How often do you lube your chain?
March 6, 2011 at 4:24 am #4349pastorlukepriceParticipant
How often do you need to lube your chain & sprockets?March 6, 2011 at 3:32 pm #29333
Most owners manuals state that you should lube the chain every 500 miles, but I think it is wiser to lube the chain more often. In Europe, many touring riders add an automatic chain oiler that drips oil onto the chain every few minutes.
Here is an article:March 6, 2011 at 9:31 pm #29334eternal05Participant
If you live in California during summer time, every 500 miles is probably alright. However, if you live in an area where it rains a lot, or where you get lots of dirt and gunk into your chain during normal riding, you’ll definitely want to clean your chain more often. In practice, I (living in Seattle) tend to clean and lube my daily-rider chain every 100 miles or so.
If you do any more serious riding, however, I’d lube your chain even more often. For instance, I clean and lube my chain after the first session of every track day I go to.March 6, 2011 at 10:33 pm #29337pastorlukepriceParticipant
Ok thanks guys I thought people did it different amounts of times. and I was just curious I want to definitely do it enough to take care of the chain but not enough to break the bank if you know what I mean. Thanks for the input.March 7, 2011 at 2:09 pm #29338
Below is the least expensive chain lube that works well. I use it except for long trips, when I bring a small spray can of Maxima Chain Wax in my luggage (I recently bought a small spray can of Amsoil Metal Protector to try on my next long trip).
I get the Dupont Teflon spray at a Lowes home improvement big-box store for a very reasonable price. I like the PB Blaster penetrating oil spray can for cleaning the chain- it is safe for O-rings, with an old sock to wipe down the chain and sprockets after spraying it.
One more chain article:March 8, 2011 at 1:09 am #29339TrialsRiderParticipant
First you should identify your chain as being a regular roller chain or a sealed roller chain (O-ring, X-ring etc.) sometimes referred to as a maintenance free or low maintenance chain.
With roller chain the lubricant is critical to the chains operation, both for it’s ability to effectively transfer power and to limit chain and sprocket wear. On any roller chain sealed or otherwise, the extreme friction load is born exclusively by the chains internal pins and rollers. The pins being riveted to the outside plates and rollers riveted to the inside plates. On a regular roller chain the space between the inside and outside plates is clearance and this is the same space where they add seals to make it a sealed chain. On a low maintenance sealed chain the primary function of any lubricant that you add is to inhibit rust of the parts that you can see. The same seals on a low maintenance chain that seal IN the original manufacturers grease also seal OUT water, dirt plus any oil that you apply to it’s outside surfaces. If you could lubricate a sealed chain rollers and pins just by pouring or spraying oil on it, you could probably top up your engine oil just by pouring oil all over the engine …and good luck with that.
If appreciable friction did exist between a roller chain and it’s sprockets, you could not run aluminum sprockets with a steel chain …but you can and they work just dandy. Never had to replace an aluminum sprocket myself because I do clean and lube my chains and clean my sprockets.
(The only sprockets that do require grease are those found on chain saw blades, which btw are Not sealed)
Sealed chains are slightly heavier, wider and far more expensive compared to standard roller chains, the seals contribute to slightly elevated friction then would be found in a properly maintained standard roller chain. This is why some competition bikes still run regular roller chain. Sealed chains are popular on street bikes because they run clean and require far less maintenance (lubrication).
With sealed chains; clean frequently and lubricate occasionally, with standard chains; lubricate frequently and clean occasionally. Any chain that is stretched needs replacing or it will destroy your sprockets.
Any wheel bearings that are worn should be replaced or they will cause wear of your chain, sprockets, brakes and significantly detract from the motorcycles handling.
BTW: Chains are not the most frequently overlooked maintenance item on a motorcycle, front fork oil changes are.March 8, 2011 at 7:02 am #29340Gary856Participant
This topic is almost like asking a) how often do you change oil? and b) what kind of oil you use? There’s what the manual tells you to do, and there’s what people actually do, and some of it is very surprising. One the one end of the extreme, you have people changing oil every 500 miles, when the manual says 3k miles. On the the other end of the extreme, you have people who says it’s fine to change oil every 7k miles or more if you use synthetic, and they have oil analysis data to back that up. For chain lube, the common recommendation is every 500-600 miles, but like TrialsRider pointed out, there are many high mileage riders, including adventure riders who do a lot of dirt, who say they hardly ever clean sealed chains (o-ring and/or x-ring), lube infrequently, yet their chains still last a long time. There are those who say WD40 eats o-ring seal, and others who say they use nothing but WD40 on their o-ring chains. One time I asked a trusted bike mechanic (from the UK where it rains a lot) if I needed to lube the chain much more often during the winter rainy seasons, and he surprised me by replying that you might do it a bit more (like lubing every 3-400 miles instead of the normal 5-600 miles) but not a hell a lot more.
