Motorcycle chain maintenance should be part of your regular schedule of care and winter is a great time to make sure your chain is in top shape If you can change your motorcycle oil, you can clean and lube your motorcycle chain. It is a fairly simple task that only takes about 15 minutes or so once you get the hang of it. Simply put, motorcycle chain maintenance will extend the life and performance of your chain and save you some bucks in the long run.
Unsure how to clean and lube your motorcycle chain? Here is the task, broken down step by step.
1. Determine the type of chain on your bike. It’s easy to determine if you have a plain motorcycle chain or a sealed motorcycle chain. Plain motorcycle chain has metal links with no seals in between. These metal-on-metal chains do not have rubber seals, unlike the sealed motorcycle chains. The rubber seals on the sealed motorcycle chains are designed to keep the pin and bushing cavity greased and keep dirt out. Sealed chains generally last longer but you need to use more care during maintenance to avoid damaging them.
2. If you have a center stand or paddock stand, use it and position your bike so the rear wheel can spin. If you don’t have a center stand, you can still use your kickstand. You can clean the chain a section at a time, or even remove it completely and clean it.
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3. Look over your chain closely. Look for wear and tear and damage. Move the chain from side to side and check to see how vigorously the links slide about under tension. Your chain should allow for minimal wiggling. Another way to check your chain is to check the shop manual. It will list the maximum length for a given number of chain lengths. If your chain is longer, it is worn. Find the master link. It looks slightly different from the other lengths as it is the one that holds both ends together. Make sure it is secure. Check the sprockets for wear. Look for a shark fin type of wear, that occurs when you accelerate hard or decelerate gently over time. The teeth of the sprockets should be flat, not sharp. Remember that chains and sprockets should both be replaced at the same time.
4. Use a motorcycle chain cleaner. Find a cleaner intended for motorcycle chain maintenance like DuPont’s Mechanics Degreaser. This will clear away lubricant, dirt, and grime that are currently on the chain. Apply plenty of cleaner to the chain. If you don’t have a chain cleaner, you can get away with using kerosene on a clean rag.
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5. Get up the scrub brush. Use a chain brush to scrub away at the chain, cleaning away the lubricant and the grime. Scrub, scrub, scrub, taking care to cover all sides of the chain. Use a toothbrush to get in there and clear away any remaining gunk. If you have a sealed chain, be careful scrubbing too hard as it can damage the seals. Instead, spray the degreaser on heavily and let it do the bulk of the work.
6. Spray your chain again. Use your motorcycle chain cleaner again to spray down the chain. This is critically important as gunk that remains on your chains will destroy them over time.
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7. Dry your chain. Use a dry, clean cloth to completely the dry the motorcycle chain. This is a great time to check for any extra gunk. The chain should wipe clean, with no extra grease or dirt on the surface. If you note additional gunk, spray the chain some more and scrub that area again.
8. Apply lubricant. Use a quality motorcycle chain lube like Maxima Chain Wax and apply it to all sides of the chain, evenly. If you have plain chain, apply motorcycle chain lube and then wipe away any excess. Keep the chain well lubed to keep it performing well. If you sealed chain, the O-rings will work to lubricate the inside, so you simply need to apply lubricant to the outside to keep the chain from rusting. You will not have to use nearly as much.
9. Ride off into the sunset, knowing your chains are free from grime! Check your motorcycle guide to determine how frequently you should clean your chain. A good rule of thumb is to lube your chain every 300 miles and clean and lube the chain every 600 miles. Of course, this may vary based on riding conditions. If you ride frequently in the rain or through dusty, dirty areas you will need to clean it more often.
At Kass & Moses, we know your bike is your pride and joy! That’s why we work hard to help injured bikers recover from their motorcycle crash. Our team of experienced motorcycle crash lawyers will go after the insurance company to help get you the money you deserve. If you have been in a crash, remember 1-800-MOTORCYCLE for a free consultation.