This article has been written in very simple language to help anyone and everyone!

Chain is one of the most important component of your bike as it is what powers the rear wheel. And hence, chain drive of your bike has to be in proper condition so that the there is no power dissipation when it is delivered from the engine via the cam chain tensioner to the rear wheel.

A bike’s chain, sprocket and the cam chain tensioner are the main components that transfer power to the road from the engine. The chain-sprocket technique is one of the most efficient method to power the rear wheel and that’s why most of the manufacturers use it. We also have belt driven scooters like Honda Activa and others that employs a V-Matic belt driven transmission system and a few motorcycles like Hyosung ST7. Big V-twin bikes like the Suzuki Boulevard 1783 cc employs a Shaft Driven Transmission system like in a car.

motorcycle chain maintenance

Why Chain Maintenance:

India is a country, which has a diverse range of environmental conditions which include truckloads of dust, dirt, mud and pollution etc and so this requires that the chain in your bike, apart from other parts, need regular care. Rains, dust, muddy and slushy roads etc all wreak havoc with your bike’s chain.

In the recent times, many manufacturers offer motorcycles with O-Ring sealed chains, which are exposed to the environment and do not come with chain covers and hence face more dust. Chain, whether they are O-Ring or conventional, are prone to wear and tear and need regular maintenance so that you get an optimum performance from your bike!

Tips for maintenance of O Ring Chains and conventional Chains:

Your bike’s chain need regular lubrication, cleaning and adjustment. In case you have a bike which has a conventional chain cover you can remove it and then go ahead with the job.

Motorcycle Chain Maintenance

Steps for Chain Maintenance

  1. Get your bike to the main stand
  2. Put polythene on the rims so that they are saved of the excess fluids
  3. Clean the chain (method explained below)
  4. Lube the chain (method explained below)
  5. Check for slackness. Tighten/Loosen if required.
  6. After lubing leave the motorcycle for a brief period.

Cleaning:

Wash the chain with paraffin (Kerosene), a soft brush and a piece of cloth and remove the dirt and slime accumulated on the chain. Don’t use water or fluids like thinner, spirit, WD40 or even diesel! After the dirt is cleaned with brush and paraffin, wipe the chain with a clean dry cloth.

Nowadays, manufacturers like Motul, 3M and others are also offering chain cleaners which you can use out of the box. They can prevent you from a lot of the hassle mentioned above. Chain cleaners can cost anywhere from Rs 150 to Rs 600 or even more for a can.

Where to Buy?

You can buy 3M Chain Cleaner from Flipkart at Rs 144

Motorcycle Chain Maintenance

Lubrication:

Lubricate the chain links and the chain with chain lubes which are light non-sticky lubricants designed for motorcycle chains and do not attract dust unlike grease. There are a lot of chain lubes available in the market right from Motul to OKS and others. Manufacturers like Yamaha also offer their branded chain lubricants under the name of Yamalube. We have used OKS and Motul chain lubes and while OKS was value for money, Motul offered fantastic results (but for a price!).

Sprays for the chain (Copy)

Chain lubes can cost from Rs 300 to Rs 600 or more. Another alternate you have is SAE 90 gear oil. It is a lot cheaper and does its job fairly decently. However, nothing beats the convenience of chain lubes which just require pressing of the nozzle!

Lubricate via chain lube all the areas of your bike’s chain by rotating the wheel so that it soaks up as much as possible. If you see rust, put some extra lube on the area 😉 . Spray chain lube generously and do not be a miser but ensure not too much of it falls off. Also ensure your bike is NOT switched on and in gear! Also spray lube from the angle depicted in the picture below! NEVER PUT YOUR FINGER NEAR OR ON THE CHAIN DURING THE WHOLE PROCESS!

Where to Buy?

You can buy various lubes and here are a few we can find at Flipkart

motorcycle chain lube

Inspection and Adjustment:

Check if your bike’s chain has a free play of about 1 to 1.5 inch by moving the chain up and down in a vertical direction. Your bike’s chain must have the correct tension and slackness and in both the cases, too tight and too loose, power delivery will not be optimal and/or rear wheel movement will not be smooth! You can learn to loosen/tighten your chain yourself or you can take your bike to your nearest mechanic to get the job done. He should not charge more than Rs 10-20 for it!

