WD-40 is a popular cleaning spray. It is used anywhere and everywhere when it comes to cleaning auto and metal components.
But can you use WD 40 on a motorcycle chain? WD 40 can be used as a chain cleaner but not as a chain lubricant. It is a degreaser and a cleaning spray. It cleans the chain effectively. But it shouldn’t be used as a lube.
The best way to work is to couple the WD-40 with a chain lube. Use WD-40 to clean the chain and the lube to lubricate the chain. Both combined are enough for chain maintenance.
That’s the short version.
Let’s dive into WD-40 in more detail.
First, what is WD-40?
WD-40 is a degreaser and a rust-prevention solvent spray.
The name WD-40, as the company describes, stands for Water Displacement perfected on the 40th try. The chemical company took 40 attempts to perfect the formula. And hence the name, WD-40.
Their main product is of course – WD-40® Multi-Use Product.
This is used everywhere. From cleaning steel surfaces to lubricating hinges to soaking nuts and bolts – WD-40 is a popular choice for anything that involves cleaning, degreasing, and rust removal.
When it comes to motorcycles and auto parts, here are the major WD-40 uses:
- Cleaning the bike from mud
- Removing moisture from electrical connections
- Removing surface rust on components
- Degreasing wrenches, pliers, and metal tools
- Degreasing and cleaning the motorcycle parts
I personally use WD-40 as well. The multi-use product comes in handy for all cleaning applications involving auto and metal components.
Now, enough of tooting this horn. I am not the WD-40 company.
The question remains can WD-40 be used on a motorcycle chain? If yes, to what extent?
So let’s dive right into it.
WD-40 as a chain cleaner
WD-40 is a proven degreaser, cleaner, and rust-preventor.
One can easily use WD-40 as a chain cleaner on their motorcycle chain.
So yes, you can use WD-40 to degrease and clean your motorcycle chain.
What does WD-40 contain by the way?
The main ingredient of WD-40 is called Heavy Naptha.
Heavy naphtha is a petrochemical just like kerosene.
It is very light and is a highly volatile petroleum distillate.
Heavy Naptha is a fraction of crude oil that boils between approximately 70 and 200°C. Contains mostly alkanes and cycloalkanes and a fraction of aromatics.
Just like kerosene and mineral spirits, heavy naptha is good for cleaning and degreasing.
Most motorcycle owner manuals in fact recommend using kerosene to clean and wash the motorcycle chain.
So, WD-40 by extension is an acceptable solution to clean the chain as well.
Many motorcycle riders, including yours truly, use WD-40 to clean the motorcycle chain.
Heck, I even use it to clean every other motorcycle component. Spray it and wipe it clean. WD-40 works great for me!
WD-40 as a chain lube
WD-40 is a great chain cleaner but not a good chain lube.
As the spray says, WD-40 can be used for degreasing, rust preventing, and cleaning. Which is great for chain cleaning. But lubricating the chain is entirely a different thing.
Also, WD-40 is a solvent. It dissolves the grime and grease and makes the surface clean.
For a lubricant, you need different characteristics. A lube is more focused on reducing friction and taking away the heat generated.
And WD-40 lacks those lubricant characteristics.
Sure, you can still go ahead and use it as a chain lube. But within a few days, the chain will be dry and will start making noise.
That’s why, you need to use a separate chain lube to lubricate the chain.
And no, WD-40 is NOT suitable as a motorcycle chain lube.
Does WD-40 destroy chain O-rings?
This is a debate that’s going on for years.
WD-40 lovers (eh, supporters) say WD-40 is great for both cleaning and lubricating the motorcycle chain. It won’t harm the chain, rings, or sprocket. Heck, it won’t harm a fly (okay, I am exaggerating).
Critics and naysayers – on the other hand – argue that WD-40, or more specifically the petroleum components in WD-40 cause the rubber (o-rings) to combust and wear out.
What is it then? Which side is right?
As discussed earlier, using WD-40 is like using kerosene oil to clean. The motorcycle chain o-rings will not be harmed or destroyed if use WD-40 on the chain.
You can go ahead and use WD-40 on your chain. The o-rings will be fine.
But again, don’t use it as a lubricant. Maybe that’s what the critics refer to. WD-40 is not to be used as a chain lube. If you do, then maybe the o-rings will get harmed.
How to use WD-40 for a motorcycle chain
The best way to use WD-40 is to use it as a chain cleaner. And then couple it with a chain lube to lubricate the motorcycle chain.
Here is how the combo would look:
- WD-40: to degrease, remove rust, and clean the chain.
- A lube: to lubricate the chain once it is cleaned with WD-40.
So start with spraying the WD-40 on your motorcycle chain first. Be generous. Spray the WD-40 lavishly on the chain and sprocket.
Once sprayed, let it sit for 10 minutes. Let the spray absorb the grime and grease. Then clean the chain. Wipe it with a dirt rag.
Now the chain is cleaned. Time for you to lube the chain.
Take the chain lube (not WD-40) and spray it on the chain. Again be generous with your spraying. The lube helps the chain to run smooth and avoid heating and chain noises.
And that’s it. This cleaning and lubing the chain covers 90% of the chain maintenance!
You can use WD-40 to clean any part of the motorcycle. Be it chain, brake pads, carburetor, electrical connections, swing arm, wheel, and any other part. The key here is cleaning. Not for lubricating.
Yes, WD-40 is safe to use on engines. Especially if you want to remove moisture from the engine. WD-40 is a great cleaning spray for all metal components – which includes the engine and the carburetor setup as well.
No, WD-40 does not improve mileage or fuel efficiency. It is a cleaner and a degreaser. All it can do is clean a component, remove grime and grease, and protect the surface from rust formation. Nothing related to engine performance and fuel efficiency.
Before you go…
Here are some more common queries asked when it comes to the motorcycle chain: