Can You Use Engine Oil As Chain Lube? – (Yes.. But Read First!)

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Regular chain lubrication and maintenance are very important for a good riding experience. But, when choosing the right chain lube, people often make mistakes and use engine oil or grease. The purpose of engine oil is to lubricate the engine’s moving parts, not the chain drive.

So, can you use engine oil as chain lube in motorcycles? Engine oil lubricates the moving parts inside the engine and cranks. It’s not good to use engine oil as chain lube for motorcycles. Engine oil’s viscosity is generally high, and oil’s high viscosity attracts dust from the environment and forms a sticky layer that damages the chain in the long run. If your chain needs instant lubrication, you can use SAE-90 gear oil.

Chain Lubrication

What Is The Difference Between Engine Oil And Chain Lube?

The purpose of engine oil and chain lube is almost similar. Both reduce wear and tear due to frictional force between moving parts.

However, the engine oil has higher viscosity because it also cools down the engine, while chain lube has a lower viscosity as it doesn’t deal with heat.

People often apply used engine oil to lubricate their motorcycle chains, but that is not a good habit. The used engine oil has metal chips that rub the chain roller and reduce its life. Also, new engine oil has a higher viscosity, which attracts dirt/mud faster and makes the chain sticky, resulting in the lower life of your chain and sprockets.

How Often To Lube A Motorcycle Chain?

Regular chain maintenance and lubrication increase the overall life of chains and sprockets. You should clean and lubricate your chain every month or after riding it for every 400 to 800 miles.

Again, it depends upon other factors, like what chain lube you use and where you ride your bike. Off-road riding attracts more dust than on-road riding; hence, lubricate your chain more frequently.

What Happens If You Use Engine Oil As Chain Lube?

The purpose of engine oil is to lubricate the crankshaft, piston, cylinder, and gears, which get extremely hot while riding. Because engine oil has to deal with high temperatures, it requires higher viscosity.

Your motorcycle chain drive is exposed to the environment, and if you use a high-viscosity oil to lubricate, the chain will attract dust and make a sticky layer. This sticky layer will block the chain roller movement and damage your chain and sprocket in the long run.

What Oil Is Best For Chain Lubrication?

Using a high-quality chain lube is better for increasing your motorcycle’s chain and sprocket life. I’m using my motorcycle’s MOTUL Chain Clean and Lube Kit, which easily lasts up to 1000 to 1200 miles.

However, if you don’t have any chain lube at home, you can clean the motorcycle chain with petrol/gasoline and apply SAE-90 grade gear oil.

The viscosity of SAE-80W90 gear oil is low, which doesn’t attract dust but keeps the chain lubricated. It’s an economical alternative to chain lube for motorcycles.

Click here to check the price of Valvoline 80W90 gear oil on Amazon

Note– If you don’t have a chain lube or SAE-90 gear oil at home and your bike chain is dry, you can temporarily use engine oil to lubricate the chain. But clean the engine oil with chain cleaner and apply lube within a week.

Do We Really Need Chain Lube?

Regular chain lubrication is very important and a must-have for motorcyclists. It reduces the wear of chain rollers and prevents your chain from catching rust due to water and dust. If you don’t lubricate your chain, it will create a weird noise when you ride the motorcycle.

It’s better to use chain lube spray because it reaches between all the rollers and lasts longer. An economical option is SAE-90 grade gear oil for chain lubrication, but it doesn’t last more than 300 to 500 miles.

What Happens If We Don’t Use Chain Lube?

Regular chain lubrication is very important to keep your motorcycle running smoothly. If you don’t lubricate your chain, it will slowly start rusting due to dust and water. Also, the chain rollers will dry and start breaking over time.

As a result, when you put your motorcycle in gear and release the clutch lever, your chain will create a cracky noise and affect the motorcycle’s performance.

Also, your motorcycle chain and sprocket will wear fast and may fail due to no lubrication. That’s why regular chain cleaning and maintenance are important for smoother rides.


The engine oil viscosity is high, attracting the dust faster and forming a sticky layer between chain rollers. This sticky layer will reduce the motorcycle’s performance and decrease the life of your chain and sprocket. I recommend using chain lube spray to get higher performance from your bike. SAE-90 grade gear oil can also be used as a chain lube alternative.

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