Bicycles Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for people who build and repair bicycles, people who train cycling, or commute on bicycles. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I've been told by various sources that WD40 is bad for your chain so have avoided using it. I've seen people using GT85 on their chains but I'm not really sure how the two products differ. So my question is, should GT85 be used on your chain? Or, does it have the same damaging effects as WD40?

share|improve this question
    
Since I went for gearbox oil (cheap, thick, longlasting, available everywhere, one liter lasts forever) my chains look me with gratitude each time I look at them. – heltonbiker Nov 23 '11 at 3:00
    
WD40 and GT85 aren't bad for your chain if used properly, which is to say for cleaning it. They're just not suitable lubricants. – Useless Sep 28 '12 at 11:07
    
WD40 is not a particularly good lubricant. GT85 makes a Teflon-containing bike-specific lube which is presumably "OK" if you need a very "dry" lube (though probably better for cables than chains). Hard to say about other GT85 products. – Daniel R Hicks Sep 28 '12 at 12:35

10 Answers 10

It appears that there are several products under this name, a general-purpose solvent/protectant and a dedicated bike chain lube. Reviews on Amazon are rather mixed... One fellow claims no better than WD-40, others appear to like it. Chain lubes are always controversial and seldom tested in a rigorous manner.

WD-40 is essentially a cleaner/solvent and has no more lubricating ability than say...Kerosene. The best chain lube I ever tried is sadly not being made any more... Schwinn Factory Wax.

Clean-running, persistent, and according to testing by Bicycling magazine, among the top for wear and abrasion resistance.

To my way of thinking, keeping the chain clean and free of built-up crud and goo is as/more important than what sort of lube used.

share|improve this answer
1  
Thanks for the disambiguation. It explains some of the other answers. – Мסž May 6 '11 at 5:14

Don't bother with spray lube. It takes only seconds to apply lube from a drip container. I highly recommend ProGold.

Spraying on lube makes a mess, gets lube on the outer plates of your chain (where it will just collect dirt and grime), and is wasteful to boot. Just prop your bike up, turn the drip container upside down, touch it to a link, apply a little pressure, and rotate your cranks backward at a medium speed. You might want to start slowly at first, but eventually you get a feel for how quickly lube gets sucked into the chain. I don't bother counting links, I just take a quick glance to make sure the links about to go under the bottle are already lubed. Spin the cranks a bit to make sure the lube works its way into the links, and finally grab the chain with a used rag and spin the cranks until the rag stops collecting dirt. I squeeze the sides of the plates and get them, then I do it again for the tops and bottoms.

Total time is maybe a minute and a half, and an $8 bottle of lube lasts me for months of weekly application.

share|improve this answer

There is a lab in the U.S.-- Friction Facts-- which publishes a variety of cycling-oriented reports, designed to help riders of all kinds. Their basic premise is that many small improvements in efficiency are collectively significant. One of their reports is concerning the best chain lube; a summary of this ran back in 2013 in Velo News. Unfortunately, I am unaware of any free version of this available on the Web; however, you can download the whole series of reports from Friction Facts for $15 U.S./£10. That said, I am not a shill for Friction Facts.

In a nutshell, what they showed in their testing was that the best chain lubes are wax-based: regular parrafin wax, Molten Speed Wax, Squirt Lube, and so forth. Their test showed that the amount of energy lost to chain friction can be greatly affected by lube choice; there is roughly 3.7 Watts of difference between the best and worst lubes in their test. While it isn't something you're likely to notice on a practical level-- just using a wax lube won't take someone from zero to hero-- for an average rider, who can output an average of 150 Watts for a long ride, it works out to be about a 2.7% improvement.

Chain Lube Test Results

Collectively, were you to follow all of their recommendations (regarding chain lube, specific chain, pedal, derailleur pulleys, and so forth), they suggest that these improvements will collectively deliver about a 20 Watt savings, which is pretty significant. But I am not a professional racer, and I ride mainly for fitness, so I don't mind some losses due to drivetrain inefficiencies, and if a particular lube delivered extra chain life, I might consider it, even if it was not as efficient as some.

