Chain Care

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Tucker's Chain Care Philosophy

Jason's shiny chain!


OK. First off, debates about chain care are almost as heated as they are with choosing the right oil or tires. In other words, it's a religious decision. Not everyone will agree, and probably nobody has the one true answer! I'm sure someone will think I'm wrong, to which all I can say is "piss off!" Tongue.gif

With that said, here is my thinking about chains:

1. Modern sealed O-ring or X-ring chains pretty much have all the lubricating oil they'll ever need sealed between the links. The key to helping the chain last is simply to keep it clean and free of rust.

2. Chains are easiest to clean and/or lube after a ride when it is warm. Caveat: it is also easy to burn yourself on the hot exhaust after a ride, so a pair of shop gloves and a bit of caution are advised!

3. Excess grunge will easily come off with WD-40 and an old rag. Spray on the WD-40 and let it soak in for a bit, then scrub off. Sometimes, and old tooth-brush will help loosen up the gunk. Note: once the chain is clean, you rarely need to use the WD-40 again - only if it gets really dirty again.

4. Cleaning a really dirty chain is a pain in the ass. However, keeping a clean chain clean is relatively easy. Moral: a quick cleaning before it begins to look really dirty will help you keep ahead of the game.

5. Chain wax is your friend. I personally swear by Maxima chain wax - it's the bee's knees. If you can't find it at your local shop, buy it at (or somewhere else online). Avoid "tacky" brands like PJ1. I used PJ1 for quite a while, and it sucked hard. Even the "fling resistant" PJ1 flung off, and it is about as clean as lubing with contact cement - it sticks to everything, and everthing sticks to it, resulting in grunge everywhere - especially on the chain where you don't want it.

6. Watch your overspray. Slippery tires on a motorcycle aren't really desireable, so keep a rag handy to mask spray from reaching tires. Also, the less overspray that reaches the wheel (rim), the less cleaning you'll have to do later.


1. The fun part - lubing! Spray the wax on the section of chain haning under the swingarm. Try to cover as much of the chain as possible (remember to watch over-spray). Spray a section, move the wheel, spray a section, etc. Continue until the entire chain is covered. Hint: if you can find the master link, use it as your start and stop point so yo know you've got the whole chain. I usually do a lighter second pass while spraying the rollers on the chain while they go around the rear sprocket - this makes sure you have both the top and bottom of the chain lubed.

2. Now wipe it off! Use a rag to wipe off all of the excess lube. Pretend you're polishing the chain. Having a chain dripping with lube will simply cause the excess to fling off, and will also attract dirt to the chain. The finished chain should have a thin layer of wax, and rollers should be slick to the touch. Note: having a layer of lube on the outside of the side plates isn't critical, but it will help prevent rust.

3. I usually keep the sprockets equally clean as the chain - at least the parts of the sprockets that I can actually reach.

4. A rear swingarm stand is not critical, but it will definitely speed up the job!

5. Again, use caution! Be aware of not only the possibility of burns, but of getting fingers caught in the chain or on the teeth (or bolts) of spinning sprockets. I know... sounds like common sense, but hey... shit happens. Try to anticipate it.

Jason's shiny chain!

Origianlly published 10/15/2001.