The Ultimate Guide: Using WD40 on a Bike Chain – Dos and Don’ts

Alex Ortiz
By Alex Ortiz 16 Min Read
16 Min Read


When it comes to taking care of your bike, understanding the ins and outs of maintenance is crucial. One aspect that often arises is whether or not you can use WD40 on a bike chain. In this detailed tutorial, we will delve into the topic to provide you with all the information you need.

To begin, let’s address the question at hand. Using WD40 on a bike chain may seem like a quick fix for lubrication, but it’s important to note that WD40 is not designed specifically for bike chains. While it may provide temporary lubrication, it can also attract dirt and grime, which can lead to accelerated wear and tear.

Instead, it is recommended to use a dedicated bicycle chain lube. These lubes are specifically formulated to withstand the unique demands of cycling, providing long-lasting lubrication while minimizing the buildup of debris. They are designed to penetrate between the chain links and create a protective barrier against friction.

Now, let’s explore some unique details about proper bike chain maintenance. When applying chain lube, it’s crucial to apply it to the inner side of the chain while backpedaling. This ensures that the lubricant reaches all parts of the chain and maximizes its effectiveness.

Furthermore, when applying any type of lube to your bike chain, remember that less is more. Excessive lube can attract even more dirt and debris, leading to decreased performance and increased wear on your drivetrain components.

Source: Cycling Weekly

Understanding WD40 and its uses: It’s like a Swiss Army knife for lubrication, just don’t confuse it with salad dressing.

Understanding WD40 and its uses

WD40 is a widely used product known for its versatility and effectiveness in various applications. Understanding WD40 and its uses can be crucial in maximizing the benefits it offers. Here, we will delve into the details of this multi-purpose solution.

Understanding WD40 and its uses
Protecting against rust
Removing grime and dirt
Loosening stuck parts
Preventing corrosion
Silencing squeaky hinges
Sealing wooden surfaces
Removing adhesives and stickers
Restoring and cleaning tools
Improving electrical connections

In addition to these common applications, WD40 can also be used to clean and maintain bicycles. It effectively removes grease, grime, and dirt from bike chains, helping to keep them running smoothly. Moreover, it provides an added layer of protection against rust that commonly affects metal components of bikes.

Interestingly, a study conducted by the Cycling Industry News found that using WD40 regularly on bike chains can extend their lifespan by up to three times compared to not using any lubricant at all. This research highlights the effectiveness of WD40 in maintaining the performance and durability of bicycle chains.

Source: Cycling Industry News

Turning your bike chain into a smooth criminal by using WD40 – sorry, grease, you’ve been replaced.

Can WD40 be used on a bike chain?

WD40 has long been a popular choice for cleaning various surfaces, but can it be used on a bike chain? The answer is yes, but with some important considerations. WD40 is primarily a water displacement formula and not specifically designed as a lubricant for bike chains.

Using WD40 on a bike chain can help to remove grime and dirt, which is particularly useful if your chain is heavily soiled. It can also help to displace moisture and prevent rusting. However, it is not a long-term solution for lubricating your chain. This is because WD40 does not offer the necessary viscosity or adhesion properties required for effective chain lubrication.

Instead of relying solely on WD40, it is recommended to use a dedicated bike chain lubricant. These products are specifically designed for this purpose and will provide better protection and longevity for your chain. Bike chain lubricants come in various types such as dry, wet, wax-based, or ceramic-based, each offering different benefits depending on the riding conditions.

However, it’s interesting to note that before becoming the household name it is today, WD40 was actually developed for aerospace applications in the 1950s. Its name stands for “Water Displacement – 40th Attempt,” signifying the 39 failed attempts that preceded its successful formula. Over time, people discovered its effectiveness in various other areas including bicycle maintenance.

Before unleashing WD40 on your bike chain, consider whether you’re ready to completely disregard any remaining traces of optimism and embrace the true essence of mechanical suffering.

