There is a longstanding debate among cyclists when it comes to WD-40. Is WD-40 good for bike chains? Is WD-40 a chain lube?

As an experienced cyclist, bike mechanic, and auto mechanic, I most definitely have an opinion about WD-40!

Are you sure about WD-40?

A reader recently wrote in:


“2. WD-40 shall not be applied as chain lube.”

It says “ideal for bike chains”. Or my bottle does, anyway. Thanks for an entertaining site.

Happy days, Leo

Ah, this must be in reference to my bike shop etiquette article, where I mentioned that WD-40 should not be applied as chain lube!

“Ideal for bike chains.”

Hi Leo,

I couldn’t find “ideal for bike chains” on my bottle of WD-40, but I’m not doubting you. I’m not surprised that your bottle says that.

Because I’m looking at a bottle of WD-40, and is has a long list of problems that it solves, going so far as to say you can use it “on countless jobs.”

But let me ask you this: If a box of donuts said “great for weight loss,” would you believe it?

What about a bicycle tire claimed to be good for 40 different types of riding? Could one tire be good for paved roads, gravel roads, dirt roads, rocks, and mud?

Kidding aside, manufacturers will say just about anything to sell their product. So take those claims with a grain of salt, however logical they may seem.

Not an ideal chain lube.

When they say “ideal for bike chains,” maybe they mean it’s great for cleaning bike chains. Or for preventing rust when storing a bike chain. That’s different.

Of course, yes, they might mean to say it makes a good chain lube.

But I disagree.

WD-40 is a jack of all trades, master of none.

You could use WD-40 as a chain lube. But it’s not going to work as well or last as long as a bicycle-specific chain lube.

You could use WD-40 as a chain cleaner. But it might clean more than necessary, removing lube from deep within the chain’s pins and rollers. And you’ll probably get overspray on the rest of your bike.

You could use WD-40 to free seized bolts. But PB Blaster, a product made specifically for penetrating, will work better, faster.

I do still keep WD-40 on hand because it’s pretty good for a lot of things.

But if I’m going to be frequently lubing my bike chains, I’m going to get products dedicated to the single purpose of chain lubrication.

These chain lubes are better than WD-40.

If you want your chains to last a long time, run clean, and shift smoothly, try a proper chain lube that’s made for bikes.

For dry conditions, my favorite lube is Dumonde Tech Lite.

For wet conditions, I like Dumonde Tech.

Other good choices include ProLink, Purple Extreme, and Rock N Roll.

Heck, I have substantially cut back on my use of WD-40 over the years. In fact, I sometimes use chain lube in places I used to use WD-40. For example, if I have a squeaky door hinge, I’ll actually use a drop of chain lube on it now. Where the WD-40 would last a month or two, the chain lube will fix squeaky hinges for years!

*Note that I’m referring to using the original WD-40 as a chain lube. I have not tested the “WD-40 Specialist Bike Chain Lube” which they say is an all-conditions lubricant.

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