1. How should I clean my chain?
Old chain lube will contain containments and can start to build up in key areas such as around the bushings and front sprocket. This will need cleaning away but you will need to take a lot of care not to strip too much grease from the chain when you are cleaning it. Never use pressure washers, wire brushes or harsh chemical cleaners on your chain as these can all damaged the O-rings and displace the grease. You can buy special motorcycle chain cleaners which are biodegradable and non-toxic. You can use these with a cloth or very soft brush and they will remove grime without damaging the chain. Try to avoid cleaners that need to be washed off with water as these can lead to the formation of rust.
2. What kind of lube should I use for my chain?
There are lots of different lubricants on the motor parts market and you will need to select only those marked as motorcycle chain lubricant. Motul chain lube is designed to adhere to the chain and get deep inside the spaces between the rollers and bushings to protect the whole chain from the extreme heat and load this running part is exposed to. If you use other lubes on your chain such as WD-40 then they will not provide the right sort of coverage and could actually displace the grease to leave parts of the chain unprotected.
3. How often should I lube my dirt bike chain?
Dirt bike chains can be exposed to some extreme conditions and this can mean that parts will need to be serviced more regularly than with a street bike. In general road bike chains will need to be lubed every 300 to 500 miles. However dirt bike chains will need to be checked after each use and will need lubing much more often, particularly if you use them often in tough, dirty conditions.
4. How can you tell if you need a new chain?
Over time chains will stretch and gradually lose performance. You do need to check your chain regularly to ensure it is still in good condition. A badly worn chain can present a number of problems and could cause a nasty accident if it pulls off the sprockets or breaks whilst you are riding the bike. The easiest way to test your bike chain is to turn the engine off and put it on the side stand. Now measure how much slack you have on the chain. If it is more than 30 to 45mm and the chain is properly adjusted then in most cases you will need to replace it. There are a wide range of RK chains available and these can provide a high quality, affordable choice for your motorbike.
5. Why is my chain making a noise whilst I am riding?
There are a few reasons why the chain could be making a noise whilst you are riding. To some degree ‘chain slap’ is unavoidable, particularly on dirt bikes but you can help to reduce this with chain covers. If the chain is making a noise it may need adjusting and you should also take the time to clean it properly and inspect the seals and rollers for any damage. You could need a replacement chain if it is worn or damaged and you will need to do this before you ride the bike again. There are lots of different chains available on the market such as RK chains and you should be able to find one that suits your requirements and budget.
6. Why is dirty chain grease getting all over my rear wheel?
Chains can get very dirty over time as they are exposed to road conditions and this can make the lubricant on the chain dirty. This can then build up on the chain and sprockets and flick onto the wheels. Check the chain and give it a clean and a coat of fresh lube. Also if you have recently installed new road bike chains they will have an extra coating of grease that was put on to protect the chains during storage. This extra grease will be flicked off as the chain runs and this can find its way onto the wheel (don’t try and remove it from the chain yourself). You can use a mild degreaser to clean the grease from the wheel but make sure you avoid getting this on the chain or sprockets.
7. How do you maintain race-spec chains?
Basic maintenance for race-spec chains is the same as for road chains but you will need to do this more often. Although modern chains are very reliable and durable you will need to check the chain before and after every race just to make sure it is in good condition. Keeping the chain well lubed is important for race bikes as the drive components will be exposed to some very intense temperatures and loads under heavy braking, cornering and acceleration. You will also need to check the chain slack and ensure it is adjusted properly. If you race in off-road conditions then the chain will get very dirty and will need to be thoroughly cleaned after each race and prepared with a fresh coat of lube. If you do need to replace your race-spec chain then RK racing chains are a high quality and practical choice.
8. What is the master link?
A motorcycle chain will have a master link. This will have a thin u-shaped clip, the closed end of which must be pointed in the direction the chain travels. This clip can get turned around and also worn down by tough road and off-road conditions. Make sure you check it now and again to make sure it is not damaged or facing the wrong way otherwise it could catch and then damage the master link.
9. How do you lubricate a bike chain?
Lubricating a motorcycle chain is easy to do if you use a rear stand to take the wheel up off the ground. Now put the bike out of gear so that the wheel spins freely. Manually spin the wheel as you apply the lube to the chain and this will help the lube to coat the chain nice and evenly. If you apply the lube close to the countershaft sprocket this will help to prevent lube being flung off onto the other drive components. Take care you don’t catch your fingers in the moving chain and never do this with the engine running.
10. Do I need to replace the sprockets if I upgrade to RK chains?
If you do want to fit new RK chains you should consider replacing the sprockets as well. These components wear together as a set so you can keep track of them all the more effectively if you fit them all at the same time.