
Blasphemy, you say?
Well, hear me out first.
I am not a quack, or snake oil salesman. I happen to be an experienced bike tech, with 6 years of full-time shop employment, and many more years before that I was a home mechanic in my garage. And although I am still young, I have seen a lot of worn out drive-trains. I been with many of them from their installation, through their subsequent maintenance, as well as their eventual replacement. From birth to death, if you will. I know the character of the owners, I know how much they ride, and I know what they ride through. I also know what they lube their chains with, as they buy it at our shop. Most of the time, their chains are well cared for with regular applications of expensive, bicycle specific chain lubes.
Now, I have no evidence to back up the claims that I am about to make. Nor do I know anything about the chemistry or physics behind the use of lubrication and moving parts. I can only offer you anecdotal evidence of some things that I have observed.
WD-40 will NOT hurt your drive train, and it IS a lubricant. And a fairly good one at that!
I have been mountain biking for 17 years, and I have done a lot of hard riding, in many different conditions, and I have a confession to make. I lube my chain with WD-40. You will not hear to many of your local bike shop employees share this with you. I’m sure that you have been told at some time that putting WD-40 doesn’t do anything for your bike chain, or that WD-40 isn’t a lubricant, or worse yet, that putting WD-40 on your chain will actually make it worse! I am writing this to tell you that all three of these statements are untrue. I hope you will believe me when I tell you that my drive trains last as long as, if not longer than, most people’s, despite the fact that WD-40 is just about the only thing that ever touches my chain.
In fact, if you buy the chain oil sold at your local bike shop, than there is one thing I can say for sure: My bike’s chain is cleaner than yours is right now! A clean chain and cassette runs much smoother, and lasts much longer, than a dirty one. Give me a spotlessly clean chain, no matter how dry it is, over that oily black dirty thing on your bike any day. Not that my chain is running dry. WD-40 provides enough lubrication to last longer than my average ride. By my estimations, in dry conditions, it will keep my chain running quiet and smooth for about 8 – 12 hours of riding. For me that means I need to re-apply it about once every three or four rides. There is no mistaking the sound of a dry chain, and at that time I simply give it a spray, wipe it off really good with a rag, and Presto! Ready to go for a few more days!
Still don’t believe me? Check out the ingredients in the can. The stuff is mostly oil. If you don’t believe that WD-40 can be used as a lubricant, spray some on your fingers and rub them together. Slippery, eh!?
Just some things to remember if you are planning to take part in WD-40’s magic:
1) DO NOT ever point that thing any where near your brake caliper, rotor, rim or hub bearings, it will wreck them all! You don’t have to hit your bike with the sprayer at full blast. Keep it easy on the trigger finger and just let a little trickle out onto the chain. (It does require a soft touch!)
2) It is okay to use it on your derailleurs to keep the bushings clean and moving freely, but don’t put it in your rear derailleur pulleys if they contain sealed bearings (a la SRAM X0/X9)
3) And finally, if you are going out for a ride in the rain and muck, than bring a small bottle of synthetic chain oil (Tri-Flow is my personal fave) just incase. The one downside of WD-40 is that it does tend to wash off quickly in really, really, wet situations. But doesn’t anything? (Please don’t say Phils Oil! That stuff is way too clingy!)
Let me hear what you think about WD-40 in the comments, I’m really curious.
I’ve tried a few lubes over the years, mostly used white lightning… still do, but In these nasty winter months it sure is nice to just hose the chain down with WD (it has excellent cleaning properties,) run it through a rag for a while and go again.
Time is money, and if you don’t have a kings ransom tied up in your chain, rings, and cassette it’s much more economical to save time and just replace the parts once in a while.
True That! If I was running XTR stuff, I might think a little more before rocking the WD-40, but for my current needs, the stuff works more than good enough!
Thanks for the comment.
Considering WD-40 was first developed as a water displacement oil. That’s what the WD stands for. NASA used WD-40 on the old Atlas missiles also. Great Stuff!!
hi mate its wd-40 good to clean your frame I have used on a old bike (muddyfox tempo200) now I have a giant roam 1.. and I’m little bit afraid to use it on this one…i want to say that wd-40 cleaned my old muddyfox like nothing ever does
Lol look mate i used wd40 on my frame and wiped it off and then repeated like 8 times and used electrical cleaner and then cleaner and now its shiny like i can see my own face when looking into it
That White Lightning stuff I used for a while, bike shop guy sweated by it, but a lot of those guys say that because it’s the in thing. I found that it gunked my chain up with the parrifin wax it has in it. You have to clean that chain after every ride. I ran out of bike lube and started using WD-40, I’ll just say I wasn’t disappointed with it.
