CHAIN MAINTENANCE

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PeterO's picture
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There have been some questions asked about the best way to maintain your chain. Firstly, KEEP YOUR FINGERS AWAY FROM THE CHAIN IF IT'S MOVING!!! EVEN WITH THE ENGINE SWITCHED OFF A CHILD SWINGING THE BACK WHEEL CAN TAKE YOUR FINGERS OFF IF THEY GET PULLED INTO THE SPROCKET! There's a good article here that is helpful: http://motorcycles.about.com/od/motorcyclemaintenanc1/ss/Chain_Maint.htm In the old days I used to remove the chain and clean it and lay it in grease, which we used to heat so that it soaked into all the crevices. Now that's not necessary. Chains are built to ISO standards that extend the life of the chain if you give it a once-over on a weekly / fortnightly basis. Believe it or not, many of our chains have little rubber o-rings inside the links to keep the lubricant inside. So DON'T blast your chain with one of those power hose thingies that pump high pressure jets of water out of the gun handle jobbie that you hold in your hand (see Renette, I'm learning the techie jargon that will be understood better). High pressure water jets can damage the chain's o-rings. DON'T put a cloth around your hand and swing the wheel around while you clean the chain ... or even WORSE, have the engine switched on and put your hand near the chain. Look ma no fingers! The chain will actually pull your hand into the sprocket and it will sever your fingers like a chain saw! What I do ... and here I'm open to any suggestions : I put the bike on the centre stand (ok in my case the paddock stand). I run the engine with the bike in gear and spray cleaner, like Prepsol or Mr Muscle or Jeyes Fluid (delightful Public Toilet Odour) onto the chain from a distance. I then use a toothbrush with an elongated handle to run against the chain. Both sides. Then I clean with the hose, again while the wheel is turning. Switch off. Carefully dry and clean again, and now clean the sprocket (I use a bronze brush that looks like a toothbrush on the sprocket). Make sure all the cleaner is rinsed off. Open the front sprocket cover and use a screwdriver or something similar to clean the gunge out and again clean with Preposol equivalent and brush, and finally rinse. Then I wax the chain with chain wax. You don't even need to dry the chain, but I usually do. I used to go to a hell of a lot more trouble, but didn't get any more mileage out of a chain than I do now. In fact by doing this once a week, I've doubled the life of my chain with normal riding (80% road 20% offroad). BTW the wax is great. Much better than oil/grease based lubricants. It's cleaner, doesn't wash off and works better with sand. Corne can probably give us some good advice here, for the rest they are probably just a bunch of wallies who have shaft drives which is the chain equivalent of viagra. (I await the response in anticipation :-) )

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Joined: 2008/03/15
I would further also simply suggest that when holding the toothbrush against the chain for cleaning that it is on the side of the chain exiting the sprocket, not leading in, as should any slip occur, the momentum of the chain will push the apparatus away from the sprocket and not pull it in. 2c... whatever :P Thanks for the info PeterO - I was actually recently looking at cleaning my chain with a high pressure sprayer, luckily, I didn't!
Corne_Tasmania's picture
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Joined: 2008/07/11
Okay to add to some really good cleaning tips... Buy a box of those disposable latex gloves. That way you can keep your hands clean. PS. Charles convinced me a LOOONNGG time ago! Never clean your chain it's bad for it :P I just got to a point where I didn't care about the chain, the pressure sprayer cleaned it nicely ;-) I put a new chain and sprockets on my 650 every 7000kms. Done. Cleaning a chain is terrible job :-) Long live the Shaft drive! Corné
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PeterO's picture
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Joined: 2007/09/11
BTW there's nothing wrong with an approach of "don't bother to clean the chain, just replace when needed", I personally prefer a clean chain because the ride is a bit smoother. Also, at R2000 odd per chain and sprocket (price ex BMW, and you should normally replace both at the same time), I try and extend the life a bit. ''If you can dream it you can do it!''

If you can dream it you can do it!

Charles Oertel's picture
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Joined: 2007/04/14
There is a middle-ground. If you clean your chain religiously, the cost of the cleaner and lube and wax and time, ''(and incense, myrrh and a good priest)'' adds up to the cost of chain and both sprockets anyway, all for a lousy doubling of the chain's life. So, you save nothing, spend your time cleaning, or worrying about cleaning, and have an extra n-thousand kilometres of riding with an old and worn chain. Instead, for the same money you could just ride until the chain is stukkend, replace it and the sprockets (non-BMW if you want to save some ronts) and have a new chain twice as often! The middle ground is to clean your chain at critical junctures: after a sandy off-road ride, or a muddy expedition. Also, in summer use wax, but in winter use an oily lube. Just use your common sense... Website Administrator [http://honeybadger.net Honey Badger IT Services]

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Charl M Smit's picture
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Joined: 2007/06/19
So far I have done +-14'000km with my XCountry's original chain and sprockets. I am over weighted for the bike and up until +-10'000km couldn't resist lifting the front wheel. (don't need to ask why that stopped) I use an old rag to remove dust and grease build-up. (as said above "your fingers!!!")then I apply wax. The best wax for me is a Proline ceramic wax (it works and doesn't mess!!) This I do at least every 500km or after every wash. As much as I intend to do this on long trips I don't because I'm lazy. But on my way back from Baviaans I felt so sorry for the grinding chain that I stopped to put some old gearbox oil on it. I hope this helps you. p.s The XCountry and XChallenge are known for a short life on the rear sprocket but some TLC has proven otherwise ;-)
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Joined: 2007/06/25
Interesting topic, Simon & Lisa of 2 Around the World mentioned that on their trip from the U K via XYZ to C T amounted to 20K kilo's and the 650 chain received no lubrication during that time. The chain and sprockets were finally replaced in C T. That tells me something. Ignore opinions, heed facts. Think before you ink.

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Andrew's picture
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Joined: 2009/02/20
I went to Simon and Lisa's presentation at Cape Storm in Wynberg when they were in CT and spoke to her afterwards and one thing I can recall is that she said she adjusted her chain as needed, so that it wasnt to lose or to tight. That probably also led to the long life.
Caprilian's picture
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Joined: 2008/09/10
Where to go for new chain & sprockets? What chain- DID o-ring?
PeterO's picture
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Joined: 2007/09/11
I generally get mine directly from AutoAtlantic. Speak to Shane about options. Otherwise speak to Marius at Biketique (Freak on this forum). biketique@motorlease.co.za Marius 021 715 7182 or 073 157 1168
Caprilian wrote:
Where to go for new chain & sprockets? What chain- DID o-ring?
''If you can dream it you can do it!''

If you can dream it you can do it!

Charles Oertel's picture
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Joined: 2007/04/14
Caprilian wrote:
Where to go for new chain & sprockets? What chain- DID o-ring?
X-ring is better. Website Administrator [http://honeybadger.net Honey Badger IT Services]

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Charles Oertel's picture
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Joined: 2007/04/14

Yes, this is an old thread, however, I have been made aware of a new blog with motorcycle advice, and on it is this article about chain maintenance: https://firstcheckpoint.com/motorcycle-chain-lube/

Enjoy.

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