European Motorcycles

Today in Motorcycle History

The WD-40 Debate

at the "euro-moto" ListServe

Date: Wed, 5 Nov 1997 12:20:05 +0100
From: "Jozsef Romany" <RMN at>
Subject: WD-40

Hi !
Does anyone know the subj. thing ? I read about it on the VFR list, but I am not sure that it is available in Europe. They ( Americans ) say that it is good for everything :-) ... ( mostly to lube the chain ). Could anybody offer me something similar ? Thanks for the answers.

Date: Wed, 5 Nov 1997 16:04:18 +0100
From: "Webber, Adrian, WEBBERA4" <WEBBERA4 at>
Subject: RE: WD-40

It (WD40) is certainly available in the UK and , as you say, is used for all manner of things. It's a general lubricant / moisture dispersant , good for protecting metal, freeing rusty bolts , spraying car electrics (ht leads etc) to help damp starting etc etc. I use it for Mountain Bike chains but not for the bikes , I don't think it's "heavy duty" or "sticky" enough for that , preferring a can of Silkolene "Chain Lube" There are many similar products with different names , WD40 was just one of the original ones. Don't know where you are located but I would imagine that it , or something very similar, is available throughout Europe... I must admit , having recently acquired a VFR400K I haven't found a use for it on that machine - unlike the older European ones which see the can more often....!!

Date: Wed, 5 Nov 1997 20:22:39 +0100
From: zottel at (Zottel)
Subject: WD-40

Motorcycle chainstores (e.g. Detlev Louis and Hein Gericke) offer it here in Germany. They will ship, but by then your WD 40 will be a tad expensive 8-( Detlev Louis has a store somewhere in Czechia, that would be the one closest to you....
RM 1.31 3336

Date: Thu, 6 Nov 1997 16:28:21 +0100
From: "Edward J. Guzman" <eguzman at>
Subject: Re: WD-40

hey howdy,
do not, repeat, do NOT use WD-40 for chain lube! while at first things will seem fine, it is not designed for the loads that a final drive chain will put on it. in fact, it will DAMAGE rubber O-ring chains if used for extended periods of time. the WD-40 will attack the rings eventually making them unable to do their job of keeping the factory lube within the links... it can be used to CLEAN a chain of old lube/spooge. I'd use it on a rag so as not to soak the O-rings with direct application. once dry the chain should then be relubed with chain lube.

Edward Guzman - eguzman at
US West Communications, IT Inc.
These are MY views, Not US West's!

Date: Thu, 6 Nov 1997 21:27:22 +0100
From: ross at NMSU.Edu ()
Subject: re WD-40

I believe a major component of WD-40 is kerosene, and this is the main reason why it is an effective solvent. As has been mentioned, WD-40 is a an effective moisture dispersant and penetrating lubricant for stuck fasteners. It is good to spray on a rag to wipe down a motorcycle chain before reapplying lubricant, but it is not a substitute for whatever sort of chain lube your chain manufacturer recommends. Nor would you want to saturate a motorcycle chain with this stuff, for the penetrating and solvent qualities of this stuff would tend to remove the grease packed in behind the O-rings of a modern style chain.
Ross Staffeldt
Las Cruces NM
BMW R65 (1980)
Ducati 750ss (1992)

Date: Fri, 7 Nov 1997 14:15:09 +0100
From: "Ann M. Calandro" <76726.2625 at>
Subject: WD-40

Hey Y'all
Several people have said you can never use WD-40 for chain lube. One it is a light lubricant and cannot handle the loads. Two it will destroy the O rings on and O ring chain and remove the permanent lube. My personal experience does not agree with that. I have used it exclusively on O ring chains since 1986 and not had a problem. I have also seen several articles that say it will not attack the O rings. I have also seen several that say it will. I do not know who is right but what I do know is that my 1986 GSXR 750 still has its original chain and sprockets after 26,000 miles I also had a ducati 851 that I changed the chain at 16,000 miles. I was very concerned and called John Hoffman, the dealer I bought the bike from, to ask if I had messed up with the WD-40 by getting so few miles. John assured me I had gotten more life from my chain than any other bike he worked on and stop my complaining and just send him a check for the new one. Anyone that knows John knows this is tantamount to an endorsement from him. I have also been told that he has been overheard advising customers that my chains always look very good to him and he could see no reason not to use WD-40 other than he had always heard that it would not work. What it all boils down to is everyone has an opinion and I do not know of a test any more scientific than mine so it is an individual decision. I pray off my chain when I return from a ride and it is still hot. I then take a rag and wipe off the excess (most of the time). The only chain that gets real lube is the F1B with its non O ring chain.

Date: Fri, 7 Nov 1997 15:35:52 +0100
From: Sheldon Aubut <biker at>
Subject: RE: WD-40

After reading the discussions about the use of WD-40 on motorcycles I did a little searching of the web. Can't seem to find an official WD-40 site but I did get there telephone number and I will call them later and see if they have information available on the use of their product. I also ran across the unofficial WD-40 web site. It is a laugh a minute and done by the same guys that did the Duct Tape Books.
Check out

Date: Fri, 7 Nov 1997 23:46:15 +0100
From: Sheldon Aubut <biker at>
Subject: RE: WD-40

Just had a long conversation with Randy Barry, Chief of Operations, at WD-40 Corporation in San Diego, California. He says that it basically boils down to a personal preference decision whether one uses WD-40 on motorcycle chains. If you do use it you should lubricate on a much more regular schedule and you should have no problems. They do not have a whole lot of experience with testing on motorcycle chains, but they do on bicycle chains, with great success, and are the sponsor of the "GTX Motocross Team". I'm not sure if this helped, but it does give their prospective. They do not have a web site but I think I may have made a good contact for my web design business also. I am going to send them a proposal. <grin>

Date: Sat, 8 Nov 1997 12:21:50 +0100
From: "Rick Bley" <thebleys at>
Subject: Re: WD-40

I have been following this thread and yours is an interesting message. What with the cost of "Chain Wax", I have been using WD-40 on my MX bikes chains for years. After each weekend of racing I remove the chains, wipe off any accumulation of dirt, scrub out the links with kerosene, and then store the chains in a mixture of kerosene and Marvel Mystery Oil. The next race weekend the chains come out of the mixture, are hung on a nail to remove the excess, mounted on the sprockets, and then sprayed with WD-40. Each chain lasts a season with no appreciable stretching or binding of links. I also use WD-40 on my racing kart chain. I like that the product is of a light consistency and feel that the lubricant provides less frictional losses (important in the stock Briggs class where even a tenth of a horsepower matters) than a conventional chain lube.
I will be looking for the T.A.L. product. Was there any indication where one might find the item?

Rick Bley, AHRMA # 90E/907, roadracer, MX and
Trials rider. 1962 Honda CL72 MX, 1972 CZ 125 MX,
1964 CZ 125 Trials. BMWMOA/RA, IBMWR, AMA,
VJMC, 1974 BMW R90S, Hickory NC.
FOR SALE: 1964/5 CZ Trials bikes (two, plus spares) $1,500
1975 Husky 125 MX $375
Honda CB450 race parts
Hickory (western North Carolina)
and... looking for Honda CL72 stuff for AHRMA MX racer.

Date: Sat, 8 Nov 1997 20:53:26 +0100
From: forrest forschmiedt <forrestf at>
Subject: WD-40

As I hold a can of WD-40 and carefully inspect the label I find no mention of any lubricating properties. It claims to be, among a few other things, a cleaner, penetrant, moisture displacer and corrosion inhibitor. I use a shop rag moistened with it on my bike to REMOVE chain lube from the rear wheel. Works great for that. Think about it, if the manufacturer does not call it a lubricant and it very handily removes lubricant from that which it is supposed to protect then it's probably not chain lube. Unless of course it is all just a clever conspiracy between the manufacturers of motorcycle chains and chain lube to make us spend more money on their products.


Date: Sun, 9 Nov 1997 07:30:31 +0100
From: "Jon Burdsall" <jburd at>
Subject: Re: WD-40

and don't forget the other qualities it has. Makes a great fish bait. Just spray it on the worm, or lure, even heard of it being sprayed on flies. also helps to alleviate sore knuckles (minor arthritis) after a long cold ride. So keep your chains free from arthritic infirmity, and have fish chase your bike, all at the same time.