Marvel’s mystery air tool oil is the best lube I ever experienced.
Light enough to penetrate all parts of a bike chain.
Keeps your chain clean after 100+ miles.
Makes your chain silent.
Makes shifting a dream.
$15 for a life time supply
I’ve been using MMR in the car for a few months – may give it a try as chain lube.
Make that MMO…
I have used WD40 as a chain lubricant for 15 years. I find it lasts longer on the chain than most products. I usually apply one drop per roller and my chains last an average of 8,000 miles on a 9 cassette and 6,000 miles on a 10 cassette.
ah uze WD and it iz grate!
Bought a dry lube recently… does nuffin’ no dirt or sand comes off the chain…
Anyway’ would you in bike land fix an old mtb because it needs cranks,chain,cogs to value around $150 (it’s a great GIANT no rust etc) OR would you just spend an extra amount for a new gen mtb?
Hey friend, I’ll work for ya!
@$23.00 an hour (an I’ll be your best friend!)
Dude, right on there brheotr.
I owned a shop for ten years and have ridden for 40. Customers always got the recommended lubes, or what they asked for…me Wd40 all the time. Drive train, pivot points, and some on a rag for a general wipedown. Never on brakes or bearing area. All the mechanics used it…just never mentioned it to the elitists who would scoff at putting common wd on their Italian ride. Good post!
I used WD40 on my caliper,rotor,cassette,derailleurs,& chain. I’m not sure what the effect is yet hopefully no damage is done. I will know tomorrow when i go for a ride.
Did it work?
I heard it’s no good for the disk and brakes. You’ll not be able to stop on a downhill.
About once per Summer I power wash my front/rear sprockets, chain, de-railer, etc, & then apply a liberal amount of WD-40 to them. I’ve never had any problem with the breaks, chain, sprockets, or de-railer. None of the parts show the slightest bit of rust, and everything runs perfectly, smoothly, and quietly.
Yep, it’s what I use nearly all the time. As you say, it’s a good cleaner, too. I used a heavier duty lubricant last time I knew the roads were wet and the result was a drive chain choked with gunk.
Still, it came off easily with WD40.
WD 40 has been around a long time. It has only minor lube qualities. Yeah, I used it in the sixties. It has tremendous coating qualities. Those expensive chain lubes that cling are not good because they cling the grains of stones also. WD cleans these things out. Do I use WD 40 on my chains? No! I have some GO 90 left over from a repair on my truck rear. Does not smell elite, but has good lube qualities. Does not last for hours but as a CX rider it serves my purpose. Use it on my roadies too.
Hi, a friend of mine who used to be a helicopter mechanic in the Singapore Armed Forces told me that they use WD40 for everything from rusty bolts and nuts to rotorblades. So, I went to spray it on every moving joint including the bearings!
What should I do now?
Appreciate your advice.
The danger of WD-40 being sprayed on your bearings is that if it gets past the seals, it will start to dissolve the grease they are packed with. There’s not much you can do now but give the bike a good wash and be careful not to spray them anymore. It’s not likely to do anything noticeable in the suspension pivots, but might shorten their life a little. If you sprayed the hubs and they have serviceable bearings(eg. Shimano) than it might be wise to have them cleaned and re-packed with grease. If you got it on disc brake pads, they will need to be replaced. I haven’t damaged things like shifters or derailleurs with WD40 myself, but some rear derailleurs now come with sealed bearings in the pulleys which won’t like being hit with the stuff.
what damage it will do to the brake pads?
Now we have this from the great people from WD40 http://www.wd40bike.com/
If you look at Wikipedia for WD-40, it tells much of the history and helps to explain what it does. The “WD” designation is for “Water dispersant’ – getting rid of water. The “40” merely means it’s the 40th attempt at finding a solution that worked. WD-40 is mostly fish oil. I don’t think they divulge which type of fish. Maybe it’s a combination of several types. That it has oil, agreeably a light oil, and it’s made to get water out of small places is all we need to know. It works well and needs frequent re-application. I’m fine with it for short rides when I can re-apply. On a long tour, I have to have something that stays on better.
Thanks for a good write up and a nice conversation about such an important topic.
There is NO fish oil in WD40. It’s a petroleum-derived product.
My friend at the bicycle shop said DuMonde Tech was made with snake oil.
Years ago I accidentally found one big shortcoming to WD-40, after using it to penetrate and loosen the headset races pressed into a steel frame. As a penetrating oil, it worked only too well, and crept quite a ways under the adjoining paint; the paint never softened but instead flaked away, over several months, farther and farther from the point where the oil had been applied.
