Near the end of last week’s tutorial, I mentioned that WD-40 should never be used as a chain lubricant. Quite a few people wanted to know what I meant by that. Here’s an explanation.
WD-40 was developed by the military in the 50s as a rust preventative solvent and de-greaser to protect missile parts. It quickly became a household item when people discovered it had thousands of other uses as a cleaner, rust-prevention agent, squeak-stopper and more. It also works wonders as a light lubricant on small items like hinges, locks, and toys.
Bicycle chains, on the other hand, are far too heavy and fast-moving for the lubricating power of WD-40 to have any effect at all. As a matter of fact, WD-40 will actually strip away any existing lubricant and leave your drivetrain dry – metal on metal. Basically, spraying this stuff on your chain is worse than using no lubricant at all!
Obviously, I strongly recommend using chain oil purchased from your local bike shop. Just go down there and ask them for regular waterproof chain oil. It shouldn’t be any more than 10 or 12 bucks, and it’s the best thing you can buy for your bike. My personal favorite is Cross Country, but if you want the Caviar, you can get quality oils from companies like Phil Wood. We’ll talk more about lubricants later…