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  1. #1
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    grease and wd-40

    hey guys i'm a newb, i just got my bike, and i'm ready to put it together.

    my question is do i really need to get a specialized grease for the moving parts like the pedals or can i just use wd-40 - a general lubricant and protectant.

    what are the pros and cons?

    thank you.

  2. #2
    Low car diet JiveTurkey's Avatar
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    Before you get jumped on by people calling you a troll, let's make one thing clear: WD-40 IS NOT A LUBRICANT.

    Use can use it to clean, but then use any of the various commercial or homemade recipes out there. Search around.
    Last edited by JiveTurkey; 05-15-09 at 12:21 AM.
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  3. #3
    Great State of Varmint Panthers007's Avatar
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    WD-40 is good for removing grease and oils. But it does NOT provide lubrication. It evaporates rapidly, after removing what was left by way of lubrication. Such as bicycle-grease or similar products such as marine-grease for boating. You want to get real grease and use real good oil where lubrication is needed. For instance: Oil the pivots on your derailleurs. Grease the hubs and bottom-bracket.

    Here's a good lesson on the use of WD-40 and bikes:

    http://bicycletutor.com/no-wd40-bike-chain/
    How do you keep an idiot in suspense?

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    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    Grease = lubricant.

    WD40 = solvent.

    Thread closed.

  5. #5
    Riding like its 1990 thenomad's Avatar
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    WD-40 is not a substitute for grease.
    Would you use vegetable oil instead of motor oil? Use the right tool for the job.



    Edit: Sorry, I didn't realize the thread had just been closed by Sixty Fiver.
    My blog about rides, bikes and builds: ridesgoneby.blogspot.com

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    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    Forgot my

    So...who wants pie ?

  7. #7
    Bill
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    I hate to burst a lot of bubbles on the composition of WD-40, but it does contain "petroleum base oil" (about 15-35 %) and 45-50 % "aliphatic hydrocarbons" (sometimes called mineral spirits). So it contains both oil and solvent (check the product Material Safety Data Sheet).
    That being said It is a poor choice to use for lubrication purposes as it's more solvent than oil. The advice given by others not to use for lubricating a bike is right on (except in an extreem emergency!)
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  8. #8
    Riding like its 1990 thenomad's Avatar
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    I wouldn't use WD-40 on door hinges either. I'd use Lithium grease, much better long term adhesion to the surface.
    My blog about rides, bikes and builds: ridesgoneby.blogspot.com

  9. #9
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    The problem with WD40 is not that it is too low viscosity, but that the carrier evaporates and the lubricant component is easily pushed out of the way... if there was still some carrier left it would replace the lubricant after it is moved.

    If you construct some sort of sealed case around your drivetrain (with sealed boots around the rear hub, right crankarm, and bottom bracket) you could run your chain in a full bath of WD40. I expect this would contain roughly five to ten litres of WD40... Perhaps have a one-way valve as an injection port so you can compensate for any leakage by rigging up a hose to a WD40 spray can in a water bottle cage - when the WD-pressure goes down in you chaincase the pressure from the can will force mroe into the system. You could also add some O-rings to the cones and dust caps of your hubs to allow filling of the brearing cavities with WD40.

    I guarantee that if you can run every moving part of your bike in a full WD40 bath you will not have problems with corrosion.

  10. #10
    Senior Member StevePGN10's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wmodavis View Post
    I hate to burst a lot of bubbles on the composition of WD-40, but it does contain "petroleum base oil" (about 15-35 %) and 45-50 % "aliphatic hydrocarbons" (sometimes called mineral spirits). So it contains both oil and solvent (check the product Material Safety Data Sheet).
    That being said It is a poor choice to use for lubrication purposes as it's more solvent than oil. The advice given by others not to use for lubricating a bike is right on (except in an extreem emergency!)
    I doubt you burst a single bubble. It is not that most don't understand that WD-40 contains a little oil, but most understand that it is too little of a poor lubricating oil. MSDSs are notorious for providing too ambiguous of an idea of what is contained in the product. You can't tell from the MSDS posted for the aerosol version what weight oil is in the product. The best insight into how much lubrication WD-40 provides is the fact that for years it never used the word "lubricant" on the label. It spoke of "freeing mechanisms". A few years ago they put "lubricant" on the label, and I think they did a disservice to all.

  11. #11
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    I've already ridden a new Campy 11 speed chain for several hundred miles using WD-40 as the only lube. So far, it's causing no problems at all. The chain stays just as clean as any other wet lube I've used. I'll post more when I have 1,000 miles on that chain and another that is being lubed with homebrew that has 80/90W synthetic gear lube in it. I'm betting there won't be much difference in the wear.
    Last edited by DaveSSS; 05-15-09 at 09:42 AM.

