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The Truth about WD-40 and Bike Chains

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You’re in the garage preparing to clean off your bike and want to make sure your chain is nice and lubricated for the next ride. You’re looking around for the right product to use on your bike chain and see a can of WD-40. If you’re like me you wondered…

Can I use WD-40 on my bike chain? Yes, WD-40 can be used and will not damage your bike chain. It is primarily a cleaner, but also a light lubricant that will last best in dry conditions. It’s not the best lubricant for riding in wet conditions, because it will come off quickly.

If you want to know the lubricant I use myself the most, it’s Dry Bike Lubricant, by the company Finish Line. I’ve found this is a really good budget option, and also it repels dust really well.

However, WD-40 is also a great option. In this article, I’ll explain exactly what it is, how it works, and the pros and cons of using it on your bike chain.

What is WD-40?

WD-40 was created in 1953 by a small company called Rocket Chemical Comapny.

They were trying to create solvents and degreasers that would prevent rust. It took them 40 times to figure out the formula that is now known as WD-40. The name stands for “water displacement” with the 40 referencing the number of attempts it took to create.

Sometimes you’ll hear that WD-40 is only for removing water and keeping things rust-free. I have heard and read from other cyclists claiming that WD-40 isn’t a lubricant.

This is not true.

According to the WD-40 website, “it is a unique, special blend of lubricants.

When to Use WD-40 on Your Bicycle Chain

WD-40 is primarily a cleaner, but also a lubricant. While there are reputable organizations and bike repairmen who say otherwise it is actually fine to use WD-40 on your bike chain and bike.

The main issue with WD-40 is that it is a LIGHT lubricant and so it will come off quickly if you’re riding in wet situations.

To be very clear – WD-40 will not ruin your bike chain. It’s a great product not only for cleaning your bike chain, but also as your main lubricant.

There are many cyclists who primarily use WD-40 and have had no issues. In dry conditions it can arguably keep your chain cleaner longer than regular bike lubricants, because is less oily.

WD-40 is best for cleaning off gunk, grime, and dirt from your bike chain and derailleur. Spray it onto your chain as a degreaser, and it’ll help knock off the grime. Once you’ve degreased the chain you’ll want to use soap and water to get it sparkling clean.

After the chain has been degreased, cleaned with soap and water, and dried you’ll need to apply a lubricant.

You could also use it as the only lubricant on your chain, and it will last for 8 to 12 hours of riding in dry conditions.

Looking to pick up a can of WD-40?

The Controversy of WD-40

Ask around and you’ll hear differing opinions on the subject, but experience wins. Below there’s a video of the Global Cycling Network channel going over how to quickly clean a bike. Want to know what they use to lubricate the chain? WD-40!

Using WD-40 as a cleaner and lubricant! What a concept!

According to the cyclist in the video, he’s been using WD-40 for the past 5 years of riding! For all you naysayers out there – perhaps you need to give it a try before you bash on it!

Side Note – WD-40. will remove any other lubricants on your chain. If you want to put a different lubricant on your chain you’ll need to make sure all of the WD-40 product has been fully cleaned from the chain.

Grab a can of WD-40 off the shelf in your garage, and give it a go on your bike! If you don’t have a can you can purchase WD-40 from Amazon.

Not Convinced? There are other Lubricant Options…

If you are still not onboard with using WD-40 on your chain there other popular bike chain lubricants.

Everyone has their preference, but I have been using Finish Line Dry Bike Lube (see on Amazon) off and on through the years. I first purchased it, because it was what my local bike shop was carrying. It stays on the chain for a long time, keeps things moving well, and keeps things clean.

Related Questions

Will WD-40 remove rust from the bike chain? There’s no debate on this topic. WD-40 is great at removing rust from your bike chain.

You will want to spray it on the rusty areas of the chain and let it sit for about 3 to 5 minutes. to work its magic. Next you’ll want to use a wire brush to scrape and remove off the rusted chain portions.

The combination of the WD-40 and wool brush should allow you to fully eradicate any rust on your chain.

Can I use WD-40 on disc brakes? You should not use WD-40 on your disc brakes as it is a lubricant. There are many stories of people accidentally spraying their disc brakes with WD-40 (it happens!), and the brakes not working properly afterwards. If this is your situation – you should purchase brake cleaner to get rid of the WD-40.

Here’s an infographic to address all the commonly asked questions about WD40 on bike chains:

FAQs answered about using W40 on bike chains

Hopefully this article has given you a better insight on how to maintain. and keep your bicycle running well and clean! Perhaps you’ve even changed your opinion on WD-40. Regardless, I hope you now can effectively get your bike chain clean and go out for a ride. Happy pedaling!