No one here seems to have any solid background in either chemistry or particularly lubrication technology. Waxes work a bit like graphite which is just like Moly disulphide, by creating a platelike film that slips across other layers. There are many oils that bond to metals, and many superior anti-corrosion additives which might be added to a base of paraffin for far better all-around performance than PTFE/Slick 50, et al which have been essentially de-bunked for years, because teflon simply slides off the surface you’re trying to protect, and is inert in any carrier/wax/oil/solvent! Last, since paraffin is soluble in cheap naptha (otc in most hardware stores=Coleman stove fuel) one should be able to either bypass entirely the melting step by mixing whatever combo and letting the naptha evaporate overnight. One pitfall, though, is that as with motor oil additives, sometimes they break down or compromise the molecular properties of the others, which is why straight brand-name oils last and work better than many with otc additives tossed in randomly.
wtf chemistry class???. tmi Charlie Browns teacher.
I see that most of the bike shops now handle WD-40 Bike. Is this just the same old WD-40 packaged differently and with a new name and a higher price to compete with the other lubricants in the shop or is it really that much better than the WD-40 you can already pick-up almost everywhere for lubricating your chain?
The WD-40 Bike wet and dry chain lubricants are emphatically *not* the same thing as the aerosol in the can. Very different formulations.
It’s good to see someone else advocate for something I have known for many years. Yes, there is a huge stigma against WD-40 and I’ve seen many riders turn up their noses. Perhaps for no reason other than the fact that it doesn’t cost a fortune.
I’ve used everything on the market for chain lube. Fact is, WD-40 does an excellent job of removing grit and grime, displacing water, and applying a light coat of oil with just the right viscosity. If you wipe the chain with a rag after applying a bead of WD-40, it will shine and perform like new.
While it does act as a solvent when first applied, those volatile compounds evaporate quickly leaving just a light oil coating behind.
Thanks for the post!
Good point. I hadn’t thohgut about it quite that way. 🙂
I didn’t realize wd40 was a lubricant – thought it was just a solvent. The guy at the shop told me to flip the bike, spray it continuously on the chain and let the gunk dribble off, spray the gears using a brush, and voila. Lately, I’ve been using it to fill the basin on a chain cleaner. After, I use a bike lube. Unnecessary, huh?
There is a light lubricant left behind after it dries. Just use your fingers and feel it for yourself! It’ll keep your chain quiet for a few hours of riding at least, depending on conditions of course.
You said it all. Perfect article. I’ve been a bije mechanic for 35 year and wd40 works. And so does any oil for a bike. Olive oil, butter, bacon grease…
That’s because it’s NOT a lubricant. It’s a solvent. It won’t last anywhere near as long as a real lubricant.
I sprayed my Cain with WD40 and within minutes the cable broke through the plastic coating and exposed all the cables inside on both left and right grip shifters Ever hear of that
I heard about someone spraying their chain with WD-40 and the bike immediately collapsed in on itself like a black hole.
For all the WD-40 cheerleaders here, do yourselves a favor and head over to their website and compare the MSDS sheets for the aerosol WD-40 you can get at the hardware store versus their own wet bike chain lube. What you’ll find is that the bike lube contains twice as much “Petroleum Base Oil,” half the light hydrocarbon and much more in the way of “Non-Hazardous Ingredients.” Couldn’t say what the “Non-Hazardous Ingredients” are, but my speculation would be that it’s Teflon or some similar polymer.
So what, you ask? This pretty much tells me that even the WD-40 people don’t think their aerosol is a great solution for lubricating bike chains. If it were, they’d just put it in smaller packaging, call it bicycle chain lube, price it just under what’s already out there and sell it to bicyclists. But instead, they’ve come up with couple of bike chain-specific products.
Don’t get me wrong. I use WD-40 on my bike chains after wet or snowy rides, because it does a great job of displacing water, grit and fouled lube. The difference is that after I wipe all that crap off and let the chain dry, I follow it with something that’s actually intended to be longer-lasting. I’ve found that aerosol WD-40 just doesn’t stay put, and that I’m not always in a situation where I can re-lube frequently.
In ideal conditions where you can re-apply frequently? Knock yourself out. Personally, I’d rather have the flexibility to not have to do that and spend my time riding more. YMMV.
It has been my experience that WD-40 does a good job of lubricating the chain but turns into a dirt magnet after a couple of rides. I typically use it more as a way to clean the chain. Then I apply a synthetic lube i.e rock roll or white lightning.
Yep – WD40 openly admits that their aerosol WD-40 is NOT a lubricant, but a solvent. There is no way they could sell their typical formula WD-40 rebranded as a bike lube. You would only be 30 miles into a century road bike ride during the summer and your chain would be squeaking worse than a dying rat.