Jon Burdsall jburd at
home page at
Helena, Montana USA
1977 Moto Guzzi Convert/1972 BMW R75/5

Date: Sun, 9 Nov 1997 08:02:48 +0100
From: Sheldon Aubut <biker at>
Subject: RE: WD-40

The guy from WD-40 made it very clear to me that they consider it a light lubricant. He mentioned the lubricating properties over and over. He was the Chief of Operations, not Sales, so I guess I have to believe him, at least somewhat, although I almost always use the lubricant made for the use regardless of price.

Date: Sun, 9 Nov 1997 16:30:40 +0100
From: Dennis Kaill <denb at>
Subject: Re: WD-40

For my money I prefer LPS. It comes in three sizes er, thicknesses. Number One is like WD-40 and it says on the label that it "lubricates delicate mechanisms...bicycles, motorcycles...." Reading a little further it says, "safe on plastics, fabrics, rubber, paint and finishes...." Among other uses, #1 is good to lubricate tires when I change them- better than soapy water which can corrode inside the rim. Number Two is heavier and like a very light oil and does not evaporate away. Number Three is like a light cosmoline and good for heavy duty stuff, storage, etc. LPS is not as easy to find as WD-40 but most serious auto supply, hardware outlets would have it. I use WD-40 for cleaning.


Date: Mon, 10 Nov 1997 12:25:19 +0100
From: "M.H. van der Schalk" <wschalk at>
Subject: Re: WD 40

Hi all,
I have read the WD 40 discussion with great interest. What I can add is the following:
Firstly, in Holland there was a test of winter protection sprays on motorcycles. The Californian guys and dolls probably don't know what I'm talking about but we have salty wet roads in winter which make your engine look like a mushroom. So if you want to ride in winter time and keep the bike in reasonable condition you will have to protect the bike with Tectyl or other similar products. All kind of protective sprays were tested but it turned out that WD40 was the best of them all!
Just interesting to know.
Secondly, on 0-ring chains the lubricant on the chain may not seem important but this is not entirely true. Don't forget that the chain rolls on sprocket need lubrication too. With steel sprockets this is not so bad but aluminium sprockets wear out before you know it. I can tell because I lubricate the chain on my Lav 650 regularly and a friend doesn't (didn't!). My sprocket lived 18.000 km and was just worn, his only 7000 and it looked like a saw... Now I would like to know if WD40 is lubricating well enough to fulfil this task? Maybe the climate you (have to) live in is important too (we in Holland have the occasional shower...). My old Laverdas 750 with good ol' steel sprockets I used to 'lubricate' with silicon spray for years and it worked quite well. It kept the chain clean, same as WD40 will do, or is a WD40 better choice??
Years ago, Performance Bikes magazine highly recommended KALGUARD chain lubricant. Couldn't get it here but took a few cans with me from California and I think it is indeed brilliant. I use it on all my bikes but even if used sparingly as recommended it is a bit messy, so I'm still in for something less sticky, transparent, yet equally effective....

Marnix van der Schalk
International Laverda 750 SFC Owners Registry
Rotterdam, The Netherlands
E-mail: wschalk at

Date: Tue, 11 Nov 1997 16:31:14 +0100
From: Godfrey DiGiorgi <ramarren at>
Subject: Re: WD-40

WD-40 was designed to wash Salt water Off navy equipment, no wonder it does well at preventing corrosion from road salt. It's not chain lube though, and you shouldn't soak the chain with it. It tends to leech the o-rings of their resiliency and make them hard, they shrink. Then the lubricant in the rollers and pins goes away. Better to use it to wipe off the outside surface of the chain to clean it (although I like kerosene more) and then use a good chain lube for the task of lubricating the outer chain surfaces and sprocket interface. I use Tri-Flo chain lube and have been for years as it goes on thin, dries sticky and works well.

Godfrey - ramarren at

Date: Wed, 12 Nov 1997 00:27:59 +0100
From: "Ann M. Calandro" <76726.2625 at>
Subject: WD 40 Again

I have a Bimota db2 with 8,000 miles which has an O ring chain and aluminum sprocket and neither is showing any signs of wear. WD 40 has been the exclusive lubricant or should I say cleaner of the chain. I try to spray the chain after every ride but do not put any other lube on it. I also have a friend with a 900 SS CR Ducati that has had similar experience. We live in North Carolina where we get dry summers but rainy winters. As long as it is an O ring chain with the sealed lubricant the rain should not make a difference except to the sides of the chain which may rust. I think WD 40 would be excellent in this case as it is not only a light lubricant but a moisture dispersant.

