- Table of Contents
- 1. Why are Chains the Most Common Drive Systems Used in Motorcycles?
- 2. Regina Chain and BMW’s “Maintenance-Free” M Endurance Chain
- 3. Design and Construction of “Maintenance-Free” M Endurance Chain
- 4. Regina Chain and BMW’s “Maintenance-Free” M Endurance Chain Review
- 5. How to Maintain the “Maintenance-Free” M Endurance Chain
- 6. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- 6.1 What Causes the Chain to Become Loose?
- 6.2 Why Do We Need Maintenance-Free or Low-Maintenance Motorcycle Chains?
- 6.3 Can Petrol, Acetone, and WD-40 Be Used to Clean a Motorcycle Chain?
- 6.4 How Many Kilometers Will a Motorbike Chain Last?
- 7. The Bottom Line
The world of motorcycling is constantly evolving due to new technologies being made every day due to the high competition in the market. There are three ways motorcycles are built to deliver power from the engine to the rear wheel. Some manufacturers prefer belt and shaft drives, while other motorcycles still use chain drives. The most prominent disadvantage of a motorcycle chain is its lower durability and short service intervals. To resolve this issue, BMW collaborated with Regina Chain to manufacture a “maintenance-free” M Endurance chain for motorcycles. Read this article to learn more about the “maintenance-free” M Endurance chain by BMW and Regina Chain.
1. Why are Chains the Most Common Drive Systems Used in Motorcycles?
When it comes to maintenance, belt and shaft drives require the least attention and money to keep them working. Shaft drives can last longer than chain and belt drives as they are properly covered and interact less with the external environment. Whereas, belt drives ensure a quiet and smooth riding experience like shaft drives. Meanwhile, motorcycle chains require regular upkeep, lubrication, and tightening. They can also damage the sprockets depending on your riding habits and the type of motorcycle you ride. So why use chains as a drive system in motorcycles? This is because chains have several advantages over belt and shaft drives. Most high-speed motorcycles use a chain drive system as it ensures better power delivery to the rear wheel without any loss of power. Also, it is easier and more effective to change gears in chain drives than in shaft and belt drives. Motorcycle chains are also lightweight, cheaper, and less complicated than shaft and belt drives, ensuring a lower overall motorcycle weight for improved performance.
2. Regina Chain and BMW’s “Maintenance-Free” M Endurance Chain
Photo Credit: Asphalt & Rubber
BMW is a specialized motorcycle manufacturer with expertise in manufacturing engines for heavy-duty automobiles. Established in 1919, Regina Chain is also a manufacturer of highly-durable motorcycle chains and other drive systems. Both companies worked together to produce a motorcycle chain that requires zero maintenance and has high endurance. Despite being the most popular drive system due to being more performance-oriented, engineers always struggle to try and make chains as maintenance-free as shaft drives. In October 2020, BMW announced the introduction of a revolutionary motorcycle chain that does not require maintenance, tightening, and lubrication.
In the press release, the representative said:
|“Like previous X-ring chains, the M Endurance chain has a resident permanent lubricant filling between the rollers and pins, enclosed by X-rings. What is completely new, however, is that the previously necessary additional lubricant addition for the rollers and thus the familiar 'chain lubrication' is no longer necessary, nor is any re-tensioning required from time to time due to the usual wear.”
The M Endurance chain is a step forward toward an environmentally friendly, quieter, cleaner, and smoother riding experience.
3. Design and Construction of “Maintenance-Free” M Endurance Chain
Photo Credit: Asphalt & Rubber
The M Endurance Chain is made of tetrahedral amorphous carbon (ta-C), also known as industrial diamond due to its hardness. A thick and secure ta-C coating covers the chain rollers, making it nearly impossible for external pollutants and extreme conditions to cause wear and tear. The industrial diamond coating on the chain rollers keeps the pre-injected lubricant intact between the rollers and pins. The hard coating ensures the chain slides smoothly against the sprockets, resulting in less wear and tear. As the chain does not constantly interact with sprockets which reduces friction, the M Endurance chain does not require lubrication. As a result, loss of power is drastically reduced to ensure smoother power delivery.
4. Regina Chain and BMW’s “Maintenance-Free” M Endurance Chain Review
Since its introduction, the “maintenance-free” M Endurance chain has been tested by various motorcyclists, especially those who love to travel long distances. The tests have shown that the motorcycle chain is good for around 12,000 miles without lubrication and maintenance. However, the chain became loose and needed to be adjusted beyond this distance.
As per the data obtained by the test ride, the M Endurance chain was elongated approximately 5 mm after 5,000 miles, and the slack was 9 mm over the factory-recommended limit after 10,000 miles without any lubrication, maintenance, and slack adjustment since installation. After 12,000 miles, the chain had to be adjusted or risk becoming a hazard. As the M Endurance chain was removed and analyzed, there were evident spots of wear and tear and red dust was also visible, indicating the seal rings were starting to fail. There were signs of damage to the pins and seal rings, and lubricant was leaking all over.