I use WD-40 to clean my chain and cassettes. I lube them with a combination of Slick50 and very light oil. I have not replaced a chain yet, I think I have about 8K miles on my chain and it is still nice and tight.
Good day Sir,
I really liked your post that you made. So I went and bought me a small can of WD-40. I have been using it now for a month. Before I applied it the first time I washed my chain and dried it. Applied the WD-40, wiped off the excess oil and went to ride the next day. We did a 60km and after about 30km the chain started squeaking. Got home after the ride and washed my bike and the chain again. applied the WD-40 again and wiped off the excess oil. Went for a ride the next day. We did a 40km and after about 25km – 30km the chain started squeaking again. So this went on for the whole month. I just cannot stop the chain from squeaking after a while.
My chain wasn’t dry or squeaked before I started using WD-40. Since I started using it, the squeaking was there.
Is there something I am doing wrong?
“Is there something I am doing wrong?”
Yes. You’re using WD-40 as a chain lube. Use a proper chain lube and the problem will go away.
“is there something I am doing wrong?”
Yes, you listened to this jackass posting that WD40 works, when all he does is barely ride 10 miles on his fat bike.
WD-40 is a solvent, not a lubricant. It won’t last for the mileage you need.
How many times do you have to be told that WD-40 is about 90% solvent (hexanes) and 10% light oil? Once the solvent evaporates a light coating of OIL is left behind. Get a clue.
yea. stop washing your chain. if it is gritty use compressed air to blow the gribblies away.
I’ve been using WD-40 for years on my hybrid bicycle chain. I cleaned it with a rag after spraying it liberally.
My chain lasted for over 4000ks and there’s still no sign of excessive wear.
It does attract dirt and my sprocket looks black and covered with dirt and grime. Hovewer, spray some more wd-40 and it will become clean.
I applied the wd-40 every 100kms and my chain never squeaks between application.
because your not a weenie
in Minnesota 99% of the people park their bikes from Nov-May. Come May and later, I hear lots of squeaky chains. I always think how much better these people would be if they gave their chains a shot of WD40. I do. Maybe it’s not the BEST, but so what? Most people are more interested in riding a few miles after work than quixotic quests to find the optimal product. For average people WD40 works FINE. It WILL quiet a squeaky chain. Attracts dirt? They all do. Oh, if you use Magic Lube-X, it stays so clean you can eat off you chain! Give me a break. Okay, if you ride a thousand miles a month, maybe a better lube is the right choice, but most people do not.
Been using WD 40 on my Rock Hopper Chain / Shimano / for over one year.
I put on WD40 before every ride and degrease after ride.
I ride about 200 miles per week on all types of terrain and in all types of weather.
My chain and drive parts are still in pristine condition and look brand new.
Just had a full service on the bike, wheel bearings and all .
The bike mechanic said there were no problems with any parts.
Just thought I would share this with you all out there.
Can you move the warnings to the top of the article!! Its good to know not to dpray the rotor and stuff BEFORE i do it.
Can you take the time to READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE LIKE AN ADULT before taking action? Millenial.
I go to see each day some websites and information sites to read articles or reviews, however this web site
offers quality based articles.
I don’t think anyone will doubt that if you use WD-40 *often enough*, it will definitely work. It sounds like, based on the frequency of lubrication OP uses, and based on the experience of some of the riders in this comment thread, if you lubricate exclusively with WD-40 you’ll need to re-apply every 30-60 miles. Now, maybe you don’t mind. Indeed, if you do this, your chain will be clean as a whistle because you’ll be giving it a frequent spritz and wipe down. However, I would assert that if you lube your chain every 30-60 miles with, say, tri-flow, that you’ll get smoother chain function and it will last longer.
Here’s my two cents on WD-40’s composition: if you spill WD-40 on a porous surface like bare concrete, the resulting stain will evaporate in a few days like nothing was ever spilled. If you spill any purpose-made lubricant (Pedro’s, motor oil, 3-in-1, silicone machine oil, *anything* designed to be a lubricant) the stain will stay there for months and months, or forever. WD-40 simply evaporates away.
I use WD 40 all of the time.
Flush it off after my ride with degreaser and re apply for next outing.
Great product no problems at all.
I mtb 200 miles per week.