  12. #12
    My bike's better than me! neil0502's Avatar
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    I've posted testing before.

    WD-40 lubricates ... just not very well.

    There are better lubes for your chain, but it's a pretty good chain degreaser, IMO.

    I use it to flush, clean, and lube cables/housings and ... occasionally ... for pivot points, shifters, etc.

    Works fine.

  13. #13
    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveSSS View Post
    I've already ridden a new Campy 11 speed chain for several hundred miles using WD-40 as the only lube. So far, it's causing no problems at all. The chain stays just as cleans as any other wet lube I've used. I'll post more when I have 1,000 miles on that chain and another that is being lubed with homebrew that has 80/90W synthetic gear lube in it. I'm betting there won't be much difference in the wear.
    There is a reason why every bike mechanic I know will tell you that WD40 is a poor chain lubricant, myself included.

    Wet lubes attract dust so a lubed chain is going to get dirty and require periodic cleaning and this is the nature of chain drives... dry lubes are great if you live in places where it does not rain much and during the mid summer here, dry lube is great stuff.

    If the drive is all shiny and clean because you are using WD40 it is because there isn't any lube there to pick up dust and dirt so of course it will stay cleaner.. I have a lot of people tell me that is why they were using WD40 in the first place... as I tell them they need to replace their prematurely worn chains (and drive components) and then explain why they need to use the proper lube.

    Here's a better test.

    Take a new chain (a cheap one) and break it in half.

    Lube one half with WD40 and make sure it washes out all the factory lube and if it is a pre-lubed chain just leave the other half. If not, lube it with some home brew (great stuff btw)

    Hang them outside for a few weeks, if it doesn't rain spray them with a hose a few times to simulate some good rain.

    If you are really confident that the WD40 is adequate, use a Campy 11 speed chain for the WD40 lubricated chain.

    The geek in me wants to hook up a drive motor that would run two parallel drives with a Wd40 lubed chain and a properly oiled chain and then run it to the point of chain failure.

    But really... I have been turning wrenches for a long time and see what happens to chains when they are improperly lubricated and have heard the "I thouht WD40 was a good lubricant" way too many times.

  14. #14
    OUTLAW BIKER merckx_rider's Avatar
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    any good oil will be better than the wd-40
    I ride a bike I bought in 1989, it has over 115,000 miles on it and in me.
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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sixty Fiver View Post
    There is a reason why every bike mechanic I know will tell you that WD40 is a poor chain lubricant, myself included.

    Wet lubes attract dust so a lubed chain is going to get dirty and require periodic cleaning and this is the nature of chain drives... dry lubes are great if you live in places where it does not rain much and during the mid summer here, dry lube is great stuff.

    If the drive is all shiny and clean because you are using WD40 it is because there isn't any lube there to pick up dust and dirt so of course it will stay cleaner.. I have a lot of people tell me that is why they were using WD40 in the first place... as I tell them they need to replace their prematurely worn chains (and drive components) and then explain why they need to use the proper lube.
    I'm just a lowly mechanical engineer who's who's been riding bikes and wrenching on them for 25 years. I've been using homebrew wet lubes for the last 10 years and I get better chain life than 90% of those who post on this forum. My regular homebrew is a 4/1 mix of mineral spirits or naptha and synthetic motor oil. I used a Campy chain with that lube for 6,000 miles and measured 1/16" of elongation over the entire length of the chain - not 12 inches. That blows your theory that wet lubes attract dirt and cause premature wear. A Shimano or KMC won't perform that well, however. Shimano in particular, will elongate at least four times faster than a Campy chain, with the same lube.

    The popular ProLink chain lube is nothing but a mineral spirits and oil wet lube. Most shops sell a 4-ounce bottle for $6-8. I can make the same thing for 8 cents.

    I don't ride in the rain since it rarely rains here in the Denver area, but I never intentionally rode in the rain when I lived in the Kansas City area either. I do ride where it's dry and dusty, with plenty of grit for that wet lube to pick up.

    WD-40 has about the same percentage of oil as my regular homebrew. I know that the oil isn't very heavy, but it really behaves about the same as my homebrew. I do relube my chains frequently and wipe them down before and after lubing. I suspect that the greater reason for premature chain wear in infrequent lubing. A factory rep from ProLink actually advised me NOT to relube unless the chain started squeaking. Just what I want, a chain that starts squeaking after 10 miles into a 50 mile ride. No thanks.

    When I get done with my chain wear test and find little difference between WD-40 and 80/90W synthetic gear lube, will that change your mind?

