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Bicycle Bill

Disagree. Most people who are apt to grab a can of WD-40 for their bike chain are the same people who, 30 years ago, would have grabbed a can of 3-in-1 oil and hosed down their chain with that stuff.

More than likely, the chains that are generally found on bikes owned by these people are already coated with a crusted, dried-up mixture of oil, grease, road grit, dirt, crud, and God-only-knows what else. If anything, hitting a chain like that with WD-40 will cause all that crap to liquify (somewhat), and then when they back-pedal the chain through a rag it will at least help remove some of that garbage. It will also penetrate into the rollers and internal parts of the chain and temporarily rejuvenate the dried lubricant to be found there.

So I contend that, for the average real-world rider out there, there is still a small benefit to using WD-40.

Ohio Steve

I agree with both of you. I was taught by a professional bicycle mechanic this summer to spray WD-40 directly onto a chain if you intend to thoroughly clean a filthy chain and take it back to "square one". Once cleaned and wiped down, relubricate the chain with a proper chain lube. From this point forward, spray WD-40 onto a rag and occasionally wipe the outside of the chain before the grime has a chance to get into the rollers. This practice will extend the life of the chain lubricant and the chain.


I've heard this for decades (that WD-40 is bad for your chain) but has anyone ever actually confirmed this with some tests? Actually, I read somewhere about someone who did, and he found that WD-40 worked better than anything else, but only for a short time -- and then it was very, very bad. So there, I answered my own question. By the way, the tester concluded that ordinary 3-n-1 oil had the best balance between slipperiness and longevity.

I'd still like to see more tests done, since this fellow did all his tests on some sort of indoor chain testing apparatus that could measure resistance, rather than on a bike. Plus I don't remember where I read it in the first place.


Everyone loves to bash WD-40 as a chain lube for bicycles, but honestly I hardly ever maintain my chains after years of regular lubricating because I found that it doesn't make that much difference in longevity. It's at least not enough to encourage me to put the effort into routing lubrication.

I now usually only lube chains when they being making noise and/or they become pretty dry. I do all my own work and don't mind periodic replacement, so that's what I stick with.

WD-40 is probably fine and could arguably keep a chain cleaner, and possibly less likely to wear out prematurely from grip accumulation.

I think Alex R. is out to lunch on this one. I appreciate what he sought out to do, but I gave up on him after he starting charging money for videos that are handled much, much more thoroughly by Park tools or Sheldon Brown.

John h

I use something similar to WD40, it's called GLD or Garage Door Lube. I started using it after seeing how well it worked on my garage door(which is the primary way I enter my house)with so much use I gave it a try on the bike chain. It's cheap, clean and easy to use. I recently experienced a frustrating bout of chain jump on my outer most rear cog. changing the freewheel and derailuer didn't solve the problem. I switched to a salvaged chain and it seems to be working fine now. I may be going back to the old freewheel and derailer to see if it was the chain alone. With so many variables I think its better to save a few bucks and replace old parts as they wear out. I should also mention I don't ride an exotic sports bike, mine is a 70's era ten-speed ridden roughly four mile daily as a commuter.

James Langford

I've been told that vegetable oil does as good a job as any on chains, is cheaper and better for the environment. True?

Neil Holmes

Just look here and learn, I only ever use WD40 and have had chains last more than 20,000 miles... http://www.ktm950.info/how/Orange%20Garage/chains/Lubrication/WD40experiment.pdf


Neil, that is a motorcycle chain, and hence has lubrication in other manners then putting lube on it like a bicycle chain. The only time that WD40 is good for your chain is when it is in a squeeze bottle, and being used for a cyclocross race where there is lots of sand. The reason for this is because WD40 is so dry that it won't pick up as much sand and destroy your drivetrain. After the race though you clean it off and put something else on, you never ride a chain that's that dry. Trust me, I've seen many bikes come into my shop (I'm a bike mechanic) that use WD40, and when i tell them they need to replace their chain because its worn they always complain about how its not that old. That's when i ask if they clean, and lube it regularly, and they say "yeah, with WD40". Using a chain that is dry, and is past its done time can cause it to destroy your cassette too, something that is very pricey. So, why not just use something that says its for bicycle chains, triflow only costs $4, instead of risking destroying your cassette, which if you have anything high end can costs all the way up to $300.


I use RSP and works very well also has a Teflon http://www.open-info.eu/olej-do-roweru-rsp-red-oil-ultara-bicycle-care/


I have to say I had a first hand experience messing up my gears on my bike last night since I sprayed WD40 on the chain. Never knew any of this but now I can actually wipe the chain off and put some super oil on it and it'll change gears like it did before WD40? I hope so. ;___;


Re: Thom's Comment
I found this forum post that sounds very similar to wha tyou described: http://www.biketechreview.com/forum/1-general-discussion/21680-comparison-of-chain-lubes

I also found a test rig that sounds similar: http://www.friction-facts.com/equipment/full-tension-test-method

And that site's chain lube test is here (but costs $8, so I don't actually know what it says): http://www.friction-facts.com/chain-lube-tests


I did some poking around and found a copy of that original Velo Article. I have posted it here for anyone who is interested: https://www.scribd.com/doc/262044061/Velo-Friction-Facts-Chain-Lube-Efficiency-Tests

To summarize:
WD-40 (aerosol spray) was by no means the best in their testing, but performed better than some chain-specific lubricants.
3-in-1 oil was middle of the pack.
The best drip-lubricants all contained high levels of teflon.
In their testing, the best lubricant was Paraffin wax.

All testing was for frictional losses.

Simon Taylor

WD40 - Water Displacement formula 40.

It was designed to repel water, and was used on all sorts of stuff and is tops as a starting aid for vehicle electrics. It was NOT designed as a lubricant.

It may have some lubricating qualities, but so does strawberry trifle if you add enough butter.

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