+1 for WD-40, good on road drive trains. Clean chain always a must
Of course chain specific lubes are “better” if it fits the budget, but anyone that knows the workings of capitalism they invent some cheap lube cocktail stick their label on it and bill you 12x what it’s worth to make it put it in a tiny bottle and have you buying more over and over….chain lubes esp the dry teflon have strong merits for the longer 40-80+ rides but imo aren’t required when the lube bottle is about half the price of the chain itself so it’s a scam to me at least. Chemically, the reason WD-40 doesn’t last is it evaporates steadily above hot roads it leaves a sufficient amount of lubricant residue which I find works way better per buck than the scam bottles white lightning is shit WD all day I like to relube every post-ride and even on the 50-70s i still cant be arsed to relube it halfway..would rather let my chain die being tired to haul cans I just do it at home after regardless of ride length…though honestly the 2 minute post-ride chain cleaning makes all the difference and you can get away with more miles between each relubing it’s really the sand/dirt grits that f the d train does more damage than anything and it can build up quick, super easy to clean if you’ve only got one ride of grit to deal than 10 rides worth. Saves money on degreaser, really just all in one. Always relubing post rides, I try to make a habit of cleaning the chain after every other short ride and def after every 50+ ride a min or two wd 40 dirty tooth brush and a dedicated chain/cassete rag…no more getting scammed. Those bottles are for those that want to ‘feel pro’ but want to get away with intermittent chain maintenance it will matter if you are on a pro team but hell to the naw WD-40 is amazing don’t let anyone knock it… lubes my door hinges keeps my chain happy all is good, ride on brethren
WD-40 is used by BOEing for all moving engine parts for a long time. Its a great article saying that WD 40 works just fine. BECAUSE IT IS JUST FINE!
WD40 dries a little fast though, so I spray my chains at least twice a week.
Always used Wd-40 on my bike….Bike shop tried to sell be a £6.99 substitute…I was not having it…..
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I use 3M 5-Way penetrant. It is pretty much like wd40. It leaves behind a thin film of light industrial oil. It is also an excellent tapping oil for steel and aluminium. Chain is clean and smooth.
Any one has thoughts on gt85?
I agree with the use of wd 40 on bike chains. a clean chain and cassette will last much longer than one covered in grease and grime that is being used as a grinding paste.its a no brainer if you ask me
I bought an MTB and used the expensive lube from the bike shop. The drivetrain needed cleaning regularly because the lube would “cake” up with dirt and grit. It just turns into this thick black gunge that gets everywhere. The cassette, chain set and chain get completely caked up with this gunge.
After replacing the chain set, cassette and chain (after 6,000 miles) all i’ve used to lube the chain is WD40. The cassette stays clean the chain stays clean and there is no gunge caking up everything.
I cycle 36 miles a day. I apply WD40 to my chain every 108 miles. I’ll fold a couple of dozen sheets of paper towel into quarters and use each one under a section of the chain (between the chain set and the derailleur). I press gently to allow the WD40 to release a steady foam from the nozzle and drizzle it back and forth along the top of the chain two or three times while sliding the paper towel along with it under the chain to catch the excess WD40. Then i just wipe the chain back and forward, top bottom and sides, a few times. After that i’ll turn the crank to the next section and start again with a new piece of paper towel. Takes about 30 minutes to go round the chain a couple of times.
Why do i bother doing this ?. I’m sick and tired of having my drivetrain ground down and destroyed with that horrible, thick, black gritty paste.
I’ve got 3.6 litres of WD 40 sitting in my cupboard. It absolutely has to be applied twice a week at the rate i cycle.
Why use anything which will quite simply grind down your drivetrain ?.
fact is that if you have been out riding your bike for around 3 trips its likely to need a wash anyway and no matter what expensive grease you put on there you will need to remove it and reapply it after washing. WD40 or GT86 is cheaper and if it only has to last 3-4 rides then i dont see the problem.
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Use nothing but WD-40. For thousands of miles. It’s perfectly fine and I love it.
For those complaining that “it’s a solvent, not a lubricant”, prepare to have your mind blown: it’s both. Like all petroleum products.
40 is brilliant chain lube _because_ it’s also a solvent. I soak my chain down with it before each and every ride, let it sit while I go about the rest of my pre-ride checklist, then wipe it off militantly before mounting up. The sit lets it penetrate all the rollers completely, and promotes evaporation of unwanted product. (That’s one of 40’s strongest advantages: leave it alone long enough and it’ll evaporate on its own. It won’t just sit there forever, caking up your world with sand.)
The jet-black gunk that comes out of my chain, which always appears spotless thanks to this ritual, onto the paper towel tells the whole story: chain is cleaned and lubed simultaneously, with an incredible amount of tiny microscopic grit and metal flour washed out of the inner workings, even though to look at it you’d swear it’s a brand new chain. Because it’s penetrating oil, and it flows almost magically into any possible recess, it sluices out stuff you can’t even see. Also, if there happens to be any water, anywhere, for any reason… it’s gone now.
