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Vaseline for Bearings?

by Levi Bloom (This article appeared in Weekly Wrench #5)

You've probably seen and used the search box on (in the top right corner.) I get reports of which terms are searched most often, and that allows me to write more web pages for what you are interested in.

There are lots of searches for things like "bent derailleur" and "how to clean a chain," but yesterday there was one that really stood out: "Vaseline for bearings." What?

I've heard of plenty substitutes for grease and lube, but this is a first! This option stands out, particularly because it might actually work! My question, though, is why? Is it actually cheaper than your standard tub of white lithium grease for $3? Or is it because it resembles some more expensive grease?

This prompted me to do some more research. I found that Sheldon Brown mentioned using Vaseline in your hub bearings, but the article was old, and that was more so if you didn't have access to real grease.

Using Vaseline for a chamois cream makes the most sense to me. It will also allow you to ride in the same shorts a few times without washing them, perfect for 24-hour mountain bike races and events like the RAAM (according to some of those long distance riders.)

Finally I found one more mention of Vaseline; it was for greasing your seatpost. I also heard that some people were using soybean oil in their diesel car engines due to the outrageous gas prices (like $3-5 gallon). To each his own.

But back to the topic at hand - Vaseline for bearings. Maybe this is a great idea. It is a friction reducer and 100% pure petroleum jelly. Sounds pretty similar to grease.

There's only one thing to do - test it! We'll see how it works in various bike applications during some testing this winter. Hey, maybe it's great in cold weather! Or even as a chain lube in wet and nasty weather!

Only time will tell... Stay tuned!


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