Q: Can I use WD-40 to lube my bicycle chain?
No. You should never use WD40 as chain lubricant since WD-40 is NOT a true lubricant since it’s primary use is as a solvent or rust dissolver.
WHAT IS WD-40
What is WD-40?
WD-40 = Water Displacement-40th attempt - The 40 was the 40th formula they tried
WD40 is NOT a lubricant but is instead a de-greaser
Since it’s not a lubricant, it will not work well on DRIVETRAINS or GEARS of any type. Especially those of mountain or road bikes, where the chain is rapidly moving through outdoor environmental conditions
HISTORY OF WD-40
In 1953, the Rocket Chemical Company in San Diego, California created a line of rust-prevention solvents and degreasers for use in the aerospace industry. WD-40 was originally used as a rust-preventative solvent and de-greaser to protect missiles from rust and corrosion.
In 1969, the Rocket Chemical Company was renamed to the WD-40 Company, after its only product.
WD-40 = SOLVENT
WD40 is primarily a solvent, which means that it dissolves contaminates so parts get nice and clean. As a solvent, WD-40 will strip away any existing lubricant, leaving your chain, and drivetrain dryer than before application. This means that using WD-40 as a chain lubricant is worse than using no lube at all.
REI, says on their website, “Always use a cleaner and lubricant designed for bike drivetrains. REI does not recommend using WD-40 on your bike (it is a cleaner but not a lubricant).
WD-40 & CHAIN DEGREASING
Q: Can I use WD-40 as a de-greaser on bike parts, such as the bike chain?
Most bicycle mechanics don’t use WD-40 as a degreaser, Dawn dish soap, or Simple Green is often used, since they are less harsh. However, you could use it as a de-greaser and solvent to clean your drivetrain. Just make sure you apply a fresh coat of bicycle lube after.
DUST & GRIME & BICYCLE CHAIN
Since WD-40 is a solvent and degreaser and application will leave your chain dry and clean. This is fine if you're looking to de-grease your bicycle chain. However, if you apply WD-40, this provides a temporary solution, and repeated use of bicycling will lead to your chain picking up dirt and grime. This will shorten the life cycle of your chain, as well and lead to a loss of power, from an increase in the friction coefficient of the drivetrain.
The WD-40 Company does sell a product called WD-40 BIKE specifically for use with bicycle chains. However, in studies, 3-IN-ONE was similar to WD-40 BIKE when compared to drivetrain performance. Unless your a competitive racer or MTBer, these are both adequate lubricants for your bicycle.
3-IN-ONE MULTIPURPOSE OIL
Q: Can I use 3-IN-ONE to lubricate my bicycle chain?
Yes. You can use WD40’s 3-IN-ONE oil as a chain lubricant, as it will provide your bicycle chain with adequate friction performance and protection against wear.
The 3-IN-One Multipurpose Oil was created in 1894, for use on bicycle chains, and the formula was bought by the WD-40 Company in 1995.
Some MTBers and road cyclists don’t especially like 3-IN-ONE as a chain lubricant. However, researchers who have studied friction and power losses of bicycle chain lubricants have found that 3-IN-ONE is an above-average chain lubricant, and even out-performs some specialty bike lubes.