WD-40 is considered the ultimate multi-purpose spray, capable of de-squeaking hinges, loosening joints, and a whole lot more. It’s one of the most common products you’ll find in somebody’s toolkit, but is WD-40 good for bike chains?
The spray has a ton of great uses for bikes, but when it comes to bike chains, it depends on what you’re using it for. WD-40 is primarily a degreaser—a solvent that removes contaminants from an object, which helps to protect it from rust and corrosion. So it can effectively clean and degrease your bike chain, and is especially good at removing any debris, gunk, and rust that is attached to the links to help it get moving again. But while the product is advertised as a lubricant in addition to its other uses, it doesn’t contain enough lubricant to keep your bike chain running smoothly, and the minimal amount that it contains isn’t good quality anyway. When your bike inevitably finds itself in the rain, the WD-40’s lubricant will easily wash off, leaving the chain in worse condition than before.
A dry chain has a lot more friction, which wears it down more quickly, and leads to rust and corrosion. Over time, the chain will become more rigid, which impairs gear shifting, wears down the derailleur assemblies and drivetrain cogs, and can eventually snap. So WD-40 is a great option for cleaning and degreasing your chain, but you should always wash the remnants away with soap and water, and then apply a good quality lubricant afterwards. Remember that WD-40 is an all-purpose spray, so is designed to do a decent job at a large number of things, but rarely a fantastic job at one thing.
Good quality lubricants include Smoove Lube, Rock n Roll Gold, or Green Oil Wet Lube. WD-40’s 3-IN-ONE range does include a few products that will work better as a lubricant than the original WD-40, but you’re better off getting a lubricant designed specifically for bike chains.
Other WD-40 uses for bikes include:
- Cleaning your bike’s derailleurs
- Preventing mud and dirt from sticking to the bike
- Preventing saltwater oxidation
- Protecting scratches from rust
- Lubricating bike locks
Using WD-40 to remove rust
If you’re wanting to use WD-40 to remove rust from your bike’s chain, you can follow this process:
- Spray the WD-40 onto the rusted areas
- Let it sit from about 5 minutes
- Scrape the rust off with a wire brush
Cleaning and lubricating your bike chain
Your bike chain should be cleaned and lubed regularly, especially if you ride often. You can spot-clean the chain while it’s still on your bike, by following this process:
- Use an old toothbrush to brush the links clean
- Lubricate the links with a quality product like Smoove Lube, Rock n Roll Gold, or Green Oil Wet Lube. Be careful not to over lubricate, as this can also damage the chain.
- Wipe off the excess lubricant with a dry rag
Is WD-40 good for bike chains—summary
In summary, WD-40 is great for cleaning and degreasing your chain, but doesn’t work well as a lubricant. It will provide some small amount of lubrication, but nowhere near enough for your bike chain to run smoothly. It’s best to use a high-quality, bike-specific lubricant instead.
Cover image from ThamKC / Shutterstock.com.