Jim Calandro

Now WD-40 discussions are starting to show up on the MotoGuzzi listserve also:

From: Dcbmacs at
Sent: Thursday, November 20, 1997 7:59 AM
To: Moto Guzzi motorcycle mailing list
Subject: Winter storage for F.I. Guzzi

This will be my first winter with a fuel-injected bike. Should I store it empty or full? With my Eldo I empty the carbs and tank, spray a little wd40 in the tank but with cars I store I use Sta-bil and keep the tanks full. It would certainly be easier to get all the gas out of a F.I. bike than a car, but what is the opinion out there?
David Bond

From: Godfrey DiGiorgi [ramarren at]
Sent: Thursday, November 20, 1997 9:05 AM
To: Moto Guzzi motorcycle mailing list
Subject: Re: Winter storage for F.I. Guzzi

Use Sta-bil and keep the tank full. WD-40 does not prevent water from condensing in the tank, where keeping the tank full to the brim will.


Was wondering if you could settle a bet. Do you know what the "WD" stands for in WD-40. Would appreciate any info.
Thanks! -- Jimmy White

I believe it stands for "Water Displacing" formula 40. -- Sheldon

From: MVA850SS at
Sent: Wednesday, August 19, 1998 10:20 AM
Subject: Re: (GUZZI) restortation

Whatever liquid cleanser you use on bare aluminum, after it is all dry and clean, I like to smother it with WD-40. and wipe it off. That stops any corrosion that might start immediately after cleaning

From: James C. Hawkins mail-to:jhawkins at
Sent: Saturday, August 22, 1998 3:12 PM
Subject: WD-40

The greatest use I've found for WD-40 is removing glue residue after removing stickers, etc. Spray it on, and wipe glue off. Awesome!

From: th01 at [mail-to:th01 at]
Sent: Wednesday, September 02, 1998 3:10 PM
WD40 , the corp that amnufacturers it, has had several lawsuits against them. For years they were using propane as a propellent. Several people sprayed it on running motors/spark wires and were injured when the cans exploded. They have paid out a fortune but admit to no wrong doing. Use your head when your using any pressurized lubricant. WD 40 will trap small particles of water under it's surface. If you surface has been exposed to salt water or a corosive, wash/clean and dry first. Then apply as much as you want.

Note from Sheldon:

The next step is to let the folks at WD-40 Corp know that this page exists and hope that they can respond to the points raised. If they do respond I will post it here and also ask them to e-mail the euro-moto list if possible. -- Sheldon e-mail: biker at

4-15-98 After several contacts with WD-40 Corp, they have not responded.

8-22-98 Still no response from WD-40 Corp. If anyone has an "In" there please print this and show it to them. Or e-mail, or call them.

Late 98 - Talked to people in the PR department - "They will get back to me"... Never heard from them.

Finally got one of their head engineers on the phone. He said he would work something up and get back to me. I did call back several times but he wasn't in each time, and he never called me back.

12-14-99 received this:
Noticed your website, try ours at, enjoy,
Phil Schumock
WD-40 Company
On the web at

I responded:


That page has just been sitting there ever since my numerous attempts to get someone at WD-40 to at least jump in and give us some advice. At that time, I don't believe, WD-40 had much of a web site, or maybe any at all. I will add a link to your site to that page but it would be especially nice if someone from there could read the page and send me a few paragraphs that I might post. We motorcyclists have been using the product for a long time, and with all the miss-information, and competition, out there, it sure would be nice to have the correct scoop.

Glad to hear from you.

Sheldon T. Aubut

Let's see what they say...

February 5, 2000 - Still no reply from WD40 corp.

July 1, 2002
I went to the WD-40 website, and among the list of uses there is “lubricating motorcycle chains.” This would seem to be an endorsement by the WD40 corporation of their products effectiveness to that end. I hope this proves useful in solving the debate. -- Niles Nelson -- nnelson at

From Sheldon:
Sure enough, at they now have a list of "2000 uses" and amongst them are "cleans motorcycle chains" and "lubricates motorcycle chains". They've come a long way with their web site since we first started this thread five years ago. I guess it is at an end now...