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How to Clean and Lube Your Motorcycle's Chain

How to Clean and Lube Your Motorcycle's Chain

Maintaining your motorcycle's chain is crucial to enjoying smooth rides and extending the life of your bike. A clean and properly lubricated chain reduces friction and wear, improving performance and fuel efficiency.

This guide will explain how to clean and lubricate your motorcycle's chain, including the required tools, steps, and safety precautions.

Also Read: What is the Best Way to Check How Tight a Motorcycle Chain is?

1. List of Required Tools

The tools you need to clean and lubricate your motorcycle's chain include the following. They can range from chain cleaning brush to solvents, to some essential materials. Want to know how they can help you out? Let’s toggle down to explore.

1.1 Chain Cleaning Brush

A chain cleaning brush is meant to remove dirt, grime, and other debris from the chain links and sprockets. It typically consists of a handle and a set of bristles that are designed to fit between the links of the chain.

1.2 Chain Cleaning Solvent

The chain-cleaning solvent is available at most motorcycle supply shops. This particular solution is designed to dissolve and remove dirt, grease, and other buildups on the chain. It is applied to the chain and left to soak for a few minutes before being rinsed off with water. It is effective in removing the stubborn build-up that may not be able to be removed easily with just a brush or soap and water.

1.3 Chain Lubricant

Chain lubricant will coat and protect your chain from corrosion and reduce friction and wear. The types of lubricants include waxy, dry lubricants, and oil lubricants, each with unique properties and benefits. Choose the type of lubricant best suited for your motorcycle chain to ensure optimal performance and protection.

1.4 Other Essentials

You will also need rags or paper towels, gloves, a bucket or container, and a chain tool (if needed) for removing and adjusting chain links. Make sure to gather all the necessary equipment before starting the process.

If you are not confident about cleaning a dirty motorcycle chain, you can ask a professional to help you. Many motorcycle repair shops offer chain cleaning services that can save you time and effort.

Moreover, professional mechanics can inspect your chain for wear and tear, and advise you on whether it needs to be replaced or adjusted.

2. Preparing the Motorcycle

Before you can clean and lubricate your motorcycle's chain, you must remove the chain from the bike.

2.1 Removing the Chain

  • Locate the chain adjusters on your motorcycle. These are typically located near the rear axle and are used to adjust tension in the chain.
  • Loosen the axle nut by using the appropriate socket or wrench.
  • Adjust the chain slack by using the chain adjusters. Doing this will allow you to remove the chain easily.

By doing this you’ll be able to take off the chain from your motorcycle and clean it properly.

2.2 Cleaning the Chain and Sprockets

  • Use a cleaning brush to wipe off dirt, grime, and other debris from the chain links and sprockets. Pay extra attention to the rollers and bushings as dirt and grime often accumulate in these areas.
  • Pour cleaning solvent into a rag or paper towel. Rub the soaked rag or paper towel to clean the chain. Be sure to get into the links and rollers.
  • Use the brush to wipe off any remaining dirt or grime.

It will help you dissolve and clean any stains and debris on your chain.

2.3 Inspecting the Chain for Wear and Damage

  • Once the chain is clean, inspect it for any signs of wear or damage. Look for stretched or damaged links as these are indications that the chain needs to be replaced.
  • Check the sprockets for signs of wear as worn sprockets can cause the chain to become worn down faster and could lead to premature failure. The teeth should also be replaced if worn down or damaged.
  • Inspect the chain and sprockets for wear and damage before lubricating as a damaged chain or worn sprockets will make lubricant ineffective and result in further damage.
  • Check your motorcycle's manual to find the recommended chain tension.

This process will help you to be sure that your chain is in working condition and it will not further damage your motorcycle.

3. Chain Cleaning

Chain Cleaning

Now that you've removed and inspected the motorcycle chain, you can begin the cleaning process. Keeping your motorcycle's chain clean improves performance and longevity. So, let’s get started with cleaning the chain using the tools which we discussed earlier.

3.1 Preparing the Cleaning Solution

  • Get a container or bucket and fill it with cleaning solvent.
  • Check the solvent's label or consult the motorcycle manual to confirm whether you are using the correct solvent for your chain.

It's important to know that using the wrong type of solvent can damage the chain, so use the correct one. Once you have filled the container with the correct cleaning solvent, you can proceed with cleaning your motorcycle chain.

3.2 Cleaning Process

  • Use a chain cleaning or stiff-bristled brush to wipe off dirt, grime, and other debris from the chain links and sprockets. Pay special attention to the rollers and bushings since dirt and grime often accumulate there.
  • Immerse the chain in the solvent and scrub the chain to help remove dirt, grime, and other debris.
  • Leave the chain in the solvent for at least 15-20 minutes to allow the solvent to break down the dirt and grime.

After soaking, use a brush to scrub the chain again, paying close attention to stubborn sports.

3.3 Rinsing and Drying the Chain

  • Remove the chain from the solvent and rinse it thoroughly with clean water to wash off any remaining dirt and solvent.
  • Dry the chain using a clean rag or paper towel. Make sure the links and rollers are completely dry.

After drying the chain you need to apply a quality chain lubricant to ensure the chain moves smoothly and lasts longer.

3.4 Removing Rust (if necessary)

  • If the chains have rust on them, use a rust remover according to the manufacturer's instructions. Make sure to wear gloves and safety goggles.
  • Wipe the chain with a clean rag or paper towel to remove any remaining rust or rust remover.

To prevent lubricant from being washed away by water, thoroughly dry the chain before lubricating. Also, make sure to use the right type of solvent for your motorcycle chain.

If the chain is extremely dirty or has not been cleaned in a long time, you may need to repeat this process more than once to fully remove all dirt and grime.

