How To Clean A Motorbike Chain

As a motorcycle owner, the cleaning and maintenance of your motorcycle chain is one of the most important jobs you can do to keep your bike in good condition. After all, the chain is the driving force from the engine to the rear wheel and without it you're not going to get very far!

A badly maintained chain could significantly reduce the performance of your motorcycle, so it should be inspected regularly to make your riding experience as enjoyable and stress-free as possible.

A chain that is in a bad state of repair could result in your motorcycle breaking down, with all the hassle and inconvenience that involves. Worse still, the chain could snap whilst riding at elevated speeds and this has the potential to cause major damage to your bike, you and other road users. However, you'll be pleased to know that chain maintenance is very simple, so here's how to do it.

Key Takeaways

  • Regular maintenance of your bike chain is crucial for a smooth and stress-free riding experience.
  • Cleaning your motorbike chain can be done easily with a chain cleaner, a brush, water, and lubrication.
  • Check your chain before every ride to make sure it's in good condition and clean it thoroughly before lubricating to improve its performance.

What You Need

  • Chain cleaner
  • Chain lubrication
  • Chain brush 
  • Water

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1. Put The Bike On Its Stand

Put the bike into neutral and raise the rear wheel of the motorcycle off the ground. If your motorbike only has a side stand and not a centre stand, then you will need to raise the rear wheel off the ground safely. A paddock stand would be the ideal way to achieve this, however, if you do not own one you can lay the bike onto its side to allow the rear wheel to spin freely. Remember, motorbikes are heavy so don't try and lower the bike on your own, get some friends to help!

2. Spray Chain Cleaner On Both Sides Of The Chain

Follow the spray cleaner instructions, which normally involve spraying the cleaner onto the chain to loosen up all of the dirt and grime that may have accrued. Ideally this should be sprayed onto the sprocket side of the chain while simply spinning the rear wheel around to ensure it gets an even coating across the whole length of the chain.

3. Brush Off The Dirt

Using a special chain cleaning brush which can be acquired from a good motorcycle retailer or from the internet, spin the chain through the brush to get rid of any dirt and grime on the chain.

4. Rinse With Water

Spin the chain whilst rinsing with water until you find that the grime has gone from the chain. This usually takes a few full spins to fully remove all the dirt. If you find that the chain is still dirty, repeat steps 2 and 3 until you are satisfied with the cleanliness of the chain.

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5. Wipe It Dry

From here, wipe the chain dry and remove any excess water by using a dry cloth to dry the chain. The back wheel will undoubtedly be dirty after this process so ensure you give that a wipe down also to remove any grime that's accumulated there.

6. Lubricate

Before lubricating the chain, it may be worth going on a short ride to loosen up the chain and prepare it to be lubricated. Lubricating the chain whilst it's warm and loose will help the lubrication to work its way into the grooves of the chain and improve its lifespan. Be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions when using chain lube.

Congratulations! Your chain is now cleaned and you've completed one of the most important maintenance tasks that a motorcycle user can do.

Make sure to check your chain before every single ride. Ensure it is tensioned correctly with 1 inch of play and does not show any signs of rusting, tight spots whereby the rear wheel struggles to spin or excess wear on the chain or sprockets. These are great habits to get in to.

Whenever you need to lubricate the chain, it's always important to clean it thoroughly beforehand rather than just spraying new lubricant on top of dirt and grime that is already there, otherwise, the mix of lubricant and dirt from the roads can also affect the performance of the chain and your motorcycle.