I don't have any chain oil right now, but I have some gear oil left over from working on my car. Would it be an effective chain lubricant? It's listed as 80W90, but reading the Wikipedia article suggests that that's not equivalent to motor oil viscosity ratings.
Short answer: No, you shouldn't. Heavy oils attract too much dirt, grit and grime which will damage the useful life of your chain.
You need a light lubricant which will wick it's way into the internals of the chain, rather than simply coating the external portion of the chain.
A good Teflon carrier lube like the Finish Line Teflon works well, lasts a good while and doesn't pick up dirt when properly applied. Using something like that will extend the useful life of your chain.
Gear oil is too thick, and designed for a higher heat production than you get on a pedal driven bicycle. It relies on engine heat, and the gears moving at high speed to produce enough friction to reduce the viscosity of the oil enough to be thin enough to flow as a good lubricant.
It would be better than nothing, but hardly a good choice.
Short answer: yes, you can. I've been doing it for years and my chains are lasting very long compared to ancient times when I used other stuff. Only potential caveat is that it is not the cleanest oil you'll ever use, but neither are the similar, much more expensive "wet" oils in the market (namely FinishLine Green). One liter of gearbox will cost a few bucks and last for the rest of your life.
- Who said motor oil is good for chains? ;o)
- The owner's instruction manual from my former motorcycle (a Honda 200cc one) said explicitly to use gearbox oil on the chain. I suppose that either applications are similar (weather-exposed roller chains on two-wheeled vehicles), and if the oil is good for motorcycle, with larger torques and speeds, it should be good for bicycles too;
- Looking at the heart of the problem, roller chains need fluid, high-viscosity lubricants due to high pressure between metal parts. That's what happens on chains, that's what happens on gearboxes too. That's why FinishLine wet is viscous, and gearbox-oils are viscous too. Motor oil has a different application (hi-speed, combustion-chamber exposure).
Hope this helps!
You can use gear oil if you want to, it will lubricate your chain. Some thinner motor lube will tend to spray off the chain when pedaling.
I did an experiment and used chainsaw chain oil on my own chain on my fixed gear bike. It did a good job of lubricating the chain. However, it tended to pick up a lot of dirt and grime. It was also much harder to totally clean off unless I used really harsh solvents (like paint thinner).
So, I'm going to recommend buying bike specific lube. It is easier to strip and re-apply using citrus degreasers or other products (simple green) and will not pick up gunk as quickly (especially dry lubes).
However, I'm not going to convince everybody. Chain maintenance is a religious issue and everyone has their own set of beliefs about how to do it properly.
Lot's of esoterica and info about chain maintiance here: http://sheldonbrown.com/chains.html
If you have some automatic transmission oil around the garage, especially the newer transmission oil, that would be better than a heavy oil on the chain. The heavier oil will pick up and hold all kinds of dirt from the road. Even some Marvel Mystery Oil ( remember that red stuff you could use for anything around the garage? ), would work well on the chain.
Of course you can use gear oil on your chain. It's an extremely good high pressure viscous lubricant, and unlike engine oils, it does not contain detergent additives which make engine oil less resistant to water washout. And its not too thick - grease is used as factory lube on all new chains, and this is way thicker than oil and is an extremely good lube.
Yes, applying too much will attract dirt, but you can avoid this. Gearbox oil is my lube of choice - but with the following method:
-I thin it out 50% with paint thinners. This allows it to penetrate extremely well into every link and roller, and once dry, results in only a very thin application of the oil
-After lubing and running the chain through the gears for a minute or so, I give the chain a good wipe to remove any excess oil. Wipe again after the first ride.
I get over 500 km between re-lubes, and over 8,000km out of my chains with this method. And its dirt cheap.
I have use automatic transmission fluid (ATF), over the last 20 years, and it works. A Few drops of ATF can do magic on your bearings specially with the almost dry ones. Its not for a long term use, carefully use at your own risk. I usually put 2 or 3 drops over the new grease. And reaply once a month 2 drops on bearings. For the chain (pivots, calipers, pedals inside covers, etc) it can last over 3 months. With a clean chain apply and take the exceed with a towel.
Now I use the chain waxing tecnic is better for me, less cleaning.
You can Make a test, 2 drops on your bearings,(start with the pedals) be carefull when test it, because will fly like new ones.
Motor oil is as good as any other fantasy chain lubes.
What should be kept in mind is the motor oil is fresh and not leftover extract while servicing a vehicle. If the instructions are to re-lube (after cleaning) after every few rides, then there will not be a problem with motor oil even.
If one wants to keep the lubrication longer, the thicker the better. It however becomes heavier as time passes. so, clean more often the old lube and re-apply at shorter intervals. the motor oil gives quite a smooth ride.