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WD40 can be great for silencing a squeaky door hinge, toy, or other mechanical parts. However, you might wonder if you can use WD40 on bike brakes.
As a young adult, I would often use WD40 on anything metal that would be sticky or make a loud sound. I found that WD40 would loosen metal parts to ease friction and reduce noises caused by parts rubbing together.
However, it is generally not good to use WD40 on bike brakes. Oil-based solutions like WD40 can cause rubber and silicone brake parts to wear down. These brake parts are usually vital to the braking process and the safety of the rider, so you should avoid using WD40 on bike brakes.
If you like the WD40 brand, you might be pleased to know WD40 has a line of products specifically formulated for use on bikes. It seems WD40 understood the downsides of using the standard WD40 on bikes and decided to develop something more appropriate.
We will go over some beneficial uses of WD40 on a bike and list some alternative ways you can clean and lubricate your bike brakes. There are solutions you can use that might be cheaper and more effective than using WD40.
Why Can’t WD40 Be Used On Bike Brakes?
WD40 is a general purpose solution that can help displace water and grease from a wide range of items.
Items that typically work well with WD40 are made with metal and don't require a long-term lubrication method.
In other words, items where extended lubrication is crucial to its functionality and safety are better off being used with a more specialized solution for that particular item.
Specialized lubrication and cleaning products are more likely to be formulated for specific materials and uses that are not ideally paired with WD40.
Whether you use rim brakes, hydraulic disc brakes, or some other type of brakes, you should never use a solution that can break down parts that are so important to operating your bike.
I think the less premium the bike, the more careful you should be about the deterioration of bike parts.
For instance, a low-end bike you might get from a toy store may have low-quality rim brakes.
These types of brakes will have pads made of rubber or a material that can break down easily under normal usage.
If these breaks are constantly activated, the pads will wear down and lose their effectiveness.
Though WD40 might be able to reduce or remove annoying sounds coming from your brakes, they can not only wear down non-metal materials, they might smoothen the contact area of your brakes and make them work less efficiently.
Your rim brake pads should be able to apply a certain amount of pressure to your bike rims so the friction can allow your bike wheels to slow down and stop.
Anything that reduces that friction will reduce the effectiveness of your rim brakes and your bike’s ability to stop.
Of course, you should also be cautious of using WD40 with more premium brakes such as mechanical or hydraulic disk brakes.
Though these types of brakes are generally more dependable and effective than rim brakes, they may have particular sensitivities to WD40 that can cause problems if you spray the brakes with that solution.
I understand WD40 is usually easy to find and buy, but when it comes to your bike brakes operating properly, you shouldn’t risk damage to your brakes in exchange for convenience and saving money.
What Is Good To Use On Bike Brakes?
When caring for your bike brakes, you need to think about the materials that are part of your brakes.
Even though most of the materials might look like a durable metal, there may be multiple components that are hard to see.
These components might be key to the functionality of the brakes, so you should maintain them using methods that won’t speed up the deterioration of the components.
Your first options for cleaning and lubricating your bike brakes should be the safest options.
You should avoid using products with harsh chemicals that can damage bike brake components and other parts of your bike.
These damaging solutions might also be unhealthy for you to breathe in, so that’s another benefit of using more natural and less harmful solutions.
Some examples of safe solutions for your bike brakes include water and water-based cleaning products.
It is generally a good idea to stay away from products that have oil or other ingredients that can wear down your bike brake materials.
Some ingredients in cleaners and lubricants might help to extend the effectiveness of the product, but they might also be bad for your bike brakes.
If you use a product with less additives, it might require you to apply the solution to your bike more often since there will likely be less preserving effects from the ingredients that are included.
Biodegradable products will often have less damaging ingredients that can be effective for cleaning your bike brakes, but they might need to be applied more often to have a sufficient lubricating effect.
Since bikes have characteristics that are different from other items that use cleaners and lubricants, it’s a good idea to use solutions that are made specifically for bikes.
WD40 has a line of products used for degreasing, cleaning, and lubricating bike parts.
You should definitely give these products a try if you have a favorable view of the WD40 brand.
I think the fact that WD40 came out with a group of products made for bikes shows they are open to listening to the demands of its consumer base.
Since users of WD40 bike products are likely to be particular about the quality of these products, WD40 will likely be held to a high standard and will respond to any negative issues these products might cause.
To prevent being in trouble with bike-minded consumers, they likely worked very hard to formulate effective solutions that will work well for bikes.
If you want to keep things more simple and not use any fancy proprietary products, you can opt for cleaning solutions with common household items.
Spraying water from a hose with at least moderate pressure should be able to get a significant amount of mud, dirt, and other contaminants removed from your bike breaks.
For sticking grease that builds up around your bike brakes, you can try to increase the pressure of your water hose to break up the grease.
If the grease is too stubborn for basic water hose sprays, you can try to rub warm water on the brakes and rub the brakes down with your hands and a cloth.
When it comes to removing rust from your brakes, an effective method I’ve used for years is rubbing aluminum foil with water on the rusty areas.
This method doesn’t require any extra chemicals and is very cheap and easy to do.
All you have to do is take a sheet of aluminum foil, bundle it up in a ball or fold it over, add some water to it, then rub the rusted areas.
The amount of time it’ll take to remove the rust depends on the thickness of the rust and how hard you rub.
You might not get all of the rust off, but you should be able to get a sizable amount removed in a relatively short time.