Since I’ve never used any of the carriage-trade products, I can’t compare. What I do know is that 40 is all just about anyone needs, if applied conscientiously, and I never want any heavy sticky oil anywhere near my chain. The god-awful grit that stuff must coat your chain with is going to cancel out any possible technical advantage it offers as a lubricant or anti-corrosion coating. Chemistry be damned.
My 40 cents. (Get it?)
Spent an earlier life as a bike mechanic. Since then I’ve done years of road riding and mountainbiking, both racing, leisure and some touring. I swear by WD40. In the early days though, I insisted on only using various specialist lubes. These usually claimed impressive formulations and powers, but were always expensive. I noticed most of them were pretty viscous and therefore attracted a lot of dirt and grit. I realised it was this, along with neglect, that does the most damage to bicycle transmissions.
About twenty years ago I gave up on all the expensive fancy stuff and all the cleaning it usually brought with it and started using only WD40. I currently use three bikes – a hardtail mountain bike, a winter bike and a Dura Ace-equipped Look carbon for racing and summer use. The transmissions on all three are always lubed with WD40. Nothing else. And I’m fussy about the performance of my bikes. I want them quiet and I want the shifts to be precise and instant. The Dura Ace chain on my Look is currently entering its fifth season and is still as smooth and quiet as the day it was fitted.
Probably the biggest downside of WD40 is the fact it is so light. This gives it powerful penetrating abilities, but does mean it washes off easily in wet conditions. It’s important therefore to always relubricate after a wet ride using the ‘apply and wipe’ technique described above. On the times I haven’t done this, cheaper chains particularly have gone slightly stiff and rusty by the next day. Most people might say that transmissions should always be cleaned and re-lubed after a wet ride whatever lube is on there and I’m inclined to agree.
One thing no one has mentioned is the the very useful fact that WD40 is a spray delivered through a tube. This means that the water and dirt-displacing properties of the fluid are greatly enhanced and the accuracy with which the lube can be delivered is perfect for derailleur pivots and other small, hard to reach areas.
WD40 every time!
I have a Scott spark 910. And somebody told me to use wd40 to lube the joints which move due to the rear suspension movements. There are 6 joint which i applied to but i went further and applied to the crankshaft bearings and the derailers also. I have not ride it yet. Now I am scared!!!. Please help
We’re all talking about using WD on the chain and derailleurs only. It definitely should not be used on bearings containing grease (bottom bracket, hubs, freehub, headset, etc. This is because it is thin enough to penetrate the seals and will dissolve the grease (like all light oils, it is also a solvent). I’m guessing you mean bottom bracket when you say ‘crankshaft’ and you may have a problem here. The worst case is if you have used a lot of WD40 you have reduced the life of the bearing, which means it may need replacing sooner than expected. They always need replacing eventually, so this is not a disaster.
I wouldn’t think there will be a problem with the pivots, although I am not familiar with their design. If they are bearing units containing cartridge bearings or similar, then again, you may have a problem over the longer term if you have sprayed a lot of it directly into the bearing. If they are simple bushed pivots then they will be fine.
WD-40 is great for me. I don’t ride far or often so the fact it’s a light oil and won’t last through a long ride isn’t a problem. I live in the tropics next to the ocean, so it’s either insanely hot, incredibly humid or pouring rain and there’s the ever-present salt spray in the air that helps everything corrode nice and fast. In these conditions WD-40 has advantages over most other lubricants. I can understand “serious” cyclists around here wouldn’t use it (not much good if you’re doing 60km rides) but for people using a bike for a short commute or infrequent rides well under 30km, not only is it suitable, I’d go as far as to say that it’s your best bang-for-buck chain lube option.
bicycle chain do not have O ring like high end motorcycle chain,so why can not use wd-40 ?
WD-40 doesn’t actually harm O rings
I use only WD40 Spray and Stay lubricant on my bicycle including, chain, cassette and derailleur, and I love it! It gives me a much more smoother ride than with conventional “special bicycle lubricants”, and changing gears is fantastic.
WD-40 contains some sort of oil like kerosene, so it acts as a solvent and eats away at dirt and muck, cleaning the chain, while keeping the chain lubed. It in no way harms rubber or ring seals. As you said though it does have to be replied often.
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I was really interested in using WD-40 for bike chains. However, I wanted to know where exactly to spray the WD and how many rotations does it need to thoroughly get into the chain bearings. Does it need to be sprayed with great pressure or less pressure? And after spraying WD-40, would it be greater to lube it with a non-bicycle oil (machine oil) or just leave it with the WD-40 alone? I have read articles saying that WD-40 is a degreaser more than a lube/grease, so I thought of having the chained lubed with a separate oil. Which would be the best then?
