Say you run out of bike grease. You don’t even have any white lithium grease in the garage. And you really need to grease your seatpost or repack the loose ball bearings in your headset.

What can you do? Can you use a common household item like Vaseline as a substitute for real grease?

Let’s find out!

Vaseline for Bearings?

Recently, a reader asked, “can you use vaseline as lube for bearings?”

Now I’ve heard of plenty substitutes for grease and lube, but this is a first! This option stands out, particularly because it might actually work! (It seems much more logical to use Vaseline on your bearings than to use olive oil on your chain!)

My question, though, is why?

Why would you want to use Vaseline rather than grease?

Is Vaseline actually cheaper than your standard tub of white lithium grease for $3? Or is it because it resembles some more expensive grease?

(Looks like you can get a small jar of vaseline for $3, while a big tub of white lithium grease is $3. So Vaseline is more expensive per ounce, but it’s still cheap, and you can find it in pretty much any store so you don’t need to make a special trip to the auto parts store.)

This prompted me to do some more research.

I found that Sheldon Brown mentioned using Vaseline in your hub bearings, but the article was old, and that was more for situations if you didn’t have access to real grease.

Using Vaseline for a chamois cream makes the most sense to me. It will also allow you to ride in the same shorts a few times without washing them, perfect for 24-hour mountain bike races and events like the RAAM (according to some of those long distance riders).

Finally I found one more mention of Vaseline; it was for greasing your seatpost.

I also heard that some people were using soybean oil in their diesel car engines due to the outrageous gas prices (like $3-5 gallon). To each his own.

But back to the topic at hand – Vaseline for bearings. Maybe this is a great idea. It is a friction reducer and 100% pure petroleum jelly. Sounds pretty similar to grease.

I think it will work pretty well.

There’s only one thing to do – test it! We’ll see how it works in various bike applications during some testing this winter. Hey, maybe it’s great in cold weather! Or even as a chain lube in wet and nasty weather!

Only time will tell… Stay tuned!

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