Also Read: Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS) in Motorcycles – Explained in Detail

Frequency of Chain Cleaning

The next question is – What should be the ideal frequency of chain cleaning?

New-2014-Hero-Karizma-R-Pics-Price-chain

So, it depends upon your riding style, climatic conditions, season of the year etc. So if you ride harsh or are accustomed to a lot of high rpm gear changes, you live in humid or coastal climatic conditions or during the rainy seasons, the frequency will be higher.

As a generic guideline you can clean and lube your chain every 500-800 kms and for all of you who understand bike’s language your bike will tell you when it requires lubing 🙂

A not so good looking machine with fantastic mechanicals is a better & pleasant rider than a licking clean with unhealthy internals!

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  • Aditya

    For your information, there are chain sparays available in the market which can clean you chain of dirt and sludge. Also, sprays with paraffin are available which can lubricate your chain.
    Motul has a chain clean and chain lube which are slightly expensive as they are imported but offer excellent protection to your bike’s chain. You will find these sprays at dreambikes on MG road in Pune…or you may ask your oil dealer to get it for you as they are officaly imported in India.

  • Sudeep

    Hi there,
    My Pulsar 180 DTS-i’s Manual recommends to keep chain slackness of 15-20 mm. But on this page it is advised to keep 2-4 mm slackness.
    I think, I should follow the Owner’s Manual recommendation.

  • Ajay

    Hi i have Pulsar DTS-I 150CC Bike… But initial pickup is not good in my bike and Engine Noise is very High.. Kindly suggest me to overcome this Issues..

  • Soumen

    “Check if your bike’s chain has a free play of 2-4 mm in general by moving the chain up and down in a vertical direction with your fingers” – 2-4mm? no dude the chan should ha a vertical slack aprox 30mm or 1.5 inch

  • Mohanish

    i was having problems wwith my avenger 200 dtsi a mechanic told me to go to service station and tell to adjust the play to 1 mm coz it was cozing the problem.

  • sivapragasam

    very nice and useful

  • harshal

    hi, I wanted to remove the chain cover form my zmr, is it advisable to do that or not.
    but the bike looks great without it.

  • raju

    hi… i have plan to buy new bike… but i have some confusion in which one is best in compareing pulsar and apache… give me some ideas….

  • akash

    Used oil for lubrication?? I disagree!

    Used oil has little or no lubrication properties left (that is why it is removed from the engine) and it already contains dissolved metal from engine wear, gasses and particulate from the air. So it is quite corrosive. only protection used oil may offer is from rusting by acting as a barrier. Also some oil is definitely going to be skimmed off from the chain to the chain covers etc. I recommend fresh oil.

    Also, the nozzle of the filter should be on the ‘inside’ of the chain. Not as shown in the illustration. That way oil will just fly away from the chain and might not lubricate the needles etc at all.

    Regards

    • Rakesh

      Thts wonderfully written.. Thanks a lot.
      Akash, I want some more help from u..
      I am interested in buying a pulsar 180 dtsi. It’s a open chain bike and needs regular servicing. All I want to know is whether it suffers from cold start during winters (as it lacks kick start) and how expensive is it to maintain a open chain bike?
      Does it require servicing every month?
      Is it better to go for the 150 dtsi? I’m really v confused… Plz help!!

      • Akash

        Hi Rakesh,
        Thanks for appreciating.

        I think 180 dtsi sports and O-ring chain. This type of chain contains lubrication to the rolling pins and lubricant is sealed inside using O-rings on both sides of each and every link of the chain. So internal wear is reduced a LOT. You can see the Black rings between the links in this image: http://i00.i.aliimg.com/photo/v0/221642662/O_Ring_Chain.jpg

        Externally, exposed chains face more dust than covered ones. So you have to visually check for dirt and grit and keep the chain clean externally esp in rainy season. Using a non-penetrating cleaner like Motul chain clean (or cheaper alternative like turpentine oil) will be good. Penetrating fluids (spirit, thinner, WD 40 etc) can reach inside the rings and drain the factory filled lubricant from the roller pins.

