Motorcycle Chain Lube - An Easy Guide To Maintaining Your Motorcycle Chain

Initially, chains were simply just oiled. There are numerous excellent chain oils out there. Oil's primary advantage is that it is generally inexpensive, long wearing, and easy to apply and maintain. However, oil has a greater tendency to fling dirt off the chain and onto everything else (rims, garage floor, even riding gear). For this reason the industry started to introduce chain oil alternatives that fling less to keep the bike's exterior parts cleaner. However, these modern tech dry or wax based lubricants while excellent for road bikes tend not to be favoured for those who ride off-road. Most motocross riders prefer to have an oiled chain over wax or dry lubrication.

Frequent oiling with an inexpensive basic chain oil is better than infrequent use with an expensive product. Failure to keep your chain properly lubricated will lead to premature wear and tear, and even potential failure in extreme cases. On my first motorcycle, a chain driven Vulcan 500, all I used was the cheapest spray on chain oil bought from the local automotive big box store. It did the job just fine, but it was a little on the messy side compared to using wax or a Scottoiler.

A smart farkle for your ride is to install an aftermarket reservoir based automatic chain-oiler such as the Scottoiler. These consist of a reservoir which contains a special clean formula chain oil, and a drip mechanism to the rear sprocket that is normally powered off the vacuum from the fuel injection or carburetor. The device allows you to set the drip rate from a scale of 1-10 depending on your riding conditions. For those in clean dry areas and who can safely run the unit at its lowest drip setting, it is not unheard of to get more than a few thousand kilometres before needing to refill the reservoir. Refilling the reservoir is a two minute job that can be done with the bike on its side stand.

I had a Scottoiler on my previous motorcycle, (2007Kawasaki Versys), and absolutely loved it. The chain was clean and silent all the time and I never needed to put the bike up on a paddock stand to service the chain. The Scottoiler isn't faultless though. While it is much cleaner to use than aerosol or liquid chain lube, it does still in my experience fling very small amounts of oil to the rims. I found I was wiping down my rear wheel rim frequently when touring. While you may need to wipe the rims off more frequently than with using chain wax, the long intervals between having to refill the reservoir, and the fact that the chain always has just the right amount of fresh lubricant means the Scottoiler is a highly recommended solution for motorcycle chain maintenance.

The Kawasaki Versys, Ninja 650, ER6 and ER6F all have an under slung exhaust which makes adding a centre stand difficult if not impossible. On bikes like these or for any rider who likes to tour long distances with a chain driven bike, a Scottoiler is the perfect solution to minimize time spent on maintenance and protect the chain thoroughly.

Next up is dry lubricant. Normally, it is a spray containing Teflon or white graphite, which is extremely slippery, yet dry to the touch once applied. Dry lubricant's strength is that doesn't fling off so your rims and garage floor stay clean. It also doesn't attract dirt as the lubricant is dry and not sticky to the touch like traditional chain oil or in some cases wax. I have zero experience with using dry lubricant as I have heard from riding buddies that used it that it doesn't stand up that well in wet rainy conditions. As I live on Canada's West Coast, and we get very rainy fall and winter weather, I have opted to avoid using this style of chain lubricant so far. Next summer though I may switch for a few months just to be able to know first hand if this is a better option than chain wax.

Chain Wax is the next upgraded chemical technology level for chain maintenance. Chain wax is applied to a warm chain and takes about 15 minutes to set up. After that time, it is dry and both resists flinging mess, and in theory will better protect the chain from the elements as the wax provides additional protection to your precious links. However, chain wax isn't perfect either. It should not be applied to a previously oiled chain until it has been thoroughly cleaned. Cleaning a waxed chain can also be a little more challenging than an oiled one, as the waxed surface clings much better than oil and hence is more difficult to remove than a surface that is simply oiled. I have used both spray oil, and spray chain wax, and despite the extra cleaning effort my personal preference is chain wax. I have been using Maxima Chain Wax on my Triumph Tiger 1050 SE, and find that re-application every 500-600 km is sufficient to thoroughly protect the chain. It is the cleanest solution I have used to date provided you follow the instructions on the can.

Visit http://www.farklemyride.com/2012/08/31/motorcycle-chain-maintenance-chain-cleaning/ to get great tips on how to get your motorcycle chain cleaned before you add any lube to it.
http://www.farklemyride.com/ has many more reviews on motorcycle accessories and gear. All written by riders for riders.

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