WD-40 recommends this Bike All Conditions Lube 'for chains, derailleurs, pivot points, cables and shifters'. In other words, everything on your bike that moves against something else. Ignoring the last four, because it's impossible to measure its performance against any other spray aerosol product, I've focused on the chain. Here, it's moderately effective, but really no different to other spray lubricants, and works out quite expensive because you have to keep applying.
Let's look at some variables affecting chain lubrication performance of a typical road bike:
Weather: wet or dry, humid, dusty
Road surface: clean or muddy, salty, sandy
Chain: new, not new, 6- to 11-speed, plated/unplated, steel or exotic
Cleaning regime: religious or couldn't care less, degrease or don't degrease first, brush or chain machine
Lubricate: drop or spray, douse it or apply sparingly, inside of link or outside, allow to soak in or wipe off
That's 29 environments/options/methodologies/beliefs, and 13 decisions to make – giving about 67,863,915 possible combinations. No wonder there are as many opinions on what works for lubrication as there are keen cyclists to espouse them.
Into this land of confusion WD-40 has launched its All Conditions Lube. At £6.59 for 250ml the price per ml isn't bad – other market leaders charge around £5-£8 per 100ml. So on the face of it, cheaper per ml than pretty much all the brand-name lubes out there.
Let us spray
But to get it onto your bike, you have to spray it. There are a number of issues here.
Firstly, it's messy. You probably don't want to be doing this with your back wheel on, or your rim and by extension brake blocks/tyre walls will become plastered in fresh lubricant – really not a good idea for stopping power and tyre life. Also the lack of control means overspray and potential dribbling down into the freewheel and hub bearings, where the additives that help the lubricant flow into your chain will also do a cracking job of displacing that grease that you expect to sit amongst your bearings for many thousands of miles.
So wheel off then. But even with the gentlest of pressure, holding the stubby nozzle right up to the chain, there's still enough overspray to coat both chainstays and rear mech in un-needed lubricant. Yes it will wipe off, but it leaves a detectable mark on even freshly cleaned and degreased metal.
Second issue of spraying: it's just not efficient. With a great deal of patience that renders the selling point of an aerosol irrelevant, an entire chain could be done for about 10ml of fluid – more than twice that used when going drop-by-drop from a bottle. If you dosed it on without care, pressing the aerosol button as you might a can of GT85 or similar, you could easily quadruple that figure.
Just drop it
My usual method of chain lubrication is to totally degrease and clean the chain, let it dry, then apply a single drop of lube to each chain bushing in turn – yes, all 114 of them. Takes a few minutes, and a good eye. This means I've used the minimum possible, it's in every link, and I have eyeballed the whole chain for any signs of wear or damage. Leave it to sit at least a few hours, then wipe off any excess with a cloth (lube on the chain plates is a perfect way to collect dirt and quickly build a grinding paste across your gears).
This method uses 4ml of lube each time. I'm nearly through a 120ml bottle of my house-brand lube after 6,000km, re-applying every 200km with bottles costing £6.50. So how does the WD-40 All Conditions Lube compare?
After a thorough clean and application of the WD-40 I did a 30km slow pub run in reasonably constant light rain. The next day things looked pretty clean, and sounded OK too. A few days later after a fast, dry 60km and it was clear that the lube was basically gone. An audible difference could be heard from the drivetrain, and a visible grey dusty residue across the chain links said things were running dry. If you can hear a difference from your drivetrain due to lack of lube, then unnecessary damage is being done and unnecessary power wasted.
So that's 10ml of WD-40, good for under 100km of mixed conditions. At rrp that's 26p per 100km – over twice the price of my house-brand lube at about 11p per 100km. Given the need to package it in a (relative-to-plastic bottle) large, heavy metal can under pressure, it's easy to see why it costs. And you have a large metal can to store and recycle, as opposed to a small plastic bottle that'll slip into a toolbox, pannier or bag.
Given the absolute amounts involved here, this is clearly a ridiculous comparison based on price alone. Your average road.cc reader probably consumes more hard currency value in coffee and cake during a week's riding than what a year's worth of lube costs, of any brand. What is important here is application and longevity. And it's here that the WD-40 All Conditions Lube loses marks. Fundamentally, it's a messy product to apply, you really should remove your wheel to do so, and it just doesn't last as long as thicker lubes do. Having to remember to reapply after every decently long ride would get to be a drag, especially if you were commuting daily.
Who's it for? Maybe if you have a bunch of bikes to look after, don't ride them much and don't have much time for maintenance, this could be the answer. If your idea of bike cleaning is 30 seconds of pressure washer then bung it in the shed, then lube-in-a-can might well appeal. But it's hard not to also suggest that any number of bottle lubes could also do the 'quick backpedal dribble', with improved, longer-lasting results and no excess mess. For any serious cyclist, with a machine they want to keep clean, shiny and friction-free, there are better options.
Moderately effective lube-in-a-can for those with no time, lots of cash and short rides planned
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road.cc test report
Make and model: WD-40 Bike All Conditions Lube
Size tested: 250ml
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
It's for people who want something that splashes on fast, does an OK job but needs regular reapplication.
WD-40 says: "This product is perfect for riders who love being outdoors in all conditions. The high quality PTFE used ensures maximum lubrication and reduces wear & tear. It gets deep into mechanisms leaving a long lasting coating to protect all moving parts against corrosion giving you a smoother, more enjoyable ride!"
Smooth gear transitions
Prevents rust and wear
Improved chain efficiency
RECOMMENDED FOR CHAINS, DERAILLEURS, PIVOT POINTS, CABLES, SHIFTERS
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
It has PTFE in it.
Lasting less than 100km, it fundamentally delivers a poor consumer experience compared to other lubes.
It's not durable, if you can call any lube 'durable'.
Pretty poor value. You'll use lots of it, and it's not that cheap.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Not well. Didn't last long, and application was fiddly if done as cleanly as possible.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Messy application, and it didn't last very long.
Did you enjoy using the product? Not really.
Would you consider buying the product? No
Would you recommend the product to a friend? No
Use this box to explain your score
If spray lubrication is your desire, just use whatever's on special offer at your local DIY store – CRC 5.56, GT85, normal WD-40. I bet you won't tell the difference over this product.
About the tester
I usually ride: Charge Juicer My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: club rides, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking, Dutch bike pootling