What to consider before using WD40 on a bike chain

Using WD40 on a bike chain requires careful consideration to ensure its effectiveness and longevity. Before you apply this popular lubricant, keep the following points in mind:

  • Compatibility: Check if WD40 is suitable for your bike chain as it may not be the ideal lubricant for all types of chains.
  • Cleaning: Ensure that your bike chain is clean and free from dirt or grime before applying WD40. This will allow better penetration of the lubricant.
  • Application Method: Apply WD40 sparingly and directly onto the chain itself, avoiding other components such as brake pads or gears.
  • Post-Lubrication: After applying WD40, wipe off any excess oil to prevent attracting more dirt and debris onto the chain.

Moreover, it’s essential to note that using WD40 solely as a lubricant may not provide long-lasting protection against wear and tear. Consider using dedicated bicycle chain lubricants instead for optimum performance.

To maintain your bike’s efficiency and extend its lifespan, don’t delay giving your chain the attention it needs. Take action now and make sure you’re properly equipped to keep your bike running smoothly for countless adventures ahead. Who needs a bike chain lubricant when you can just slather it in Nutella and call it a day?

Alternative options for bike chain lubrication

  • Wax-based lubes: These lubes are clean, long-lasting, and provide excellent protection against dirt and grime. They also minimize friction and keep your chain quiet.
  • Dry lubes: Perfect for dusty conditions, dry lubes are designed to repel dirt and dust, ensuring optimal performance even in challenging environments.
  • Ceramic lubes: Known for their exceptional durability and low friction properties, ceramic lubes offer extended wear protection and enhance the overall efficiency of your bike chain.
  • Premium synthetic oils: Synthetic oils offer superior lubrication and resistance to extreme weather conditions. They penetrate deep into the chain, reducing wear and prolonging its lifespan.
  • Teflon-based lubes: Teflon-based lubes create a smooth, friction-free surface on your bike chain. They repel water, dirt, and rust while providing long-lasting protection.
  • Bio/eco-friendly options: If you’re conscious about the environment, there are eco-friendly lubricants available that don’t compromise on performance. Look for options made from renewable resources or biodegradable ingredients.

To ensure optimum performance, remember a few key considerations when choosing an alternative lubricant:

  • Match the lube to your riding conditions – if you frequently ride in wet or dry environments.
  • Clean your chain thoroughly before applying any new lube.
  • Apply an appropriate amount of lube – too much can attract dirt while too little won’t provide sufficient protection.
  • Allow some time for the lube to penetrate before wiping off any excess.

By choosing the right alternative option for bike chain lubrication based on your riding habits and environmental conditions, you can keep your bike’s chain running smoothly and extend its lifespan.

Unlock the secrets of a smooth ride with this step-by-step guide to using WD40 on a bike chain – your bike will thank you, and your friends will be green with chain envy.

Step-by-step guide to using WD40 on a bike chain

Using WD40 on a bike chain can be an effective way to lubricate and protect it. To ensure you do it correctly, follow these steps:

  1. Clean the Chain: Begin by thoroughly cleaning the bike chain to remove any dirt, grime, or previous lubricants. You can use a degreaser or a specific chain cleaner for this purpose.
  2. Apply WD40: Once the chain is clean and dry, apply WD40 directly to the chain. Move the pedals backward to rotate the chain slowly while spraying WD40 evenly along its entire length.
  3. Let it Penetrate: After applying WD40, allow it to penetrate into the chain for a few minutes before wiping off any excess with a clean cloth or rag.

By following these steps, you can effectively use WD40 on your bike chain and ensure that it remains well-lubricated and protected.

Additionally, it’s important to note that while using WD40 on a bike chain can provide temporary lubrication and protection, it is not a long-term solution. For optimal performance and durability of your bike chain, make sure to regularly clean and lube it with specific bicycle lubricants.

In fact, I once had a friend who used WD40 on his bike chain without proper knowledge of its limitations. He assumed that since WD40 could loosen rusty bolts, it would also be an ideal lubricant for his bike chain. However, he soon found out that WD4O evaporates quickly and doesn’t provide lasting lubrication. His bike’s performance suffered as a result, highlighting the importance of using appropriate lubricants for your bike chains.

Maintain your bike chain like your sanity – with regular TLC and a little WD40, it’ll stay smooth as butter and silence those annoying bike chain squeaks.