Regular cleaning and lubrication of the motorcycle chain is essential for optimal performance and longevity. By following these steps and maintaining your motorcycle chain, you can be sure of a smooth, safe ride every time.

4. Lubricating the Chain

Lubricating the Chain

Lubricating the chain will help reduce friction, wear, and corrosion. Applying the right lubricant will ensure the chain has optimal performance and a longer lifespan.

4.1 Choosing the Right Lubricant

  • Consider the conditions of the road when choosing the right lubricant for the motorcycle chain. Different types of lubricants have unique properties and benefits. For example, waxy lubricants are best for dry and dusty conditions, while oil-based lubricants are suitable for wet or muddy conditions.

Check your motorcycle's manual for the correct type of lubricant to use.

4.2 Applying Lubricant

  • The best way to apply lubricant is to use a straw or dropper to place small drops of lubricant onto the chain links.
  • Spread the lubricant evenly over the entire length of the chain using a clean rag or paper towel.
  • Make sure to lubricate the tight spots and hard-to-reach areas of the chain.

4.3 Wiping off Excess Lubricant

  • After applying the lubricant, remove any excess lubricant from the chain. Excess lubricant can trap dirt and debris, resulting in further wear and damage.
  • Wipe off lubricant from the sprockets with a rag or paper towel without damaging the teeth.
  • Wipe off any excess lubricant from the motorcycle’s frame since this can cause the paint or plastics to become damaged.
  • After lubricating the chain, ride your motorcycle for a short period to work the lubricant into the chain; afterward, check to see if you need to add more or wipe off excess lubricant.

5. Reinstalling the Chain

5.1 Properly Reinstalling the Chain

  • Align the chain with the sprockets to ensure the teeth fit correctly and will not become caught in the gears.
  • Closely inspect and ensure the chain is fitted correctly on the sprockets.

5.2 Tightening the Chain to the Correct Tension

  • Use the chain adjusters to tighten the chain. They are typically located near the rear axle.
  • A chain tension gauge can measure the amount of tension and ensure it is within the recommended range.
  • Adjust the tension if necessary based on the information in your motorcycle's manual.

5.3 Checking for Proper Alignment

  • Check that the front and rear sprockets are properly aligned. The sprockets should be straight and the chain wrapped tightly around them.
  • Inspect the chain to make sure it is not twisted or caught on anything.
  • Make any necessary adjustments, such as realigning the sprockets or adjusting the chain tension, to ensure the chain is properly aligned and runs smoothly.

5.4 Reinstalling the Chain Guard (if applicable)

  • Reinstall the chain guard if your motorcycle has one. It is a plastic or metal cover that helps protect the chain.
  • Make sure the chain guard is aligned and securely fastened.

5.5 Double-Checking the Work

  • Once the chain is reinstalled, double-check the work to confirm that everything is aligned, tightened, and adjusted.
  • Take your motorcycle on a short test ride to check if the chain is running smoothly.

6. How to Keep Your Motorcycle's Chain Running?

6.1 Regular Maintenance

Regularly maintaining the motorcycle chain will ensure optimal performance and a longer lifespan. You should clean and lubricate the chain every 500 miles or two months. When riding in extreme conditions, maintenance should be performed more frequently.

6.2 Proper Lubrication

Use the correct lubricant for your specific model’s chain to ensure it runs smoothly and remains in good condition. However, make sure to use the appropriate amount of lubricant since too much lubricant can fling grease onto other parts. Proper lubrication techniques include adding lubricant to the chain, spreading it evenly, and wiping off any excess lubricant.

6.3 Chain Tension and Alignment

The front and rear sprockets should be in a straight line and the chain securely fitted around them. Regularly check the alignment of the sprockets and adjust as needed to avoid the chain becoming twisted or loose.

7. What are the Safety Tips?

  • Always wear appropriate safety gear, like gloves, safety glasses, and closed-toe shoes, when working on the chain.
  • Be aware of moving parts and avoid putting your fingers or other body parts too close to them while the motorcycle is running.
  • Keep all tools and solvents away from open flames.
  • Follow the manufacturer's instructions when using chemicals, such as solvents or rust removers, and make sure to work in a properly ventilated area.
  • Always be aware of your surroundings while working on the motorcycle and take precautions to avoid accidents.

8. FAQs

8.1 How Often Should You Lubricate a Motorcycle Chain?

Lubricate your motorcycle chain every 300-500 miles or every 3-4 weeks for optimal maintenance.

8.2 Is It Ok to Use Used Motorcycle Engine Oil as a Chain Lubricant?

Using used motorcycle engine oil as chain lubricant is not recommended. Instead, use lubricants specifically designed for motorcycle chains as they can withstand high speeds and weather conditions.

8.3 Can I Use Petrol to Clean the Motorcycle Chain?

Petrol is a solvent that evaporates quickly and can strip away the factory-applied lubricant on the chain. It is best to use a motorcycle chain cleaner or degreaser since these solutions can safely remove dirt and grime without damaging the chain.

8.4 Can WD-40 Be Used to Lubricate a Bike Chain?

WD-40 is a solvent-based lubricant that can trap debris, which can build up on the chain and cause wear over time. It is best to use a lubricant specifically designed for bike chains with a thicker oil base that will remain on the chain and ensure long-lasting protection.

9. Takeaway

Cleaning and lubricating your motorcycle's chain is essential to maintaining your bike and can help extend the life of your chain and sprockets. Following the advice provided in this guide will ensure your motorcycle's chain is clean, lubricated, and in top condition.

Remember to check your chain regularly, adjust and lubricate it as necessary, take safety precautions, and use the proper tools and equipment. Viking Bags has several modification options available, including sissy bars, fairings, crash bars, and handlebars. There are also many luggage options available, including sissy bar bags and motorcycle saddlebags for a better motorcycle riding experience.

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