lube bike chain with olive oil

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Last Updated on October 12, 2020

You already know the right way to lube a bike’s chain. So it’s easy to clean the chain every once in a while to ensure it’s in good condition. Doing so before going on a bike ride will ensure you have an excellent cycling experience. 

Mostly, the first step to lubricating your bike’s chain is to select the right chain lube. Already, there are quite a number of options that work so well, some of which we’ve tested and reviewed on Bikes Haven. 

But the question is this:

Can you put olive oil on a bike chain? Or is it a bad thing to do in the first place?

I’ll give you my opinion in this article. Then I’ll let you decide if using olive oil to lubricate your bike’s chain is something worth doing.
So without further ado, let’s get to it.


Can You Put Olive Oil on a Bike Chain? 

olive oil to lube chain

The short answer is yes and no. Yes, because an extra virgin olive oil on a bike chain is better than no oil at all. And no, because the oil isn’t as effective as a dedicated lube and therefore can’t be used as a substitute.

From my understanding, cyclists from different communities, like this one, have varied opinion on the effectiveness of vegetable oils on a bike’s chain. And their arguments, from both side of the debate, are quite convincing. 

So what gives?

Should you just stick to chain lubes and never use olive oil even once?

Well, not exactly.

Here’s something to keep in mind:

Olive oil will never be as effective as proper lube oil, but it can help a lot when you are in an emergency situation. It can provide a temporary effect, which should be enough to get you to a bike shop nearly for proper fixing.

The Positive Effect of Olive Vegetable Oil on a Bike’s Chain

If you’ve already tried using olive oil on a bike chain, my assumption is you did so with the idea that a bad lubricant is better than no lube at all. But the experience must have brought you to a conclusion that the oil still has an effect on the chain nonetheless.

To be precise, olive oil penetrates the chain easily, reach the recesses, and help to remove squeaking noises. You’ll also realize that apart from lubricating the chain relatively well, it can easily remove dirt and crud in just a few minutes. Plus, the stickiness is modest, so you can clean it away very quickly.

The Negative Effect of Olive Oil on a Bike’s Chain 

Some of us often assume that olive oil is good for lubing a bike chain because the content is smooth and slippery. And while this is true to some degree, it’s not the whole of the story.

There’s a reason why I suggest using the oil only as an emergency solution. In particular, the oil doesn’t have the kind of viscosity needed to lube the moving parts of a chain. Add that to the fact that the viscosity breaks down rather quickly, and you realize that they don’t actually have the necessary power to stick on the chain.

Something very important to understand is that the effect of olive oil on a bike chain is short term. The lubrication may sustain the chain for fifty miles or so. But once the viscosity of the oil breaks, the chain is no longer lubed.

And have you even though about the effect of rain or water on the chain yet? Probably not. But the truth is olive oil will easily give up its effect on the chain as soon as it makes contact with water.

Another thing you need to think about before applying olive oil on a bike chain is the weather condition. Usually, the oil works well in hot environments, but it’s ineffective in cold weather. Clearly, oil often solidifies in cold weather, so it will create a greasy mess. And any dust particle that hits the chain will stick on it thereafter, which means you’ll have some cleaning to do.

What’s the Takeaway? 

The takeaway is this:

You can use olive oil on a bike chain because it has some effect. At least it helps to keep rust away. It may even remove some chunk of dirt from the chain. But it should only be an emergency solution because the impact doesn’t last.

The assumption is that olive oil is better than no lubricant at all. But there’s no evidence pointing to the oil’s long-term effect on the chain, particularly when evaluating performance. Besides, the oil will obviously collect dust as you ride your bike, and this can ruin your cycling experience.

Make sure to visit a bike shop for proper lubing as soon as you can.

Can I Use the WD40 to Lube a Bike’s Chain Instead of Olive Oil? 

WD40 to lube bike chain

The WD40 doesn’t need an introduction by now. In fact, it’s the world’s most popular lubricating agent in the market right now.
But can you use it to lube your bike’s chain instead of olive oil? Well, the answer is NO.

To be clear, the WD40 is a spray lubricant, and therefore it isn’t effective. For a bike chain, even olive oil would be better by far. Remember, spray-based lubricants have short-term effect on objects, and the WD40 isn’t an exception. Even worse, it can easily de-grease your bike’s chain, so you shouldn’t even think about using it.

Final Words

If you want my opinion on whether you should use olive oil on bike chain or not, I’ll say you shouldn’t. But if you must, then make sure you do so only in case of an emergency. Otherwise, you should use a lubricant specifically made for bikes.

Bike lubes aren’t even costly in the first place. So there’s no point wasting your time on olive oil given that it will only give you a temporary effect. Besides, the right lube will make a very big difference. It will not only makes sure the chain stays lubed for long, you’ll also get an exceptional cycling experience all the time. 

Harold Whitford

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About the Author

My name is Harold Whitford, a husband, father, and avid cyclist with a Bachelor’s degree in Sports Management from the University of Delaware. Having been in the industry for more than 15 years, I have a number of the road race and national time trial championships in my bag.

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