The Ultimate Guide To Taking Care Of Your Chain
It can be a messy chore but learning how to clean, lubricate, and maintain your motorcycle chain, will save you future time and money. This is why at Eclipse Motorcycles we want to share our knowledge on how to love your bike with motorcycle chain lube and correct maintenance.
The sole purpose in life for a motorcycle chain is to take power from the engine and deliver it to the back wheel. It does its job incredibly well, and without it, all you have is a very expensive and cumbersome rocking horse.
Back in the days of the dinosaur, final drive for motorized bicycles was a leather belt. This idea was borrowed from the industrial manufacturing equipment of the era and was fine for foot-traffic type speeds.
Today, chain drive is the most popular type of final drive system in the world for two reasons. Firstly, under normal circumstances, a chain is pretty much indestructible, and secondly, compared to shaft and Kevlar belt, it’s cheap as chips.
There is another reason too, concerning the amount of power lost in the transfer of energy from the engine to the wheel. A chain transfers around 97% of its payload, making it by far the most efficient type of final drive you can get.
You’ve got three types of roller chain:
The first is the non-lubricated, everyday bicycle or scooter chain. The design of this chain hasn’t altered for over a century and its uses, include all types of low-power transfer applications.
Second is the O ring chain, as the name suggests, this has a rubber O ring placed in between the inner and outer plates of every link. At the manufacturing stage, grease is vacuum packed inside, the two parts compressed, and the rivets peened over. This process makes the O rings spread, trapping the grease inside.
This type of chain gives vastly superior wear performance over the standard version. The increased tensile strength and high-speed capability make it ideal for motorcycles.
Compared to the common roller chain, it’s light years ahead, but the O ring isn’t infallible. The tiny seals can keep the grease in and perhaps more importantly, keep dirt, grit, and crud out, but they need work to keep them in top-notch condition.
As good as the O ring is, it’s always possible to enhance the design, hence the arrival of the X ring. As with the O ring, this places a rubber seal in between the plates, but yes, you guessed it, it’s X- shaped.
When we suggest you ‘regularly clean it’ we don’t mean every other weekend. Adding it to your maintenance regime whenever you do an oil change is about right if you’re on a road bike. Although it sounds like a straightforward job, there are a couple of real big NO-NO’s to observe.
Never do anything relating to your chain with the engine running. Sounds obvious, huh, type ‘fingers caught in motorcycle chain’ into your search engine, then put the ignition key on the workbench!
The second on our ‘Don’t do It’ list concerns the use of cleaning fluid. Using gasoline, acetone or anything similar will degrade your seals, allowing the liquid to get behind them and dissolve the packed in grease.
Either use a specific chain cleaning fluid or kerosene and give the chain a good soaking. There are several useful chain cleaning tools on the market, and these will allow you to keep your fingers clear, scrubbing the chain as you rotate the back wheel by hand.
Get your gear ready. This step includes cleaning fluid, brush or chain cleaning tool, clean rags, and motorcycle chain lube.
Get the back wheel off the ground, either by its centre stand or using a jack. Do not put the bike on the side stand and lean it over towards you. I’ve seen this done on the dirt and I’ve even helped someone change a tire doing it. It’s not advisable unless you know exactly what you’re doing. Get this manoeuvre wrong, and you’ll have a few hundred pounds of bike giving you a lap dance.
Give the chain a good dousing with cleaning fluid and scrub the bejesus out of it with a brush or chain-cleaning tool. If you’ve got a dirt bike with a non-sealed chain, get the pressure washer on it. Just remember though, to put a bung in the silencer. A pressure washer is not advisable on road bikes, not so much because of the chain, but because the electrics aren’t as robust and waterproofed as that of a dirt bike.
Clean the chain by holding a rag around the bottom chain run and slowly rotate the back wheel, so the chain moves away from you.
Lube that sucker. If yours is a non-sealed chain, then lube it. If you’re running an O or X, concentrate the lube towards the inner and outer plates of the link. In both cases, don’t overdo it and on your first post-lube ride, check your tire for ‘fling.
At Eclipse Motorcycles we stock a full range of chain lubes and do this as a part of course when servicing.
For all your bike requirements or any advice on your bike call us on 01908 643603.
Safe riding and we look forward to seeing you on ride outs and servicing appointments