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Bike Chain Lube Alternatives – Discover Them Here!

Written by Gary Johnson / Fact checked by Henry Speciale

bike chain lube alternatives

Are you trying to maintain your bike’s chain without using regular lubricants? Then, knowing the different bike chain lube alternatives can help you maintain your bike chain’s longevity and avoid future problems and accidents.

Some alternatives work better than a regular bike chain lube, while other alternatives are not advisable.

So, it’s important to choose the correct one to avoid deteriorating your bike chains. If you’re on a budget, then pricing must be considered. But there’s a lot more to think about. Learn about them here.

Different Chain Lube Alternatives You Can Use


1. Chainsaw oil

You can use chainsaw oil for lubricating your bike chain, which demands thick and sticky oils. Chainsaw oil can also prevent corrosion. However, because this type can attract dirt, it’s best to only use chainsaw oil in rainy weather and in small amounts.

2. Clipper oil

Another product you may consider is clipper oil. Because clipper oil is light, it may require frequent re-applications, making it more troublesome to use. On a more positive note, clipper oils are odorless and anti-rust.

3. Silicone spray

As a bike chain oil substitute, silicone spray works similarly to clipper oil in terms of longevity, so after each ride, you may need to reapply it. In terms of benefits, many people like silicone spray because it’s quick to dry and is non-toxic. The slipperiness of this substance also allows it to penetrate derailleur and spring pivots easily.

4. 3-in-1-oil

A 3-in-1 oil is a multi-purpose oil that may be used for various purposes, including lubricating bike chains. This naphthenic oil actually outperformed many lubricants in lab tests involving power loss and speed.

Moreover, it doesn’t attract dirt and protects bike chains against wear and tear. And unlike vegetable oils, it doesn’t degrade quickly when the temperature changes, making it one of the best alternatives available.

Bicycle Chain Lube Alternatives You Must Avoid


1. Motor oils & other thick oils

While motor oils can be used to lube your bike chains, because of their acidity, they will damage your bike’s components. Also, since motor oils are thick, it is difficult to cover your bike parts with them. Application is therefore time-consuming, and products like mineral spirits may be needed to make such oils thinner.

For the same reasons, other overly thick oils such as castor oil, engine oil, and gear oil should also be avoided.

2. Petroleum jelly

Avoid using petroleum jelly or Vaseline as a bicycle grease alternative. Vaseline is more costly than regular bike lubricants. Moreover, it doesn’t last long or work on high-heat components.

Vaseline will also make bikes more difficult to clean, as its texture attracts a lot of dirt. If you dislike doing maintenance tasks, avoid this sticky substance.

3. Cooking oil

Cooking oil, a popular household substance, may appear to be a tempting substitute for bike grease, but it is not suitable to be used as an alternative to lube your bike chains.

Cooking oils, like motor oils, are too thick to be applied on the mechanical parts of bikes. They also oxidize quickly and will dirty your drivetrain. Compared with other effective lubes, cooking oils contain no graphite, and therefore lack the weak covalent bonds that help minimize friction in machinery.

4. WD-40

Some people use WD-40 as a bike chain lube substitute. However, this product should be reserved for cleaning your chains, not conditioning them. The reason is that WD-40 can actually wear away the lubricant your bike chains already have. You’re better off using this substance on locks and small toys instead.

Why Use Bike Chain Lube

The biggest advantage of utilizing bike lube alternatives is the convenience and accessibility. The majority of the items listed above are ordinary household items, so you can easily find them as you walk around the house and use them on your bike chain.

If you are low on budget and need to lube your bike chain, then knowing these alternatives would help you easily maintain it and avoid accidents and problems when riding your bike. As we all know, lubes help reduce friction and increase drivetrain efficiency.

Know What Works for You

When you ask yourself, “what can I use to lubricate my bike chain?” you can try to use the available alternatives listed above to lube your bike chains. Check your products carefully to see which you can use and cannot use.

For those who want an item they can use for other purposes (not just as a bike chain lube lubricant), I recommend getting a 3-in-1 oil such as the 3-IN-ONE 10038 Multi-Purpose Oil.

In addition, to maintain your chain in the most effective way, professional tools are indispensable. you can check out the top-rated bike chain degreasers and the most popular bike cable cutters.

But if the said items are not available, it won’t hurt to consider other options, either. You can even create your own DIY bicycle chain lube. To know more about creating your own DIY bike chain lube, you can watch this video.


That is everything you need to know about bike chain lube alternatives. Carefully assess and decide which products or items can be used as a lube alternative for your bike chain.

In choosing the right lube alternative for your bike chain, you must always consider the availability, cost, and effect on the bike chain when the alternative is used.

  • Chainsaw oil, Silicone Spray, Clipper Oil, and 3-in-1 Oil are the recommended lube alternatives that you can use for your bike chain.
  • You must avoid oils that are overly thick. Petroleum jelly, cooking oil, olive oil, and coconut oil should also be avoided as a lubricant alternative.
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