There are a lot of questions related to using automotive grease on bikes. The answers seem to be split between "well, at least you are greasing your bike" and "use the right grease for the job". This answer was really helpful in that it says any grease that is not too thin and not too sticky will do. The problem is I don't know how thin or how sticky the desired grease is (or where my blue automotive brake grease is compared to that).

I was looking around on Amazon and found that small (few ounces) bottles of bike grease are around $10. That seems expensive since I bought this huge (several pounds) tub of automotive brake grease for around the same price.

I have a cheap Craigslist junker. It creaks real bad and everything is covered in a think black paste. If I clean it all off and replace it with blue automotive brake grease, would it really be all that bad for my bike?

  • 1
    Welcome to Bicycles @Huckle! What a pleasure to see a well-researched question :-)
    – andy256
    Jun 1, 2015 at 5:19
  • A few ounces of bike grease will last you several years, on a single bike. A tub of automotive grease (if you open it at all) will collect crud and become unusable in 2-3 years. And "disk brake" grease is not a good choice, since giving it temperature resistance messes up its other characteristics. Jun 1, 2015 at 11:24
  • As a kid me and my cousin used Vaseline (petroleum jelly) as grease in our headsets and hubs (that we just discovered how to take apart). It was probably not ideal, but it served the purpose :) Jun 2, 2015 at 14:09
  • The standard stuff for people who are too cheap to buy bicycle branded stuff is Automotive mutipurpose grease or Marine wheelbearing grease for bearings, White grease for things like seatposts and 3 in 1 for the chain and pivots and stuff. (cue people saying this is inappropriate for a bike)
    – Batman
    Jun 2, 2015 at 15:09

2 Answers 2


A dedicated grease with optimized properties for the application/operation temperature is always best. Automotive brake grease, while not ideal, won't cause any damage to your bicycle.

Naturally one uses MUCH less grease on a bicycle compared to on a car, therefore the cost of grease is negligible compared to other consumables for private repairs.

  • I use an automotive grease on my winter bikes because regular bike grease isn't rated for the temperatures we experience where I live. "A dedicated grease with optimized properties for the application/operation temperature is always best." Perfect. Jun 2, 2015 at 22:15

There is no problem in going for automotive grease in bearing (hubs, bottom bracket and headset). This is not the perfect lubricant, but you have a cheap bike, probably don't want to spend the $10 in grease, and truth is that a clean bottom bracket with a thick grease is better than what you currently have.

Besides, these parts are not exposed so you really only need the grease to keep the bearings rolling smoothly and to protect them from some water that might infiltrate. It might be too thick and probably these parts will feel a bit tight, but it's minimum, you won't notice it, and this will not affect bearings life.

For other parts of the bike, grease is not a good idea for the reasons you stated: it's super thick, and the disadvantage here is that a thick grease, or oil, catches a lot of debris and dust. So if you grease your chain and go for a bike, you will see it is covered by a lawyer of dust because your grease worked as a glue.

For the chain, and for the the levers, calipers, derailleur, etc I think buying something more specific is better, and you can get something for $5 that will last for a while.

With this stated, I usually use bike-specific lubes. For example, at rei you can get some bike grease for $5. It's really up to you, and it is much more expensive than the one you have, but it's only $5 and will last for a few services on your bike.

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