How Do You Know If Your Motorcycle Chain is Bad?

Even though motorcycle chains and sprockets are built to be as long-lasting as possible, there will be times you’d need to replace them. Keeping a motorcycle chain for too long may end up in numerous inconveniences, like the chain falling off on a bigger bump during the ride or even accidents.

The adjustments you can make on your back wheel definitely give more life to your bike chain, but eventually, that as well won’t do.

Planning ahead the term for maintaining and replacing the bike chain is always a good idea. After this article, you will know exactly when to lightly clean and lube your bike chain, as well as make an appointment with the bike mechanic for the chain replacement or replacing the chain and the sprocket yourself.

The main things you have to care about are how loose your bike chain is, and how much dirt and grind gathered on it, so you can act accordingly.

How Do You Know If Your Motorcycle Chain is Bad

Dirty Motorcycle Chain

The amount of dirt and grind on the bike chain raises friction and mobility of the chain parts and the appropriate maintenance will improve the life span of your bike chain.

This is especially applicable to those of you who take your baby on off-road rides and in all the places where there’s a lot of dirt and mud. 

Telling if the bike chain is dirty can be as easy as just looking at it. If some dirt and grind gathered around the chain and between the sprocket teeth, you’ll know the chain is ready for cleaning.

Remember, you don’t need to be all too strict on how much your bike chain is clean because cleaning it too often can bring problems of its own. Taking away too much of the goo would be just enough.

Scrubbing the chain with a metal bristle brush with strokes along the chain will remove most of the grind.

If needed, use a degreaser for bike chains to soften the coats of dirt and remove it more easily and more thoroughly. Applying the lube after the cleaning is vital for your bike chain’s performance and longevity.

Rusty Motorcycle Chain

Sometimes, especially if the chain is often in contact with water, the chain can develop a thin layer of rust. Left unintended, the rust can spread, bringing more friction which alone wears the chain, as well as eating the material slowly, which can damage the chain.

If there’s only a small patch of rust here and there on the chain you basically don’t need to worry, lubing it with a good rust-removing lube will do the trick. 

Very rusty bike chains, like those on the bikes that have been sitting idle for a year and more, will sometimes need a good scrub before applying the lube, to remove the excess rust that had been built up.

If you have a bike that will sit in the garage or a shed for longer periods of time, and if you are unable to have a round on them to flex the chain a little, remember to at least clean the chain from time to time and re-apply the lube to prevent or slow down the development of rust. 

It is vital to spin the back wheel a few times and let the lube move between the gaps of the chain parts, the pins, and all the other moving parts. They are also susceptible to rust and rust there can make the biggest problems.

How Loose the Bike Chain Is?

A bike chain that is too tight causes problems of its own, but too loose is way more common and therefore more dangerous.

Every manufacturer gives a recommended amount of looseness in order for your bike chain to achieve the highest performance. Check regularly how loose your bike chain is with a few easy tricks.

Pull the bike chain with your fingers at the back of the sprocket. If you can see sunlight through the gaps, your bike chain is definitely too loose and needs to be replaced. If you can pull it that much with light force, you can expect the chain to easily slide off the sprocket at forces present during the ride.

Get to the center of your bike chain and take a look at it. Get a ruler or bike chain loose measurer and measure the distance between the chain at its lowest (push it with your hand) and the highest (pull it up with light force).

Calculate the difference and check with your bike’s manual how much the allowed length is. If the length of your measurement exceeds the recommended looseness, you’ve got two options:

1. Adjust the back wheel (here’s how you can do it on some models )

2. If you’ve made too many adjustments too frequently, your bike chain needs to go for sure.

There you have it, now you know what to do with your bike chain. Hope this helps. Have a nice (and responsible) ride!

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