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Is WD-40 really bad to apply on bikes? I was told so but still see people doing that.

Also I saw WD-40 launching their new products of bike lubricant and degreaser. Did anybody try those?

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    There's nothing particularly wrong with it, but it's not generally a good lubricant. I use it sometimes to clean derailers, but it's a lousy chain lube. – Daniel R Hicks Feb 7 '13 at 2:12
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    Not suitable for lubricating moving parts, but WD40 sprayed on a rag is good for cleaning grime off your frame. – meagar Feb 7 '13 at 13:46
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    "water-displacing spray", so it is good as a rust inhibitor – Carson Reinke Feb 12 '13 at 18:03

11 Answers 11

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WD-40 is mostly a solvent with a very light lubricant mixed in. It's great for getting stuck parts moving again. When you spray it on, the solvent dislodges whatever gunk may be causing the part to stick and then evaporates, leaving a light lubricant behind. This will allow the previously stuck part to move again.

The reason it is generally not considered a good bicycle lubricant is because it is a light lubricant. It's just fine for household items like door hinges, which aren't exposed to weather and don't get moved a couple hundred times a minute. But the lubricant is not thick enough to adhere to rapidly moving bike parts for any length of time, especially when you add a little bit of road grit and/or rain.

Some people do use it for loosening up shifters in the winter time (they stick when it's cold) or cleaning chains and derailleurs. You will notice in the answers and comments on the aforelinked question, and this one, that whether or not this is good practice is highly debatable. Some people will use WD-40 as a cleaner and degreaser followed by a bicycle-specific lubricant, with or without a cleaning inbetween, depending on personal preferences.

I don't have any experience with their bicycle-specific products, but they're a solid company that's been in the business of cleaning and lubricating mechanical parts for a long time. They also make Lava soap and 3-in-1 Oil, a product that was originally designed as a bicycle lubricant (although they did acquire both of those from other companies). I actually didn't know until I read this question that they were making bicycle-specific lubricants now. Given their history and the number of patents that they have to draw ideas and develop from, I'm certainly willing to give them a shot. The worst case scenario is that I have to clean it off and go back to my previous products.

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    A side note: Sheldon brown for some reason claims 3-in-1 will gum up (sheldonbrown.com/chains.html), but I believe this is false since it is a Naptha based oil, not vegetable oil. – Batman May 6 '14 at 21:57
  • @Batman: I have used 3-in-1 for a time and I can assure that at least over a period of a year it won't gum up (so I don't believe it either), however there are knock-offs and look-alikes that do. The downside of 3-in-1 is that I have to re-apply after each ride, where other lubricants (bike chain specific) last 3 or 5 rides. – Jahaziel Oct 8 '14 at 20:30
  • @jimirings: I agree that they have a solid name and a strong trademark, "WD-40" and the good-for-bikes debate has already done a lot of marketing and advertising for them, so I think it is a logical move to jump into bike specific products. I also think they are pretty new to the market, I jus saw them forst time less than a month ago... – Jahaziel Oct 8 '14 at 20:34
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WD-40 (original) can be used as a de-greaser on bike parts. It is a bit harsher than other bike specific de-greasers, or common house hold degreasers (like Simple Green) that are often used by bike mechanics but essentially does the same thing.

Keep it mind that it is NOT a lubricant, but a de-greaser. After using any de-greaser you want to wash the area with soap and water and then apply a lubricant.

I have used the WD-40 bike specific lubricants and don't have any complaints. The wet lube held up well in a few nasty cyclocross races, and the dry lube is what I've been using on my "indoor trainer" bike.

They have thrown a lot of money into the launch of these products over the last few months and I expect that with this type of support, their products will become a household name in the bike space in the coming years.

