Motorcycle: Know the importance of cleaning and lubricating your bike’s chain

Motorcycle: Know the importance of cleaning and lubricating your bike’s chain

June 3, 2021 Off By Rob Prosser

Despite being out of sight and also out of the attention of the owners, the motorcycle’s chain is one of the most important components for its full functioning and also for the rider’s safety. It is largely responsible for transmitting the engine rotation to the rear wheel of the bike and making it move. This component, as well as the entire motorcycle, requires a series of special care to ensure its operation and prevent the machine from having any type of damage.

As a component that is subject to a lot of force and is also, on most motorcycles, very exposed to the elements, its regular care and maintenance are extremely important.

In today’s post, we’ll show you the importance of cleaning and lubricating the bike’s chain, in addition to the precautions you need to take and the damage that a lack of lubrication can cause. Check out how to keep your motorcycle always well cared for!

Why lubricate and clean motorcycle chains?

Lubricating oil is a substance whose purpose is to reduce friction between moving metals and maintain the physical integrity of the components. The bike’s chain links the sprocket and pinion, transmission components responsible for transferring and managing both power and torque to the rear wheel.

Because of that, this component needs to be always in motion and also be able to withstand extreme usage conditions.

In this way, they are designed on links that move with each other as power is transferred from the sprocket to the pinion. This, of course, ends up causing friction between these parts and makes them always need to be lubricated and clean.

The motorcycle chain lubrication serves to reduce its contact with the sprocket and pinion, maximizing the life of the components and preventing impurities from being trapped in the internal components of the motorcycle, such as the transmission and relations.

It is essential that the cleaning and lubrication of the chain be carried out periodically, in a preventive way, in order to guarantee its functioning and avoid any breakage or damage. This very important procedure, when performed correctly, prevents premature wear of the chain, increasing its useful life and ensuring the reliability of the component.

When to lubricate the chain?

The vast majority of motorcycle manufacturers recommend that riders clean and lubricate the chain at intervals of 400 to 500 kilometers. It is advisable to check the periodicity in the motorcycle manual, as the interval may vary between models.

However, be very aware of some special situations where cleaning and lubrication intervals may decrease or increase — we’ll talk about this in more detail in the next topic.

Unfortunately, many motorcyclists avoid lubricating the bike’s chain, complaining about the oil marks and the temporary stains that the procedure can leave on the rear wheels and in some places in the fairing.

If you think that way too, remember a little detail: the ratio kit of certain imported motorcycles can reach up to $800!

Keep in mind, too, that a damaged chain can damage other components of the bike, especially the transmission, causing the problem to snowball and weigh even more in your pocket.

Which is better, then, to lubricate the motorcycle chain as stipulated by the manufacturer and need to wash it constantly, or to avoid doing so and having to pay for the exchange of a gear kit?

How to lubricate the motorcycle chain?

It is not enough to simply stop the motorcycle at the interval determined in the manual and apply the lubricant. So, if you are not one of those motorcyclists who like to “put your hand in the grease”, take the bike to a  reputable garage to carry out the service.

Although simple and generally quick, this type of maintenance, when done in the workshop, prevents unnecessary dirt in your home and also prevents the less experienced rider from doing something wrong.

Before lubricating, all the chain oil and any dirt contained in it must be removed. For this, use a clean flannel.

After cleaning is complete, apply the lubricating spray to the entire chain. But remember one very important detail: use the lubricant described in the manual. Never use a different oil on your motorcycle as this could damage the chain.

An example of a lubricant that should not be used on chains, but still many people insist on using it is grease. As much as the material seems adequate to lubricate the chain, it is actually the least suitable.

The grease has a very thick texture, which facilitates the accumulation of dirt in the chain. As more dirt accumulates, the grease becomes heavier and starts to be thrown out of the chain with the movement of the motorcycle.

This poses a huge danger to the gearbox, for example, as it causes large amounts of dirt to come into contact with the bike’s internal parts.

This material also has the disadvantage of dissipating less heat, which can harm the bike’s chain, as it gets very hot due to the natural friction of the links with the crown and pinion.

What is the proper way to use it?

Manufacturers really set the right intervals for riders to clean and lubricate the chain. However, there are certain situations in which this periodicity needs to be shortened.

These intervals also depend on the type of use of the motorcycle, which can make the mileage increase or decrease. Motorbikes that travel through rural areas, where there is no pavement and the chances of soiling the chain with dirt and other debris, tend to need chain cleaning and lubrication more often.

Motorcycles that usually travel on the road and urban cycle are subject to these regimes, but less frequently. It is also worth mentioning that if you experience floods or heavy rain for a few days, it is recommended to clean and lubricate the chain.

Pay attention to some special cases, such as motorcycles that use belts or cards instead of the traditional chain. In addition to requiring special care dedicated to these types of transmission, they usually rely on chains on the inside of the gear, as they facilitate the transmission of power between the relationships and take up less space.

Check your motorcycle manual if this is the case and be aware of the maintenance that these types of “internal” chains need. Always count on a good mechanic at these times. If you fall into any of these situations, ask your questions about when the chain should be lubricated.

Another article on this blog that may interests you:

Motorcycle: Choose your first bike