Cool im using WD, by advice some local mechanical, he said its best for chain, so i started with it, and now reading all comments im glad i did it too,, chain is silent shifting too,
so i recommend it too 🙂
People who claim WD-40 is a bad chain lubricant, have never used WD-40 as a chain lubricant. Personally, I do not own a car. My bike is used in rain, snow, hail, frost, … I never clean the chain. I have never ever had a better lubricant than WD-40. My chain rolls like a dream, and strangely, unlike other lubricants it actually stays on the chain after rain. The only thing I regret is that I didn’t start using it earlier. I too believed all the hoopla that it was more a solvent and bladeeblabla. Don’t be a parrot, be critical and try it for yourself.
Totally correct. 100%.
Suck it and see. Pragmatically speaking. Biked every day of winter for the most part. Training and commuting. Torrential rains in Central Park and 20 mile hill repeats. Keep waiting for chain to dry out! Amazing as usual that social media know how and designer cycling experts post otherwise.
I’ve used WD40 for about 30 years I guess. I tried some new fangled lubes, thinking I was living in the past and also being influenced by advertising and so called expert advice, but they tend to gunk up the chain attracting dirt which is the main reason moving parts wear out. Don’t know what to say about people who oil brakes. A squirt in a bearing won’t hurt much either because most are over packed with grease in the first place. Get your gunked up chain and slosh it around to wash it out in kerosene (there are better), dry it, spray it with heaps of WD because you need to get the kero out (its abrasive), spray it again, wipe it off and put it back on your bike. If it rains, you’re going to need to lube it any way but WD will help get rid of the water also. The only caveat on that is that because it only leaves a thin lube coat, it can allow a little rust after a while with the rain (just spray it again the next day too if you care). At the end of the day, its just a bicycle no matter how much you paid for it, pretty much an over priced piece of basic machinery; but we love it.
WD-40 was marketed as a water replant and a must for any one who had a car with a distributor cap and works well as a penetrating oil also. The company isn’t going to say its no good for bike chains; rather they will say lets change it a little and market another product so people buy two products instead of one with out contradicting our original product.
I’ll stick with WD-40, easy, cheap, and multipurpose.
In my touring days, I carried WD-40 in my pack. I held a rag cupped under the chain and sprayed. Then I used the rag as a wiper as I cranked.
I’m talking 1978, and biking California to Connecticut, as well as a few other lesser tours. In other words, way before fancy lubes were available. It was the easiest way to maintain the chain while I was on-the-go.
Currently I use White Lightening on my mountain bike chain. It doesn’t attract as much dirt.
Every time you go out, spray a single piece of kitchen paper towel with wd40, well away from the bike, and use this like a moist tissue to scrub the chain between your fingers. Repeat with second sheet if necessary. This cleans and lubricates in 2-3 minutes. Forget fiddling around with bike oils or cleaning kits. Just get out there!
NB: do not spray wd40 directly on the bike – always apply using a paper towel – this keeps it off paint surfaces, brake surfaces etc – it is a strong solvent.
Can you do a YouTube video of your cleaning routine?
I’m using WD-40 I do 60 miles every day spring-autum. I think it’s good but You have to clean/re-apply it often, but since it’s light it’s easy to wipe off, it’s very hard to do with other greases as they’re sticky.
I’ve always used the cheap WD-40. I’ve just owned $200 to $600 bikes. I googled bike costing over 10K. If you are riding those I’d bet you have the money to have the chain rebuilt or take the cheaper route to buy a new one. If you lost the race you weren’t in good enough shape. When I replaced my bikes, It was to upgrade or the bike itself broke.
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WD-40 is cheap, fast to apply, and if you wipe the chain shortly after lubing it will never get very dirty. Wiping is particularly easy with WD-40 as it has a carrier solvent that loosens any build-up. I rode one chain until it was skipping and shifting poorly and got 20,000km, lubing with WD-40. I won’t go that long again because it was crappy near the end, but it was an interesting experiment. So when people say WD-40 will destroy your chain in 100km, you may safely ignore them. In very wet conditions you can follow WD-40 + wiping with an application of heavier lube for longer-lasting protection.
As for chain cleaning — not once in that 20,000km — because wiping! I suspect but cannot prove that immersion chain cleaning is purely cosmetic at best, and possibly damaging by regularly immersing your chain in solvent full of microscopic crud that can then flow into bushings and rollers. Are there any studies on this?
Chain lube is a religious argument for many people, so use what you like. If you like your chain looking bright and new every few weeks, go ahead and immersion-clean it. And as long as you use almost any kind of lube regularly and never let your chain get dry, you’ll be fine.
When lubing the chain, take a minute to apply a little WD-40 to all derailleur and brake pivots points and anchor bolts, and then wipe them clean.