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    Myth: WD-40® Multi-Use Product is not really a lubricant. Fact: While the “W-D” in WD-40® stands for Water Displacement, WD-40® Multi-Use Product is a unique, special blend of lubricants. The product’s formulation also contains anti-corrosion agents and ingredients for penetration, water displacement and soil removal. wd40.com/myths-legends-fun-facts – Vladimir F May 12 '20 at 17:26
  • The fact that info comes from their own marketing materials (ie, their website) is what calls it into question. While it may not be a lie to call it a lubricant, at best it's a poor lubricant and lubrication is not its main feature. Primarily it's quite a decent water displacer/degreaser. – trr May 23 '20 at 4:02
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The "W" in WD-40 stands for water and the "D" stands for displacement, and the 40 stands for the 40th. attempt at being successful with the product. WD-40 doesn't really lubricate much of anything. It's actually a de-greaser, so it will remove any lubricant from bicycle chains, cables and other pivot joints. If you're cleaning your chain for re-lubrication purposes with a product other than WD-40, then WD-40 will be fine to use. It's also said to "rust proof" items, but probably because of it's ability to displace water which commonly causes rust to form. I haven't tried any of the new products yet. They have a bike "degreaser", a bike "foaming wash" and two different chain lubricants, as well as a frame protectant. It will be interesting to see some reviews about these new products as far as pricing and how well they work.

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    Myth: WD-40® Multi-Use Product is not really a lubricant. Fact: While the “W-D” in WD-40® stands for Water Displacement, WD-40® Multi-Use Product is a unique, special blend of lubricants. The product’s formulation also contains anti-corrosion agents and ingredients for penetration, water displacement and soil removal. wd40.com/myths-legends-fun-facts – Vladimir F May 12 '20 at 17:25
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    Vlad it's not helpful to be spray-peppering this excerpt from WD40's marketing material onto every answer here. – trr May 23 '20 at 4:03
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    @trr No, it would not be. But it is also certainly not the thing I did here. I only reacted to 2 (in words: t w o) claims that WD-40 is just a water displacement. It is not. – Vladimir F Sep 22 '20 at 13:09
  • @VladimirF I agree with you, and my stance on WD40 has softened a little since I wrote that comment (it does lubricate as well, but not well enough for a lot of situations), but I feel that copy-pasting from their own website is not the best way to convince people of that since it's their own marketing material. – trr Sep 23 '20 at 3:34
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I have used many types of bicycle lubrications over the years. The short answer is that WD-40 can be used; my experience pretty much the averages out of all the comments above. The strength of WD-40 is that it is time efficient and cost efficient. A small amount of money buys you a big can, and one application both cleans and lubricates (a little). When you spray it on you will see all the grime etc. dripping off (not quite as good as properly degreasing using a chain cleaner ) and you will be left with a chain that is reasonably well lubricated. The slightest bit of rain will wash it off, and even with no rain it will disappear quite quickly. However it is very easy to re-apply. I found that it worked for me for a bike I was just using for short rides (45 mins ~ 1 hr) on the road. I would just give it a spray every 2 rides or so (or every time after rain). I turned to this after years of using expensive bike-specific lubes. They definitely do a better lubrication job, but I found the dry ones were washed off easily by the rain while the wet ones attracted a lot of dirt, while both required the chain to be properly cleaned before application.
The bottles were always expensive, so in the end I found that for that particular bike WD-40 provided a cheap-and-cheerful time and cost effective soln. The chain will also wear out a little quicker if you use WD-40.

Your own choice will depend on how much time /money you want to spend, how long your rides are, what type of riding (off or on road) etc. The very best way to lubricate your chain is to properly wax it; this will take a whole morning but will then last a year, which also provides a good cost performance if you have a morning to spare on it.

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  • WD-40 is highly unpopular here so be prepared for a furious wave of downvotes. Probably the same people who downvote this video youtu.be/QvzVRxlIUL0?t=274 youtu.be/QvzVRxlIUL0?t=209 (disclaimer: I put normal wet lube on my bike last night) – Vladimir F Feb 1 '20 at 8:47
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    Also remember that WD40 is both a specific water-displacement product dating back decades, and a brand name used for many different products (some of which are bicycle specific lubricants). Great work there marketters! – Criggie Feb 2 '20 at 1:25
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I used WD-40 on my oil starved bike chain and gears, and it totally brought it back to life. It was like magic!!