Photo Credit: Revzilla
Apart from this, several parts did not show much signs of damage, including the bushings. The sprockets were also in good shape, showing no signs of material loss due to friction.
The ta-C coating has tremendous lubricating properties and hardness. The strength can be further improved by coating more parts with ta-C. Despite the ta-C-coated rollers, the pins and seal rings are still vulnerable to wear and tear, friction, and external elements.
The seal rings are crucial components that help keep the lubricant inside. If the seal rings are not sturdy, the lubricant will eventually leak, causing the chain to wear out no matter how much ta-C coating is applied onto the rollers.
There is nothing that malfunctions in rough conditions grinds against the sharp sprocket teeth, and requires constant maintenance. The shaft drive systems are durable and last longer but they also require lubrication and protection to prevent water from entering. So, the motorcycle chain can be designed to last longer and require less maintenance. However, a completely “maintenance-free” chain is still a long way to go.
5. How to Maintain the “Maintenance-Free” M Endurance Chain
If you think you can keep riding your motorcycle without maintaining, lubricating, and tightening your M Endurance chain, you are wrong. It is only as low-maintenance as a shaft drive. Most BMW motorcycles now have an M Endurance chain installed. If you look at a motorcycle owner’s manual, you will see guidelines on how to maintain it.
Below is a screenshot taken from the BMW motorcycle owner’s manual that shows how to maintain the M Endurance chain:
Photo Credit: Motofomo
6. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
6.1 What Causes the Chain to Become Loose?
Chain stretch or slack is often misunderstood. Most riders think that the chain links stretch, causing the chain to elongate. However, there are other causes of why chains become loose. Chain stretch is scientifically referred to as chain elongation. It is the rollers and pins which become deformed due to continuous and vigorous friction against the sprocket teeth. Due to extreme friction and other forces, pins inside the rollers undergo several changes. They can become thinner and bend due to losing material. The holes in the bushings where the pins are inserted can also become broader, resulting in chain elongation.
Dust and debris can also cause the chain to elongate. These particles find their way into the sprocket and cause damage to the chain. If the motorcycle chain is not cleaned and lubricated regularly, it will become loose and result in poor acceleration.
6.2 Why Do We Need Maintenance-Free or Low-Maintenance Motorcycle Chains?
Because motorcycle chains require frequent maintenance, tightening, and lubrication; it is a very time-consuming process, especially if you love motorcycle touring. Chain cleaners and lubricants also contain aerosols, which are not good for your skin and the environment. A maintenance-free motorcycle chain means that there is only minor loss in power and maximum power from the engine is transferred to the rear wheel. You can spend more time enjoying long-distance rides if your motorcycle chain is maintenance-free or requires less maintenance.
6.3 Can Petrol, Acetone, and WD-40 Be Used to Clean a Motorcycle Chain?
Both petrol and WD-40 are not primarily chain cleaning agents and lubricants. Using petrol to clean and lube a chain can cause damage to it. Never clean your motorcycle’s chain with acetone as it can cause the O-rings to become brittle and soft over time. Meanwhile, petrol does the same to the O-rings at a slower pace. However, there is no such adverse effect to using WD-40 to clean your motorcycle’s chain. WD-40 is cleaner but cannot be used as a lubricant. To lubricate your motorcycle’s chain, you must use specialized chain lubricants available on the market.
Video Credit: @Motorcyclist Magazine
6.4 How Many Kilometers Will a Motorbike Chain Last?
On average, a motorcycle chain can last around 15,000-20,000 miles if properly maintained, lubricated, and tightened at regular intervals. If you are using durable and superior-quality O-ring chains, they can last around 20,000-30,000 miles. However, it depends on how they are used and how often you maintain them. Also, if you are a dirt bike rider, your motorcycle’s chain can become worn out more quickly.
7. The Bottom Line
Regina Chain and BMW came together to build a motorcycle chain that requires low maintenance. Now it is too early to promise a maintenance-free motorcycle chain anytime soon. However, the M Endurance chain is a sign that motorcycle manufacturers are heading in the right direction. The ta-C coating ensures the durability of the chain rollers to reduce chain slack. This chain was a good attempt to seal the lubricant between the rollers and pins. Including more ta-C in the construction and strengthening the pins ensured greater resistance to wear and tear. In the end, reliability, low maintenance, longevity, and good performance are all that motorcyclists want.
Viking Bags has several motorcycle parts available at their online store to make your adventure trips and motorcycle tours comfortable and memorable. A sissy bar and a backrest can help you stay comfortable on long-distance rides. Fairings, crash bars, and touring-oriented handlebars can make cruising much better. A wide range of luggage bags, including saddlebags, trunk bags, and tank bags, can help you carry your stuff on the motorcycle tour.