To maintain a bike’s chain there needs to be a good amount of dedication from your side. The chain of the bike is the secret sauce for ensuring silky smooth rides and extending the lifespan of the bicycle.
However, one of the most popular questions cyclists keep wondering is whether they should use WD-40 on their bike chains. If you are unaware, WD-40 is a well-known lubricant and penetrating oil. There have been a heck lot of debates regarding the use of these in bike chains among experts and cyclists in the past.
I’m here to make things easier for you by exploring the pros and a few cons and also will provide an answer on whether you should use it on bike chains.
Quick answer: If you are looking for a temporary solution for cleaning bike chains, WD-40 gets a thumbs-up from my side as it can be the ideal lubricant for using in dry conditions.
What is WD-40?
To provide you with a clear picture, WD-40 is a multi-purpose water displacing spray and penetrating oil. It is mostly popular for being able to clean, lubricate, and protect a wide range of surfaces. As far as the name is concerned, it stands for ‘Water Displacement 40th Formula’, signifying the number of attempts taken to produce this epic formula.
- Petroleum distillates – Helps in cleaning & penetration
- Mineral oil – Offers Lubrication
- Additives – Consists of anti-wear agents and corrosion inhibitors
- Inert ingredients – These are in the form of propellants and solvents
Can I use WD40 on bike chain?
Absolutely! You can use it on bike chains. However, it is important to know that this is a short-term solution and not for the long-term. Moreover, it is best suited for cleaning, loosening rusted parts, and displacing moisture.
Cleaning bike chain with WD40 – steps
In my opinion, it is imperative to know the exact procedure of applying WD-40 on your beloved bike. Look at the below steps –
- Clean the chain: Hold it! Before applying the WD-40, clean the bike chain completely. You can take the help of a dedicated chain cleaning tool to remove any kind of dirt, old lubricant, and grime from the chain.
- Apply WD40: After cleaning and drying the chain, apply it all over the bike chain. For an even spray and better result, hold the can around 7-8 inches away.
- Wipe off excess amount: Let the WD-40 do its magic by allowing it to penetrate for a few minutes. Afterward, get a clean cloth and wipe off the excess amount of it. This will eventually remove any kind of debris that the spray may have loosened.
- If required (re-apply): If you feel that the chain is still rusty or dry, try re-applying it. However, it is not the ideal long-term option for chain lubrication.
Cleaning bike chain with WD40 – pros & cons
|Cleans & penetrates – WD-40 is well-known for its unique ability to penetrate debris and rust, which is substantially helpful in cleaning bikes.
|Short-term lubrication – It is a solvent and not a long-lasting lubricant. Moreover, it can evaporate in a flash, resulting in an inappropriate lubrication.
|Easily available – Due to its easy availability and being affordable in pricing terms, it is a convenient option for cyclists.
|Not specifically for bike chains – Even though WD-40 helps clean bike chains and remove rust, it is not the ideal lubricant for cleaning bike-chains.
|Water displacement – It can displace water from the chain, which reduces the risk of rust formation.
When to use WD40 on bike chains?
It is a quick fix for a dirty or squeaky chain. Even though it is more of a cleaner than a lubricant, the WD-40 can be used on bike chains and overall on bikes too. The only issue that I came across is that it comes off rapidly during wet conditions, and that has been reported by many cyclists.
To make things very clear, it won’t harm your bike chain in any way. There have been tons of bikers who have been using this cleaner on their bikes, and there haven’t been any issues.
I would say a “NO” for wet conditions, but in dry conditions, it can be a top-tier lubricant than others. The simple reason for this statement from my side is because it is less oily.
There are several alternatives to WD-40 for lubricating your bike chain. Have a look at them –
1. Chain-specific lubricants
These lubes are intended to adhere to the surface of the chain and offer lasting lubrication in different conditions. Additionally, they are of different types with varied weather options.
|Chain Lubricant Type
|Provides amazing lubrication during wet conditions
|During rains or muddy rides
|Stays clean and does not attract dust
|Dust and dry conditions
|Comfortable rides during wet and dry conditions
|Suitable for most rides
2. Wax-based lubricants
These lubricants create a wax-like coating on the chain, which removes dirt and grime. Additionally, they offer a smooth ride.
|Dry and the chain remains cleaner, longer
|On dry conditions
|Doesn’t attract dirt; increases the durability of the chain
3. Teflon-based lubricants
Such lubricants are known to have a low-friction coating that allows keeping the bike chain clean and reduces wear.
|Suitable for all riding conditions
|Keeps the chain protected from rust and corrosion
|Perfect for MTBs/riding on dusty ground
|Can use on derailleurs and cables as well
As fancy as it sounds, WD-40 is a versatile water-displacing spray that is popular for its penetrating and lubricating properties. If I had to talk about using it on bike chains, it impresses me even after being known as a short-term solution as a lubricant.
However, I need to clarify something about this water displacement spray. I would suggest not using it on disc brakes, as there have been many instances where riders afterward were unable to use their brakes properly. Moreover, it isn’t suitable for wet conditions as it comes off quickly.