    FWIW, the lubrication expert who posts on this site doesn't have much good to say about dry lubes.
    Last edited by DaveSSS; 05-15-09 at 02:49 PM.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by thenomad View Post
    WD-40 is not a substitute for grease.
    Would you use vegetable oil instead of motor oil? Use the right tool for the job.



    Edit: Sorry, I didn't realize the thread had just been closed by Sixty Fiver.
    Castor oil was used as an engine oil in racing motor-cycles for a long time.
    I loved the smell of of Castrol-R.
    Now that I think of it...is there any reason why a vegetable oil wouldn't work as a chain lubricant?

  17. #17
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    as I understand it, castor oil is the best stuff you can use for 2-stroke premix applications. in that case, its one time use and burns through the engine with the fuel and also serves to take the bulk of the extra heat away from the engine.

  18. #18
    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveSSS View Post
    I'm just a lowly mechanical engineer who's who's been riding bikes and wrenching on them for 25 years. I've been using homebrew wet lubes for the last 10 years and I get better chain life than 90% of those who post on this forum. My regular homebrew is a 4/1 mix of mineral spirits or naptha and synthetic motor oil. I used a Campy chain with that lube for 6,000 miles and measured 1/16" of elongation over the entire length of the chain - not 12 inches. That blows your theory that wet lubes attract dirt and cause premature wear. A Shimano or KMC won't perform that well, however. Shimano in particular, will elongate at least four times faster than a Campy chain, with the same lube.

    The popular ProLink chain lube is nothing but a mineral spirits and oil wet lube. Most shops sell a 4-ounce bottle for $6-8. I can make the same thing for 8 cents.

    I don't ride in the rain since it rarely rains here in the Denver area, but I never intentionally rode in the rain when I lived in the Kansas City area either. I do ride where it's dry and dusty, with plenty of grit for that wet lube to pick up.

    WD-40 has about the same percentage of oil as my regular homebrew. I know that the oil isn't very heavy, but it really behaves about the same as my homebrew. I do relube my chains frequently and wipe them down before and after lubing. I suspect that the greater reason for premature chain wear in infrequent lubing. A factory rep from ProLink actually advised me NOT to relube unless the chain started squeaking. Just what I want, a chain that starts squeaking after 10 miles into a 50 mile ride. No thanks.

    When I get done with my chain wear test and find little difference between WD-40 and 80/90W synthetic gear lube, will that change your mind?

    FWIW, the lubrication expert who posts on this site doesn't have much good to say about dry lubes.
    I have no argument that home brewed lube isn't great and as you said, it uses a heavier weight oil than WD40 which is what we used to use as the solvent in our home brew... that worked great but was a little pricey.

    You have not blown my theory away at all and should know, as a mechanical engineer, that when you are designing a system with an exposed chain drive that the lubricant used will have a great affect on how much dirt and dust can enter the system.

    Oil is viscous... sticky... it likes dirt.

    In designing that system you also need to account for a wide range of users and environmental conditions and when you do that, WD40 fails. If it was that good a lubricant we'd see it getting used in many more applications... but we don't.. because it isn't.

    If I saw that it was better.. it would be the only lube I used for myself and in my shop.

    Experience has shown me otherwise.

    When I teach basic maintainence classes I explain that when you are lubricating a chain you want to use a minimal amount of quality lubricant and wipe away any excess as the chain does not need to be lubed on the outside and that excess lubricant attracts / catches dirt and will significantly reduce the chain's life.

    We live in a very dry and dusty place.

    Have you ever seen a bike with an enclosed chain case and do you know why the chains on these bikes last longer than any other chain ? It is because the system is closed and water and dirt do not enter the system. The chains aren't Campy either.

    When you are doing this test try exposing yourself to a little moisture to reflect real world conditions too.

  19. #19
    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fidelista View Post
    Castor oil was used as an engine oil in racing motor-cycles for a long time.
    I loved the smell of of Castrol-R.
    Now that I think of it...is there any reason why a vegetable oil wouldn't work as a chain lubricant?
    I tested a soy based lube and it performed rather well and needed to be re-applied every 300 or so km... it washed out very easily so was not as good a lube for wetter riding conditions.

  20. #20
    Upstanding member. Mike T.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveSSS View Post
    I'm just a lowly mechanical engineer who's who's been riding bikes and wrenching on them for 25 years. I've been using homebrew wet lubes for the last 10 years and I get better chain life than 90% of those who post on this forum. My regular homebrew is a 4/1 mix of mineral spirits or naptha and synthetic motor oil. I used a Campy chain with that lube for 6,000 miles and measured 1/16" of elongation over the entire length of the chain - not 12 inches. That blows your theory that wet lubes attract dirt and cause premature wear. A Shimano or KMC won't perform that well, however. Shimano in particular, will elongate at least four times faster than a Campy chain, with the same lube.

