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Motorcycle Chain Noise - Reasons and Solutions

Motorcycle Chain Noise - Reasons and Solutions

The motorcycle chain transfers power from the engine to the rear wheel, ensuring that the motorcycle keeps running. Any problem with the motorcycle chain and sprockets can result in irritating and loud noises.

However, if you are skilled enough, you can find out what’s causing the noise and resolve the issue. Read this article to learn the different reasons why the motorcycle chain creates noise and how to fix it.

1. Reasons Why Motorcycle Chain Makes Noise

1.1 Worn-Out Chain

Worn-Out Chain

A motorcycle chain continuously grinds against the sprockets during a ride to ensure smooth power delivery to the rear wheel. Due to constant friction between the chain and sprocket teeth, a motorcycle chain can wear out over time, producing more noise, and eventually needs to be replaced.

1.2 Worn-Out Sprocket

Sprockets are also under constant pressure due to the motorcycle chain constantly sliding against it to turn the rear wheel. However, if the sprocket becomes old and worn out, the teeth become unable of holding the chain tightly.

Note: Replacing the motorcycle chain and sprocket together is recommended to ensure better performance.

1.3 Rusted Motorcycle Chain and Sprockets

If rust accumulates on the motorcycle chain and sprockets, they are more likely to produce excessive noise. Rusting causes the surface of the motorcycle chain and sprockets to become rough and increases friction between them. This results in the motorcycle’s performance being reduced.

1.4 Motorcycle Chain Slack

The motorcycle chain only operates smoothly with a specific amount of slack. The recommended amount of chain slack is usually between 1-1.5 cm. If the chain slack is below this range, the chain will be too loose; if it exceeds the recommended range, the chain will be too tight.

If the chain is too tight, it can damage the sprockets. If the chain is too loose, it will result in poor acceleration and performance. Meanwhile, a loose chain will keep hitting the chain cover and other metallic parts.


1.5 Lack of Lubrication

If the motorcycle chain and sprockets are not regularly lubricated, it results in more friction, early wear and tear of the metal components, and excess noise.

1.6 Dust and Sludge Covering the Sprockets

If the motorcycle chain and sprockets are not cleaned regularly, the dust accumulated in the sprockets can become sludge. As the sludge hardens, it restricts the movement of the chain.

1.7 Lack of Maintenance

If the motorcycle chain and sprockets are not regularly maintained and cleaned, it can result in chain noise and reduced performance.

1.8 Debris in the Sprocket Teeth & Metal Rollers

Debris accumulated between the sprocket teeth and metal rollers can also cause the chain to be misaligned which can make it difficult to control your motorcycle.

1.9 Misaligned Chain and Sprockets

If the front and rear sprockets are misaligned, it will result in poor power delivery, acceleration, and performance. The motorcycle chain will also not fit the sprockets’ teeth, producing more noise and causing early wear and tear.

2. Solutions to Fix Motorcycle Chain Noise

2.1 Replace the Motorcycle Chain and Sprockets

If the motorcycle chain and sprockets are too old and worn out, you should replace them with new ones to ensure smoother and quieter chain operation. Make sure to replace them together if you want better performance.


2.2 Lubrication


Make sure to lubricate the metal parts, especially the ones that slide against each other to operate, including the chain, sprockets, and gears. Lubrication reduces wear and tear by reducing friction between the metal surfaces.

How to Lubricate the Motorcycle Chain and Sprockets

Park the motorcycle on the center stand. To ensure that the rear wheel does not touch the ground, put some weight on the front end. Use a spray chain lubricator to spray lube on the chain and sprockets. Turn the rear wheel with your hand to move the chain and sprockets to help s[read the lubricant to the entire surface of the chain and sprockets. A lubricated chain ensures smoother and quieter operation.

2.3 Clean the Motorcycle Chain

Dust and debris must be removed from the motorcycle chain to ensure smooth and quieter operation. After applying the lube, take an old toothbrush and start cleaning the exterior of the chain by moving the rear wheel. Repeat the same procedure to clean and brush the interior of the chain. Turning the rear wheel will make it easier to access and clean the motorcycle chain. To thoroughly remove any residue, use a clean piece of cloth to wipe down the motorcycle chain.


2.4 Clean the Sprockets

Clean the front and rear sprockets with a clean piece of cloth. Turn the rear wheel with your hand to make it easier to access the sprockets. Make sure no sludge and debris are left on the sprocket and stuck in between the sprocket teeth.

2.5 Maintenance

Maintaining the motorcycle chain and sprockets can ensure they last longer, reduce noise, and improve performance.

2.6 Fix Chain Slack

Fix Chain Slack

A motorcycle chain can become loose over time due to frequent riding. The motorcycle chain can come off if it is loose, causing the rear wheel to stop abruptly. However, to tighten a loose chain, check the motorcycle owner’s manual to find out the recommended chain slack. Do not overtighten the motorcycle chain as the tension can cause it to break ride and can cause your motorcycle to crash.

It is important to check the motorcycle chain regularly to ensure that it does not damage the drive chain assembly. You will need to measure the chain slack using a measuring tape or a ruler. After measuring the chain slack, use a socket wrench to adjust the axle nut located beside the chain. You can tighten or loosen the motorcycle chain by adjusting the axle nut. Make sure to adjust the axle nut gently as even one or two turns can cause the chain to shift by a large degree. You can also adjust the motorcycle chain using a chain slack adjuster.


2.7 Align the Front and Rear Sprockets

If the front and rear wheels are out of balance, it can result in the front and rear sprockets being misaligned. Misaligned front and rear sprockets mean the motorcycle chain will not fit against the sprockets’ teeth and can come loose, cause wear and tear, and produce an irritating grinding noise.

Check for Chain Misalignment

You can check the chain misalignment by using a Motion Pro chain alignment tool. Remove the chain guard to mount this tool onto the rear sprocket. After the chain alignment tool is mounted, check the direction of the thin rod attached to it. If the rod is tilted towards the side, it means the front and rear sprockets require adjustment.

Fix Chain Alignment

If the motorcycle chain is misaligned, you will need to readjust it back into place to ensure better performance and reduce chain noise. The chain being misaligned is often due to the wheels being misaligned. To adjust the rear wheel, you will have to loosen the axle nut on the swing arm, then move the rear wheel side by side until it aligns with the front wheel. If you are unsure how to align the rear wheel, visit a professional mechanic.

3. Conclusion

New and old motorcycles naturally create chain noise while riding. However, the clunky noise can become unnaturally loud and irritating if the chain and sprockets become misaligned, loose, worn out, unlubricated, or not cleaned properly. Therefore, to ensure smooth motorcycle chain movements over the sprockets, you must regularly check and maintain them. Through proper lubrication and cleaning, you can ensure the chain and sprockets last longer and produce less sound. Make sure to regularly check the chain and adjust its slack accordingly. You must also replace the motorcycle chain and sprockets if they are too old and worn out.

If you want to ensure your motorcycle performs better, last longer, and retain a better-holding value, make sure to keep it maintained and cleaned. You can also ensure your motorcycle has better resale value by customizing it with different high-quality aftermarket parts. Viking Bags has a wide range of motorcycle parts, including sissy bars, fairings, handlebars, crash bars, seats, and backrests to ensure better looks and performance on longer rides. If you love motorcycle touring and wilderness trips, Viking Bags also offer a variety of luggage options, including motorcycle trunk bags, saddlebags, tank bags, and sissy bar bags.

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