How To: Maintain & Change your Motorcycle Chain & Sprockets

Some of the most important parts of your drivetrain are your chain and sprockets – so give them the attention they deserve.

dirty chain

Chain Maintenance

First of all, in order to properly maintain your chain, you’ll need to know what kind of chain your bike is running with.

Non-Sealed Chains:

The simplest type of chain is a standard, non-sealed chain. This chain will require the most maintenance because it doesn’t have any way of keeping itself lubricated like an O-ring chain does. If your bike has one of these chains, you’ll need to keep a closer eye on it for wear and attend to it more often.

So why would anyone want a non-sealed chain? There are a few advantages to having a these chains depending on the type of riding you will be doing. Many racers prefer this type of chain because they tend to have less friction than their sealed counterparts.

O-Ring Chains

An O-ring chain is a whole lot less needy. This chain has little o-rings between the link plates and rollers of the chain that are used to keep grease and lube inside of your chain while keeping dirt out. While these chains require less upkeep and tend to not need to be replaced as often, they do require some care. Over time, O-rings will lose lubrication and eventually will dry out, crack or even fall off. The best way to slow this process down is with regular lubrication with an o-ring safe lubricant.

Instruments required for cleaning the chain:

  • WD40
  • Grunge Brush
  • Cloth to wipe
  • Any good Chain Lube

Fat Flash Pro Tip: If you cannot find a Grunge Brush, taping 2 old tooth brushes together works just as well.

motul wd40brush

How to Clean your Chain:

No matter the type of chain you have, it’ll still need to be maintained. Gunk and grease can have a tendency to build up around the chain along with dirt and will increase the wear.

  • Check it for any build up that may need to be cleaned off.
  • If you find that you chain needs to be bathed, put your bike up on a stand so that the rear wheel is off the ground
  • Rotate the rear wheel to inspect your chain.
  • Use a mild soap and the Grunge Brush to scrub off any dirt or excess grease build up
  • Wipe away the dirt and grease with a clean cloth and let the chain dry.
  • To help dry out the nooks and crannies of the chain faster, you can use some WD40. Some people use only WD-40 to lube their chains.

Lubing Your Chain:

When lubing your chain, you’ll want to get the lube inside the pins and rollers and a little precision is necessary.

  • With your motorcycle still mounted on its stand and the rear wheel elevated, apply lube to the lower chain while spinning the rear wheel forward, allowing the chain to climb on the sprocket.
  • Once you’ve managed to cover the entire length of the chain, wipe off any access lube so that it doesn’t build up or attract dirt and let it sit for a few minutes.
  • Give the rear wheel a spin every so often to help the lube work its way into the chain.

You’ll find that a properly cleaned and lubed chain can have a huge impact on how smoothly your bike can transfer its power from the engine to your rear wheel. Be sure to add chain maintenance to your list.


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