    The popular ProLink chain lube is nothing but a mineral spirits and oil wet lube. Most shops sell a 4-ounce bottle for $6-8. I can make the same thing for 8 cents.

    I don't ride in the rain since it rarely rains here in the Denver area, but I never intentionally rode in the rain when I lived in the Kansas City area either. I do ride where it's dry and dusty, with plenty of grit for that wet lube to pick up.

    WD-40 has about the same percentage of oil as my regular homebrew. I know that the oil isn't very heavy, but it really behaves about the same as my homebrew. I do relube my chains frequently and wipe them down before and after lubing. I suspect that the greater reason for premature chain wear in infrequent lubing. A factory rep from ProLink actually advised me NOT to relube unless the chain started squeaking. Just what I want, a chain that starts squeaking after 10 miles into a 50 mile ride. No thanks.

    When I get done with my chain wear test and find little difference between WD-40 and 80/90W synthetic gear lube, will that change your mind?

    FWIW, the lubrication expert who posts on this site doesn't have much good to say about dry lubes.
    Thanks DaveSSS for one of the few sane posts in this thread. I'm a licensed auto mechanic (we need to know about lubes!) and a 47 year home bike mechanic. To those who think WD-40 is not a lube - of course it's a damn lube. WATER is a lube. Is it the BEST lube? Of course not. Lubes; any lube; should be chosen for their best purpose. WD-40, like my homebrew chain lube (I wouldn't use anything else) is mixed with a thinner so that it gets where in needs to get. Then the thinner evaporates leaving the original viscosity oil.

    Some of the rocket scientists in this thread think that WD-40 evaporates away to nothing. Ok try this - spray some on a mirror that's laid flat. Leave it a couple of days. Nothing left? Bull****. There's a nice oily lube left.

    If you want a really nice general purpose lube do this - pour some WD-40 (I buy it by the gallon) into a shallow container and leave it open for a while. I dunno how long but I leave mine for weeks. What you'll have when all the thinner has evaporated is one of the best lubes you've ever rubbed between finger & thumb. Try it.

    Because WD-40 is a very thin lube (in its normal state) it does a great job as a solvent too. I clean my chains with it - running them through a WD-40 soaked rag. Then I re-lube with homebrew.

    But is regular WD-40 a good lube? I'd say it's a good lube for its intended purpose. Anyone who would use it to lube headset bearings is an idiot. There are better lubes for some purposes (grease for bearings and bushings, oils for chains etcetera). I'd like to hear more about Dave's chain wear test. One measurement is worth 50 "expert" opinions here. It's up to everyone to use the right lube for the job. Old geezers like me will quote the "Horses for courses" saying.

    But to say it isn't a lube is just ridiculous. WD-40 would sue you for slander and libel if they thought you were worth it.

  21. #21
    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    Mike - Do you use WD40 as chain lube ?

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    Quote Originally Posted by pinwheel View Post
    as I understand it, castor oil is the best stuff you can use for 2-stroke premix applications. in that case, its one time use and burns through the engine with the fuel and also serves to take the bulk of the extra heat away from the engine.
    Castor oil was also used in older racing four-strokes. The drawback was that eventually it would form a hard "gummy" surface on cylinder walls, pistons and rings and valves.

  23. #23
    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    I am going to try using blueberry pie as a lubricant... because it is.

  24. #24
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    Most bike components are pretty forgiving of exactly what type of lubricant is present as long as *something* is. The main problem with WD-40 is that it washes away rather easily and therefore you need to keep reapplying it. The same is true of many of the dry lube products but at least those have the advantage of keeping the outside of the chain nice and clean. But as long as you keep replacing it then it'll do a decent job of protecting the chain and I haven't noticed any premature wear using WD-40 as compared to oils sold specifically for chain lubrication. But I prefer to use other oils since they don't require reapplication as often.

    Components that are relatively hard to lubricate, such as headsets and wheel bearings should use a thicker lubricant, such as grease, so you don't have to disassemble them too frequently.

  25. #25
    Upstanding member. Mike T.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sixty Fiver View Post
    Mike - Do you use WD40 as chain lube ?
    No I don't. Why not? I don't know why not. Maybe when the thinner evaporates away it would do a fine job, no matter what others around here believe. I've no reason to switch from about 15-20 years of homebrew perfection though. It's MUCH cheaper than anything - even WD-40.

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