Can You Use Olive Oil On Bike Chain? | PedalChef

Key Takeaways

  • Olive oil can be used as an emergency lubricant for bike chains.
  • Proper maintenance and lubrication are crucial for optimal bike performance.
  • Olive oil is not as effective or long-lasting as commercial bike lubricants.
  • Olive oil is more economical compared to commercial bike lubricants.

Lubricating your bike chain is essential to extend chain life and ensure smooth and efficient pedaling. But can you use olive oil on the bike chain?

Yes, olive oil can lubricate your chain in an emergency situation. While olive oil isn't as effective as specialized bike chain lubricants, it's harmless in a one-off situation. Plus, it's a clean, non-toxic option, so if you're environmentally conscious, it's a rider-friendly choice.

As a biking enthusiast, I’ve worked with various bike types and components for many years. My expertise extends beyond mere theoretical understanding; I've practically tested and experimented with the use of alternative lubricants like olive oil, allowing me to provide well-informed insights. So, buckle up, and let’s explore the use of olive oil on a bike chain.



Can You Use Olive Oil On Bike Chain?

You're in the middle of a ride, and your bike chain starts squeaking. You reach for your trusty lubricant, but your bottle is dry. Can that bottle of olive oil in your kitchen serve as a makeshift hero for your bike chain woes?

Yes, you can use olive oil as a temporary lubricant for your bike chain. It's not a solve-all solution, but if you're in a pinch, it'll do the trick.

Olive oil is easy to apply and can keep your chain running smoothly until you get your hands on a proper bike chain lubricant.

To effectively use olive oil on your bike chain, follow these steps:


Before you begin, create a clean and organized workspace. Gather all the necessary tools and materials. You'll need a degreaser, a chain cleaning brush or an old toothbrush, a clean cloth or paper towels, extra virgin olive oil, and, optionally, specialized bike chain lubricant for future use.

Chain Cleaning

Start by giving your bike chain a thorough cleaning. The purpose here is to remove old lubricant, dirt, grime, and any contaminants that may have accumulated.

Apply a degreaser generously to the chain to ensure that it covers every part. Use a chain cleaning brush or an old toothbrush to scrub the chain.

Pay close attention to the chain's rollers and links, as these are the parts that need to be cleaned for effective lubrication.

Rinse the Chain

After scrubbing the chain with the degreaser, rinse it off with clean water. The goal is to remove all traces of the degreaser and the loosened dirt and grime.

As you rinse the chain, it's a good practice to hold a cloth or rag behind it to prevent water from splattering onto other bike components.

Dry Your Bike Chain

Properly drying the chain is crucial for effective lubrication. Use a clean cloth or paper towel to thoroughly wipe down the chain.

Make sure that the chain is completely dry. A dry chain provides better adhesion for the lubricant.

Apply Olive Oil

Now, it's time to apply the olive oil. Take a clean, dry cloth or paper towel and apply a small amount of extra virgin olive oil to it.

You don't need to drench the cloth; a thin, even layer is all that's required. Begin applying the olive oil to the chain by turning the pedals backward slowly.

Ensure that you cover the entire chain evenly with the oil. The oil will penetrate the chain's links and provide lubrication.

Excess Oil Removal

After applying the olive oil, use another clean, dry cloth or paper towel to wipe off any excess oil from the chain.

Be thorough but gentle in your wiping to avoid removing too much oil. The objective here is to leave a thin, protective layer of oil on the chain's surface.

Test Ride and Reapplication (if needed)

Take your bike for a short test ride to allow the olive oil to work its way into the chain's links and rollers. Pay attention to the chain's smoothness and noise level during the ride.

If you still experience excessive noise or feel that the chain is not adequately lubricated, you can reapply a small amount of olive oil and wipe off any excess once again.

However, be cautious not to over-lubricate, as excess oil can attract dirt and grime.

Alternatives to Olive Oil on a Bike Chain

When olive oil won't cut it, you can turn to several commercial lubricants specifically designed for bike chains. Here are some lubricants that play well with chains:

  • WD-40 Bike-specific products: Contrary to popular belief, standard WD-40 isn't a lubricant; it's more of a cleaner/degreaser. But WD-40's bike-specific formulas offer wet and dry lube options based on your riding conditions.
  • Chainsaw Oil: It's stickier and can attract dirt, but it's a decent stand-in until you get proper bike lube.
  • Silicone Spray: Leaves a thin, waterproof layer. It's better than nothing, but doesn't last long.
  • Wax-based Lubricants: These need a clean chain to start with, but they're excellent for keeping things moving smoothly.
  • Sewing Machine Oil: A lightweight oil that can do the trick temporarily, similar to bike-specific oils.

Cost Effectiveness of Using Olive Oil vs. Commercial Lubricants

Using olive oil might save you some cash upfront. You won't have to dash to the bike shop for that special lube every time your chain cries for attention.

But here's the catch – olive oil won’t quite match up to commercial lubricants when it comes to performance and protection.

Chains might wear out faster, which could mean more frequent replacements are needed. Plus, reapplying more often also means more time spent on maintenance.

Have a peek at this little table I crafted to compare the numbers:

Lubricant Type Avg. Cost per Application Applications per Month Impact on Chain Life
Olive Oil $0.30 8 Moderate wear
Commercial Lube $0.50 4 Prolonged longevity

The trick is balancing the initial savings with the potential for increased wear and tear. Remember, while olive oil is a jack-of-all-trades in the kitchen, it might just be a master of none in your garage.

Frequently Asked Questions

So, you've oiled your bike chain with the readily available olive oil from your kitchen, and now you're facing a slew of questions? Here are the answers to the FAQs.

Can I switch back to a commercial bike chain lube after using olive oil?

You sure can! If olive oil was your go-to during a maintenance pinch, there’s nothing to worry about. Just make sure you thoroughly clean your bike chain before applying commercial bike chain lube.

Are there any disadvantages to using olive oil on a bike chain?

Yes, while olive oil can temporarily provide lubrication, it's not formulated for the high pressures and diverse weather conditions that bike chains face. It tends to attract dirt and grime, which might result in a dirtier chain over time.

Is olive oil a suitable choice for all bike chains, including mountain and road bikes?

Yes, but not advisable for long-term or extreme conditions, where a specialized bike chain lubricant is the way to go.