Motorcycle chain maintenance is often overlooked in India; sometimes even official motorcycle service centres skip carrying out this major maintenance procedure correctly. We say major, because it’s the chain that is literally sending the power to the rear wheel of your motorcycle, and a dry or grimy one can significantly affect performance. Well, the good news is, it’s not too difficult to do it yourself, if you are ready to get your hands a little dirty that is. Remember, this needs to be done at least every 500km.
A paddock stand (if your motorcycle doesn’t have a main stand).
Toothbrush/chain cleaning brush.
WD-40 multi-use product spray/chain cleaner.
And gloves (if you don’t want to get your hands dirty).
1. Jack up your motorcycle
Find a clean, flat surface to get your motorcycle up on the paddock stand or even its main stand. A clean area is always a good place to begin with, so you don’t end up dirtying the motorcycle and yourself completely. However, keep in mind, to clean up the area after because it is about to get messy. Since we will be using water, see to it that there is good drainage. This is also a good time to arrange and place your tools at a higher surface or away from the chain area.
2. Wash the chain
Motorcycles chains are filthy, and more so in countries like ours where the roads aren’t cleaned regularly. Open chains are like magnets to dirt and dust because of their oily surface and position on the motorcycle. This is a big reason why most commuter motorcycles in India come with enclosed chain covers. However, with the dawn of sportier commuters and even new sports bike introductions, open chains are now a common sight. These chains being exposed to the elements get dirty really quickly, and the first thing they needs is a good wash. Water will help get as much surface dirt off it as possible; it will also loosen up the remaining sludge on the chain.
3. Clean the chain
Like with most things, preparation is key and only washing the chain is not enough. It needs thorough cleaning; to begin, spray it with a chain cleaner or WD-40 multi-use product spray, the latter is available at most hardware stores. Although WD-40 is contested, some believe that it can cause damage to the delicate O-rings in the chain over a long period. Make sure to rotate the wheel while spraying it to get it on every link of the chain. Next, give it a few minutes to soak in and then get to work with the toothbrush or chain cleaning brush. Scrub hard and clean the brush from time to time. Lastly, wipe down the entire chain with a rag and make sure the chain has lost its sludgy black colour and gone to its original shiny metallic colour.
4. Oil the chain
The last and most rewarding step is to oil the chain with motorcycle chain lubricant. Use the nozzle provided with the spray can and make sure to oil each link of the chain. Make sure to spray in short bursts so that it doesn’t get all over other areas which would then be difficult to clean. Be careful not to over-lube and especially careful not to get any on the rear tyre. A handy tip is to hold a piece of cardboard behind the chain to keep the overspray in control.