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    Yes, as Jim Christie's answer, it's good for freeing up siezed components. However, it's not a very good lubricant so, now you've got things moving again, it would be good to apply some proper chain lube. – David Richerby Jun 22 '18 at 20:36
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    I marked this answer as OK but voted down because its a common misconception. If we simply delete answers that look bad then future readers can't see the incorrect answers (cos you need certain rep level to see deleted answers.) – Criggie Jun 23 '18 at 0:41
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    @babakjahromi Welcome to SE - please don't take the downvote as a bad thing - it just means I don't agree with your answer. Since you're new here, it can be a good idea to browse the tour and see that the site is quite unusual compared to other chatty web forums. Particularly that the "best" answers get upvotes and rise to the top. WD40 is not a chain lube - for you it has reduced corrosion which allows the bad chain to move better, but not as well as a non-corroded chain. – Criggie Jun 23 '18 at 0:48
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Ordinary, boring WD-40 can be used on your bike drivetrain. In fact, for around five thousand miles it has been the only product I use on my single-speed bicycle drivetrain (other than rags and an old toothbrush). It keeps my drivetrain spotless and silent-running. My rides range in length from a quick trip to the shops, to around 100 miles round-trip. Most of my rides are around 40 miles in length. I live in the UK, and so the weather conditions are highly variable.

I get away with this because WD-40 contains within it everything a bicycle drivetrain needs: anti-rust agents, penetrative agents, de-soiling agents, degreasing agents (which help with cleaning) and lubrication (yes, WD-40 contains a lube). In fact, I would go so far as to say it is the perfect product for those that prefer light, non-viscous lubrication and cleaning of their drivetrain.

For those that prefer thicker lubricants (perhaps due to concern that the lubricant might be washed off the bike on a very wet, very long ride), then the cleaning properties of WD-40 can be augmented with a separate “wet” lube that will cling to the drivetrain longer.

As other answerers have correctly pointed-out: the lube in WD-40 is very light. For this reason, after every ride during which water landed on my drivetrain, I use WD-40 to drive the water out (Water Displacement, 40th formula), clean and re-lube my chain. That said, even with a wet lube after such a ride, I would clean and re-lube my chain out of sheer OCD for a clean drivetrain (and concern about rust), so I’m not doing anything I wouldn’t do anyway.

In the summer, when it is dry, if I am feeling lazy I might not touch my drivetrain after a ride. There will be no observable ill effects. Perhaps if I then left the drivetrain untouched for two or three rides the lube will then have worn too thin, making the drivetrain noisy, and mandating a re-application. But I would very, very rarely let my drivetrain fall into that state. Even in the summer I would at the very least wipe down my drivetrain with a rag soaked in WD-40 after most rides. Note: I would never spray WD-40 directly at my bike, because so doing would contaminate my disc brakes.

And by “ride” I mean travelling a meaningful distance (say twenty miles or more). A two mile round-trip to the shops will have little or no effect on the drivetrain.

Finally: WD-40 is not a miracle worker. Your drivetrain components will still, eventually, wear out and need to be replaced.

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"Ordinary, boring WD-40" excludes the bicycle-specific products sold under the "WD-40 branding"

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    Be aware that this opinion is very unpopular here. Beware the downvotes, people think WD40 will surely destroy a bike and that because WD is derived from "water displacement" it cannot be a decent lubricant. – Vladimir F Jan 3 at 22:19
  • Understood! That’s why I answered with my experience! – 52d6c6af Jan 3 at 22:33
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WD 40 washes out the manufacturers high quality lube from the chain links so do not use it.

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    Welcome to the Bicycles Stackexchange! Your answer, while technically correct, does not add anything substantial to the answers already given before. This website strives to the idea that every answers adds value to the community, not just being a comment like it is on a regular web forum. Please take 5 minutes of your time and visit the Tour. – Grigory Rechistov Aug 8 '18 at 16:50
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    Degreaser also washes out the manufacturer's lube from the chain, but everyone recommends using degreaser to clean the chain. – David Richerby Aug 8 '18 at 18:43
  • And after a few thousand miles, how much of that "manufacturers high quality lube" is going to be left anyway? (not much...) And how much that is left is full of grit and grime? (pretty much all of it...) – Andrew Henle Sep 22 '20 at 14:05
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I would avoid using WD40 on any bike of value. There are better purpose designed options to degrease the drive train. My preferred choice is Finish Line Degreaser.