Personally, I feel the manuals’ recommendations are conservative for normal use, so I tend to stretch my oil change and chain lube intervals.March 8, 2011 at 12:30 pm #29341TrialsRiderParticipant
I concur the manual is little more than a guide, check out the “Parts requiring Periodic Replacement” list in my comp bike manual for some shocking recommendations:
Piston – Every Year, Piston Ring – Every Half Year, Transmission Oil – Every 3 races, Clutch slave piston seals – Every year, Radiator coolant Every year, Brake Hose – Every year, Front Master Cylinder Assy – Every year, Fork oil – Every 3 races and my personal favorite; Spark Plug Cap – Every 3 races
Has anyone here ever replaced a Spark Plug Cap due to “Contamination or emulsification” ?:iMarch 13, 2011 at 12:54 am #29349RabParticipant
Good info and good articles in your links Jeff.
I’ve been using the Dupont Teflon Multi-Use Lubricant as a chain lube on my O-ring chain for a while now (since I read that review). It seems to be doing a good job so far, with 33,000 miles and counting, on the original chain. I buy mine at Ace Hardware.
Other aerosol chain lubes I’ve used stay sticky and attract road grit to the chain. The grit mixes with the lube to make a grinding paste (which is pretty much the opposite of what a chain lube’s supposed to do for your chain). The Dupont lube however, dries non-sticky and doesn’t get gritty on the chain, so is great in that respect. It doesn’t fling-off much either (like some of the others do).
Like other aerosols, the Dupont is very wasteful though, as much of it ends up in the pizza box underneath rather than on the chain when being applied; even (or seemingly especially) when I use the little red straw with it.
Breathing in the fumes/vapors from aerosol lubes is almost certainly not beneficial to your health either.
A cheaper, no waste, alternative which also works well is plain old heavy gear oil, 80 or 90 weight, painted onto the chain with a half-inch paint brush. In fact, that’s what Suzuki recommends in my GSX650F’s owner’s manual.
It takes longer to apply, will fling a bit, and might wash off some in the rain, but I use it during the non-rainy parts of the year here in NorCal. It doesn’t attract grit either.
I’ve also heard people recommending chain saw oil on motorcycle chains. I tried that as it’s supposed to have additives that make it stick to the chain. Oddly enough though, it flung-off more than the gear oil, so I quickly went back to using the gear oil.
Anyway, the main thing is that you do lube your chain regularly, not so much what you lube it with.March 13, 2011 at 2:20 am #29353
I know one mechanic that takes chains off every few months, cleans the sprockets and soaks the chain in half Castrol Superclean concrete cleaner and half water, hangs it up to dry for awhile, then sprays WD-40 on the chain to dry it more (WD-40 might damage O-rings if left on by itself for hours). Then right after he soaks the chain overnight in a pan of Amsoil synthetic gear lube. He uses the BelRay Superclean chain oil spray the rest of the time. He does this for street bikes and for motocross racers. He uses a clip-type master link for bikes with 60 horsepower or less, and uses a new clip every time he puts the clip back on.March 13, 2011 at 8:12 am #29358RabParticipant
I used BelRay Superclean for a while on my last bike as it looks nice when it’s fresh (leaves a white coating on the chain). I found that before long, it formed a grinding paste though, and it’s hard to clean off.
YMMVMarch 13, 2011 at 3:37 pm #29359
I do not use the BelRay Superclean chain spray, because it requires more cleaning in between uses. I use the Dupont Teflon spray because it is cheap, keeps the chain and sprockets cleaner without me doing a lot of rubbing and wiping or soaking, and works well. I buy a smaller spray can of Maxima Chain Wax or Amsoil Metal Protectant to put in my luggage for longer trips with at least one motel stay.March 23, 2011 at 12:14 pm #29392WeaponZeroParticipant
I used to consistently lube my chain every weekend regardless of how many miles I put on it that week. However, ever since I switched to DuPont teflon chain saver, I’ve been going significantly longer in between.
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