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David Fiedler

WD-40: Not Good For Your Chain

By February 26, 2009

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Seems like just about everybody has a can of WD-40 out in the garage. Great for freeing sticky metal parts and rusted nuts and bolts, I remember seeing my dad spray it as a lubricant on my bike chain and other things back when I was a kid.

Turns out however, that strategy is not really the right approach. WD-40 is a solvent, which is what makes it good for busting through rust and freeing up stuck parts. That is not the same as being a lubricant, however. It dries out in a short time after being sprayed on the bike chain and doesn't really help keep the moving pieces working smoothly together.

So if you want to extend the life of your chain and enable maximum performance when you ride, don't use WD-40. A true lubricant such as Park Tool synthetic blend chain lube or Pro Link chain lube is going to be what you want to use. Your local bike shop will have recommendations too about other brands they like and use and almost certainly have a supply there they can sell you.


February 27, 2009 at 7:22 am
(1) Scott says:

WD40 is good to use to clean parts particularly after a wet ride when it will displace the water in all the hard to get places. I agree that it is important to use a proper lubricant after you spray the WD40.

March 5, 2009 at 5:41 pm
(2) KartaPurkh says:

Scott’s right. The “WD” in the name stands for Water Displaccment. It’s OK to use for cleaning and clearing the bad stuff, water etc. Then you should use a quality lubricant for maintenance.

March 7, 2009 at 9:03 am
(3) shana says:

I ride all summer and at least 3 times (60-70 miles) a week all winter in Minnesota, though snow and salt. I only use WD 40 after each ride and NEVER had a problem.

March 12, 2009 at 7:51 pm
(4) paulo Rodrigues says:

thanks for sharing te information about WD-40 I use it only for rust, normally use Finish line, wet lube in winter and dry lube in summer.

March 30, 2009 at 10:00 am
(5) TC says:

Everyone’s mostly right on this one: WD-40 includes a light lubricating oil that stays behind after the stuff that keeps it “sprayable” evaporates. If you’re as diligent as Shana – that’s probably enough. For most of us, we need something that’ll provide a little more protection. I also like the finish line products.

March 9, 2010 at 8:08 am
(6) Pinback says:

WD40 is an excellent chain cleaner. Been using it for over 3 decades on bicycles and motorcycles (both street and MX).

It is relatively cheap and can be used exclusively if you use it daily because it keeps it clean and rust-free. A lubed chain that is dirty is just as bad as a chain with no lube at all since rust will start the wearing process.

Personally I just use non-exotic lubes to prevent rust between cleanings, like white-lithium for wet lube and any PTFE spray that was on sale for dry lube. Never had a chain die of premature wear.

June 13, 2010 at 7:59 pm
(7) Burton says:

Maybe you should check your info with the guys at the R&D team for WD-40.

Accordint to the FAQ posted on the WD-40 website: http://www.wd40.com/faqs/

“Use WD-40 on your bike to clean, degrease and lubricate your chain, derailleur, gears, cogs, and moving parts.”

And according to the Wikipedia – the main ingredient in WD-40 is a light mineral oil – not a solvent.

August 19, 2010 at 9:26 pm
(8) Skipg says:

Look folks, if you really take good care of your chain it will last a lot longer and then you’ll have to wait longer for your shop mechanic to say loudly, “Hey dude, that the third chain this year. You must be poundn’ the #%&* out of the pavement.” Ignore the part where they suggest a better quality chain (read more $$$).

December 2, 2011 at 3:41 pm
(9) 2lsquare says:

I just use in my new bike:( . I hope is ok. Good post.

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