There are any number of lubricants, from baby oil to motorcycle chain lube, that you can put on a bike, and all of them will work at least a little. Different viscosity and formula mean each lube acts slightly differently.
The best option for your bike chain is always going to be a lube that is formulated for it. Can I use a motorcycle chain lube on a bicycle?
You can use motorcycle chain lube on a bicycle, however a thinner oil is more effective for the exposed chain used on a bike. Anti-rust properties are more important than the ability to withstand high temperatures and remain in place. Meanwhile, a motorcycle needs a heavier, thicker, more heat-resistant oil because of the engine warmth.
To see all of my up-to-date recommendations for bikes and cycling gear, check out this resource that I made for you!
Can Motorcycle Chain Lube Be Used For Bicycle
You can literally use any lubricant on a bike chain, including motorcycle chain lube. However, there is a significant difference between a bike chain lube and a motorcycle’s 30 to 50-weight oil.
Bike chain oil has more in common with SAE 10W motor oil which is a close match in terms of performance and properties.
If you plan to use motorcycle chain lube on a bicycle, then you’ll need a better degreaser or more effort than usual.
Expect it to take longer because of the tacky texture. You may need to use a degreaser like WD-40 or another non-damaging solvent. After all, you don’t want to eat away the metal parts.
How Well Does Motorcycle Chain Lube Work On A Bicycle
How well your motorcycle chain lubes work on a bicycle will depend on their specific formula.
Teflon-based lubricants work best because they are less prone to flinging off the chain under their own weight.
It’s not the lubrication that’s a problem but the excess collection of dirt, dust, and debris because this style holds better than thin lube.
The other thing that helps is opting for the thinnest motorcycle lube available. The easy way to tell the difference is that a thinner lube has a smaller number. For example, a 30 is less dense than a 50.
What Is The Difference Between Motorcycle Chain Lube And Bicycle Chain Lube
Motorcycle lubricant is more viscous and has a different texture from a bicycle chain lubricant.
The lube for motorcycles has a tackier or more sticky consistency that helps it stay in place on the metal when the motorized bike is going much faster than a bicycle should ever reach.
If it didn’t have these qualities, centrifugal force would strip it before it was helpful.
Bike lubricant is thinner and more slippery. Both types of lube are subject to the force of the chain going around, but one is made for much lower speed adhesion.
The ability to stick to the chain is what keeps a layer of the applied lubricant between the chain and all the metal spokes on a sprocket as it goes around.
Without lubricant, the metal on metal would constantly wear, grating way at each other much faster than it happens now.
The added friction would provide resistance and slow the rider by co-opting some of their energy to push through the metal versus metal scraping.
Plus, it would probably make a horrible grinding sound as you pedal.
Thicker motorcycle lubricant provides a denser and possibly thicker layer of protection. However, it’s not interacting the same.
Bikes don’t get warm enough from the speed friction to help the motorcycle lubricant operate at optimal levels. It could even slow you down by sticking too much between parts.
Best Motorcycle Chain Lube To Use On A Bicycle
Choosing the best motorcycle oil for a bicycle is difficult. There are some fundamental differences between the chain types, but it can still help keep you in the saddle.
I recommend sticking to a Teflon or petroleum-based lubricant.
The best motorcycle chain lube to use on a bicycle is PJ1 13oz Blue Label Motorcycle Chain Lube from Amazon.
PJ1 protects against rust and corrosion exceptionally well. Not only does this low friction chain lube work on motorcycles, but it helps preserve the sprocket surface from wear.
Plus, Blue Label is suitable for both O and X rings. To learn more about it, click here.
- For best performance, follow the manufacturer's recommendations in your vehicle owner’s manual.
- PJ1 Blue Label O-Ring Chain Lube applies easily, penetrates and protects O-rings to keep them moist and pliable
- Reduces chain friction and shock resulting in less wear and fewer adjustments
- Protects against rust and corrosion by displacing and repelling water
- Petroleum based clear formula wont fly off, extending O-Ring chain life, and protecting sprocket surface from wear with a cushion effect between the rollers and sprocket
How To Apply Motorcycle Chain Lube On A Bicycle Chain
To apply motorcycle chain lubricant, you use the same steps as you would with a bike-specific lube.
However, you need to be careful not to overdo it since this type of lubricant is extra dense. Too much, and you’ll find yourself cleaning it out just to get your bike moving again.
Follow the steps below to get your chain lubricated.
- Ensure you have a clean and dry chain to start with. You don’t want to trap water next to the metal.
- To lubricate the chain, you need to put your bike up on a stand or turn it upside down.
- Apply some lubricant between each link.
- Rotate the pedals forward and then backward by hand three or four times to evenly distribute the lubricant over all the parts of the chain.
Oiling a bike chain is that straightforward. However, if you need to see the process laid out visually, I suggest watching this video from GCN Tech.
They show the whole process, albeit using a standard bicycle lubricant.
Helpful Tips To Know About Using Motorcycle Chain Lube On A Bicycle
You can put motorcycle chain lubricant on a bicycle, but it’s sub-par compared to normal bike chain lube. A thicker oil sounds like a good idea, but more is not always a better plan.
Here are more helpful tips to know about using motorcycle chain lube on a bicycle.
- Using motorcycle lube on a bike chain causes the chain to remain wet for longer. That, in turn, causes unnecessary and premature wear on the drivetrain. It’s not the best choice for a bicycle, but it will do in a pinch.
- According to Ded Ham Bike, “If you use too much lube or heavy oil not made for bicycle chains, the drivetrain will turn into a black mess. Depending on how dirty it is, you should still be able to wipe the links clean, but you’ll have to scrub harder and longer to cut through the crud.” Basically, too much of a ‘good’ thing is still bad and a more viscous lubricant is effectively the same as adding dirt or another non-lubricant substance to your bicycle chain.
- Because motorcycle lubricant is made to hold in much higher friction and heat, it will cause problems beyond sticking. Any grit or debris that gets stuck in your chain will be held firmly in place by the sticky motorcycle lube until the next time you clean it out.
Whenever possible, you should avoid using any oil on your bike chain that isn’t formulated for it. That said, you can use motorcycle chain lube as a temporary lubricant for your bicycle if necessary.
The trouble with the motorcycle lube is that it’s thicker, more viscous, and often carries more moisture.
All of these can lead to issues for your bicycle, such as trapped dust wearing on the sprockets and rusting. It’s wise to change out the motorcycle chain lube for regular bicycle lubricant as soon as you can.