It’s easy to ignore your motorcycle chain but it requires just as much
It’s easy to ignore your motorcycle chain but it requires just as much attention as other key components on your motorcycle. A rusty noisy chain is the true sign of neglect and an unprofessional motorcycle operator. An ignored chain will eventually
HOW TO LUBRICATE
With regular lubrication your chain will perform well, but there is a trade off – the lube also attracts dirt resulting in a very dirty, gritty, chain. Dirt as you might imagine is another enemy of your chain. So about every 4800 kms/ 3000 miles or whenever you change your oil, ensure you clean your chain. The easiest way to clean your chain is with a rag, a toothbrush, and kerosene or additional methods detailed in our article here.
Don’t use harsh solvents, like gasoline, because they can ruin the O-Rings. Spray or wipe your chain with kerosene. The best part about using kerosene is that it will clean your chain quickly while saving you lots of time. It’s best to use an old rag, soak it with kerosene and wipe it over the chain until the chain is clean. Incidentally, kerosene can be found at any hardware store or even department store usually in the camping section. It’s traditionally used to fuel camping stoves and lanterns. After about 20 minutes you’ll have a flawlessly clean chain!
CLEAN COUNTERSHAFT & ADJUST
SLACKING OFF TOO TIGHT/LOOSE
Your chain also needs to be adjusted properly. Of course, your owner’s manual will have exact requirements for your bike. General guideline allows for about 1 to 1.5 inches of slack being how much the chain will move up and down freely at a point halfway between the two sprockets.
Slack in your chain is necessary because your swing-arm moves up to compress for a bumps and uneven road surfaces. The chain gets tighter when this occurs. A chain which is too tight will bind on the sprockets, causing quicker wear of both chain and sprockets. Furthermore, a tight chain will over time ruin your countershaft and your countershaft seal (the seal around the shaft that carries the front sprocket) – and may even bend the countershaft. So when you are testing the slack, be sure to sit on your motorcycle to compress the swing arm. You’ll need a helper for this.Also, a tight chain is likely to develop tight spots which are portions of the chain that stretch at different rates and cause binding between links. And too loose, the chain runs the risk of flying off the sprockets. Also a too loose chain causes a lot of slop in the driveline. Example: twist the throttle, short delay, then lurching as the chain snaps tight, then loose until you are under heavy acceleration. Chain adjustments are very important, even though it may not be something you need to do very often.
ADJUSTING THE CHAIN
When you achieve proper slack, and you’ve tightened the wheel back up, you’ll need to make sure the wheel alignment is still correct. If the wheel is crooked in the swing-arm, your chain and sprockets will wear really rapidly and you may even experience unusual handling characteristics.
WHEN TO REPLACE YOUR CHAIN
CHAIN MYTHS A common misconception with chain replacement is to change you chain and sprockets at the same time. This is only true if you use aluminium sprockets. If you use steel or factory sprockets, then generally two chain replacements to one set of sprockets. That is, of course, if you replace your chains before they’ve become so bad they damage the steel sprockets.
TO SUM IT UP: Lubricate often! A well oiled chain is quieter and has a lot less drag allowing the motor to spin the rear wheel easily without having to force its way past a worn or tight chain. And if you’re lubrication your chain every 800 kms / 500 miles, you’ll already be on top of the game regarding it’s condition and when it will need adjusting or replacing.
Lubricate your bicycle in the garage or outdoors. The floor is likely to get a little dirty, so thoroughly cover the floor with newspaper. Don’t do this on carpet or other floors that should be protected, unless you’ve lined the floor with plastic.
Turn the bike upside down. Place it in the middle of the newspaper-covered area.
Familiarize yourself with the parts that touch the chain:
- front chain wheels
- possibly a front derailleur (the part that changes gears in front)
- rear cogs
- possibly a rear derailleur with two more cogs.
Scrape off any mud and dirt from the cogs on the rear derailleur. This works best if you hold the blade of the screwdriver sideways against the outer portions of the cog and gently turn the cranks. Try to avoid allowing the scraped-off dried mud and dirt to land on the chain.
Prepare the rag. Dampen it. Provided that you are working in a well-ventilated area, you might like to add a degreasing cleaner, such as lighter fuel or a citrus degreaser. (See “Tips”, however.)
Take the rag in your palm and wrap it around the chain. Hold on tightly. Turn the cranks a couple of times while holding the rag around the chain firmly. This works best if you hold the upper portion of the chain, the one that’s closest to the saddle (seat). You will notice that the chain becomes much cleaner.
Lubricate the chain.
- Mark one link with a magic marker, sticker or a piece of tape, so that you know where you started.
- Starting with the marked link, apply one drop of chain lube to each link. It’s best to apply a little drop to each gap where two links overlap. Don’t use too much or it will be wasted because you’ll wipe off the excess lube anyway!
Allow the lube to settle. When you’ve lubed all the links, turn the cranks again for half a minute or so to make sure that the lube settles properly into the inside of the link.
Remove any excess lube on the outside of the chain using the rag.