        How to clean chain:
        1. Take the bike to open ground
        2. remove the small cover on the engine side sprocket for better results
        3. Use a 1 inch brush and one of the mentioned cleaners to clean the chain. Dissolve the dirt. don’t scrub. Clean the sprockets too. Detail is yours 🙂
        4. Use a clean cloth to clean off excess cleaning fluid
        5. Lubricate with a light non sticky lubricant (motul chain lube, fresh engine oil). Only use enough that it does not drip and only in the inside of the chain.

        Electric start issue:
        I own a dazzler (no kick) and it has got excellent cold start properties. it is December as I write and I never have to crank it twice even in the mornings!

        If you go by standard electricals (don’t add high wattage horns, more lights etc) then it should be fine. Point is to keep the battery charge at its best and refrain from battery draining accessories.

        My Dazzler comes with a Maintenance Free battery. check 180 dtsi and replace the stock one with an equivalent MF battery later on if you feel you have probs. Also, regular service adds to cold start features because a healthier engine will fire up easily.

        A company will not put its product on stake because of a starter. Trust that the 180’s starter has been tested in Indian conditions and go ahead. 🙂

    • Rakesh

      Akash, thanks for the help..
      I would also like to know how frequently the air filter needs to be cleaned.
      and also what is the average lifetime of a battery.. ie how frequently the battery needs to be changed.. or from when should I start doubting it//

  • Mujahed

    Removing the chain covers will decrease the live of chain spocket in bajaj pulsar 150 dtsi, can chain spocket of bajaj pulsar 180 dtsi be fitted perfectly to bajaj pulsar 150 dtsi, if yes reply waiting for quick response

  • suhail

    hii
    this is suhail from hyderabad. i hav got a yamaha fazer its giving a mileage of 28-30 can i improve it n how. i heard from a old mechanic that if you change a spark plug u can wat do u say

  • naffu

    hi suhail spark plug will do some black if white no need to change and FI {fuel injector} time adjusment also.
    try dealers advice on this they will chek your bike and do that need full things but the dealer have problem with less employed good mechanics that s why delay.

  • sameer

    hi all i have pulsar 150 want to get 200 bore kit for it what will be the cost and how effective it will be did any of you guys get that mod for your bikes please reply..

  • *Lone Wolf*

    I do it very simple. I visit my local mechanic and lubricate and tight chain for 20rs.
    I do this very rarely as i service my bike (again 4m a known mechanic not service center) once in a month and my bike has chain covers. Bikes with Open chain covers might often need self service like this.

  • Maddy

    Hi frnds, im mddy having hero honda hunk new nd it giveme millage aprox. 50+, m happy with it.

  • s.kannadasan

    sir,I WANT CLEAR DEATILS OF ASSES-125

  • jkj

    idiots nvr use grease for chain simply it wont work best is to use liquid kube

  • ryankanth

    can i use fresh engine oil for lubrication classic 350 chain

  • balraj

    nice useful article,

  • balraj

    there are two products in Flipkart “Chain Cleaner Chain Oil” & “Chain Lube Chain Oil” are both the same

    • Balachander Ganesan

      No, you have to use cleaner to first clean the chain and then use the lube on your chain.
      You need both!

  • Julian Bennet

    Great work Bikeadvice team, a really useful article for bikers and the simple language used also complements it.

    • Antony Vithayathil

      This is a useless article never ever use kerosene and brush on a naked O ring chain it will remove the lubricant packed between the chain plates and destroy the rubber O rings

      • Julian Bennet

        Oh!! Didn’t know it, but wouldn’t applying lubricant after cleaning solve this?

      • Antony Vithayathil

        No the kerosene destroys rubber O rings which plays a major role in the chain’s fuction

      • Julian Bennet

        OMG, so we should definitely avoid it and stick to the cleaners available at retails.

      • Antony Vithayathil

        Always refer to user manual there they have mentioned maintenance tips, SAE 90 grade gear oil provide better lubrication than chain sprays

  • glenn jimson

    isnt this an old post??