How Often Should I Lube My Motorcycle Chain?

Which part of a motorcycle do you think gets the most wear and tear? The answer is the drivetrain, a.k.a. the chain. 

Well, the bike motor and other components inside the engine also get worn out. But they get less wear and tear than the bike’s chain. Why? Because the chain is on the outside, exposing itself to lots of dirt and gunk.

Knowing how often I should lube my motorcycle chain is important alongside knowing what factors cause the most chain damage and how to protect the chain from them. In this guide, we’ll talk you through all the basics you have to know about this. 

How Often to Lube a Motorcycle Chain?

It’s recommended to apply lubricants to a motorcycle chain every 1000 miles or less than that. Also, it depends on your riding style and habit.

If you ride rough more often and tend to give long rides, then maybe you should lube the chain more often. There are also other factors to keep in mind. These are – 

Reduce Chain Wear

When a drivetrain chain rotates with the sprockets, the constant movement and tension create tension inside the chain’s metal. The chain, if not kept lubricated on a constant basis, might tear or break apart from the tension.

If you ride on clean roads, then probably your chain doesn’t get dirty. But if you ride in dusty or muddy areas, the chain will be full of dirt throughout its body. 

The chain links, when dirty, are unable to support a proper grip on them under the sprocket. Therefore, the gear shifting gets troublesome, and the chain becomes stiffer.

So, what’s happening with dirt are two things. First of all, dirt is making the situation of the chain worse. It’s helping the chain get damaged easily, and since it makes itself an extra layer on top of the chain, it’s also making the chain heavier and less flexible.

Another issue of not using lube is the protective layer of the chain. As the chain goes through mud and water without its lube layer, the dirt has an easier time accumulating on the chain and damaging itself in the process.

Stretched Chain

You’ve probably noticed some chain links are longer than the others. This happens because metal can increase its length under heat and pressure. That’s what’s happening here with the chain links. 

But how do you notice this? It’s easy. Check the chain links manually while you rotate the paddle. Keep the pace slow and check them one by one.

Also, keep your eyes on the sprocket and try to see if any hook misses one link. That’s the sign a link is out of size, and it’s causing the fault in gear.

When a chain link is lengthened, there isn’t much you can do to improve it. This will cause some issues such as chains missing the sprocket gears or lose traction with the gear. It’s dangerous to keep it this way, and you should change the chainset as soon as possible if you see this. 

Stiff Chain Link

Stiff Chain Link

Sometimes when there’s too much dirt accumulation on a chain link, especially the linking pins, it can get stiff and refuse to flex itself.

To notice it, keep your bike standing in a place and rotate the paddles. Notice if all the chain links move normally or not. If you notice one link tightening itself up, that’s a tight link.

But why does this happen? This happens when the link pins are dirty and not lubricated. The dirt accumulates on the pins and becomes hard solid gunks that prevent the normal flexibility of a link. It can also be because of overtightened pins. If this happens, clean and check the tightness of the pins.

Once you’ve done cleaning and lubricating the pins, check it by rotating the paddle again. It should be clear after the first few tries. Speed up the paddling to get rid of the stiffness in the pins by moving front and back. This movement will loosen the links.

Whatever method you take to relax the pins and the links, do it as soon as you notice them. If left for long, a rigid link can put pressure on the whole chainset and might damage it completely. And if that happens, you won’t have any other options other than replacing it.

Chain Cleaning

Don’t apply lubes on a chain before you clean it well. Cleaning is simple and won’t take much more than 5 – 10 minutes at the highest. Use a cleaner or kerosene to clean the dirt. Spray it on the chain and leave it to rest for a while. 

Once it soaks up the large, thick dirt and makes them soft, use a brush and slowly brush on every link. There are some specialized brushes with multi-sided bristles to make this task easier. 

Choose whatever makes it easier for you. Take time. Slowly work through the chains. Remember, if you try to save time in this step, you’ll lose much more in the future. Be slow here. It won’t take much time anyway, hardly a few minutes.

Once the cleaning is done, repeat the process again. Why? Because you’ll miss some points on the first try. Repeating ensures there is no gunk left. Gunk is serious business, it’ll damage your chain in no time. 

After the cleaning is complete, check the links and the pins to ensure no grime is left behind. When you’re sure that the chain is all clean, dry it up and apply lubes throughout the chain.

Try to choose a good lube that sticks for a long time. Some lubes will dry off, and some are so thin that they’ll fall. Don’t choose them.

What Happens if You Don’t Lube Your Motorcycle Chain?

If you are a motorcycle rider, it is important to keep your chain well lubricated. Not only does this help keep your bike running smoothly, but it can also prevent damage to the chain and gears.

Failing to lubricate your chain can lead to wear and tear on the chain and gears, as well as corrosion. In extreme cases, this can cause the chain to break or the gears to jam.

Final Words

So, you got some ideas on the basics of motorcycle lubricant application and got your question, “how often should I lube my motorcycle chain?” answered.

The process of lubing is simple and quick. But some people tend to procrastinate doing so, thinking their bikes are safe. Don’t be like them. Clean your bike’s chain often.

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