BTW, I'm writing from the U.S., and have no idea what GT85 is.

share|improve this answer
    
It should be noted that the above results are apt to be highly dependent on temperature, wear level of the chain, the presence of moisture, etc. – Daniel R Hicks Dec 31 '15 at 23:47

I've used GT85 on chains and general bike use for years. Unlike WD40 it is loaded with PTFE (Teflon) so does have some lubrication properties but they are very small. As far as I'm aware it should be treated like WD40 primarily as a water dispersant after cleaning or wet weather riding. I always supplement it with proper chain lube (either dry or wet depending on the bike and conditions).

share|improve this answer

I am sure WD40 lubricates sufficiently if its present in clean lab conditions, however it does not stick very well and any quantity applied is really thin so will not hang around very long.

From a chain grease you want it to stay between the rubbing surfaces and continue lubricating. You also want it blocking as much dirt from contaminating the contact surfaces sealing them from contamination which WD40 or other thin oil will never do.

WD40/GT85 and other thin oil will wash off in rainy wet conditions, and not lubricate or protect the chain for very long.

Something thicker is going to be better, also keep in mind that a road bike will work well with a thinner oil/grease then some off road bike being cycled through a swamp.

share|improve this answer

Bike Parts USA have it for sale on their website where they describe it as:

  • Ozone friendly
  • Excellent chain and cable lubricant
  • Stops Oxidation, rust and salt corrosion on metals (sic) surfaces
  • Loosens rusted or corroded nuts and bolts

So if it isn't any good for your chain somebody better tell them.

share|improve this answer
4  
Most online stores don't write their own product descriptions, but rather get the descriptions from companies who's sole purpose it is to write up product descriptions. They don't really know anything about the product but rather just write whatever they can get from the manufacturer or from the product packaging. So, basically, if it says it's works as an excellent chain lubricant it's probably because that's how the manufacturer wanted it to be marketed, and not because the store thinks it is actually an "excellent chain and cable lubricant". This is why reading reviews is so important. – Kibbee Sep 28 '12 at 12:25

I remember a bike magazine in UK recommending GT85 (its a glorified WD40, with the addition of Teflon in it) and they got slammed as the stuff was just not up to scratch, especially for Mountain Bikes.

My answer to this question would be no, dont use it.

I dont have a source for this, happened about 7yrs ago./

share|improve this answer

GT85 is useful on outdoor bikes. I wouldn't use it on the chain of my decent bike but I also have a bike kept outdoors in a rather wet city, with limited space to store spares etc. and no chance to clean it except a while with a rag. As even the sprockets are steel on this bike, something that gives an even coating of oil is worth having. It does seem to stay on the parts long term, unlike WD40. It also helps with the sticky shifters on the same bike.

So for a good, specialist bike, use good, specialist products, suitable for the conditions. For something low performance and cheap, any oil is better than none.

share|improve this answer

This discussion has been beat to death by motorcyclists. Here's what I've learned from a world that exerts far more power on their chains:

  • Kerosene cleans. If you've got gunk on your chain, that'll make it pretty.

  • There's nothing wrong with formulated chain lubes, but people often find them to be sticky and tending to build up gunk.

  • Gear oil with the excess wiped is about as good as it gets.

  • My personal favorite: ATF fluid. I used to ride a KLR through some pretty nasty stuff and this did a fair job of keeping the chain alive and keeping the gunk off at the same time.

  • WD-40 is a lubricant like Duct Tape is a patch for your inner tube. Don't do that.

share|improve this answer
    
Can you explain how motorbike chains are like bicycle ones, and specifically how low speed, lightweight chains that are designed to flex sideways are like high speed, non-flexing chains? I'd really like to see research rather than assertion if possible. – Móż Dec 31 '15 at 23:12

Oh My God! WD-40 is not a Lubricant! It is Water Dispersant-40th Formula. It was developed for the space race in the 50's to displace water to prevent corrosion due to moisture condensing on metal. It forms a hydrophobic coating not a coating of lubricant. Just because anyone can buy Duct Tape and WD-40 and use it on and for anything and everything doesn't mean you should. It' means that person doesn't know anything.

share|improve this answer
4  
This is correct, but it doesn't answer the question. – Neil Fein Sep 28 '12 at 6:41

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.