As far as WD40 specific bike lube, I have used the WD40 Wet Lube and had no issues going about 100 - 120 miles between chain cleans. I think it is a decent enough bike lube and for me a better choice than a dry lube or wax.

I recently have switched to Finish Line Ceramic Wet Lube. I find that the chain does seem to stay a bit cleaner longer with the Finish Line product and it is a bit more water resistance at least the few times I have been caught in the rain than when using WD40 Wet Lube.

Hope that helps

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The question was,"Can you use WD40 on bikes". The answer is, of course you can! As a degreaser to clean your chain, then it's a good idea to remove it, wash it off with soap, then use a good oil like, Shimano wet lube to actually lubricate the chain.

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    I see no need to wash it off. When it evaporates it leaves a light lube, not incompatible with the subsequent application of a chain lube. – Daniel R Hicks Jan 3 at 23:38
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I like wd40. I usually use this protocol when using it for both degreasing and lubrication. This only works if wd 40 is being used for both degreasing and lubrication, and there cannot be substitution.

1) Spray chain and cassette and let sit 15-20 minutes

2) Wash chain and cassette in soapy water.

3) Dry completely

4) Lightly spray wd 40 on the chain and cassette.

5) Lightly grip chain with rag and run through about 3-4 times.

Everyone says Wd 40 is a lousy lubricant. But, when it comes to lubricant less is always more, and wd40 seems to lubricate the right ammount.

Using wd40 leaves my drive chain feeling quick and light.

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  • It is a lousy lubricant for this purpose since it doesn't really hold up - you're going to have to apply it very often to get adequate lubrication if possible. Also, this seems more annoying than using an on bike chain cleaner and more expensive than buying some chain lube in the long run (or at least 3-in-1). – Batman Oct 5 '14 at 19:46
  • Yes. While I feel there are uses for WD-40 on a bike (good for cleaning gunked derailers, eg), it's a lousy chain lube. And a decent chain washer is a far better way to clean the chain. – Daniel R Hicks Oct 6 '14 at 1:04
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    It is important to distinguish WD-40 from WD-40 Bike, which is a line of products specifically formulated for bikes (and has chain lubes in the line which are OK). – Batman Oct 6 '14 at 4:14
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    200 plus miles, and I still haven't lubed it. Please tell me this lubricant is lousy again – MadmanLee Oct 6 '14 at 16:17
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    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. – QBziZ Nov 23 '15 at 9:42
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You can totally use WD-40 on your bicycle chain. Anyone who says otherwise is believing a myth that's been spread for a long time. Yes, WD-40 is a cleaner and degreaser, but it also has a lubricant in it.

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    If you actually read the link, it says it doesn't last long in good conditions and is rinsed away if there's any rain. In my opinion that makes it a very bad chain lubricant. – ojs Nov 21 '19 at 23:46
  • Once I saw a nice webpage from a guy who uses (cheap) motor oil to (regularly and frequently) grease his bicycles' chains. He was very conscious about it: "Is it worse than dedicated chain lubricants? True. Is it better than nothing? Also true." In this context, "vanilla" WD-40 is definitely better than nothing. I personally used it on bike chains when I had no access to better stuff (on vacation, in emergency etc.). But even WD-40 (the company behind the famous product) offers other products specifically designed for bike applications. – Grigory Rechistov Nov 22 '19 at 10:18
  • Yes you can lubricate your chain with WD-40, but there are lots of far better products for that purpose, so why do it? – Argenti Apparatus Nov 22 '19 at 18:52
  • You can use drinking water, bananas, or urine as emergency chain lubes. Doesn't mean they're any good in the long term, just that they're better than nothing. Original recipe WD40 would be about as good as a banana for lubrication, and about the same at attracting dirt. Best not to. – Criggie Nov 23 '19 at 10:17
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    I was using WD40 as a chain lubricant for years. It works well. – Vladimir F May 12 '20 at 17:26

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