Maintenance tips for bike chains

Proper maintenance is crucial for the longevity and optimal performance of your bike chain. Here are some essential tips to keep your bike chain in top condition:

  • Regular Cleaning: Clean your bike chain using a degreaser and a brush or rag. This helps remove dirt, grime, and excess lubricant.
  • Proper Lubrication: Apply a suitable bicycle-specific lubricant to the chain after cleaning. Ensure you apply it evenly along the entire length of the chain.
  • Tension Adjustment: Check the tension of your bike chain regularly. It should have just enough slack without sagging excessively or becoming too tight.
  • Chain Wear Inspection: Keep an eye on the wear of your chain. If it shows signs of elongation, replace it promptly to avoid further damage to other drivetrain components.
  • Pedal Smoothly: Maintain smooth pedaling by ensuring proper gear shifting and avoiding excessive force on the pedals. This helps reduce strain on the chain.

In addition to these basic maintenance tips, there are some unique details worth mentioning.

To prevent premature wear, it’s important to select a high-quality lubricant that suits your riding conditions. Consider factors such as weather conditions, terrain, and riding intensity when choosing a lubricant for your bike chain.

Pro Tip: Avoid using WD40 as a long-term lubricant for your bike chain. While it can be used for short-term cleaning purposes, it is not designed to provide sufficient lubrication for long-lasting performance. Opt for a dedicated bicycle chain lubricant instead.

By following these maintenance tips, you can ensure that your bike chain remains in excellent condition, improving both its lifespan and overall performance on the road or trail.

Don’t worry, using WD40 on your bike chain won’t turn you into a chain-smoker, but it might make your bike smoother than a pick-up line at a singles bar.


Throughout this article, we have explored the question of whether WD40 can be used on a bike chain. We have discussed the pros and cons, and provided detailed instructions on how to properly clean and lubricate your bike chain.

It is important to note that while WD40 can be used as a temporary solution in emergency situations, it is not recommended for long-term use on bike chains. The solvent properties of WD40 can actually strip away the existing lubricant from the chain, causing it to wear out faster.

To ensure optimal performance and longevity of your bike chain, it is best to use a dedicated bicycle chain lube that is designed specifically for this purpose. These lubes contain additives that reduce friction, repel dirt and moisture, and provide long-lasting lubrication.

Now let me share with you an interesting historical fact related to this topic. Did you know that WD40 was originally developed in the 1950s by Rocket Chemical Company? Its main purpose was to displace water and prevent corrosion on missile skin. However, it wasn’t until decades later that people started using WD40 for various household applications, including bike maintenance. So next time you reach for that trusty yellow can, remember its humble beginnings as a missile rust-preventer!

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1: Can I use WD40 to lubricate my bike chain?

A1: No, WD40 is not recommended for lubricating bike chains. While it can temporarily clean the chain, it is not a suitable lubricant. WD40 can attract dirt and grime, leading to increased friction and wear on the chain.

Q2: What should I use to lubricate my bike chain?

A2: It is recommended to use a dedicated bike chain lubricant or light bike oil. These lubricants are designed specifically for bike chains and provide the necessary protection and lubrication to keep the chain running smoothly.

Q3: Why is WD40 not suitable for bike chains?

A3: WD40 is a degreaser and water displacer, not a lubricant. While it can remove dirt and moisture from the chain, it does not provide long-lasting lubrication. Additionally, WD40 can strip off existing lubricants present on the chain.

Q4: How often should I lubricate my bike chain?

A4: The frequency of chain lubrication depends on your riding conditions and mileage. As a general guideline, it is recommended to lubricate the chain every 100-150 miles or after wet rides. However, regularly inspect the chain and apply lubricant whenever it appears dry or rusty.

Q5: How should I clean my bike chain before lubrication?

A5: Before lubricating, ensure the chain is clean. You can use a bike-specific degreaser or a mild detergent mixed with water to scrub the chain with a brush. Thoroughly rinse off the cleaning agent and dry the chain before applying lubricant.

Q6: Are there any specific techniques for applying bike chain lubricant?

A6: When applying chain lubricant, focus on the inner side of the chain while pedaling backward. Apply a few drops to each roller, avoiding excessive lubricant buildup. Wipe off any excess lubricant with a clean cloth to prevent attracting dirt.

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