Tips on Motorcycle Chain Maintenance: 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.
Why Chain Maintenance:
India is a country which has a diverse range of environmental conditions that 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 (some 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.
Steps for Chain Maintenance
- Get your bike to the main stand
- Put polythene on the rims so that they are saved of the excess fluids
- Clean the chain (method explained below)
- Lube the chain (method explained below)
- Check for slackness. Tighten/Loosen if required.
- After lubing leave the motorcycle for a brief period.
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! After the dirt is cleaned with brush and paraffin, wipe the chain with a clean dry cloth.
Nowadays, manufacturers like Motul, OKS, 3M and many others offer 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?
Here are some direct links to buy from Amazon
You can also buy 3M Chain Cleaner from Flipkart
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!).
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 links of few from Amazon
Here are some from Flipkart
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!
Frequency of Chain Cleaning
The next question is – What should be the ideal frequency of chain cleaning?
So, it depends on 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 or 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 one with unhealthy internals!
We have also reviewed the Kangaroo chain lube – you can read it here.