Don’t suppose the original poster will be around to answer after all these years, but can any other readers tell me how WD-40 will wreck your hub bearings?
It’s the first place I thought of using WD-40 (even before I had the notion of using it on the chain). I ride infrequently for short distances and it’s been years since I tried lubricating the hub so I don’t know if that means I wouldn’t notice any problems at all.
WD-40 will dissolve grease in the hub bearings; that’s not good. If you intend to take the hub apart and re-grease then by all means use WD-40 to get rid of the old grease.
As far as using WD-40 on the chain, I’ve been doing this for last 20 years and it’s great. Keeps the chain clean and moving freely, without attracting dirt like some other dedicated chain lubes. Just need to re-apply quite often. I usually give the chain a quick spray before I ride and then wipe it with a clean cloth (old cotton t shirts work well).
There was a story on the news here in Australia that a light-plane engine had to be rebuilt because someone sprayed WD-40 on the moving parts causing bearing failure. As mentioned in this forum, if you spray bearings, it washes the grease away. So don’t spray it on anything life critical. Use the manufacturer’s recommended products.
There are so many people on here that are but hurt because they paid through the nose for their expensive “formulations” which are just oil. Go ahead, it’s your money. Or better yet coat it in wax….now that’s funny.
wd 40 is best for bike chin and bike chain work smooth.
Yes its mostly “oil” but NOT ALL OILS are the same.
Read the warning on the documentation coming with almost all Shimano chains.
It writes: “Do not use alkaline products like eg. WD40 on this chain”.
I have snapped 2 chains in…my WD40 era and none since I quit using it.
Paraffin oil is an inexpensive and superior way to clean your bike.
Thanks for sharing the useful info.
I’m glad I found this post before buying more chain lube. I have an eBike and thought I needed ‘heavy duty’ lube so I bought motorcycle lube. After awhile the chain was black with every bit of road dirt imaginable. I’ve spent the best part of a week using degreasant, brushes and rags to get it back to silver; a very messy job!. I’ve read up on lube and understand ‘wet’ lube attracts all the dirt, but stays on better in the rain. ‘Dry’ lube is good when its dry and dusty. There are now also ‘specialist’ eBike lubes, which are more expensive. I nearly bought some of this. All of these cost more money, but should stay on the chain longer. But will then require regular degreasing. On the other hand, I have already have several tins of WD40, so I don’t need to buy more. WD40 is a solvent and a LIGHT OIL. So, I can clean the chain with it and lightly oil it, which should avoid picking up so much road dirt. The downside is it wears off quicker. But I tend to only ride up to 20 miles (35 km) in the dry. So it should be perfect for my needs, and will encourage me to take more care of the chain by using WD40 to clean and lightly re-grease after each ride, which ultimately will save me a lot of time and cost and mess by avoiding having to use degreasant. Or risking damaging the chain and sprockets from all the dirt. I can see that if you regularly make much longer rides and/or ride in the rain a lot, then the ‘specialist’ chain lubes are a good idea. But clearly from this discussion, there’s nothing ‘wrong’ with using WD40, it just depends on your riding needs. Of course, those going on long / wet rides could just take a small can of WD40 with them, and re-apply, when required!
I do a lot of motocross and mountain biking for decades. Same. I only use WD-40 on both my dirt bike chain and my bicycle chain. Spray it on after you wash it..it disperses water and lubricates and doesn’t leave a clingy hoppy mess. Like you said though…consciously keep it away from your brake discs. This is a lot easier on the motorcycle than the bicycle due to both the size of the chain and the size of the bike. On a bicycle it’s fairly easy to not pay attention to the direction of the spray or for wind to carry the overspray. Other than that it works great. Never have chain issues on either one.
Thankyou for sharing your experience. I ride to work every day. No matter what oils I use the chain becomes covered with an oily paste comprised of the oil and the stone grit from the road. This has always worried me as this is an abrasive mix, not a lubricant. I was even thinking of running the chain dry. Will try WD40, see how it goes!
A bike chain is one of the most crucial lubricated parts. Cleaning and lubing it from time to time slows the rate of your chain’s wearing. The steps to make your bike chain squeaky clean with just household supplies: The first thing to do is put your bike on a stand and in a good position, look for its master link, soak the cloth in the cleaning solution and wipe the whole bike chain. Then, wash off the whole length of your bike chain using clean water. Re-install the bike’s master link, you can lubricate your bicycle chain to ensure that your chain runs smoothly.
Thanks for the post and recommendations. I would like to point out that wear of the rollers matters little to chain life because it doesn’t “add up”. It is the wear between the pins and the shoulders of the inner plates that determines chain elongation.
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